Friday, December 22, 2006

Better Watch Out, Better Not Cry!

‘Tis the season of rampant extrinsic motivation. We are all familiar with “do this, to get that”. At least four powerful fatherly figures stand ready to reward or punish the holy season, God, Santa, Jesus, and Father Time. All have the ability to fulfill prayers, deliver presents and grant wishes, even resolutions.

What underlies these patriarchal goodie granters? Most have the expectation of good behavior, past, present and future. Without good intentions and action come consequences. Santa makes a list and checks it twice to find out who has been naughty and nice. Misbehavers get a lump of coal.

Christians believe God expects people to be good followers of Christ, to follow both the letter and the spirit of the law. Fundamentalists believe those who fail at these tasks will spend eternity in a “lake of fire”. Those who succeed will have eternal reward alongside Christ and the Father (who are one).

Father Time closes out the year. Different practices around the world ensure the blessings of the New Year and keeping evil at bay. In all cases something greater than the individual watches, keeps score and acts accordingly.

Returning to children, a large focus of the season, how might they be treated by the varying fathers this year? Given all the problems mentioned in America’s school system, high levels of childhood obesity, growing mental health problems which explode into school violence, might more lumps of coal be delivered?

As for adults, world leaders consistently show their inability to solve their problems peacefully. War and the ever expanding threat of war cover the horizon. Spending another $170 billion on war while people need food, shelter, clothing and healing seems against the Great Commission.

What will happen to all those lumps of coal Santa could deliver this year? Does he have a coal mine at the North Pole? Or does he contract that out like most federal services nowadays? If so, does he use NACCO with Defense Chief Robert Gates’ old board suite? If yes, could Bob drive more of Santa’s business to his buddies by expanding the war theater?

What will the people do with all those lumps of coal? Do they throw them away? Wear them around their neck like a yellow star of scarlet letter? Or does God collect them for use in his lake of fire? Santa’s coal and eternal damnation are but two sides of the same coin, one you don’t get to spend…

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