This morning I was listening to a radio DJ take calls from little boys and girls who were sharing what they'd asked Santa for this year. I was only listening briefly, but after one little girl gave her wish list, the DJ said, "Thanks for calling, Santa loves you".
Santa loves you? I am nearing my 28th Christmas (only 23 or so that I remember) and I don't remember Santa's love being part of his lore. Perhaps it is there in the background as an assumption, but his predominant characteristic seems to be a rewarder of the good kids and (at least in theory) a reprimander of the bad kids. Santa always seemed more impersonal and karmic than loving to me.
Am I reading too much into this? Or is John Granger's insight on movies somewhat true of the Santa lore as well? "When God is driven to the periphery of the public square, the human spiritual capacity longs for exercise, and it often finds it in the 'suspension of disbelief' and activity of the imagination."
Could it be that when we drive a God of love (and a God who rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked) to our periphery, we shape our cultural myths and stories to fill that void? Or am I just making too much out of what a disc jockey said on the radio? Discuss.