Christmas Culture Wars

Last Sunday I found myself on a new battleground in the culture wars: my kids’ Sunday School room, filled with 5- to 7-year-olds who are learning the basics of the faith, while practicing their wrestling moves and their imitations of various bodily functions. 

The day’s lesson, taught by a woman with the patience of Job, had to do with the real St. Nicholas. He lived and died centuries ago, she said, and he saw the light of Christ in children just like you.

Before that could sink in and warm their hearts, one of the young ones cried to his peers, “This is not true! I saw a movie about this. His real name is Santa Claus, he lives at the North Pole, and HE IS NOT DEAD!” He was relentless, interrupting the teacher all the way to the end.

Playtime came mercifully, and pretty soon Santa’s true believer was letting me, an infidel, wash green ink off his face and hands. I smiled at him as if to say, “Always remember, dear one: when sacred histories collide, nobody wins.” And he smiled as if to say, “See what ends up in your stocking, jerk.”

About Tom Simpson

Tom Simpson teaches religion, ethics, philosophy, and human rights at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH. He is the author of *American Universities and the Birth of Modern Mormonism, 1867-1940* (University of North Carolina Press, 2016) and nonfiction essays about Bosnia for the Canadian literary magazine *Numero Cinq*. Born in 1975 in Olean, NY, he earned the Ph.D. in religious studies from the University of Virginia, where he specialized in American religious history. He writes, teaches, and lectures about religion in America, popular culture, Mormonism, and Bosnia. He lives in Exeter with his partner, Alexis Simpson, and their two children.
This entry was posted in Fatherhood, Popular Culture, Publications on Religion and American Culture, Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Christmas Culture Wars

  1. Rick Simpson says:

    Smiling and laughing here, Tom.

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