Some of the white Christians will resist the idea of Jesus to be anything but what they have come to believe, as if Jesus will cease to exist if he were black. The black Christians may feel the image of white Jesus and Santa was imposed on them, and it is human to resist anything forced on you against your will. I am certain they had their own un-articulated image of Jesus and Santa for as long as they have been Christians. Mike Ghouse
TEXAS FAITH: Does a white Christmas mean Santa and Jesus have to be white?
By Wayne Slater - firstname.lastname@example.org
1:54 pm on December 17, 2013 | Permalink
A cable television anchor named Megyn Kelly told viewers last week
that Jesus and Santa Claus are both white men. At issue was a Slate
article written by a black writer titled “Santa Claus Should Not Be A White Man Anymore.”
The context of the piece was the tendency of cultures to view important
figures in the most familiar and comfortable light. On her Fox News
program, Kelly took issue with the writer.
“Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t
mean it has to change. Jesus was a white man, too. It’s like we have,
he’s a historical figure that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa, I just
want kids to know that. How do you revise it in the middle of the legacy
in the story and change Santa from white to black?”
Both sides pounced. Liberal web sites and late-night comics lampooned her. Conservative web sites defended her. Saturday Night Live did a skit featuring a black Santa. The debate went viral on the Internet. Kelly subsequently suggested she was joking and cast herself as a victim of identity politics. Clearly, her facts were flawed. Jesus was a 1st Century Jew who was likely dark skinned and Santa Claus is a mythological figure whose historical antecedent was from Turkey.
People believe what they are prepared to believe. What’s interesting was the passionate reaction to the remarks. Why the fierce dustup? Why did the idea that a white Christmas means Santa’s white cause so much consternation? What did this episode say about the way we see the world and our willingness — or reluctance – to see things in different ways?
Our Faith Panel weighs in thoughtfully (and with a few fireworks) on history, ethnic identity, political correctness and the virtues of faith and the holidays:
MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism and speaker on interfaith matters, Dallas
If Jesus is our lord, and Santa Claus represents the joys of Christmas, I have to relate with them to call them “our Lord” and “our Santa”. Just as God claims to have created humans in his own image so he can relate with them, I would say, we have created God in our own image, a whopping 7 billion perceptions of God.
Even though God is stamped onto our memory with certain images, features and characteristics, some of us have developed our own embellishments to it to personalize him, her or it. While a majority of Christians, Hindus and others have a built-in image of God, the Buddhist, Jains, Zoroastrians and Native traditions do not have a set image, yet they have created their own image of God. The Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Baha’i and others do not take God as a being or an entity, and certainly have a built-in resistance to collapsing God into an image or a shape. But deep down, they imagine and describe God as a being, however, they knock it out instantaneously. It’s human to relate God as their own.
I am blessed to have universalized God. Even those who knew me, particularly Muslims in Dallas, thought I was a Hindu, Buddhist or a Baha’i, and the Hindu community thought I was a Christian and a Buddhist until ten years ago. Three years ago, I was in a Muslim conference and an Arab Muslim came over and started praising my articles on Islam, and said he has translated and published them in Arabic. He then asked me how do I know so much about Islam, and when I said, I am a Muslim, he was taken back and said he thought I was Jewish all these years! One of my Hindu friends of 20 years, until recently, insisted that I cannot be anything but a Hindu or at least a Christian.
If someone likes you, they want to see you as their own, in their own image. Of course the white Christians saw Jesus in their own image, and the African Americans just took that image when they became Christians. But I am certain; they had their own un-articulated different image of Jesus and Santa for as long as they have been Christians.
Some of the white Christians will resist the idea of Jesus to be anything but what they have come to believe, as if Jesus will cease to exist if he were black. The black Christians may feel the image of white Jesus and Santa was imposed on them, and it is human to resist anything forced on you against your will.
The need of the day is to upgrade Jesus, above all human imaginations and limitations and accept him in essence rather than in physical form. It is his love and sacrifice to humanity that needs to be appreciated. I hope and pray that at least from this Christmas season forward, we accept and embrace Jesus without reserve just as he set the example of embracing the humanity without reserve. Let him be meaningful to us in every which way he can be imagined.
To see the take from 12 different panelists, go to Dallas Morning News at: http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2013/12/texas-faith-does-a-white-christmas-mean-santa-and-jesus-are-white.html/
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a
writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work
place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers
pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in
Standing up for others
and a book with the same title is coming up. Mike has a strong presence on
national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on
Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to
the Texas Faith Column at Dallas
Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and
several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work
through many links.