|Yes, I make memes based on my chickens.|
OK, maybe not God, but the Christmas spirit did rekindle his faith in Santa Claus. Long time readers of Purgatory may remember that my boy, Will, was a passionate Santa apologist (i.e., defender of the faith) two years ago when he was 8. At that time he was developing all sorts of theories on how one man with the assistance of eight flying reindeer could circle the world in one 24 hour period, get into houses and deposit gifts. Not satisfied with the "it's magic" hypothesis, his mind grappled with the metaphysics involved for such a feat to occur. Last year, Will broke through the faith bubble when he pieced together that all the evidence pointed to the fact that the Wife and I were the ones who placed presents in stockings under the guise of the jolly old elf. He asked if we were Santa and I told him yes, with the provision that he could not tell his younger sister, Ali, the secret.
Telling a 9 year old to keep a secret and that 9 year old keeping the secret are two different things. Will came close to letting his sister know that Santa wasn't real a few times. I am happy(?) to say that she spent this Christmas under the Santa spell.
But I digress.
He and I were in the car the other day on the way to see The Hobbit when we had a very odd and eerily familiar (to me) conversation.
"We have to get Santa some cookies," he stated..
"What kind of cookies do you think he likes?" Will asked.
I thought this was an odd question. I really don't pay attention to the tastes of fictional characters.
"Will, do you remember the secret about Santa that you weren't supposed to tell Ali?"
"No." He was adamant.
"Will, on a seven point scale with 1 being absolute knowledge that Santa exists and 7 being absolute knowledge that Santa doesn't exist, where do you lie?" (Yes, I pulled out the Dawkins seven point scale of belief on my boy.)
"I'm a 1," he replied with the self assurance of the true believer.
"Will, why do you believe in Santa?"
"Two reasons," he replied with alarming alacrity (perhaps he had been working on his defense for a while?). "One, Christmas is based on Santa; two, adults wouldn't give each other gifts."
Ha! I had him there. I proudly told him that I bought gifts for myself all the time.
"Well, maybe I'm a two on the scale."
At least I knocked him up a point, I thought.
"Santa makes this time of year special. He makes people happy."
Oy, has he been on Santa fundamentalist blogs and learning how to use all the wrong arguments? Is this a sign of some latent mental illness manifesting itself? First it starts with Santa and next the toaster oven is going to tell him to put one of our chickens in it!
"Look, reality just doesn't work in a way just because you really, really want it to. You may want 1+1 to equal 3, but it doesn't. Reality doesn't bend to popular opinion."
And I swear to my fictitious God, this is what my boy did.
He placed his hands on his ears and said, "You know what? I haven't been listening to you for the last ten minutes."
Wow. All those arguments I had with all those theists over the years came flooding back all at once. Will's defense of the faith wasn't far off from many Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc.
*To paraphrase Rick James: Cognitive dissonance is a hell of a drug.
I figured out that any more debating would be pointless at that time. He will probably snap back into being a 6 on the Santa seven point belief scale when the holiday is over, and we'll laugh about the whole situation in years to come.
But I'm still going to be keep a watchful eye on our chickens.
This is Purgatory.
* Yes, I love that Charlie Murphy bit from the Dave Chappelle Show