state religion

yankee doodle santa?the picture to the side is from my youngest’ school second grade musical. the picture is from the song they sang named “yankee doodle santa”. it’s basically a combination of the song yankee doodle dandy and basic modern commercial santa claus mythology. santa at least started out as a spiritual icon. he was a hero of the faith until his basic history was stolen for commercialistic gain. so santa is not completely a spiritual icon anymore, yet “yankee doodle santa” is still basically a combination of a religious and national image.

this is just a children’s musical yet this one song does convey a tendency within american CHRISTianity that i hate and that is the deification of all things patriotic and american. just consider the painting that is within the rotunda of the capitol building in washington. it’s called the apotheosis of washington and apotheosis means “deification”. at the center of our government is a mural depicting our first president becoming “divine”. this actually sounds very similar to the imperial cult of rome or the deification of egyptian pharaohs. both of these practices happened to get people to worship the state. the nation in and of itself became the focus of the people’s religion. if the people worshipped the state then they would support it.

modern american CHRISTianity has a tendency to fall right into this. often we like to think that agreeing with the state is the sign of a good CHRISTian. this is called “state religion” or nationalism by some. i just call it wrong. so we smile when our kids sing songs like “yankee doodle santa.” we also turn our churches into huge patriotic parties during the fourth of july and our conservative churches barely ever cry ‘foul” over what our nation does.

the santa, or saint nick, who has been turned into an image of commercialism and now nationalism was originally a follower of CHRIST who because of his love for JESUS gave out gifts to people in need. the original nicholas was an example for us to follow. “yankee doodle santa” is just a joke to be laughed at because he has no real hope.

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