The Elf who stole Christmas

Far more subversive to the true meaning of Christmas than the secularizers is the “naughty or nice” legalism of “Elf on the Shelf”:

Who can resist the holiday fun of scaring the children into good behavior? Ask any of history’s most efficient dictators — they’ll tell you. Christmas just isn’t Christmas without the naughty-nice punishment paradigm. Where would this holiday be without its good old-fashioned behavioral paranoia? Charles Dickens may get all the credit for this, but do also consider George Orwell.

That’s what makes “The Elf on the Shelf” so ingeniously successful. Cooked up in 2005 by a mother-daughter duo in Georgia, “The Elf on the Shelf” began as a children’s storybook that came packaged with a benign little elf doll — “a pixie scout” in the tale — togged out in a cute red leotard.

As the story goes, once a family gives their elf a name and places him on a shelf or mantel, he is endowed with magic powers. Beginning around Thanksgiving, the pixie scout watches everything that goes on during the day. At night, he flies back to the North Pole and gives Santa a full account: who behaved, who didn’t.

The elf returns to your house in the dark of morning, before everyone gets up, positioning himself in a different spot from where he was before, so that the children have to find his new vantage point. Also, very important — if anyone in the house touches the elf in any way, he’ll lose his magic. And if that happens, then we’re all royally screwed come Christmas Eve. In other words, it’s no longer Santa Claus who knows if you’ve been bad or good. It’s a whole army of his pixie-scout elves. (All a parent has to do to sustain the fantasy is remember to move the elf each night after the kids have gone to bed.)

via CBS’s ‘Elf on the Shelf’: Unwarranted Christmas surveillance techniques – The Washington Post.

Look at the message of the “naughty or nice” Santology:  You will get a gift, but only if you are good.   Gifts must be deserved.   The gift of the Christ child, though, is precisely to those who do NOT deserve it.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    One might argue that the elf thing is useful in that it illustrates, for the children, how things work in this world – as contrasted with how God’s grace works. In this world, if I’m polite, do my homework, etc., I will be rewarded. But if I, for example, engage in extramarital dalliances, it might come back to bite me when I run for president. As long as the distinction is communicated, my feeling is that anything that’ll work towards making the little brats behave – particularly around the holidays – is a good thing.

  • Pete

    One might argue that the elf thing is useful in that it illustrates, for the children, how things work in this world – as contrasted with how God’s grace works. In this world, if I’m polite, do my homework, etc., I will be rewarded. But if I, for example, engage in extramarital dalliances, it might come back to bite me when I run for president. As long as the distinction is communicated, my feeling is that anything that’ll work towards making the little brats behave – particularly around the holidays – is a good thing.

  • Booklover

    But Pete, what shall we use to get those big brats to behave??? :-)
    They are always far worse than the little ones.

  • Booklover

    But Pete, what shall we use to get those big brats to behave??? :-)
    They are always far worse than the little ones.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Gene, this is hardly new. As any Dutch kid will tell you, on Sinterklaas Aand, Zwarte Pieten will put you in a bag and take you to Spain (insterad of giving you a gift) if you were naughty. And in Germany, Knecht Ruprecht will give you a tree branch instead of a present , although in Switzerland, he is also known to put children in bags and throw them in the river!

    The issue of course is that Sinterklaas Aand is celebrated on the eve of the festival day of St Nicholas, which is 6 December. It is somewhwere along the line in the Anglophone world where the confusion between 6 December and 25 December occurred, and poor Kecht Ruprecht / Zwarte Pieten got transformed into a little elf, running along the santised Santa Claus, and the connection between naughty / nice and gifts got brought along, and connected to Christs’ gift of Salvation. Gift giving at Christmas time had been around since the Reformation. But tradition confusion yielded this confused narrative.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Gene, this is hardly new. As any Dutch kid will tell you, on Sinterklaas Aand, Zwarte Pieten will put you in a bag and take you to Spain (insterad of giving you a gift) if you were naughty. And in Germany, Knecht Ruprecht will give you a tree branch instead of a present , although in Switzerland, he is also known to put children in bags and throw them in the river!

    The issue of course is that Sinterklaas Aand is celebrated on the eve of the festival day of St Nicholas, which is 6 December. It is somewhwere along the line in the Anglophone world where the confusion between 6 December and 25 December occurred, and poor Kecht Ruprecht / Zwarte Pieten got transformed into a little elf, running along the santised Santa Claus, and the connection between naughty / nice and gifts got brought along, and connected to Christs’ gift of Salvation. Gift giving at Christmas time had been around since the Reformation. But tradition confusion yielded this confused narrative.

  • Michael B.

    >> “naughty or nice” Santology:

    One of the major overarching themes of the Bible is that God is watching you and will eventually punish you if you do wrong”. It’s found throughout the Old Testament (Genesis, major prophets, minor prophets), and in the New Testament as well. There are deviations such as Job, in which a man who is called “blameless” is hurt. However, you find page after page in the Bible of “man messes up…God punishes him”.

  • Michael B.

    >> “naughty or nice” Santology:

    One of the major overarching themes of the Bible is that God is watching you and will eventually punish you if you do wrong”. It’s found throughout the Old Testament (Genesis, major prophets, minor prophets), and in the New Testament as well. There are deviations such as Job, in which a man who is called “blameless” is hurt. However, you find page after page in the Bible of “man messes up…God punishes him”.

  • Dennis Peskey

    I vote for throwing the little devilish elf into a roaring fireplace as my good deed for the day (elf’s make good kindling – or so I’m told by my dwarf friend).
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    I vote for throwing the little devilish elf into a roaring fireplace as my good deed for the day (elf’s make good kindling – or so I’m told by my dwarf friend).
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Cincinnatus

    Huh. The basic “naughty-nice” ethic of Elf on the Shelf in particular and Western Christmas observances in general has never bothered me particularly. After all, are we actually complaining that kids are being raised to believe, in a general sense, that they should be good rather than bad? That they should pursue virtue and avoid vice? Even if the original motive for good behavior is “crass” reward, good luck teaching a three-year-old that virtuous conduct is good for its own sake.

    The aspect of Elf on the Shelf that bothers me is that it’s suddenly being proffered as an indispensable “tradition” in any family Christmas celebration. I’ve found it odd that I only heard of this tradition three days ago while wandering around in a Barnes and Noble. Elf on the Shelf is another commodification of Christmas, a consumerist invention to make money, to put it crudely. It’s one thing for our society to co-opt a Christian symbol–St. Nicholas–and secularize and sanitize it for public consumption; it’s a step further, I think, simply to invent a “tradition” and market it as an essential component of anyone’s thoroughly commodified Christmas (you haven’t bought Christmas until you’ve bought Elf on the Shelf!).

    Worse, I saw several folks walking out of the store with bags full of elves in the short time I spend in the store…

  • Cincinnatus

    Huh. The basic “naughty-nice” ethic of Elf on the Shelf in particular and Western Christmas observances in general has never bothered me particularly. After all, are we actually complaining that kids are being raised to believe, in a general sense, that they should be good rather than bad? That they should pursue virtue and avoid vice? Even if the original motive for good behavior is “crass” reward, good luck teaching a three-year-old that virtuous conduct is good for its own sake.

    The aspect of Elf on the Shelf that bothers me is that it’s suddenly being proffered as an indispensable “tradition” in any family Christmas celebration. I’ve found it odd that I only heard of this tradition three days ago while wandering around in a Barnes and Noble. Elf on the Shelf is another commodification of Christmas, a consumerist invention to make money, to put it crudely. It’s one thing for our society to co-opt a Christian symbol–St. Nicholas–and secularize and sanitize it for public consumption; it’s a step further, I think, simply to invent a “tradition” and market it as an essential component of anyone’s thoroughly commodified Christmas (you haven’t bought Christmas until you’ve bought Elf on the Shelf!).

    Worse, I saw several folks walking out of the store with bags full of elves in the short time I spend in the store…

  • Dan Kempin

    OK, I stopped following the arrival of new elves with Silver Spurs, (the explanation for how Santa can come to a house with no chimney), but the idea is reasonably clever and, after all, just a way to bring the “naughty or nice Santology” to the fore during the run up to Christmas.

    It is tacky and manipulative, yes, but not novel. It fits in perfecly with the avarice fueled and uncharacteristic behavior of children before a consumer Christmas.

    But’s let’s not overreact to the “naughty-nice” paradigm. God IS watching. And He wants us to be nice. It is not “OK-because-I-am-forgiven” when we are naughty. Naughty is bad. Naughty has consequences. That is not bad theology.

  • Dan Kempin

    OK, I stopped following the arrival of new elves with Silver Spurs, (the explanation for how Santa can come to a house with no chimney), but the idea is reasonably clever and, after all, just a way to bring the “naughty or nice Santology” to the fore during the run up to Christmas.

    It is tacky and manipulative, yes, but not novel. It fits in perfecly with the avarice fueled and uncharacteristic behavior of children before a consumer Christmas.

    But’s let’s not overreact to the “naughty-nice” paradigm. God IS watching. And He wants us to be nice. It is not “OK-because-I-am-forgiven” when we are naughty. Naughty is bad. Naughty has consequences. That is not bad theology.

  • SKPeterson

    These seem to follow the old Scandinavian stories about tomtes.

  • SKPeterson

    These seem to follow the old Scandinavian stories about tomtes.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    SKP, yes, the tomte thing is just another variotion or ethnic expression of the Zwarte Piet (Pieten – plural) / Knecht Huprect legend.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    SKP, yes, the tomte thing is just another variotion or ethnic expression of the Zwarte Piet (Pieten – plural) / Knecht Huprect legend.

  • http://www.whenisayrunrun.blogspot.com Andrew

    My students once took it to an extreme in an indictment of our society. Santa is a stalker. He is always watching and knows if you have been bad or good.

    Less government, but are more creepy.

  • http://www.whenisayrunrun.blogspot.com Andrew

    My students once took it to an extreme in an indictment of our society. Santa is a stalker. He is always watching and knows if you have been bad or good.

    Less government, but are more creepy.

  • DonS

    The elf appears to be just another faddish version of naughty-nice Santa lore, dwelt on by those who prefer the secular version of Christmas.

    However, I’m with Pete, Dan, and others. Yes, thankfully, the gift of Christ’s atonement for our sins is available without regard to our own merit, or to put it another way, despite our own utter lack of merit. But that doesn’t mean we are not to strive to be good. There are earthly consequences to bad behavior and earthly benefits for good behavior, and teaching our children to be good, even to the point of rewarding them, is not a bad thing. Too bad we don’t do it much in our society anymore. And too bad the establishment promotes the idea that achievers are somehow greedy and undeserving and should be forced to give up their rewards to slackers.

  • DonS

    The elf appears to be just another faddish version of naughty-nice Santa lore, dwelt on by those who prefer the secular version of Christmas.

    However, I’m with Pete, Dan, and others. Yes, thankfully, the gift of Christ’s atonement for our sins is available without regard to our own merit, or to put it another way, despite our own utter lack of merit. But that doesn’t mean we are not to strive to be good. There are earthly consequences to bad behavior and earthly benefits for good behavior, and teaching our children to be good, even to the point of rewarding them, is not a bad thing. Too bad we don’t do it much in our society anymore. And too bad the establishment promotes the idea that achievers are somehow greedy and undeserving and should be forced to give up their rewards to slackers.

  • Tom Hering

    “… teaching our children to be good, even to the point of rewarding them, is not a bad thing … too bad the establishment promotes the idea that achievers are somehow greedy and undeserving and should be forced to give up their rewards to slackers.”

    Then let’s be very careful to teach our children not to share the toys/rewards they receive for being good little boys and girls, and be even more careful as parents not to make them share. It might mean the final collapse of our society.

  • Tom Hering

    “… teaching our children to be good, even to the point of rewarding them, is not a bad thing … too bad the establishment promotes the idea that achievers are somehow greedy and undeserving and should be forced to give up their rewards to slackers.”

    Then let’s be very careful to teach our children not to share the toys/rewards they receive for being good little boys and girls, and be even more careful as parents not to make them share. It might mean the final collapse of our society.

  • DonS

    Tom, there is a big difference between sharing and taking.

  • DonS

    Tom, there is a big difference between sharing and taking.

  • DonS

    Oops. Posted too soon. To finish the thought, our society has become about teaching people to take what belongs to others, using the rationale that the others have too much. That’s not sharing.

  • DonS

    Oops. Posted too soon. To finish the thought, our society has become about teaching people to take what belongs to others, using the rationale that the others have too much. That’s not sharing.

  • Tom Hering

    Ah, but Don, parents make children share if they won’t do it willingly. Isn’t that the same as taking a toy from the child who has it (and earned it) and giving it to the child who doesn’t have it (and presumably didn’t earn it)? Just because sharing is the right thing to do – apart from all question of work and merit – and people must be made to do the right thing, with rewards and threats and punishments? (Virtue might be its own reward, and we might all assent to this proposition, but none of us act from this belief.)

  • Tom Hering

    Ah, but Don, parents make children share if they won’t do it willingly. Isn’t that the same as taking a toy from the child who has it (and earned it) and giving it to the child who doesn’t have it (and presumably didn’t earn it)? Just because sharing is the right thing to do – apart from all question of work and merit – and people must be made to do the right thing, with rewards and threats and punishments? (Virtue might be its own reward, and we might all assent to this proposition, but none of us act from this belief.)

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    The key element in a child’s Christmas is the joy of a Gift. That is what we need to emphasize in teaching children (and ourselves) the true meaning of Christmas. Teach them what a gift is. (Something gratuitous, free, unearned, as opposed to a payment, what we earn and have coming.) It is a short step to the wages of sin are death, but the gift of God is everlasting life. Jesus is the Christmas gift. And it isn’t just that Christmas is Jesus’s birthday; it’s that Jesus Himself gives us the gifts of the Gospel. The toys and presents and the excitement and the joy of Christmas are all symbols of that.

    Of course we should teach good behavior and working hard for the money and all that. But that completely goes against the symbolism of what Christmas is supposed to be about.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    The key element in a child’s Christmas is the joy of a Gift. That is what we need to emphasize in teaching children (and ourselves) the true meaning of Christmas. Teach them what a gift is. (Something gratuitous, free, unearned, as opposed to a payment, what we earn and have coming.) It is a short step to the wages of sin are death, but the gift of God is everlasting life. Jesus is the Christmas gift. And it isn’t just that Christmas is Jesus’s birthday; it’s that Jesus Himself gives us the gifts of the Gospel. The toys and presents and the excitement and the joy of Christmas are all symbols of that.

    Of course we should teach good behavior and working hard for the money and all that. But that completely goes against the symbolism of what Christmas is supposed to be about.

  • DonS

    Dr. Veith @ 16: Yes, you are talking about using the occasion of gift-giving at Christmas to illustrate the grace and mercy that is God’s unconditional gift to the world — Christ. Undeserved. Unmerited favor.

    But what Pete said @ 1, and some others of us carried through, is that there is more than one way to teach a lesson. And, in fact, we give our Christmas gifts in the way you describe — unmerited, no naughty/nice criteria. However, teaching by contrast is a valid approach as well (“we keep lists, and records of wrongs, and that’s the way you are going to operate in this world, but thanks be to God that He does not!”).

    It’s all in the lesson, however you choose to present it. However, I think we can all pretty much agree that the “Elf on the shelf” is over the top.

  • DonS

    Dr. Veith @ 16: Yes, you are talking about using the occasion of gift-giving at Christmas to illustrate the grace and mercy that is God’s unconditional gift to the world — Christ. Undeserved. Unmerited favor.

    But what Pete said @ 1, and some others of us carried through, is that there is more than one way to teach a lesson. And, in fact, we give our Christmas gifts in the way you describe — unmerited, no naughty/nice criteria. However, teaching by contrast is a valid approach as well (“we keep lists, and records of wrongs, and that’s the way you are going to operate in this world, but thanks be to God that He does not!”).

    It’s all in the lesson, however you choose to present it. However, I think we can all pretty much agree that the “Elf on the shelf” is over the top.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 15: Are you saying that the government is our parent, and needs to “teach” us stuff? Because that’s not my understanding of the purpose of government, and I would abhor such a government. The government is supposedly our servant, for the purpose of providing an orderly society and the basic infrastructure of that society. Not for teaching lessons of sharing the way it thinks we should share.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 15: Are you saying that the government is our parent, and needs to “teach” us stuff? Because that’s not my understanding of the purpose of government, and I would abhor such a government. The government is supposedly our servant, for the purpose of providing an orderly society and the basic infrastructure of that society. Not for teaching lessons of sharing the way it thinks we should share.

  • Tom Hering

    Don @ 18, God establishes authorities to praise us for doing good, and to punish us for doing evil. Sounds very parental to me.

  • Tom Hering

    Don @ 18, God establishes authorities to praise us for doing good, and to punish us for doing evil. Sounds very parental to me.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    OMG the yule tomte/nisse are no longer free lancers? They all work for the big boss, Santa now? Talk about corporations taking over Christmas! Santa as CEO. What is the world coming to? Aren’t there any free market libertarianisse anymore?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    OMG the yule tomte/nisse are no longer free lancers? They all work for the big boss, Santa now? Talk about corporations taking over Christmas! Santa as CEO. What is the world coming to? Aren’t there any free market libertarianisse anymore?

  • DonS

    Tom @ 19, I guess I don’t know what you mean. Praise us for doing good? Is that government’s job? Which article of the Constitution is that in? I must have missed it. Punish us for doing evil? Yes, of course. Breaking the law, such as by unlawfully camping in public spaces, is an evil punishable by civil authorities. But the punishment is quite different in nature from the loving discipline which a parent imposes to correct a child. Or at least, that’s how it seems to me.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 19, I guess I don’t know what you mean. Praise us for doing good? Is that government’s job? Which article of the Constitution is that in? I must have missed it. Punish us for doing evil? Yes, of course. Breaking the law, such as by unlawfully camping in public spaces, is an evil punishable by civil authorities. But the punishment is quite different in nature from the loving discipline which a parent imposes to correct a child. Or at least, that’s how it seems to me.

  • mendicus

    Veith@16: Quite right. Conditioning rewards on achievment is good and right. Conditioning gifts on achievment eviscerates the concept of “gift.” To associate the gift of Christ at Christmas with such conditional non-gifts is potentially to introduce confusion into the Gospel message, perhaps even moving in the direction of associating Christ with anti-Christ. True, proper teaching can mitigate that risk, but to me that route is a bit circuitous. To undermine the gospel symbolism of the Christmas gift, then explain why you’ve done so, makes less sense to me than simply to uphold the symbolism.

  • mendicus

    Veith@16: Quite right. Conditioning rewards on achievment is good and right. Conditioning gifts on achievment eviscerates the concept of “gift.” To associate the gift of Christ at Christmas with such conditional non-gifts is potentially to introduce confusion into the Gospel message, perhaps even moving in the direction of associating Christ with anti-Christ. True, proper teaching can mitigate that risk, but to me that route is a bit circuitous. To undermine the gospel symbolism of the Christmas gift, then explain why you’ve done so, makes less sense to me than simply to uphold the symbolism.

  • helen

    And too bad the establishment promotes the idea that achievers are somehow greedy and undeserving and should be forced to give up their rewards to slackers.

    It’s not honest “achievers” who have the 99% up in arms, but un prosecuted thieves!
    The Mob is also greedy and undeserving, but at least some of them got hauled in for income tax evasion.
    Now you can work for the President with unpaid taxes in your file and be considered “smart”.

  • helen

    And too bad the establishment promotes the idea that achievers are somehow greedy and undeserving and should be forced to give up their rewards to slackers.

    It’s not honest “achievers” who have the 99% up in arms, but un prosecuted thieves!
    The Mob is also greedy and undeserving, but at least some of them got hauled in for income tax evasion.
    Now you can work for the President with unpaid taxes in your file and be considered “smart”.

  • SKPeterson

    sg @ 20 – It’s a result of the rise of corporate farming and farm consolidation. Fewer farms with more efficient production processes meant lower demand for the tomten. As a result, most of the displaced tomten have been hired by Santa Claus Industries, Inc. to do domestic spying work.

  • SKPeterson

    sg @ 20 – It’s a result of the rise of corporate farming and farm consolidation. Fewer farms with more efficient production processes meant lower demand for the tomten. As a result, most of the displaced tomten have been hired by Santa Claus Industries, Inc. to do domestic spying work.

  • Tom Hering

    “Praise us for doing good? Is that government’s job? Which article of the Constitution is that in?”

    Don, you know darn well I was referencing something the Bible says about government – what God establishes it to do. (Romans 13; 1st Peter 2.) You also know the Constitution isn’t in the Bible. I hope. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    “Praise us for doing good? Is that government’s job? Which article of the Constitution is that in?”

    Don, you know darn well I was referencing something the Bible says about government – what God establishes it to do. (Romans 13; 1st Peter 2.) You also know the Constitution isn’t in the Bible. I hope. :-D

  • DonS

    Ahh, Tom, I forgot about that usage of “praise” in the civil authority passages, meaning, of course, approval or the citizen’s lack of apprehension.

    As long as you aren’t advocating yet another Cabinet agency, the Department of Praise ;-)

  • DonS

    Ahh, Tom, I forgot about that usage of “praise” in the civil authority passages, meaning, of course, approval or the citizen’s lack of apprehension.

    As long as you aren’t advocating yet another Cabinet agency, the Department of Praise ;-)

  • Tom Hering

    Hmmm. I wonder what our society would look like if government actively praised and rewarded doing good. And a new agency wouldn’t require new funds. You could just shift some of the funds used for punishing evildoers, because government hasn’t been doing a lot of that lately – among the 1%, anyways. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    Hmmm. I wonder what our society would look like if government actively praised and rewarded doing good. And a new agency wouldn’t require new funds. You could just shift some of the funds used for punishing evildoers, because government hasn’t been doing a lot of that lately – among the 1%, anyways. :-D

  • DonS

    Tom, I guess I’m not on board with our government determining the meaning of “good”, and issuing praise accordingly. As far as I can tell, its definition seems seriously in opposition to biblical standards in many respects.

    As far as punishing evil, its not doing so well among the 99% either — those illegal encampments have been hanging around interminably.

  • DonS

    Tom, I guess I’m not on board with our government determining the meaning of “good”, and issuing praise accordingly. As far as I can tell, its definition seems seriously in opposition to biblical standards in many respects.

    As far as punishing evil, its not doing so well among the 99% either — those illegal encampments have been hanging around interminably.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@27:

    Many political philosophers (Thomas Aquinas among them) have suggested that the government reward citizens who behave justly and virtuously. Some even suggest that the government should actively encourage or force individual to be good. I wonder if such a thing would be possible in a pluralistic democracy? What sorts of policies encourage charity, goodness, and justice? I think this question is very valid.

    I can assure you, however, that things would go downhill quickly if the government replaced punishment for evildoers altogether with incentives to goodness.

    And which 1% are you talking about? Bernie Madoff is rotting in prison. The others might not be scoundrels, but you will probably be hard-pressed to demonstrate that the actively broke explicit laws. Our government isn’t currently in the business of punishing moral transgressions, so the obvious fact that the C.E.O. of Bank of America, for instance, has behaved uncharitably and unjustly isn’t necessarily a matter for coercive political action.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@27:

    Many political philosophers (Thomas Aquinas among them) have suggested that the government reward citizens who behave justly and virtuously. Some even suggest that the government should actively encourage or force individual to be good. I wonder if such a thing would be possible in a pluralistic democracy? What sorts of policies encourage charity, goodness, and justice? I think this question is very valid.

    I can assure you, however, that things would go downhill quickly if the government replaced punishment for evildoers altogether with incentives to goodness.

    And which 1% are you talking about? Bernie Madoff is rotting in prison. The others might not be scoundrels, but you will probably be hard-pressed to demonstrate that the actively broke explicit laws. Our government isn’t currently in the business of punishing moral transgressions, so the obvious fact that the C.E.O. of Bank of America, for instance, has behaved uncharitably and unjustly isn’t necessarily a matter for coercive political action.

  • Cincinnatus

    And, really, punishments themselves qualify as “rewards” for goodness, after all. If I don’t see the value in doing good for its own sake, I certainly appreciate the reward of living my life not behind bars enough not to be a general scofflaw.

  • Cincinnatus

    And, really, punishments themselves qualify as “rewards” for goodness, after all. If I don’t see the value in doing good for its own sake, I certainly appreciate the reward of living my life not behind bars enough not to be a general scofflaw.

  • Grace

    God’s greatest gift to mankind over 2,000 years ago, and little man concerns themselves with themselves regarding gifts, then teaches their children about ‘elves’ and Santa ? The church then wonders why children and young people are confused about Christmas.

    My family didn’t teach such nonsense as ‘elf stories. Christmas was all about Christ. It’s a shame that greed has become the mainstay of our world. Children aren’t encouraged to think of others, only themselves, what they want, and how much they can get.

  • Grace

    God’s greatest gift to mankind over 2,000 years ago, and little man concerns themselves with themselves regarding gifts, then teaches their children about ‘elves’ and Santa ? The church then wonders why children and young people are confused about Christmas.

    My family didn’t teach such nonsense as ‘elf stories. Christmas was all about Christ. It’s a shame that greed has become the mainstay of our world. Children aren’t encouraged to think of others, only themselves, what they want, and how much they can get.

  • Dan Kempin

    I referenced this in my sermon tonight, so thanks Dr. Veith.

  • Dan Kempin

    I referenced this in my sermon tonight, so thanks Dr. Veith.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I’ll be blunt: Elf on the Shelf is stupid.

    Kids know that they simply have to shift their illicit activities to whatever room the elf isn’t in. If he were omniscient, he wouldn’t have to move from room to room. The Elf obviously can’t see through walls. Major. Flaw.

    That’s why we have those dome-housed security cameras installed in every room in our house. We don’t waste our kids’ time with wan fairy fare, either. We just tell them that John Ashcroft is watching, listening, and still reading their every email. And that if they even so much as think of misbehaving, they will learn the true meaning of “suspension of habeus corpus”!

    I mean, honestly, you think a fat guy in a fur-lined suit can compete with motivation like that? Let the eagle soar, my friend. Let the eagle soar.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I’ll be blunt: Elf on the Shelf is stupid.

    Kids know that they simply have to shift their illicit activities to whatever room the elf isn’t in. If he were omniscient, he wouldn’t have to move from room to room. The Elf obviously can’t see through walls. Major. Flaw.

    That’s why we have those dome-housed security cameras installed in every room in our house. We don’t waste our kids’ time with wan fairy fare, either. We just tell them that John Ashcroft is watching, listening, and still reading their every email. And that if they even so much as think of misbehaving, they will learn the true meaning of “suspension of habeus corpus”!

    I mean, honestly, you think a fat guy in a fur-lined suit can compete with motivation like that? Let the eagle soar, my friend. Let the eagle soar.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @ 24

    He, he, he. I’ll have to show this to my son. I bet he will come up with a silly song a la VeggieTales/Weird Al Yankovic style to lament the plight of the julnisse. Maybe to the tune of John Cougar Mellencamp’s Little Pink Houses?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @ 24

    He, he, he. I’ll have to show this to my son. I bet he will come up with a silly song a la VeggieTales/Weird Al Yankovic style to lament the plight of the julnisse. Maybe to the tune of John Cougar Mellencamp’s Little Pink Houses?

  • Grace

    sg,

    Where I Worship “Veggie Tales” would never be mentioned regarding Christmas. In fact “Veggie Tales” has nothing to do with the Word of God, nor are they the focal point of anything in church.

    And…. parents wonder why children grow, and see how vacant their parents beliefs are, how ignorant their parents see their children, believing they can teach them something SACRED through nonsense, because as a child, they aren’t capable of understanding who God is, what HE did for us on the Cross, His birth, Resurrection!

    The church needs to WAKE UP and teach what is truth.

  • Grace

    sg,

    Where I Worship “Veggie Tales” would never be mentioned regarding Christmas. In fact “Veggie Tales” has nothing to do with the Word of God, nor are they the focal point of anything in church.

    And…. parents wonder why children grow, and see how vacant their parents beliefs are, how ignorant their parents see their children, believing they can teach them something SACRED through nonsense, because as a child, they aren’t capable of understanding who God is, what HE did for us on the Cross, His birth, Resurrection!

    The church needs to WAKE UP and teach what is truth.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “The church needs to WAKE UP and teach what is truth.”

    Hey, that was the devotion based on Romans 13:11, for the first Thursday in Advent in God Grant It. Have you been reading Walther? It’s okay. You can tell us.

    Also, a great hymn on that idea Wake Awake for Night is Flying

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “The church needs to WAKE UP and teach what is truth.”

    Hey, that was the devotion based on Romans 13:11, for the first Thursday in Advent in God Grant It. Have you been reading Walther? It’s okay. You can tell us.

    Also, a great hymn on that idea Wake Awake for Night is Flying

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Where I Worship “Veggie Tales” would never be mentioned regarding Christmas.”

    This isn’t a place of worship.

    “In fact “Veggie Tales” has nothing to do with the Word of God, nor are they the focal point of anything in church.”

    Uh, what? I was talking about making up a funny kid’s song.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Where I Worship “Veggie Tales” would never be mentioned regarding Christmas.”

    This isn’t a place of worship.

    “In fact “Veggie Tales” has nothing to do with the Word of God, nor are they the focal point of anything in church.”

    Uh, what? I was talking about making up a funny kid’s song.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Veggie Tales Silly Song:

    Song Under the Credits

    Just a little cultural enrichment for you. (Has nothing to do with church, religion, etc.)

    Heeey, heeey, hey, hey, hey, hey…

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Veggie Tales Silly Song:

    Song Under the Credits

    Just a little cultural enrichment for you. (Has nothing to do with church, religion, etc.)

    Heeey, heeey, hey, hey, hey, hey…

  • FWS

    I am told that the department of justice in Italy is called the “department of Justice and Mercy”. Even in a legal system, mercy has a place along side Justice. Without it, Justice becomes twisted. The allowance our system made in the past for mercy was called “judicial descretion”. Now we have people incarcerated for life because they stole a piece of pizza…..

    “Les miserables” by Victor Hugo is a great book to read to see how this all plays out.

  • FWS

    I am told that the department of justice in Italy is called the “department of Justice and Mercy”. Even in a legal system, mercy has a place along side Justice. Without it, Justice becomes twisted. The allowance our system made in the past for mercy was called “judicial descretion”. Now we have people incarcerated for life because they stole a piece of pizza…..

    “Les miserables” by Victor Hugo is a great book to read to see how this all plays out.

  • FWS

    Now for a word on this from the Lutheran Confessions bold added…:

    For instance, the Seventh Commandment, concerning stealing, must be strenuously urged among mechanics and merchants, and even farmers and servants, for among these people many kinds of dishonesty and thieving prevail. So, too, you must urge well the Fourth Commandment among the children and the common people, that they may be quiet and faithful, obedient and peaceable, and you must always adduce many examples from the Scriptures to show how God has punished or blessed such persons.

    Especially should you here urge magistrates and parents to rule well and to send their children to school, showing them why it is their duty to do this, and what a damnable sin they are committing if they do not do it.

    For by such neglect they overthrow and destroy both the kingdom of God and that of the world, acting as the worst enemies both of God and of men.

    And make it very plain to them what an awful harm they are doing if they will not help to train children to be pastors, preachers, clerks [also for other offices, with which we cannot dispense in this life], etc., and that God will punish them terribly for it. For such preaching is needed. [Verily, I do not know of any other topic that deserves to be treated as much as this.]

    Parents and magistrates are now sinning unspeakably in this respect. The devil, too, aims at something cruel because of these things [that he may hurl Germany into the greatest distress]

    Preface to the Small Catechism
    http://www.bookofconcord.org/smallcatechism.php

    This sounds alot like being rewarded for being naughty or nice. Dr Veith, this IS how God has things set up in what the Confessions call the Earthly Kingdom.

    Maybe present Santa as the representative of the Earthly Kingdom where Santa is God’s agent to enforce the Law of God. And this work is the only way sinners can be made to do Mercy to others. People consciously, for the most part, try to be nicer around christmas dont they?

    Then, in, with and under all that is that is that Gift of Mercy that is alone Jesus. And where only can we hear about THIS kind of Mercy that overcomes even our sin? ONLY in Church!

  • FWS

    Now for a word on this from the Lutheran Confessions bold added…:

    For instance, the Seventh Commandment, concerning stealing, must be strenuously urged among mechanics and merchants, and even farmers and servants, for among these people many kinds of dishonesty and thieving prevail. So, too, you must urge well the Fourth Commandment among the children and the common people, that they may be quiet and faithful, obedient and peaceable, and you must always adduce many examples from the Scriptures to show how God has punished or blessed such persons.

    Especially should you here urge magistrates and parents to rule well and to send their children to school, showing them why it is their duty to do this, and what a damnable sin they are committing if they do not do it.

    For by such neglect they overthrow and destroy both the kingdom of God and that of the world, acting as the worst enemies both of God and of men.

    And make it very plain to them what an awful harm they are doing if they will not help to train children to be pastors, preachers, clerks [also for other offices, with which we cannot dispense in this life], etc., and that God will punish them terribly for it. For such preaching is needed. [Verily, I do not know of any other topic that deserves to be treated as much as this.]

    Parents and magistrates are now sinning unspeakably in this respect. The devil, too, aims at something cruel because of these things [that he may hurl Germany into the greatest distress]

    Preface to the Small Catechism
    http://www.bookofconcord.org/smallcatechism.php

    This sounds alot like being rewarded for being naughty or nice. Dr Veith, this IS how God has things set up in what the Confessions call the Earthly Kingdom.

    Maybe present Santa as the representative of the Earthly Kingdom where Santa is God’s agent to enforce the Law of God. And this work is the only way sinners can be made to do Mercy to others. People consciously, for the most part, try to be nicer around christmas dont they?

    Then, in, with and under all that is that is that Gift of Mercy that is alone Jesus. And where only can we hear about THIS kind of Mercy that overcomes even our sin? ONLY in Church!

  • FWS

    Cinn….

    rewards for “being good”. Isnt that what tax credits are usually supposed to be about? reward for the behavior the government wants out of us?

  • FWS

    Cinn….

    rewards for “being good”. Isnt that what tax credits are usually supposed to be about? reward for the behavior the government wants out of us?

  • FWS

    sg,

    you are becoming a fun read gal.

  • FWS

    sg,

    you are becoming a fun read gal.


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