Have a Mature Christmas (If You’re Ready To)

Have a Mature Christmas (If You’re Ready To) December 25, 2022

The four stages of Santa described in the text of this blog post, as an image.

I have long loved the Christmas decoration that depicts the four phases of life in terms of Christmas. These are:

The Four Stages Of Life:

  1. You Believe In Santa Claus
  2. You Don’t Believe In Santa Claus
  3. You Are Santa Claus
  4. You Look Like Santa Claus.

These actually correspond quite well to phases in psychological maturation, faith development (Piaget), and interpretation of symbolic stories and myths (Ricoeur). Theologians have embraced these insights down the ages (think of Tillich’s treatment of myth, faith, and truth). Religious leaders who try to keep people insisting on the literal factuality of the stories are actively trying to keep people from growing and maturing in their faith, in the hope that they will be more submissive to their own authority. Jesus, Paul, and the key figures worth listening to down the ages in the history of Christianity (and other religions) emphasize growing in maturity. Indeed, Jesus himself exemplifies this, as I explore in my book What Jesus Learned from Women, which takes as a key starting point the explicit statement in the Gospel of Luke: Jesus grew in wisdom and maturity. (Some translations render that last word as stature. The Greek is ambiguous. Unless you mature in faith and your treatment of texts you won’t cope well with this ambiguity, but it is there inherent in the text).

If you like the four phases you can get it as a physical sign to hang up at the holidays. Of course, it won’t reach you in time for this Christmas, but you’ll get to enjoy it this year, and it isn’t a bad way to use your Amazon gift certificate you received for this Christmas.

You may also want to take a look at my Christmas-themed TikTok videos. My historical work doesn’t keep me from appreciating the stories and celebrating the holiday. Here I am with my family singing some Romanian Christmas carols at our church yesterday, Christmas Eve. We wish a merry Christmas to all who celebrate it, and joy and happiness to all regardless of whether today is a special day or not, and regardless which stage of life you are at. Now, let me get back to being Santa…and yes, looking more and more like him as well.

Previously on this blog:

The Four Stages of Santa

God and Santa

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