Bigfoot, Santa, and Jesus

Bigfoot lives in the Uwharrie National Forest near my home in NC – according to the locals. There’s a cute coffee shop nearby that sells Bigfoot items and features the furry guy pictured in this post in their front window.

There are other Bigfeet (Bigfoots?) living among us in the United States as well, according to true believers.

U.S. Congressman Denver Riggleman became obsessed with Bigfoot some years ago – or, more accurately, he became obsessed with the Bigfoot phenomenon and devotees who would spend big money on group Bigfoot Quests.  He even wrote a book about it.  For the record, he believes that Bigfoot is a myth.

Congressman Riggleman was not re-elected recently and it’s not necessarily  because of his interest in Bigfoot.  It might have more to do with his comparisons between the mythology of Bigfoot and the state of our current politics.  You can read more about it here in this article by Meagan Flynn of The Washington Post:

Bigfoot believers have plenty in common with political extremists on both the far right and the far left, Riggleman said, lambasting a political ecosystem where, oftentimes, “facts don’t matter.”

He believes that the conspiracies swirling around our nation are all about money.  And I think he’s right.  We love money. Regarding the conspiracy theories about our recent election results:

“They’re asking for donations to help in a mythological quest of things that can’t be proven. I saw it with Bigfoot. I’m seeing it with QAnon. It’s about money. And sometimes crazy and money live in the same space.”

Amen.

We not only try to make money over mythologizing what may or may not be true, but many people make money over something as holy as the birth of the Christ Child.  More about that in a moment.

Saint Nicholas of Myra was a real person.  Born in Greece in 270 CE, he was a Christian Bishop living in what is now Antalya, Turkey on the Mediterranean coast. And – according to tradition – he was the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, prostitutes, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, and unmarried people. (For fun, consider how each of those demographics are indeed connected in some way to the Christmas season.) Saint Nicholas Day is December 6.

We have Clement Clarke Moore and Coca Cola to thank for mythologizing the story of St. Nick and making Christmas into a money-making opportunity where – in some magical driveways – people are gifted with Lexus and Range Rover vehicles with big red bows on top. Santa (aka St. Nick) didn’t have reindeer and chimney powers until Moore’s poem laid out his modus operandi and Coke solidified his look in their advertising.

Although many of us minimize the belief that Christmas is actually about the birth of Baby Jesus, some of us have made money out of mythologizing Jesus too. There’s Precious Moments Jesus.  There are Christmas fundraisers.  There are Christmas Carol contests with fabulous prizes.

And there are books – lots and lots of books that offer an image of Jesus that can’t be found in the Bible. (Note: I am not saying that people should not write books about Jesus or theology.  I am saying that making money off of bad theology does more damage than good.)

It’s enough to make us cynical.  It’s enough to make us believe that Jesus is just another myth – like Coca Cola Santa or Bigfoot.

But – here’s the extraordinary thing – it’s possible that in these weeks before we celebrate Jesus’ birth, we will experience something pure and true and good about the God who loved us enough to come closer in the form of a poor baby in a time and place rife with injustice and poverty.

We, too, live in a time when greed rules and “crazy and money live in the same place.”  There is chaos.  There is fear.  And there is also beauty and hope.

God is still with us and we can experience this in the simple acts of love between strangers and friends.  We can keep our eyes open for moments of joy.

It’s not easy for many of us as we stagger through these days longing for what we’ve lost or craving what we’ve never had.  (We need to love the long-ers and the crave-ers too.)  This season is not about flash and noise.  And it’s so not about big red bows on luxury cars.

Let’s not allow mythology to win.  Let’s seek the Truth of this season as we seek the truth of what’s going on in the world right now.

Also, let’s read what the Bible says about Jesus.  We might be surprised.

Images of Bigfoot (top) in the window of Uwharrie Merchantile in Troy, NC. And icon of St. Nicholas of Myra painted by Jaroslav Čermák (1830-1878).

 

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