Elf

Recommended with Qualification. Will Ferrel is a human that was abandoned as a baby and through happenstance ended up at Santa’s home in the North Pole. So he is raised as an elf until he discovers one day he is actually human and sets out to search for his father who lives in New York. Of course, the father, played by James Caan, is a selfish SOB who doesn’t want anything to do with Will. The laughs come from the Elf’s naieve innocence in contrast with the cynical lost people of the city. But he wins everyone’s heart, including Caan’s, and a love interest as well. Sweet, sweet, sweet. This film is funny, warm-hearted, endearing, has some good values and is totally clean. And best of all, it’s theme is that innocence wins. So why don’t I recommend it? I want to, I really do. I wanted to support a wholesome valued movie. But values are more than the lack of sex and violence. They are also about worldviews. The reason I recommend with qualification is because it is a mythology that intentionally obscures the true and sacred meaning of Christmas: Jesus Christ. That’s right: Christ-Mass. I’m not against secular mythology per se. I have no problem with using prevailing mythologies or genres subversively to communicate good values. In fact, I’m not even against all Santa Claus movies, sight unseen. It’s just that I know that the Santa Claus myth has developed with the intent to divert attention from the true and sacred source of grace and redemption, and for that reason it is personally offensive. Now, I know that the fat old man in red was based upon St. Nick who was originally a Christian. But in this case, the man in red is more like the devil because of what he has become: a smoke screen obscuring the “true spirit” of Christmas. Let’s be honest, there is nothing about “St. Nick” in this popular image as he appears in this movie (And I’m sure radical activist Ed Asner certainly wouldn’t have played Santa if there was). And I know that Christmas was originally a pagan festival called “Saturnalia” that the Roman Catholic Church took over and reinvented as Christmas. And this is exactly what the Santa Claus myth has done, stolen back the Christian holy day and redefined it in secular terms of human goodness WITHOUT God. You know, naughty and nice, which is ultimately a system of salvation by good works. Pure balderdash. Damning balderdash at that. So the pagans have stolen the holy day back and made it a mere holiday that diverts man’s attention from the one thing he needs most: A Savior. That is the sacrilege of it. That is the rape of the Christian mythology.

The movie is all about innocence lost in a cynical selfish culture. Great intentions, bad results. And you know, it would not take much for me to turn around and change everything I just said. If only the storytellers had tied in the true meaning of Christmas, even subtley, in the background, then I would whole-heartedly embrace it. And wouldn’t that be creative irony, too? The myth pointing to the reality. Alas, God is IGNORED entirely. There wasn’t even a manger at the bottom of a Christmas tree. And for that reason, this film is disingenuine and subversively negative to Christmas. The heart of the story is that people need to believe in Santa in order to rediscover the innocence or goodness within themselves, the exact opposite of the truth. This is symbolized in the idea of singing out of your heart, as in Christmas Carols. And even then, they don’t sing real Christmas Carols. Maybe Santa could have given recognition to the true meaning by noticing a manger under a tree with even a slight nod, or the people could have sung true Christmas Carols as the expression of their “belief” rather than a Santa carol as they did in the movie. Even something as small as that would have been redeeming to the story. But no, we are slaves to postmodern fideism. Believe in a “good lie” is the solution in this film. Believe in Santa. The power is in the subject of belief, not the object of belief. It doesn’t matter that something is false, if it helps us accomplish the good. Let us do evil that good may come. Believe! Believe! Believe! — Just NOT in Jesus. And don’t even get me going on the Easter Bunny…

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