Now, I’ve grown against the idea of “Santa Claus” for other reasons, but I generally agree with what this guy is saying here. In “OK, Virginia, There’s No Santa Claus. But There Is God,” Tony Woodlief discusses the necessity of a belief in the *possibility* of fairies as an important element to belief in God.
Perhaps a more responsible parent would confess, but I hesitate. For this I blame G.K. Chesterton, whose treatise “Orthodoxy” had its 100th anniversary this year. One of its themes is the violence that rationalistic modernism has worked on the valuable idea of a “mystical condition,” which is to say the mystery inherent in a supernaturally created world. Writing of his path to faith in God, Chesterton says: “I had always believed that the world involved magic: now I thought that perhaps it involved a magician.”
He notes that Christopher Dawkins says that telling children fairy tales–particularly Christian allegories–is a worse form of abuse than sexual molestation.
New research from the Université de Montréal and the University of Ottawa indicates that children aren’t overly troubled upon learning that Santa is a myth. But the researchers remained puzzled because while children eventually abandon Santa, they keep believing in God. Lewis would say this is because God is real, but Mr. Dawkins fears it is the lasting damage of fairy tales.
. . .
That’s all well and good, but it seems to miss a fundamental point illuminated by Chesterton, which is that, ultimately, belief in God is belief in mystery.
As a parent, I believe (with the older apologists) that it’s essential to preserve a small, inviolate space in the heart of a child, a space where he is free to believe impossibilities.