So what is it with Christians who are so able to debunk and demythologise the myths of everyone else, and fail to see that exactly the same logic applies to their own mythology?
A priest in northern Italy told kids there was no Father Christmas at a children’s mass. Great. We shouldn’t believe in magical beings that can break all physical laws just to get across a moral story. I concur.
What about Jesus? A magical being who can break the laws of physics, whose sole justification (and a not very good one at that) is that there is some moral foundation for treating folks nicely. Without a trace of irony (and we know that Italians understand irony), Fr Bottino said
“I told the children that Father Christmas was an invention that had nothing to do with the Christian Christmas story.”
Because the Christian Christmas story is not an invention itself, right? Wrong. It was invented in the third century, ignoring the only documentary foundations in Luke and Matthew (shepherds watch their flocks by night in March and April in Palestine, by the way) to make a point in the Christological debates.
The priest said he had never intended to hurt anyone, but it was his duty to distinguish the reality of Jesus from the story of Father Christmas which was a fable just like Cinderella or Snow White.
A pre-Christian Greek by the name of Euhemerus held that the pagan gods were historical figures around whom fabulous stories had accreted, leading to their deification. This account was very popular among early Christian apologists, but for some reason they didn’t apply this to their own deity or deities (depending on how you count persons). And yet, no argument apart from “we believe it’s true” distinguishes the Christian god[s] from those Euhemerists were critiquing. Not until Rudolph Bultmann did Christians try to demythologise Jesus in that way, and even then his argument was not widely accepted.
Those outside the Christian communion cannot but see the blindness of these critics of pagan religious traditions to the tu quoque, but then we all can’t see our own shortcomings. At this time of year, when the northern hemisphere celebrates the winter solstice and the rebirth of the Sun, and we in the southern hemisphere follow the economic imperatives this sets, we should perhaps laugh a little at Fr Bottini, and ourselves…
Edited to correct errors identified int he comments.