A Message Found In "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town"
by Lois E. Gibson
The other night before bed, I watched the old children's claymation Christmas program, "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town." Something in the movie caused me to pause it and ponder how it related to the extra-biblical rules that are made by controlling ministers and others. You may never view this children's classic the same! (You may also wish to read an article on "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" & Unhealthy Churches that is found here.)
There is a scene about 13-14 minutes into the movie where the mayor of Sombertown, Burgermeister Meisterburger, comes out of city hall and while walking down the steps, he trips over a wooden toy duck. He slides down to the bottom on his back, breaking a bone in his right leg.
After the doctor sees him, he asks what happened and he is shown the toy that caused the fall. Enraged, he declares that he hates all toys and they hate him. Either they are going or he is going and it won't be him.
The Burgermeister then breaks out in song, "It's a difficult responsibility, that you accept from the number one lawmaker, me...."
Before I go further, stop and think about the ways this show can be related to all the standard rules found in unhealthy churches. Think of the Burgermeister as the pastor of a church that demands compliance to what is termed "holiness standards."
Because he was hurt by a toy left on the steps, he decides he will dictate to everyone how they are to view toys. He outlaws them and tells how they are to be destroyed and wiped out. Here are a few other lines from his song:
(as he is sharing how toys are to be destroyed) "No, I don't want to debate it..."
"When a child objects, rebuff 'em!"
"Don't let me see another toy or you will feel my boot!"
The new rule is posted for all to see and obey. "Toys are hereby declared illegal, immoral, unlawful, and anyone found with a toy in his possession will be placed under arrest and thrown in the dungeon. No kidding."
The toys are confiscated by the authorities, much to the dismay of the children.
When Kris Kringle arrives in town in his bright red suit soon afterward, the town has changed. What once was a place where people were happy, Kris now finds to be unhappy, grumpy, cold and judgmental. One older woman greets him by saying, "You aught to be ashamed of yourself young man, wearing such outlandish clothes." The school teacher also later tells him, "How dare you come here in those ridiculous clothes!"
When Kris tells the adults that he came to give away toys, they run and hide in fear. He then sees a boy and a girl cleaning their stockings. The boy informs Kris, "That's the only way they judge you around here, by how many chores you do and how clean your stockings are."
Later, when the Burgermeister is given a yo-yo by Kris, he plays happily with it, ignoring and breaking his own rule. When that is pointed out to him by another, he quickly stops. Kris is labeled an outlaw and the Burgermeister is determined to hunt him down and put an end to his toy giving.
As time goes on, the Meisterburgers and his rule die off and the townspeople return to normal, realizing how silly and wrong the no toys rule really was.
I had never paid attention before to how many things in this film could be related to all the outward standards rules that are imposed by some.
Unhealthy pastors/ministers will declare rules (for whatever reasons, even personal ones like seen here) and some will not discuss them other than to tell you the rule and that you are to obey. ("No, I don't want to debate it...") Objections may be met abruptly and ungraciously. ("When a child objects, rebuff 'em!") Fear of some type of punishment, by the minister or by God, is added to ensure compliance. ("Don't let me see another toy or you will feel my boot!" "Anyone found with a toy in his possession will be placed under arrest and thrown in the dungeon.")
These rules may attempt to define for the hearer how they are to view the matter. ("Toys are hereby declared illegal, immoral, unlawful..." Even the school teacher was seen parroting what was taught about toys.) Placing a focus on following these rules may cause a change in the person that is detrimental. (What once was a place where people were happy, Kris now finds to be unhappy, grumpy, cold and judgmental.) People become judged by their obedience to the rules and on outward appearance only. ("That's the only way they judge you around here, by how many chores you do and how clean your stockings are.")
All of these things are a result of spiritual abuse.
"It's a difficult responsibility, that you accept from the number one lawmaker, me...." Actually, it is not the pastor's responsibility. Pastors are not the #1 lawmakers and you need not accept these type of demands for compliance.
You may write Lois at the email address displayed in the image. No correspondence that seeks to debate will be answered as I have no desire to debate. Understand that due to the volume of mail, not every email may be acknowledged.
Posted November 10, 2013
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August 23, 1997
Copyright © 1997-2013 by Lois E. Gibson
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