A few years ago I was walking through Woodfield Mall, the largest one in Illinois, just before Christmas. I was disappointed to see that Santa's grotto, where children waited in line for a brief one-on-one consultation with Mr. Claus, had been transformed into an enormous promotional display for the upcoming movie, Happy Feet.
Apparently the mall's managers were not bothered that Santa was difficult to see among the huge images of computer generated penguins, and clearly nobody was disturbed by the geographic discrepancy–penguins only live at the South Pole and Santa resides at the North Pole. Sadder to me was the absence of the enormous Christmas tree that had stood at the center of the mall since my childhood. It appeared that Santa had sold his season, and his soul, to Warner Brothers Studios. I was, however, comforted by the irony of the scene–the character that had commercialized Christmas a century ago had fallen victim to his own devices.
Christians have always had a strained relationship ...1