“Yes, Virginia, there is a God”

Isn’t it strange that changing one name to another makes this into such a typical example of modern moderate religious apologetics?

I could see most American newspapers I can name publishing this like it is… except the stray bit about chimneys and fairies. And even that would be easy to fix.

New York Sun, Sept. 21, 1897 2009

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus God. Papa says, “If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.” Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus God?

VIRGINIA O’HANLON

115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET

* * *

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus God. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus God. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus God! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus God, but even if they did not see Santa Claus God coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus God, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus God. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus God! Thank God Santa Claus! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

And beside the likeness of this piece to modern apologetics, now all the vague, isn’t it somehow scary how many people seem to find it nice and no biggie to lie about the world to a defenseless child? “U-hur-hur there’s a Santa Claus. Of course there is. Isn’t that girl just so darn cute, Bobby!”

That’s in my view just a step away from this:

“D-dead? No, granny isn’t dead, Virginia, of course not! She… I mean, when people are ‘dead’ they, uh, that means… they’ve moved to Uruguay. Yes. Uruguay. It’s a nice place very far away.”

“Can we go visit her? And is that where Doggy ran away to?”

“Um… er, maybe.”

“Yay! Let’s all ‘die’ right now together!”

But then again, that’s the theology of Heaven.

One Response to ““Yes, Virginia, there is a God””

  1. Bob O'H Says:

    “Yay! Let’s all ‘die’ right now together!”

    It was common in madrigals to use death as a metaphor for sex. Which gives this a rather more sinister overtone.

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