I have spent several days thinking about the recent comments from Megyn Kelly, the boneheaded Fox "News" broadcaster, that both Jesus and Santa were and are white.
My first thought was about the first time I saw a black Santa Claus. It was about 1968 in Rochester, N.Y., where I was covering the poverty/race-relations beat for the now-defunct Times-Union. A wonderful black woman who ran a store-front community center in Rochester's inner city had arranged for a black man to play Santa for kids in her program.
It was, briefly, the talk of the town, given that almost no one then had heard of such a thing. But, I thought then, why not? Santa, after all (spoiler alert: Kids, stop reading), is a fictional character so why not make up whatever race, ethnicity or skin color you want?
As for Jesus, well, my thoughts first ran to Kelly's ignorant view of history (though she said later that she was just joking), which is a point made in this response piece.
But that seemed to take Kelly too seriously. I think you make a mistake when you take any Fox commentator too seriously.
Then I thought about the academic quest for the historical Jesus. It turns out that almost every scholar who has engaged in that quest has found not necessarily the historical Jesus but, rather, the historian's Jesus. So 19th Century German scholars tended to find a Jesus who seemed very much like a 19th Century German, for instance.
At which point I ran across this interview with author Reza Aslan, who has written a new book about Jesus. Aslan says Kelly was right in the sense that for her Christ is white (thus the blue eyes in the Jesus depicted here), whereas for someone else Christ may be a dark-skinned Palestinian or a black African. As Aslan says, "That is the entire point of the Christ."
OK. Now that we've settled that, we can agree to ignore Kelly's point that Jesus is "a historical figure. That's a verifiable fact, as is Santa."
Well, as glad as we are to have Kelly's affirmation that Jesus is "a historical figure," we're more thrilled to have her proof again, Virginia, that Santa is a verifiable fact, at least as Fox "News" uses facts.
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Speaking of off-the-wall media folks, Rush Limbaugh recently described Pope Francis's comments on economic matters as Marxism. Now the pope says, no, he's not a Marxist. Does it disturb you a little, as it does me, that Francis responds to the inane junk-talk of a man like Limbaugh? If a provocative fool speaks into a forest of radio waves and no one responds, has he really said anything?
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P.S.: It's now possible to sign up online for my Aug. 11-17 Ghost Ranch class, "Turning Our Pain Toward Hope Through Writing." Just click here and then join me for a relaxing week in the beautiful red rock hills of northern New Mexico that Georgia O'Keeffe made famous through her painting.