Thursday, January 6, 2011

Christmas in Sanur, 2-1/2

It is useful to observe at this point that Bali is about 95 percent Hindu, where profession of the population is concerned--although how Hindu the Hinduism of the 95 percent really is, is a matter its own, and no different a one than the Christianity of Christians or the Muslim-ness of Muslims. All this really means is that ignorance regarding the tenants of ones own professed faith, not to mention the beliefs of other people, runs faithfully at about 95 percent the whole world over. It becomes therefore not only possible, but reasonable to conclude that Santa Claus, sleigh bells, and pine trees bedecked with glass ornaments and twinkling lights are central icons of the Christian belief system--which may, it is generally supposed, have also something to do with a man named Jesus, although likely only secondarily so, given the attention shown to the former trappings as opposed to the latter personage.

Here then is the most telling example of the power of advertising that I know--that jolly old Saint Nick and Rudolph the Red Nosed Rain Deer are more readily recognized symbols of Christianity than Jesus Christ Himself. And the fact that this misapprehension prevails just as persuasively in the West as in the tropical islands of Southeast Asia or the snow cast wastes of Manchuria ought at the very least to strike terror upon the missionary and awe upon the philosopher, for we celebrate not the birth of the man of sorrows, not the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven, but toy land and a parade of tin soldiers, rat-a-tat-tat and a-rumpty-tum-tum.

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