God and Santa

More than any other time of the year, Christmastime always seems to bring out those religious conversations, the kind that we are not normally faced with so blatantly during the other months. As controversial a topic as it is, perhaps the spirit of the season also allows us to be more charitable and tolerant toward others than we would normally be, giving way to disclosure usually only spoken in discreet code.

When Crosses was originally posted on Elizabeth’s facebook page, there were “likes” and feedback from an eclectic array of fans who had incredibly different interpretations, much like religion itself. One of the more interesting discussions that arose were between Heather Dalberg and Red Elk, which touched upon the warm, safe blanket of spirituality versus overt proselytization.

Ironically, Elizabeth was a staunch atheist to the end. How could this be, that she would even want to draw this army of crosses marching confrontationally toward the viewer? The answer may lie in her own mother, who was something of a born-again Christian Scientist early in her child-raising years. Eventually Grandma Lucille became a Practitioner, which is much like a healer. Having also been later raised in this environment, I can attest to the strict and disciplined faith that is required to do battle with biology; but we were also the beneficiaries of such concepts as love without hate, good without evil, Heaven without Hell. For Lucille’s children, Saturdays were spent studying the weekly lesson, using Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health to help interpret the Bible. By the time we (her grandchildren) were around, Grandma Lucille had become the equivalent of the minister, delivering the Sunday sermons.

For a free-spirited Elizabeth however, religion was smothering, and this drawing may well have been her personal nightmare of imposed limitations. She would break rules just to prove they were unnatural; she would do it loudly, proudly, and with joyous abandon…except when her mother was around. There wasn’t a week that went by as I was growing up that I was reminded “Don’t tell Grandma.” This, and “If the FBI questions you, don’t let on you know anything” were more frequent than “brush your teeth” and “wash your hands.

I remember asking when I was young, “Does God exist?” and “Does Santa exist?” and was given the same answer: “He does if you think he does.” And I got this same answer from both the Atheist and the Minister. At least they agreed on something.