Sunday, June 05, 2011

Tomte again

Those crazy little pagan house deities! Always looking for food. We've made both angels and demons cute, so that they are now indistinguishable.

I wondered what this was about. Even I think this is funny.

1 comment:

Dubbahdee said...

I have often wondered whether the defanging of the faerie is a phenomenon linked to the rise of Christianity or to the Modern Enlightenment. It seems to me it owes more to the latter.

The Christian reaction seems to have been to recognize the power of the wights and spirits and what not, and to banish them to outer darkness. They were linked with pagan gods and literally demonized. While in places the Bible makes a clear case that gods of wood are merely chunks of trees and not gods at all, it is also very clear about brooking no commerce with such things. If they are nothing, why all the fuss?

The enlightenment instead seeks to dismiss, not banish. It treats them as foolish remnants of old thinking. Silliness. Let's make them all into children's stories. They are amusing and harmless after all. Cute, as you say. Did "cuteness" exist as an aesthetic category before the enlightenment?

Of course, the enlightenment has attempted to do the same thing with YHWH, and been pretty successful at it in most people's outlook. He becomes a benevolent bellboy who, when tipped properly (porridge or church attendance -- not much difference here) gives good service. Jesus has for many people been demoted to the level of Tomte, watching out for our bank accounts and family members if we treat him right.