Last week atheist Richard Dawkins, professor of evolutionary biology, author and atheist, told a convention that the "concept of 'Father Christmas' may harm a child's development."
After his statements were quoted by the press worldwide, some took issue with the most prominent being actress Angelina Jolie.
She told the press why she thinks Christmas fairy tales are important.
Neither Dawkins nor Jolie are spokespeople for Christianity, but their interchange is revealing.
It reveals something about the cultural narrative regarding Christianity in general.
And specifically about the Christian church.
Both should be sobering, particularly as we celebrated Pentecost Sunday yesterday, and the birth of the Christian Church.
Speaking at the Chltenham Science Festival, Dawkins said, "It's rather pernicious to instill in a child the view that the world is shaped by supernaturalism."
He said, "Even fairy tales, the one's we all love, about witches and wizards or princes turning into frogs. There's a very interesting reason a prince could not turn into a frog. It's statistically too improbable."
Dawkins told the audience and the press the appeal of fairy tales may lie in their magic, but their supernatural perspective is "second rate" and more harmful than we think.
I have little interest in what Dawkins thinks about fairy tales, including Father Christmas or Santa Clause, however, his comments in the course of this discussion are worthy of note.
So is Angelina Jolie's response.
Dawkins, the atheist, has said he once "flirted" with religion, but said "I grew up. I put away childish things."
He has also said, "I am a secular Christian."
Actress Jolie saw the news stories and responded in defense of Father Christmas, etc., saying she thinks the fairy tales of Christmas are a good thing.
She told the press, "There are morals in these stories and you want a little magic---it's important to have something that we're in a little bit of awe of."
Sadly people who are looking for "awe" sometimes only find it in the fairy tales and fables, because the Truth is too often shelved in favor of "relating" to those who seek.
She said, "Kids grow up fast enough these days, so let's allow them to have a little bit of childhood for as long as they can."
As you may know Jolie is living with actor Brad Pitt. Together they are raising both biological and adopted children together, but are not married.
Brad Pitt was raised in a strong Christian home. His parents continue to serve the Lord faithfully.
At an earlier event in May, Dawkins was making essentially the same pitch. A Christian minister in the audience stood and told Dawkins that he, as a minister, no longer believes in miracles, but still sees himself as a Christian minister.
His attempt to "relate" to Dawkins failed.
Dawkins told the minister, "But if you don't have the supernatural, it's not clear to me why you would call your self a minister."
Absent the supernatural aspect of Christianity, why "would" someone consider themselves a "minister?"
Why would someone merely adopt the philosophical positions of Christian doctrines without the belief in supernatural power?
Yesterday the Christian Church celebrated Pentecost Sunday.
What is Pentecost?
Dr. Jerry Vines, former President of the Southern Baptist Convention, has said the average church is bogged down somewhere between Calvary and Pentecost. They have been to Calvary for Pardon, but not to Pentecost for Power."
He said, "Bethlehem means God with us. Calvary means God for us. But Pentecost means God in us."
Pentecost Provides Purpose.
The power of the Holy Spirit is to enable Christians to reach a lost and broken world with the message of forgiveness and the power of transformation and redemption.
Pentecost Provides Power.
"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
It's revealing that Richard Dawkins, an atheist, would ask the Christian minister why he would consider himself a minister if he no longer believes in miracles---the supernatural..
Too many churches have become mere social clubs, civic organizations or neighborhood associations with a moral shade of gray.
They still have the form of religion, but the power is gone---the conviction is gone. The message is gone.
They have become irrelevant in individual lives and in the culture.
Samson laid his head on Delilah's lap. He lost his power with God and could do nothing but live a defeated life. A powerless life.
He was blind. He was bound. He was walking in circles grinding at a mill belonging to his enemies.
J.B. Phillips, who gave us the familiar paraphrase version of the Bible, wrote in his commentary, "What we need today is again the Wind and the Flame of Pentecost."
Be Empowered. Be Discerning. Be Vigilant. Be Bold. Be Prayerful. Be Used By God. Be Blessed.