Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pattie Mallette’s Stand Against the Santa Claus Myth

This is likely to be a huge surprise to those who know me, but I think Justin Bieber is rather fascinating.  I am not an expert on his music.  And what I have heard seems fairly mediocre.  But I think his “backstory” is intriguing. 
Mr. Bieber was a white Canadian kid from a single parent family without a lot of money in a small town.  He idolized African American musicians, emulated them and through the miracle of YouTube became an international teen heart throb.  I don’t necessarily endorse or approve of his popularity, but I think his upbringing is really interesting.
And let me clarify, it is probably not Mr. Bieber himself who fascinates me so.  I’m really interested in and would love to meet his mom.  If Pattie Mallette wrote a parenting book, I’d definitely read it.  It is not that I want my own children to become celebrities.  Not at all.  However, from what I’ve read and heard in the news about Ms. Mallette, she had a lot going against her when she became pregnant with Justin.  Nonetheless, she seems to have been a rather remarkable mom.
Ms. Mallette was a teenager and was unmarried when she became pregnant.  She gave birth to Justin and raised him with the help of her parents.  (I’m pretty fascinated by them as well.)  Clearly, Ms. Mallette sacrificed a lot for her son.  Her life would have been a lot easier if she had not become a single mom at such a tender age.
Interestingly, Ms. Mallette is a Christ follower.  She has been quite open about that point in the press.   I first heard about her faith fairly early on in Justin’s fame.  At that time,  I barely knew who he was, but Christian radio stations I listen to began to report that Ms. Mallette had publicly asked people to pray for her son to remain grounded as his career took off.
By all accounts, it seems to me that Ms. Mallette has really embraced motherhood despite all she had to sacrifice at a young age.  She raised her son in a very thoughtful, loving way as far as I can see.  As a fellow mom, that is admirable and interesting to me.
Although I don’t tend to follow “celebrity news,” in December I did come across a “news” story about Justin Bieber that caught my eye because of my interest in his upbringing.  The link below includes an article about an interview where Justin Bieber explained why his mom was honest with him about Santa Claus and he did not grow up believing in the myth. 
I applaud Ms. Mallette’s principled and courageous parenting decision.  But predictably the article takes a pretty negative spin on that decision.
The article appeared in Us Weekly, a magazine devoted to “celebrity news.”  It is a secular periodical with very typical secular values.  The article in question begins with the commentary: “Bah humbug!”  So, Ms. Mallette was being compared to Ebenezer Scrooge, the fictional heartless miser who is so tightfisted that he refuses to give any money to the destitute even at Christmas.  However, as I understand Ms. Mallette’s position, this is a really weak comparison.  She kept her son from indulging in worship of a secular myth because she was concerned that it would be an impediment in his belief in God.  The comparison to Charles Dickens’ fictional miser is just silly, but it accurately captures the secular attitude surrounding the sacred belief in the Santa myth.
The headline of the article in question is also revealing.  It screams: “Justin Bieber: My Mom Never Let Me Believe in Santa Claus!”  Although the headline is written in the first person, if you read the article, this doesn’t appear to be an actual quote from Mr. Bieber himself.  The phrase “never let me believe” sounds negative and suggests that he disagreed and was unhappy with his mom’s decision.  But in the text of the article, his actual words suggest a very different attitude.  He seems to be very respectful of her decision. 

Exodus 23:1
Don’t spread false rumors. Don’t plot with evil people to act as a lying witness.

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