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Image from jta.org

With the silliness of Santa-mas around the corner, I wanted to taunt one gnome (Santa) against another (Noam Chomsky).  Whereas Europe celebrates variations on “Santa Claus/St. Nicholas Day” (December 6), some celebrate the birth of Noam Chomsky Day (December 7) – made famous in the 2016 cult film Captain Fantastic.

There is a scene where the lead character Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) lifts the mood when he celebrates “Noam Chomsky Day” with his children. “Uncle Noam it’s the day of your birth!” the children sing; a rousing and hilarious chorus followed by cake. The widowed father of six arguably leads a non-traditional life off the grid and out of relationship – trying to live on after his bi-polar wife had committed suicide. Narrative First writes:

“Ben eventually comes to accept his hand in his wife Leslie’s downfall. He knew that living out there [off the grid] was bad for her, yet he still persisted. This change of character releases [one of his son’s] Rellian’s hatred and angst for his father, exemplified by the young boy’s decision to turn around and finally face his father head on. Accepting that he, the husband, was most likely complicit in their mother’s turn releases all tension between father and son…”

the Self trying to make sense of an Incoherent Life

Selfishness and selflessness interplay in this movie, but the connection is made to the famous linguist, philosopher, and activist Noam Chomsky:

The Righteous and the Wicked

Chomsky’s struggle to find a word more adaquate than “evil” to describe how the wicked disadvantage the community mirrors how Hebrew Scholar Bruce Waltke summarizes the wisdom of Proverbs:

The righteous are willing to disadvantage themselves to advantage the community; the wicked are willing to disadvantage the community to advantage themselves.

Professor Waltke’s commentary on The Book of Proverbs.

Gnomes and Noams aside, Waltke’s summary of the wicked is described as those who are willing to disadvantage the community in order to advantage themselves pretty well echoes Chomsky’s grasp of a word for evil.

At the same time there is this common desire for a costly righteousness that is willing to disadvantage ourselves for the common good. Indeed, this definition of righteousness may well have motivated the actual 3rd Century St. Nicholas, who’s story is a far cry from the materialism modern day Christmas has turned into.  But more, the definition of righteousness is personified by the One who made us for Himself and who disadvantaged Himself in order to advantage us.

In an ancient hymn of the early church we are encouraged to:

Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Merry Christmas!

Get to know the One who made himself nothing to make everything of you.

This is more enigma than dogma.