A post-Thanksgiving tradition, here at Chez Leester, is to watch Miracle on 34th Street: not a remake, but the 1947 classic starring John Payne, Maureen O’Hara, and little Natalie Wood, with Gene Lockhart as the beleaguered judge and, of course, Ed Gwenn as Kris Kringle, the man who says he’s Santa Claus.
The Book of Hebrews tells us that faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” That’s what this movie is about–faith. And it’s very cleverly done! The more you think about it, the more you really don’t know whether Mr. Kringle is indeed the one and only Santa Claus, or just a sweet old man with a harmless delusion. Writer Valentine Davies kept the question open.
This movie always makes me wonder what self-proclaimed “realists”–like Maureen O’Hara’s character–believe in. It’s obvious that for all their insistence on “absolute truth,” they believe in their own set of fairy tales: Big Science, Big Government, Man-made Climate Change, perfection created by imperfect human beings, and all the rest of that humanistic tommyrot. And in so doing they impoverish themselves–and can never reach out to claim the blessings only obtainable by faith.
The movie limits itself to “faith” in Santa Claus, faith in the power of love and generosity, and faith in one another: but of course we know that true faith leads us to treasures greater by far than these.
And it is the gift of God.