Dr. Joseph Loconte, Professor of History at Kings College in New York, gave a masterful talk at the 2014 Oxbridge Conference. He scampered through dozens of references to the heroic ideal expressed in the works of Lewis and Tolkien. You can purchase as copy of his talk here: http://www.cslewis.org/product/plenary-joseph-loconte-reclaiming-virtue-ashes-great-war/
It’s an impressive lecture. But he made one very bad mistake.
In trying to elicit some feedback from the listeners, Loconte asked the audience for an example of “disillusionment.” A woman from the audience shouted out, “When you find out that Santa Claus isn’t real.”
“Good one!” said Laconte loudly, speaking with volume and authority from the pulpit at Great Saint Mary’s Church in Cambridge, England. “Santa Claus is not real.”
At this point, my 12 year old daughter looked up at me, turned completely white, and burst into tears. I held her, and rocked her, and glared at Loconte.
Later, at lunch, I talked with her about what had happened. “What did you think of the lectures today?” I asked, tentatively.
“Pretty good,” she said, chewing her sandwich.
“Pretty good?” I prompted.
“Yea. Except for that one part. That Santa Claus part. That one guy? He’s wrong. And that’s just sad.”
“No doubt about it,” I responded. “Even conference speakers get their facts mixed up sometimes. It’s sad.”
“Uh-huh,” she said. And finished her lunch.
So Joe Loconte: Here’s a tip. There are some topics that you should not address from the pulpit. Santa Claus may well be one of them.