05 December 2017

A New Take on Santa Claus

The Immortal Nicholas, Glenn Beck
I confess, I picked this up because it was only $2. It reads a little like Henry Van Dyke's The Fourth Wise Man. Agios, a frankincense hunter, loses everything after his wife, stillborn son, and ten-year-old son die. He burns their cabin and becomes a wanderer, working for his food and shelter, until he is captured by men named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthasar in a huge caravan who wish him to find frankincense for a baby who is about to be born, a child who will be king. Later Agios will find himself a foster son, a simple, misshapen giant of a boy named Krampus who loves the little figures Agios carves. And finally, he will follow the Christ child as he grows into a man

Beck attempts to square the story of Jesus with the story of Santa Claus. I had to admit Agios' story made me keep turning the pages, but it seemed he wanted to throw everything but the kitchen sink into the story. Krampus, for instance, in legend is a monster who accompanies St. Nicholas in some countries. Since the good saint is supposed to be gentle and kind, it is Krampus who punishes the bad children by beating them with his stick and then stuffing him into a sack. Krampus in the book is just a disabled young man who frightens people with his looks. Later Agios meets the real St. Nicholas, but the story is twisted again.

I thought the book was worth reading, but I thought Beck tried too hard to make everything gel with the legends.

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