Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman

“There Are Much Worse Things to Believe In”

Stephen Colbert and Elvis Costello offer a new Christmas Carol, hailing “a redeemer, and a savior, an obese giving toys for good behavior” and arguing that there are “much worse things to believe in.”“…Believe in the judgment, believe in jihad, believe in a thousand variations on a dark and spiteful God…”

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posted November 30, 2008 at 8:36 pm

Not so sure what I believe in religiously speaking, but, “Peace on earth, goodwill towards men, on earth as is in Heaven” seems like a pretty good idea right about now.

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posted December 1, 2008 at 4:31 pm

best song of the entire special

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posted December 9, 2008 at 6:56 pm

Okay, I love the Colbert Report but it seems that people have forgot that CHRISTmas is about religion. a mixture of pagan rituals (the tree, lights, stockings) and Christianity (the nativity seens, gift giving). I believe that hating xmas is stupid, but the fact that they say that God is worse to believe in then Xmas is very wrong. Now i’m not a christian but i am a history major…Please people, understand that Christmas is a CHRISTIAN holiday. So don’t trash their “God.”

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posted December 10, 2008 at 12:58 am

I find your post is misleading and out of context. As usual Colbert’s quotes can and will be inflammatory if taken out of context. That is the appeal of his comedy. He says something out loud when he is really saying something else.
I would argue for a different interpretation that requires some unpacking. But most all of Colbert’s material does: Colbert is the pro-Christmas persona in the song. Elvis Costello is the opposite stereotype that finds Christmas pathetic. (my paraphrase)
“There are cynics, there are skeptics.There are legions of dispassionate dyspeptics Who regard this time of year as a maudlin insincere…A redeemer and a savior, an obese man giving toys for good behavior” These lines all come from the counter persona and don’t characterize Colbert’s lyrics. It is his own comedic attempt at an defense of Christmas.
Think of this song as 2 Monologues. That makes what is being sung seem lest bothersome to the true meaning of Christmas which is the entrance of Christ into the world to redeem it. So, if you understand and read these lyrics the way I have suggested, this shouldn’t offend or bother.
Just My Opinion,

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posted December 20, 2008 at 1:25 am

This song is saying that there are worse things to believe in than the whole Christmas myth, including the idea that God exists. From interviews I’ve heard with the REAL Stephen Colbert, he’s a serious catholic, so there’s no hint of trashing God here.
But Mike, I don’t follow your reasoning. Christmas is a Christian holiday, therefore, we shouldn’t trash the Christian God? By itself, it’s a simple non-sequitur, analogous to saying, “Vesak is a Buddhist Holiday, therefore, we shouldn’t trash Buddha.” But maybe you mean that we shouldn’t trash the Christian God and continue to CELEBRATE Christmas? If so, we must also conclude that it would be wrong to trash Communism if we play Tetris, which came out of Soviet Russia. Or maybe if we drive a Ford, we shouldn’t be able to criticize Henry Ford for being an outspoken racist.
It just seems more than acceptable to take the good (like Christmas “spirit”) and still oppose the bad (like superstition and false hope from belief in an imaginary being).

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posted December 25, 2008 at 1:50 am

No, nonono, you are ALL getting this wrong.
What Stephen and Elvis are collectively saying is that there are worse things to believe in than the Christmas story of Jesus being born, etc. AND Santa, etc.
Not that the existence in God is worse to believe in than Christmas, or that Elvis is pretending to be on the opposite side.
Remember, Christmas IS the story of Jesus, born in the manger of God and the virgin Mary (In my family, the base of the tree has always been the barn, the presents obviously being the gifts for the new born king). Now, I always thought the dark colors of the tree and the lights and bright ornaments represented the night sky, obviously having the topper as a star/angel to represent the northern star/the “herald angels” singing.
Thanks for barely reading my explanation of the Christmas tree, merry Christmas to you all.

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posted December 25, 2008 at 4:25 am

It’s “an obese man giving toys for good behavior”. Please correct your quote.

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posted December 25, 2008 at 4:35 am

By the way, Jarrod and Kevin, you are both trying way too hard to sound smart, ludicrously attempting to read into deeper meanings and inappropriately using GRE words, respectively. Chris, move out of mommy’s basement.
This is an awesome and meaningless song, meant only as a farce, as was the whole special. Get over it.

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