The Santa Claus Man

By Alex Palmer; Reviewed by Carolyn Burns Bass
The Santa Claus Man, #LitChatIt all began with the dead letters department at the New York City post office. Every year letters to Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, Sinterklaas, and other derivatives of the name, were destroyed as undeliverable mail per the policy of the U.S. postal department. In 1911 that policy changed and the New York City postmaster sent out a call for someone to receive all of the Santa Claus mail on behalf of the city’s children. A couple of years went by before John Duval Gluck, Jr. acted on impulse and stepped up. In 1913, fresh off an arrest and fines from his part in promoting the first and only bullfight in New York City, Gluck saw an opportunity to restore his reputation, bring joy to poor children on Christmas, and provide a lifestyle of prestige and privilege. The International Santa Claus Association was formed and Gluck became known as New York’s Santa Claus.

Fields of Blood; Religion and the History of Violence

By Karen Armstrong
Reviewed by Brian Q. Newcomb

In her latest book, Fields of Blood, religious historian Karen Armstrong, addresses a common claim in the current dialogue on the value of religious faith: that religious conviction is often a source of violence. Cases in point, 9/11 carried out by Islamic extremists, and in Christian history the easy targets are the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Troubles in Ireland… read more here