Dell DeChant is "undergraduate director of the department of religious studies at the University of South Tampa in Florida." He is also the author of RELIGION AND CULTURE IN THE WEST: A PRIMER and Libertas et veritas: Toward a Unity renaissance : an introduction to the Unity-Progressive Council.
He writes in the Preface to this 2002 book, "'The Sacred Santa' takes seriously the widespread perception that contemporary culture witnesses a profound struggle between two antithetical belief systems---a collision of two worlds. Unlike other studies that interpret this struggle in terms of dichotomies of religious and secular, this book reads the struggle as a conflict between two distinct religious systems... rather than being secular and nonreligious, America's late capitalist, postmodern culture is actually intensely religious, and best classified as a contemporary version of ancient cosmological religiosity... And while American holidays have certainly become secular events, I contend that precisely their 'secular' (materialist/commercial/consumerist) dimension makes them most obviously religious events in the context of postmodern cosmological culture. Christmas is certainly the most obvious example of a contemporary cosmological religious celebration, so it receives a detailed treatment in the book; other holidays also reveal the same sort of cosmological sense of the sacred."
Later in the book (Pg. 135) he sets forth what he calls "The Postmodern Liturgical Year," including such holidays as Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, Super Bowl Sunday, Mother's Day, Back-to-School, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, etc.
Here are some other quotations from the book:
"'The Sacred Santa' is based on the contention that Christmas has not lost its religious significance, only its CHRISTIAN religious significance... Rather than a desacralized holy day or purely secular one, in this book I propose an understanding of Christmas that sees it as not only decidedly religious but perhaps the best example of religiosity in our culture." (Pg. 2-3)
"The substance of this argument, then, is that the culture we increasingly understand as POSTmodern, while certainly antithetical to the modern, may not be such a novel cultural system after all. Our culture may actually be quite PREmodern and have more in common with the grand imperial cultures of late intiquity than any seen in the West since the advent of Christianity. To overlook this possibility may overstate the extent to which Christianity still functions as a viable religion and understate the sacredness of our seemingly secular world." (Pg. 6)
"'The Sacred Santa is not intended as a hostile critique of Christmas. Instead, this book seeks to present a neutral and straightforward analysis of the religious dimensions of Christmas and the other holy days of postmodern culture." (Pg. 105-106)
"Together, (Clement Clark) Moore and (Thomas) Nast, along with many others who followed their lead, had fashioned an entirely new holiday visitor. More supernatural than his predecessors, the American Santa Claus was also kindler, gentler, more prosperous, and capable of generating far more material goods than any of his European rivals. He was, thus, the perfect embodiment for the emerging American Christmas festival." (Pg. 192)
"Santa is not the embodiment of secular 'commercialism.' He is the embodiment of our culture's greatest religious myth of success and affluence, right engagement with the economy, and the acquisition and consumption of images and objects. Santa is the incarnation of this myth... In short, Santa is not secular. He is sacred. To attack him as secular is to attack his shadow." (Pg. 194)
"I have argued that the struggle is actually between two distinct and distinctly different religious systems and have further contended that some rather clear indications are that the traditional religion of America and the West, Christianity, has been eclipsed by a contemporary version of cosmological religiosity." (Pg. 197)