December 24, 2006


Defend the Nativity from the Christmas refuseniks (Libby Purves, December 24, 2002, Times of London)
The Christmas story gets a lot of flak these days. The Red Cross won’t let its shops display even the most symbolic crib, lest other faiths be offended. It seems a bit patronising to me: the crybaby culture of hurt feelings and fragile self-esteem is far more of a Western phenomenon. And even so, Christians rarely burst into tears at the sight of a synagogue or turban, or get resentful when an Egyptian taxi-driver keeps them waiting outside a Cairo hotel while he finishes his evening prayer. On the contrary, Christian-based societies rather like all this. They celebrate Diwali in The Archers, for God’s sake.

But when their own religious culture is belittled, Christians just smirk apologetically and retreat. Their critics know this, and thus feel free to make vast, sweeping attacks on the historic faith. Some critics of religion are thoughtful, honest and worthy of respect; many others are not. [...]

Well, the season’s greetings to all of them. What I wanted to mark, and not from a tub-thumpingly Christian point of view, is the extraordinary subtlety and humanity of the Nativity story, as told in the New Testament and adjusted over the centuries by human hands. You may take it, if you wish, as merely a story: a Sunday Telegraph survey found that a quarter of its sample of Anglican priests did not believe in the Virgin Birth, and the BBC seems anxious to persuade us that Mary was raped by a Roman soldier. But if you look at the story closely, you find that unlike the merry-holly-jingle-bells view of Christmas it contains hopeful resonance for the most doubtful, depressed, confused or bleak spirit. That is why the
crib, and its carols, need defending.

The Anglican clergy are an odd lot. (Originally posted: 12/24/02) Posted by Orrin Judd at December 24, 2006 12:00 AM

It's a bit weird that all Muslims believe in the virgin birth yet 25% of Anglican priests don't.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at December 25, 2002 9:50 AM

That's one of the reasons that I hold out great hope for the future of the Islamic world. If they can democratize and secularize government without losing the moral basis of the culture Islam's Golden Age may be ahead of rather than behind us.

Posted by: oj at December 25, 2002 11:59 AM

Well, I guess they have to believe in the Virgin

Birth, otherwise the story ends with Mary being

stoned to death, no?

Posted by: Harry at December 25, 2002 2:27 PM

One more reason why the C of E

should be disestablished.

Posted by: scott at December 25, 2002 4:12 PM