[StBernard] A Politically Correct Christmas

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Sun Dec 16 22:54:00 EST 2007

>From my files dated Christmas ...1996. We sure haven't come a long way.

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And Joseph went up from Galilee to Bethlehem with Mary, his espoused wife,
who was great with child. And she brought forth a son and wrapped him in
swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for
them in the inn. And the angel of the Lord spoke to the shepherds and said,
"I bring you tidings of great joy. Unto you is born a Savior, which is
Christ the Lord."

"There's a problem with the angel," said a Pharisee who happened to be
strolling by. As he explained to Joseph, angels are widely regarded as
religious symbols, and the stable was on public property where such symbols
were not allowed to land or even hover.

"And I have to tell you, this whole thing looks to me very much like a
Nativity scene," he said sadly. "That's a no-no, too."

Joseph had a bright idea. "What if I put a couple of reindeer over there
near the ox and ass?" he said, eager to avoid sectarian strife.

"That would definitely help," said the Pharisee, who knew as well as anyone
that whenever a savior appeared, judges usually liked to be on the safe side
and surround it with deer or woodland creatures of some sort. "Just to
clinch it, throw in a candy cane and a couple of elves and snowmen, too," he
said. "No court can resist that."

Mary asked, "What does my son's birth have to do with snowmen?"

"Snowpersons!" cried a young woman, changing the subject before it veered
dangerously toward religion.

Off to the side of the crowd, a Philistine was painting the Nativity scene.
Mary complained that she and Joseph looked too tattered and worn in the
picture. "Artistic license," he said. "I've got to show the plight of the
haggard homeless in a greedy, uncaring society in winter," he explained.

"We're not haggard or homeless. The inn was just full," said Mary.

"Whatever," said the painter.

Two women began to argue fiercely. One said she objected to Jesus' birth
"because it privileged motherhood." The other scoffed at virgin births, but
said that if they encouraged more attention to diversity in family forms and
the rights of single mothers, well, then, she was all for them.

"I'm not a single mother," Mary started to say, but she was cut off by a
third woman who insisted that swaddling clothes are a form of child abuse,
since they restrict the natural movement of babies.

With the arrival of 10 child advocates, all trained to spot infant abuse and
manger rash, Mary and Joseph were pushed to the edge of the crowd, where
arguments were breaking out over how many reindeer (or what mix of reindeer
and seasonal sprites) had to be installed to compensate for the infant's
unfortunate religious character.

An older man bustled up, bowling over two merchants who had been busy
debating whether an elf is the same as a fairy and whether the elf/fairy
should be shaking hands with Jesus in the crib or merely standing to the
side, jumping around like a sports mascot.

"I'd hold off on the reindeer," the man said, explaining that the use of
asses and oxen as picturesque backdrops for Nativity scenes carries the
subliminal message of human dominance. He passed out two leaflets, one
denouncing manger births as invasions of animal space, the other arguing
that stables are "penned environments" where animals are incarcerated
against their will. He had no opinion about elves or candy canes.

Signs declaring "Free the Bethlehem 2" began to appear, referring to the
obviously exploited ass and ox. Someone said the halo on Jesus' head was
elitist. Mary was exasperated. "And what about you, old mother?" she said
sharply to an elderly woman. "Are you here to attack the shepherds as prison
guards for excluded species, maybe to complain that singing in Latin
identifies us with our Roman oppressors, or just to say that I should have
skipped patriarchal religiosity and joined some dumb new-age goddess

"None of the above," said the woman, "I just wanted to tell you that the
Magi are here." Sure enough, the three wise men rode up.

"They're all male!" the crowd gasped. "And not very multicultural!"

"Balthasar here is black," said one of the Magi.

"Yes, but how many of you are gay or disabled?" someone shouted. A committee
was quickly formed to find an impoverished lesbian wise-person among the
halt and lame of Bethlehem.

A calm voice said, "Be of good cheer, Mary, for you have done well and your
son will change the world." At last, a sane person, Mary thought. She turned
to see a radiant and confident female face. The woman spoke again: "There is
one thing, though. Religious holidays are important, but can't we learn to
celebrate them in ways that unite, not divide? For instance, instead of all
this business about 'Gloria in excelsis Deo,' why not just 'Season's

Mary said, "You mean my son has entered human history to deliver the
message, 'Hello, it's winter'?"

"That's harsh, Mary," said the woman. "Remember, your son could make it big
in midwinter festivals, if he doesn't push the religion thing too far.
Centuries from now, in nations yet unborn, people will give each other
pricey gifts and have big office parties on his birthday. That's not chopped

"Let me get back to you," Mary said.


My records also note this was written by John Leo, author of the book,
Two Steps Ahead of the Thought Police, a collection of his columns from U.S.
News & World Report. I like it when things go around with proper
attribution! If people could do it in 1996, we can do it now....

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