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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Our Gauchely God

I'm in a war zone this Christmas and seeing the celebration as more gritty than ever before. N. D. Wilson is helping . . .

"But Christmas - to the Greeks, Christmas was filth, a vulgarity in the extreme. They were right. And thus the beauty. If the Maker of the world were to descend to earth, how would you expect Him? If you heard that the Infinite, the Spirit Creator was entering His own Art, wouldn't you look to the clouds? Wouldn't you look to the cherubim in their storms; wouldn't you expect a tornado chariot? I would, and in my defense, I think my sensibilities are good and entirely in the right place. It is God who is gauche. And thus the surprise.

The Jews were waiting on a Messiah. They were waiting on a man to throw off the oppressor, someone like Judah Maccabee, someone like the King David. The Messiah came, and not just to the Jews. He did come like Judah, like David, but not how expected.

He came to be humbled. He came to die.

Plan the event. Arrange the reception. The King of kings is coming. He will shoulder governments. He will be called the Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor.

Plato, no covering your eyes, no throwing up in indignation, no offended boycotts of the crucifix set in urine. The Lord of all reality is coming to your hemisphere. And He, the pure Spirit, will take on flesh and need to eat and breathe and move His bowels, and have His diapers changed. Don't look at me. I had plenty of glorious ideas. The blasphemy isn't mine.

He will be a carpenter, with splintered and blistered hands and cracking nails. One of His grandmothers was a whore of Jericho. He will enter the womb of a virgin and expand in the normal way. He will exit her womb in the normal way. And then she will suckle Him as the cows do their calves. Besides, well, He will be mammal.

These days, we dress the whole thing up and hum until it all seems holy. We set up little plastic scenes in our yards and then we backlight them. If God is pleased it is because they are trite and silly - entirely in keeping with the whole event.

He was born in a barn and slept in a food trough. Maybe the livestock all took gentle knees, cognizant and pious, like in the back page of a children's Christmas book. Maybe they smacked on their cuds and continued to lift their tails and muck in the stalls.

"The reversals in the story didn't stop at Christ's birth. Rather than being celebrated, one of the first plot elements was Herod's declaration of genocide. The King of kings is here, you say? Bathe the land in infant blood. Slaughter, Rachel weeping for her children lost . . . these things are part of the Christmas story. For some reason, we leave the soldiers, dead babies, and weeping mothers out of the plastic figurine collection.

". . . With whom did He sit and eat? Whores. Thieves. The unclean. From birth to the end, He never left the trough. Christ walked from insult to insult, from filth to filth."

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