Another Reason I’m Grateful to be Catholic

Another Reason I’m Grateful to be Catholic December 11, 2012

I can think of only one parish in the country–St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis–that is far enough out at the end of the bell curve of sanity that it would present Jesus as a baby girl just to be insufferably PC. In daffy liberal Protestantism, this kind of stuff happens all the time.

The babe in the manger is a girl named Hope. Joseph (er, “Jose”) is an illegal immigrant looking for a job in the U.S. Mary (“Maura”) is a teenage runaway who fled her Connecticut home after her parents became upset upon discovering her pregnancy. The Angel Gabriel, nicknamed “Gabe,” is a homeless black man.

The reinterpreted Nativity, its characters hewn by chainsaw artist Michael Higgins, stands in Tiverton Four Corners, Rhode Island. The unconventional display was conceived by Bill Sterritt, pastor of the Amicable Congregational Church. Sterritt envisioned the Christmas story in modern times. In his model, the Magi are a Buddhist, a Muslim and a Hindu.

Yeah, yeah. I get it. Jesus is the friend of the poor and dispossessed. Only, here’s the thing: an archangel is not a Magical Negro. A magical negro is a now-tiresome movie trope invented by well-heeled Hollywood screenwriters to alleviate guilt over racial injustice in the United States while not having to, like, do something besides go to a movie. He shows up, gives wise/mystical advice and sometimes literally disappears. An archangel, in contrast, is an *archangel* announcing the most important event in the history of the universe–which turns out to be the Incarnation of the Son of God, not the Civil Rights Act, good as that was. Gabriel was not homeless. He was perfectly at home in heaven and only left there because heaven is wherever God is and God was now in Mary’s womb. Mary, by the way, was not a rich Connecticut kid whose Parents Didn’t Understand Her and who got laid after attending the prom in order to prove to her cheerleader friends she wasn’t a loser. And Jesus was not a girl. He just wasn’t. Nor was his name Hope. It was “the Lord is salvation” and “God with us”. Finally, while the point of the story of the Magi is that Jesus is, indeed, the fulfilment of the hopes of the whole human race and the savior of all and not just of the Jews, I suspect that a Muslim at any rate would not appreciate being drafted into the worship of Jesus Christ since, well, the whole of Islam is ordered toward the denial of the worship of Jesus Christ.

Why not let the original story, with all its intrinsic power and humility, stand as is without the stupid improvements of some victim of White Guilt, Multicultural Obsessions and PC Feminism who wants to turn everything into a Up With People Statement about Human Empowerment?

To the people who thought this was a great idea, I hereby award you the new gold standard in epic Tina Fey Eyerolls:

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  • Laura B.

    And while I will grant that Hinduism and Buddhism were around at the time of Christ, Islam was a few centuries down the path, so apparently, this place believes in time-travel as well. My priest once served in a mobile church that shared space with a muslim congregation. When one group was setting up and the other leaving, the imam said to him, “your people pray just like us” when he saw some prostrations. (I think it was Holy Week.) Fr. Yuri said, “No….you pray just like us! We were praying that way hundreds of years ahead of you.” (At least that is the story as I recall it. I cannot swear that I recall aright.)

  • suburbanbanshee

    They got confused when they were reading the Appendices to the Lord of the Rings, and thought the bit about Aragorn the King was about Christ the King. So yeah, of course Mary was suicidally depressed and said, “I gave Hope to the Dunedain and left no hope for myself.”

  • When it comes to reinterpreted Nativities, I’ll start and end with Damon Runyon’s “The Three Wise Guys.”

  • Good piece! Well said. Underlying these PC efforts is the heretical desire “to do it the way we want to do it” and to make it right since, apparently, He did not, so “we” correct his mistake…

  • Noah D

    Well, there is one thing they’ve achieved with this – they’ve put the final nail in the coffin of parody.

  • “Why not let the original story, with all its intrinsic power and humility, stand as is”

    Because in the world of liberal Christian critical scholarship, this particular play is doing pretty much what the early Church did: make up things and mix them together based on whatever was the fad thinking of the day. They’re just continuing a time-honored tradition.

    • Hans-Georg Lundahl

      Nah, no good evidence for that being the case.

      Early Church was neither a suicidally eager (because persecuted and still doing it) set of makers up, nor very much in line with either then or later fads.

      • Yes, Dave G was saying that that is what Liberal Christian scholars THINK of the past. Hence why they’re usually referred to as liberal scholars.

      • Dave G. was commenting on the “world of liberal Christian critical scholarship” not on reality.

  • Hans-Georg Lundahl

    “In his model, the Magi are a Buddhist, a Muslim and a Hindu.”

    Was Herod Jewish – or did he not appear?

    • DTMcCameron

      Doubtless, Herod was Catholic.

    • Mark Shea

      Herod was not Jewish. He was Idumaean–an Edomite. This was one of the reasons he was so unpopular. It was also one of the reasons he was paranoid about a “son of David” being born in Bethlehem.

  • SouthCoast

    Ah. Didn’t know about the MN. I always called similar characters the EBG “Expendable Black Guy” who is the Hero’s admirable, stalwart buddy, but who is also the only one to not quite make it out before the building explodes.

    • also known as a ‘redshirt’ although in that case designated by the color of his clothing and not his skin.

  • Can I just say I love that they actually named it Amicable Congregational Church?

    • JDH

      You beat me to it! That was my favorite part, too. The only way to improve on that would be Inclusive Congregational Church. Or maybe Inclusive Congregational Fellowship; the word “Church” is no doubt offensive to many.

  • Baltimore Catechesis

    It’s worth remembering that Cotton Mather was a Congregationalist. And he was not Amicable.

  • St. Joan of Arc? I thought that Bishop Nienstedt would have that straightened out by now. He is there over 4 years. You really think they would do this with him there?

  • Mark R

    Are there ever any female Santa Clauses at Episcopalian gatherings?

    • current lector

      The more fundamentalist types would demand that she be a subordinate clause.

  • James C.

    Mark, the Civil Rights Act was not good. It gave the government the power to enforce its definition of unlawful discrimination on private individuals and institutions. This power to police private “discrimination” will soon be combined with the establishment of “gay marriage” as a constitutional right in order to launch a massive assault on the liberties of religious institutions, especially the Catholic Church.

    No, the intentions of the 1964 and 1965 Civil Rights Acts were good, but they conceded a tyrannical power to Leviathan that will cause incalculable damage to liberty.

  • Richard Chonak

    The baby “Hope” is Obama, of course, named for His campaign slogan, and He is beloved by women who want to be sexually active without marriage.

    The angel “Gabe” reminds us that gays will announce to us the way of salvation: they are angelic inasmuch as they do not follow traditional male or female roles and produce no children.

    How appropriate that the artist took a chainsaw to the gospel narrative.

  • LaVallette

    The next remake of the Longest Day will include a division of nurses leading the landing on the Omaha Beach!!

  • Julio Iglesias

    Maybe Jesus really was a girl, and we are just too sinful to see it.