Monday, December 03, 2018

A Mensch, a Virgin, and a God

So, the point I was making about evangelical Christianity and soteriology as the only point of Christ's existence; well, here it is in a Xmas nutshell:

So the migrants making their way to America, demanding an entry they’ve not legally earned, are practically one and the same with Jesus Christ — with the birth of the savior to the world?

It’d sure be nice if those who knew least about Christianity would quit trying to tell Christians about Christianity.

It’d sure be great if those who have no clue about the true meaning of Christmas quit trying to define its meanings to those who do have a clue.

Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, the savior sent by God to ultimately die for humanity’s sins.

Reclassifying it as some sort of social justice day of remembrance for the poor and needy is a lie. Trying to draw comparisons between the plight of of Mary, who couldn’t find room at an inn and was therefore, with husband Joseph at her side, forced to give birth on a bed of straw, in a manger — as ordained by God — and with the pursuits of migrants to find a home, by legal means or otherwise, in America, is a bit whacked.

What is "whacked" is presuming your particular theology is the only form of Christianity all Christians adhere to; and those who don't (does Chris Cuomo consider himself a Christian?) "should quit trying to tell Christians about Christianity."  But the interesting point here is the assertion:

Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, the savior sent by God to ultimately die for humanity’s sins.

We can argue about what Christmas is "about," because there are two:  the one celebrated by the church, and the one celebrated by the world (I'm betting her Christmas looks no different from anyone else's Christmas in America, be they Christians of her stripe or not).  But the idea that Christmas is about Christ being born so he can die.  Well, the gospel of Matthew puts death at the core of its nativity tale, and Luke ends his with the pending death of Simeon and the prophecy that a sword will pierce Mary's heart, also.  That prophecy is read as a metaphorical sword, assuming she lives to see her first born executed as a political threat to the Pax Romana.  Still, even most Christmas carols praise, not the Savior who died, but the Lord who came.  Advent is about preparation for the Messiah, not preparation for the burial.  Jumping that quickly from Christmas to Easter can make you dizzy.

But it's the delimiting, the narrowing, the belittling of the four gospels, that is breathtaking.  If we only had Paul's accounts, focussed on the eucharist and the resurrection, this might be justified.  But then we wouldn't have Christmas, because we wouldn't have Matthew and Luke's gospels.  And Matthew's gospel tells us that even Jesus was a refugee, fleeing to another country because he faced certain death in his own.  The trip to Bethlehem in Luke is simply an internal displacement for the benefit of the ruling powers (the source of the "plight" not being God's will at all); the flight into Egypt is a more direct parallel to the plight of the immigrants on the California border.  Of course, that depends on how you frame the stories:

One is a story of hope and love and, oh yes, the birth of our savior. The other? A human struggle for economic opportunity.
The adult Jesus actually has a lot to say about "economic opportunity."  But the stories of the birth of Jesus have a lot to say about temporal power and how it can be used abusively.  The Holy Family flee to Egypt for the very reasons immigrants to this country are, by law, allowed asylum:  because they face death where they are.  Imagine if, in Matthew's story, the Egyptians had closed their borders.  The flight is to a country beyond the reach of Herod and Rome.  If the way was barred, what then?

This is exactly what the Christmas story is about.  If they don't preach it in Cheryl Chumley's church, that doesn't make the story any less significant.

It just means she needs some Christians to explain Christianity to her.

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