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Revised Tale Of Bethlehem?!

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 the 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 quipped.

"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 ox and ass.

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 as Roman oppressors, or just to
say that I should have skipped patriarchal religiosity and joined
some dumb new-age goddess religion?"

"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. The crowd gasped,
"They're all male!" 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, 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 'Seasons
Greetings'?"

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 mid-winter 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. And that's not chopped liver!"


Thanks to Mary Campbell
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story Information

Upload Date: 31/12/1969

Downloads: 3667

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