Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Archbishop of Canterbury - Radio Times Advent message

He has some fun with this:

The Archbishop of Canterbury - Radio Times Advent message

"...Christmas is one of the great European exports. You'll meet Santa Claus and his reindeer in Shanghai and Dar-es-Salaam; a long way from the North Pole. More seriously and less commercially, the story of the Nativity is loved even in non-Christian contexts (I discovered that one of the best and most sensitive recent film re-tellings of the story was one made by an Iranian Muslim company). The weary annual attempts by right-thinking people in Britain to ban or discourage Nativity plays or public carol-singing out of sensitivity to the supposed tender consciences of other religions fail to notice that most people of other religions and cultures both love the story and respect the message...

...Even more outrageously, the story suggests that this particular baby, the one born in the outhouse, the one who is rescued at the last moment from a village massacre like the ones that happen so regularly in forgotten civil wars today in Congo or Sudan – this baby is the place where the power of the creator of the universe is completely present. And what on earth might it mean to say that the ultimate power in the universe is more like a baby clutching at us in blind trust than it's like the President's bullet-proof motorcade?

Well, all that is to go a bit beyond the story itself, of course. Christians believe it and not everyone else does. But it still ought to make us think. The fact that this story of defenceless love - even when it's wrapped up in all the bizarre fancy-dress of Christmas as it's developed over the centuries - touches something universal is at the very least a fact that should make us think twice about giving up on the human heart's capacity for goodness and faith, however deeply buried. One-horse open sleighs in South India may be surreal all right; but surreal things can connect us with some surprising realities."

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