Christmas Creche Controversy: St. Francis of Assisi

An Australian Reverend and theologian who teaches at a prestigious school also – blogs. His latest is a rant against “American” Christians (American Christians are a particular preferred target in this and other of his blogs) who take offense when crèches and other symbols of Christ’s birth are prohibited from displays because they are considered religious and hurtful. In his rant he likens these Christians as deplorable idiots for not understanding that these symbols are meaningless, and goes on to explain just how ignorant American Christians are.

OUCH!

It would appear this scholar, teacher, theologian does not know that as a ‘teacher’, or shepherd, it is not his job to kick his sheep, it is his job to protect them, nurture them and grow them.

I was reminded of Psalm 23, of a shepherd who is tasked with tending to the needs of his sheep, whether they need food, water, or lay caste, they are in constant need of a prod and a gentle hand. It is considered one of the most brutal undertakings a man can be called to in this world requiring a 24/7 workday.  The shepherd protects his sheep from predators, from poisonous weeds, from harsh weather, loving them without judgment as he is their guide, and their only hope for survival.

This Reverend would seem to have forgotten his role as ‘teacher’, and instead of tending his sheep, he chastises them, slays them with his tongue, and ridicules their ‘ignorance’ given he is so much better informed. He has placed himself on a pedestal of worthiness belittling all the lowly for their stupidity, despite the fact that their hearts are in the right place.

And in so doing, this shepherd displays a high degree of Arrogance and Pride.

It is the job of the shepherd to protect the sheep from wolves. It is not his job to turn the sheep into shepherds… But he would seem to be confused. It would also seem he doesn’t much like his sheep given they haven’t the theological acumen that he purports to have. But then, given his actions, his ‘acumen’ would appear to be rather short-sighted… and built more on a core of self kingship.

Perhaps this Reverend would be better suited in a different role, because as a shepherd he seems to feel that preserving the wolves, allowing the sheep to be slaughtered, and kicking them to get them to stand when caste, is a Godly way.

There is a second lesson this Reverend seems to be missing, that of the ‘tongue’. Given his stance as ‘teacher’ he is called to a higher standing than the sheep, and in unleashing his rather bitter plethora of anger, he reveals that he no longer wants to adhere to the guides of his Biblical calling.  And for some odd reason, he targets only American Christians.

He references the ‘ignorance’ of American Christians numerous times throughout his blog, high-lighting such references as to the barn, making claims that during Jesus birth he was most likely tended by a host of women nursemaids all the while bemoaning the depiction of a twig and moss structure as stupid and unrealistic. He is belligerent at the use of ‘donkeys’, claiming there is no such reference and donkeys didn’t exist. But St. Francis would seem to disagree, because he commissioned an ‘ass’, the wild donkey, as a part of the first crèche!

This Reverend takes deep offense to American Christians creating false depictions, and then creates one of his own… while apparently not having researched the history of the crèche, and making assumptions that are not revealed in the Bible.

All the while he has sort of lost the sight, the cause, the value, and the heart of Christians in his bitter quest to denigrate. Why?

He claims that keeping ‘historically inaccurate and culturally anachronistic religious displays in shopping malls isn’t a victory for the gospel at all.’ He further demands that good Christians should burn their nativity scene because it furthers false doctrine.

Saint Francis of Assisi would seem to disagree because it is he who is credited with the creation of the first crèche display whose function was to divert emphasis from gifts and restore Christ as the center. His crèche utilized human participants, live animals, including an ass, and was produced inside a cave. These ‘scenes’ became quite popular and the Catholic church is then credited with elaborating the nativity scene, dressing up the magi in elegant robes thus mimicking the robes of Catholic Priests, as well as adding elaborate marble baubles and various other animals.

These crèches then spread to Germany, Austria, Poland, and England as the popularity expanded.

Creches were not born of American Christians, despite Mike Frost’s prideful denunciation of American Christians.  German immigrants ultimately brought the original pantomime creche performances to the US in the 15th century. Southern Italy is credited with designing such elaborate crèches today that they bring tourists from around the world to view the creativity and enjoyment they bring to children and adults.

Artisans work with delicate diligence to produce absolutely beautiful exhibits throughout Italy, the Vatican and the Czech Republic. While the US creates less expensive models, which Mr. Frost finds quite offensive, the purpose is still the purpose – to remind the sheep and the wolves that this is the day Christ was born.

So, Mr. Frost, Mr. Scrooge, I imagine Saint Francis of Assisi is a might bit better shepherd and source of Christian reverence for Christ. And the fact that the crèche is symbolic in trying to remind us sheep that Christmas isn’t about Santa and reindeer, and snowmen, it is about the birth of Christ is a good thing born of heart.

Bah-Humbug.

Celluloid Heroes…

There is an old song by The Kinks titled, Celluloid Heroes. It was a favorite of a boyfriend, and I remember seeing the live decades ago. I think it is appropriate because it identifies the role of ‘movie stars’ or ‘entertainers’. They are a prop, a character, a stage persona, that we identify with based on the role they play. Their true beliefs and personality are supposed to be locked inside themselves, given that is not their purpose. Therein, we can create – heroes.

The initial goal was to create heroes that were flawed, men and women who came to see their err in life and rose above as their lesson was learned. Jimmy Stewart played a host of such rolls, always with a failing, always with a message, always with a learning.

Today, actors seem to have abandoned this shadow appearance and taken on roles that are politically, socially, and morally obscene. And as such, don’t realize that this taints their screen appearance. It seems more a fraud than a role. It makes them … smaller.

In particular, I am watching a Christian themed Christmas movie in which Ed Asner stars as a devout – Christian father. In reality, Asner has been vocally demonstrative, demeaning, and vacuous in his hatred and divisive nature. And so, I no longer see an actor, I see a hypocrite.  I wanted, a celluloid hero.

I don’t think Hollywood quite understands how vast is their destructive mouth and tongue, how uneducated is their stance, or how stale is their breath. And I try and recall Christ’s words, “They know not what they do…” As he asks for forgiveness of their vast sins.

Most recently I was shown a Facebook post in which Gaga sat and for a lengthy term had an analogue with herself about how we must all stop being so divisive, so antagonistic, so filled with contempt and foul negativity toward others who don’t share beliefs. And yet, a quick Google search revealed her revile, her hatred, her animosity, her repugnance… her very vocal negativity toward anyone who did not hold her beliefs, of anything and all that was not in align with – her.

Of course, what this revealed is the fact that Hollywood hypocrisy is somehow ignored, or forgotten, or justified…

Another case in point: I recently wrote a response to a ‘Christian Blogger’ in Australia, Mike Frost, whose site stated that he embraced 1) open conversation 2) grace vs nature, and 3) positivity vs negativity. The blog I was responding to was about how American Christians are hypocrites when it comes to the Bible and gun control… Errr, not positive, not filled with grace, and as I found – not open – unless it was to laud and praise the ‘author’.  OUCH!

  1. Not positive. But, I still – believed. And so I presented facts and statistics. I was completely blind-sided when his response to my statistics and facts from the US perspective didn’t align with his and as a result he chose to attack my character – like a Hollywooder. Instead of the ‘open conversation’ and ‘grace’ he spoke about, his true value was about self and attack.

But even worse, he revealed that he most likely – was not a Christian at all. It was a mask.

He was no different than a ‘celluloid hero’ pretending to be something – that was far afield of ‘truth’.   What was revealed was that there are wolves who will use the Christian platform to attempt to woo people into a false reality. He was not about ‘open conversation’, ‘ or ‘grace’, or ‘positivity’, he was about bashing Christian American’s as ‘hypocrites’ and shaming me as incompetent. Neither of which support his ‘belief system’.

It is quite sad.

I knew the name Jimmy Kimmel. But I knew nothing of the person. His fame was simply a by-product, like Kathy Griffin, he has made a name for himself based on his animosity and hatred. But otherwise, I had no idea, who he was as a person. No college degree (an honorary – doesn’t count, sorry), a shitake mushroom load of self lauding, self grandizing, self glorifying that makes me cringe, grit my teeth, and stiffen into contortious contempt. As in “ARGHGHGHHGHHGHGHG” are you kidding me! His bio is ‘not’ one that I would embrace.

But that is the evolution of “Hollywood”, the celluloid heroes who once were, but are no more… instead they are simply grandiose narcissists who have no boundaries, ethics or morality.   And as such – The World Turns.