The Nativity Story
My sixteen-year-old son and I had a date last week to see the newly released movie, “The Nativity Story.” It was his idea to see it in the theater instead of waiting for it to come out on DVD. I didn’t go to see it with the intention of writing a review about it, so I made no notes on the particulars.
It was very pleasant to see a modern depiction of the Immaculate Conception handled so well and with a very believable backdrop to the issues not usually associated with the telling of this story. The cruelty of the times was not downplayed, nor was the positive aspect of the human spirit. Establishing families and nurturing the idea of extended family has always been the backbone of moral society, while weakness of the human flesh has always lead to societal downfall. That was the message of this historical moment in time. That is the wellspring of the Christian faith, and that is why the story endures.
The symbolism of Jesus Christ is the only thing that makes sense in a world turned upside down. That one human being could be born without the sin of the flesh to a worthy couple, entrusted with his care through adulthood so that he could fulfill the prophecy of the salvation of mankind is positively uplifting for all of humanity. It is also the biggest threat to the evil in men’s hearts.
In today’s world – not unlike any times in the past – there have always been those who strive for complete understanding and proof for everything around them. They reject faith in anything that is out of their tactual range and threaten anyone who tries to “spread the faith” about powers greater than they can understand or accept. They are and have been answered all too often by those who insist on “cornering the market” on faith, insisting on narrow acceptance of unsubstantiated “facts” and condemning anyone not toeing the thin line of their religiosity. While the obvious answer lies within each and every human spirit, the real truth is obscured by bitter argument.
Religious controversy has always been more political than anything else, and now we see all-out assaults on everything connected to the truth and good in Christianity specifically. Of course Christianity, just like all other religion, is not perfect, so it takes the blows in various ways. When I say that Christianity is not perfect, I mean that human perception of what it takes to be a Christian strays from the real truth.
We marvel at how the religion of Islam can be so divided among the millions of people that profess true belief in Islamic law – how the Sunnis and Shias can kill thousands of their own religion indiscriminately and refuse to live in peace with anyone not of their own narrow interpretation of their faith. Yet, Christians answer the assaults on their own religion with little better reason. They split their church into tiny splinters over semantics and are far more tolerant of other religions than they are of other sects of their own belief! It is no wonder that Christianity is in trouble!
Then there is the exclusionary quality of the Jewish faith, which some Christians and Muslims alike find so intolerant. And all the other major religions of the world that have rationalized their superior ability to determine truth in their chosen faiths, have polarized the very ideas of believing in goodness over evil. Personally, I think an awful lot of humanity has a rude awakening in store for them when they are reduced to the only common denominator of all humans – death of life as we know it.
So, getting back to the season – The Nativity Story provides such a positive, uplifting stimulus to the human soul, why should anyone anywhere find fault with the telling of the story and the humility that is conveyed by it? Allow yourself to be touched by the most beautiful and perfect part of the Christian faith – salvation and rebirth of good over evil, innocence over cruelty, and courage over weakness. We can choose to flounder forever in bickering and fear, or we can embrace the light in the human spirit and take heart at the fact that even in today’s Hollywood, once in awhile the storytellers do the job right.
The Nativity Story - make it a part of your holiday celebration, no matter what your faith. Jesus Christ needs no exoneration from the narrow-minded exploits of religious leaders and nay Sayers who would attempt to cloud the story of His birth with the negative, suspicious side of human nature. Discover what the true Christian attitude is supposed to be all about. That is, after all, what made America great and has continued to be her salvation.
Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season to all!