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Out of my element

I have a pretty laissez-faire relationship with religion, for the most part. It leaves me alone, I leave it alone. But every now and then something comes along that is just so absurdly, outrageously, insanely wrong that even a devout, born-again agnostic like me has to just call bullshit.

The latest one: this piece in Britain's Independent.

The conceit of the piece: "What would happen if the Virgin Mary came to Bethlehem today?" The author compares Mary and the birth of Jesus with current conditions in Bethlehem.

Well, for one, Mary wasn't a "refugee." She and Joseph were travelling, in obedience with a stupid government dictate that everyone return to the town of their birth for a census. If anything, the modern-day equivalent of their situation would be affirmative action or busing -- government moving people around and dictating where they must be in order to fulfill the government's ideas of how things out to look.

For another, Mary and Joseph would not have been allowed into Bethlehem. It's currently in Palestinian hands, and there are no Jews in the city. Even if they tried to qualify themselves as Christian (quite a feat, as they were not followers of Christ at the time -- in fact, it could be argued that Christ was a follower of Mary at that point, as wherever she went, He had to go too), the Palestinians have been slowly purging the city of non-Muslims for years. If a Jewish couple were to show up in Bethlehem today, the wife pregnant, they'd be killed as "settlers" looking to steal Palestinian land.

For a third, Muslim society has a rather strict policy regarding unmarried mothers: they tend to kill them. Occasionally, they'll let them give birth first, but fornication (sex outside of marriage) is a capital offense under Sharia law. Joseph would most likely have been put to death, too, as the presumptive father -- their subsequent marriage is irrelevant.

The story gets one thing right: yes, it sucks to live in the Palestinian Territories. But they've never missed a chance to miss a chance to better their lot in life. Like John Wayne said in The Sands Of Iwo Jima, "Life is hard, but it's harder when you're stupid."

Update: two of my favorite online Jews, Meryl Yourish and Laurence Simon, say much the same, but in their own inimitable, delightful styles. So that's one agnostic and two Jews sticking up for Jesus; can we get at least ONE Christian to stick up for their faith?

Comments (9)

So what is your point jay t... (Below threshold)

So what is your point jay that anyone that lives in palestinian territories are stupid? I LOVE it when you bring up John Wayne quotes from a movie to prove your point. If John can't prove your point who can?

Jeff,the John Wayn... (Below threshold)


the John Wayne thing wasn't something prove a point. It was a colorful restatement of Jay's conclusion.

But then again, life is harder when you're stupid.

Jay, my only quibble is abo... (Below threshold)

Jay, my only quibble is about Mary would have arrived in Bethlehem as an unmarried mother; namely, it isn't true. The biblical account says that when Joseph found out she was pregnant, he intended to quietly divorce her (presumably to avoid creating a big public scandal) but when the angel told him that Mary was pregant due to God's direct intervention, he went ahead and married her, as per the angel's command.

See Matthew 1:18-25.

Or, as Jesus would say, "Fo... (Below threshold)

Or, as Jesus would say, "Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do."

Applies to several on this blog, too.

Well, I filled my digital C... (Below threshold)

Well, I filled my digital Christmas stocking before this story came out, but I do talk about Bethlehem today and much more


Jay caught the obvious simp... (Below threshold)

Jay caught the obvious simple answer: If Mary and Jospeph had been Arab Muslims, the moment Mary was pregnant by someone other than Joseph, she'd have been honor-killed publicly.

"But when the time had full... (Below threshold)
Lori from Texas:

"But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons." Gal 4:4-5

According to God's divine providence and prophesy Jesus was born at just the right time and the right place. He also died at just the right time and place (no death is more sure than Roman crucifixion) in history.

I love how the last prophet to speak was Malachi and it was pretty much God telling his chosen people He had had enough of their lame sacrifices and profaning of His name. For 400 years the Jews endured His silence while behind the scene He orchestrated roads being built, Roman territories expanding, and the Greek language becoming the language of the day across all of this territory so that the Gospel could more easily be spread after Jesus's death and resurrection.

As for external situations preventing the birth of God incarnate, well, you could kind of say that no force of man or demon could have prevented what God had set forth to do. Remember, Joseph was even told in a dream to flee from Herod to Egypt so that the Christ child's life would be protected.

I could go on an on ... I love the Christmas story especially when you realize the full story began centuries before and that it is more than just a cool story but the fulfillment of prophecy from the mind of God to man.

I know of only one way for ... (Below threshold)
Dodo David:

I know of only one way for a Christian or a messianic Jew to stick up for Jesus, that is by identifying him as the Messiah, God-incarnate. That is why his birth was so important in the first place. If we overlook or deny that fact, then we are missing the point of the Nativity story.

If we overlook or den... (Below threshold)

If we overlook or deny that fact, then we are missing the point of the Nativity story.

Amigo -- Christmas isn't even Biblical.

Go back and red about:

- Cain and his alternate sacrafice
- God killing Nadab and Abihu for offering
different fire
- God rejecting Moses from seeing Canaan for a
slight modification
- ...






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