Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Every few Christmases, I tend to re-read Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, as the book has always had a hold on me ever since I first read it as a child.

When I read it as a child, I had no real social conscience or understanding, of course – I simply enjoyed it as a Christmas story. As time has gone on, however – and particularly in the last several years – it has become more obvious how socially and morally relevant Dickens’ story still is.

It was reinforced again a few days ago when I was walking down my nearest high street.

The shops were really busy, the streets were crowded and there were Christmas lights and stuff everywhere. But there was a particular point at which I had a vivid moment of perceptual clarity, where it freshly occurred to me just how unmeaningful and fake so much of this milieu was. (more…)



This year’s Christmas sermon was originally going to be like last year’s and focus on an element of the Nativity tradition; instead, given current events and the popular reaction to them, I decided to go with a different subject – specifically, Islam and Christianity.

There is now, perhaps inevitably, a growing trend in some sections of Western commentary to see things in terms of a Muslim/Christian divide; or the idea, more specifically, that Islam is a threat or enemy towards Christianity. To some extent, there is a sub-sect within Islam – a radical, extremist ideology – that probably could be described as a threat to Christian interests or ‘Christian values’; but that same sub-sect is also the same threat to mainstream Muslim communities and ‘values’ too – probably more so, in fact. (more…)


A magical star leading three mysterious ‘wise men’ from the East across miles and miles of wilderness to a small, obscure town.
And a troubled husband and wife travelling on donkey, social outcasts turned away by one apathetic towns-person after another, desperate for a simple act of human compassion to offer a place for the woman to give birth to an unplanned child who may or may not be magical in nature.



One doesn’t have to be religious or Christian to appreciate the compelling and magical properties of the Nativity narrative, with all its evocative and timeless images and ideas and everything it evokes.
But anyone expecting to find any of that magic in modern day Bethlehem would be disappointed. Because, as is usually the case, reality is no match for myth or imagination.



I’ve always wondered what treasures sit in the vaults and store houses of the Vatican, gathering dust for years; historical items that may go decades without being disclosed to the public or might even go decades unexamined by anyone.
A recent announcement revealed that in 2012 the Vatican authorities employed historical archivist Ignazio Perrucci to sort through something like 6,000 ancient texts in the Vatican’s possession. Among these was discovered a first-century AD document; even the words ‘1st century document’ are enticing enough, but what excited Perucci further was that it appeared to have been written by the historical Roman Marcus Velleius Paterculus.
And as he examined the text, what excited him even further was that it appeared to include a reference to a certain Nazarene Prophet; more than a reference in fact, but what is now claimed to be the first eyewitness account ever recorded of a miracle being performed by Jesus of Nazareth.


If any new sign was needed (and it wasn’t) that we live in a viciously corporate-inspired, consumerist society, then the export of America’s “Black Friday”to the UK high street and the subsequently embarrassing scenes of shopping pandemonium serve as the definitive, rather ugly indictment.