I try not to disparage any religion in this blog, unless I think I can get a cheap laugh out of it. But I feel I have to ask: what’s up with the live nativity scenes?
I see them advertised on lawn signs all over town. Every church seems to have one. Is it a live nativity touring company that goes from venue to venue, like a Broadway road company, only with less elaborate costumes and a camel? Or does each house of worship enjoy seeing its own parishioners freeze their butts off?
I mean, let us not forget that the actual nativity scene took place in a warmer climate, where robes and sandals may have been appropriate attire for December. But even if the chill (and the authenticity), is somewhat tempered by the use of portable heaters, what exactly is the purpose of these productions? I sort of understand Civil War Reenactments: you get to carry gunlike objects and play at war without risking injury, except for a pulled hamstring incurred while trying to run, shout, and wield a bayonet simultaneously. But what’s the attraction of standing around in the cold pretending you just had a baby in a barn?
Seriously. As a non-Christian, I’m curious. Do the participants consider it an honor, or is it more like, you’re slumping in a pew at the back of the church mumbling “Don’t pick me, Father. Don’t pick me”? And is it for the entertainment of your own church members, or more of a recruitment poster for potential members who might drive by? (“Gee, honey, let’s choose that church; they have the best-dressed Magi.”)
Also, I never know what the proper reaction should be when passing one of these tableaus. Should you wave? Stop and stare? Applaud? Throw coins? Tell Joseph that his beard is slipping? Offer to take the donkey for a walk?
Where does one go to rent farm animals for a day, anyway? And does having a live sheep in the vicinity allow the young boys at that church to relax for the day?*
In any case, I’m glad Jews don’t have a tradition like this. I’d hate to be the one responsible for bringing in the hordes of locusts for the Live Plague scenes on Passover.
See you soon.
*This would be where I’m going for the cheap laugh.