Friday, 7 December 2007

Nativity plays - the strangest debate of all?

I have a shocking revelation to make; when I was at school I did not do a nativity play.
Where is this evil school you may ask. Well perhaps I better not reveal too much, but I went to a dubious primary school in rural Essex, followed by a former grammer school not too far from sinful Southend. About 30 years ago.
Thats right 30 years ago. And no one was making a fuss about it then.
Why not? Well I guess as far as the general public was concerned, we did not have the paranoa that many have to today about the rise of militant Islam. And as far as the teachers were concerned, I would guess that they simply weren't that bothered.
If I am right about teachers not being that bothered back then, then it makes sense that they are even less bothered today. As our society has become more secular, that makes sense.
But why consider a reasonable explanation when you have a political/religious agenda to satisfy?
So we have a bazarre debate on this matter today. This morning on the Today program, Trevor Phillips spoke perfect common sense to reassure everyone that the vast majority of ethnic minority people are perfectly happy for Christians to celebrate Christmas and hold nativity plays and have no desire to stop this from happening - indeed many are Christians themselves and are fully involved in it.
What is bazarre is that no one is speaking against him and putting the other side of the argument. Maybe because there is no one?
I cannot think of anyone. So how on earth did this debate ever get started when there is only one side of the argument being put?
I once heard on the radio some extracts of the nativity plays, and they were very entertaining. There are moments when 8 year olds begin there acting endeavors where the results are lets say extraordinary. It left me thinking that nativity plays are harmless fun. I would be surprised if they have much bearing on whether those children will grow into Christians. And it is not exactly one of the 10 commandments that we should have to do this.
I know Christians like to hype up Christmas, although the momentum in do so has been taken over by commercial intersts. Personally I do not find the Christmas story particularly significant. For some Christians it is important because being a Christian is an exercise in believing the literal truth of the Bible. It matters to them that there were 3 wise men, and the rest of the assembled cast. For me I ask the question; how does believing this make you any more of a moral being than you would be otherwise? The answer would appear to be that it makes no difference at all.
On the other hand, the sermon on the Mount really is one of the main highlights in the Bible. The compassion is striking, and the poetry of the words are beautiful. Whether you are a literal Christian, a metaphorical Christian, or like me not a Christian at all, this is one part of the Bible that does deserve attention. Maybe there are extracts from the other holy books that also deserve more attention?

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