Tuesday, December 14, 2004

PC Christmas (Comedy)

And Joseph went up from Galilee to Bethlehem with Mary, his espoused
wife, who was great with child. And she brought forth a son and wrapped
him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no
room for them in the inn.
And the angel of the Lord spoke to the shepherds and said, "I bring you
tidings of great joy. Unto you is born a Savior, which is Christ the
"There's a problem with the angel," said a Pharisee who happened to be
strolling by. As he explained to Joseph, angels are widely regarded as
religious symbols, and the stable was on public property where such
symbols were not allowed to land or even hover.
"And I have to tell you, this whole thing looks to me very much like a
Nativity scene," he said sadly. "That's a no-no, too."
Joseph had a bright idea. "What if I put a couple of reindeer over there
near the ox and donkey?" he said, eager to avoid sectarian strife.
"That would definitely help," said the Pharisee, who knew as well as
anyone that whenever a savior appeared, judges usually liked to be on
the safe side and surround it with deer or woodland creatures of some
"Just to clinch it, throw in a candy cane and a couple of elves and
snowmen, too," he said. "No court can resist that."
Mary asked, "What does my son's birth have to do with snowmen?"
"Snowpersons," cried a young woman, changing the subject before it
veered dangerously toward religion.
Off to the side of the crowd, a Philistine was painting the Nativity
Mary complained that she and Joseph looked too tattered and worn in the
"Artistic license," he said. "I've got to show the plight of the haggard
homeless in a greedy, uncaring society in winter," he quipped.
"We're not haggard or homeless. The inn was just full," said Mary.
"Whatever," said the painter.
Two women began to argue fiercely. One said she objected to Jesus' birth
"because it privileged motherhood." The other scoffed at virgin births,
but said that if they encouraged more attention to diversity in family
forms and the rights of single mothers, well, then, she was all for
"I'm not a single mother," Mary started to say, but she was cut off by a
third woman who insisted that swaddling clothes are a form of child
abuse, since they restrict the natural movement of babies.
With the arrival of 10 child advocates, all trained to spot infant abuse
and manger rash, Mary and Joseph were pushed to the edge of the crowd,
where arguments were breaking out over how many reindeer (or what mix of
reindeer and seasonal sprites) had to be installed to compensate for the
infant's unfortunate religious character.
An older man bustled up, bowling over two merchants, who had been busy
debating whether an elf is the same as a fairy and whether the elf/fairy
should be shaking hands with Jesus in the crib or merely standing to the
side, jumping around likes a sports mascot.
"I'd hold off on the reindeer," the man said, explaining that the use of
donkeys and oxen as picturesque backdrops for Nativity scenes carries
the subliminal message of human dominance. He passed out two leaflets,
one denouncing manger births as invasions of animal space, the other
arguing that stables are "penned environments" where animals are
incarcerated against their will. He had no opinion about elves or candy
Signs declaring "Free the Bethlehem 2" began to appear, referring to the
obviously exploited donkey and ox. Someone said the halo on Jesus' head
was elitist.
Mary was exasperated. "And what about you, old mother?" she said sharply
to an elderly woman. "Are you here to attack the shepherds as prison
guards for excluded species, maybe to complain that singing in Latin
identifies us with our Roman oppressors, or just to say that I should
have skipped patriarchal religiosity and joined some dumb new-age
goddess religion?"
"None of the above," said the woman, "I just wanted to tell you that the
Magi are here." Sure enough, the three wise men rode up. The crowd
gasped, "They're all male!" And "Not very multicultural!" "Balthasar
here is black," said one of the Magi. "Yes, but how many of you are gay
or disabled?" someone shouted. A committee was quickly formed to find an
impoverished lesbian wise-person among the halt and lame of Bethlehem.
A calm voice said, "Be of good cheer, Mary, you have done well and your
son will change the world." At last, a sane person, Mary thought. She
turned to see a radiant and confident female face. The woman spoke
again: "There is one thing, though. Religious holidays are important,
but can't we learn to celebrate them in ways that unite, not divide? For
instance, instead of all this business about 'Gloria in excelsis Deo,'
why not just 'Season's Greetings'?"
Mary said, "You mean my son has entered human history to deliver the
message, 'Hello, it's winter'?"
"That's harsh, Mary," said the woman.
"Remember, your son could make it big in midwinter festivals, if he
doesn't push the religion thing too far. Centuries from now, in nations
yet born, people will give each other pricey gifts and have big office
parties on his birthday. That's not chopped liver."
"Let me get back to you," Mary said.

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