American Views Abroad

Wednesday, December 22, 2004
The Politics of the Christmas Story by James Carroll states that the single most important fact about the birth of Jesus, as recounted in the Gospels, is one that receives almost no emphasis in the American festival of Christmas. 'The child who was born in Bethlehem represented a drastic political challenge to the imperial power of Rome.'

Further on Carroll explains:

'In modern times, religion and politics began to the understood as occupying separate spheres, and the nativity story became spiritualized and sentimentalized, losing its political edge altogether. 'Peace' replaced resistance as the main motif. The baby Jesus was universalized, removed from his decidedly Jewish context, and the narrative's explicit critiques of imperial dominance and of wealth were blunted. .....A story of Jesus born into a land oppressed by a hated military occupation might prompt an examination of the American occupation of Iraq. A story of Jesus come decidedly to the poor might cast a pall over the festival of consumption. A story of the Jewishness of Jesus might undercut the Christian theology of replacement.'

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