Sunday, December 24, 2017 –
A lot of folks credit the Bible’s accounting of the Christmas story, but it seems absurd to me.
I’ll grant all the physical details – census and manger and ungulates – stipulating that stories always improve: Just a few years later, Jesus had to walk all the way to Antarctica and back, just to get to school.
A light in the sky? Why not. We’ve been watching them all year.
Hosts of angels? Celestial choirs? Please.
Kings giving riches away? To a paupered infant? No strings attached? See someone after the holidays: You’re delusional.
I don’t like the idea of any gods – period – because divinity is a notion that undermines humanity: We are not self-responsible moral agents pursuing the enduring grace only self-responsible moral agency can engender. Instead we are the gods’ little tin soldiers, living only their will but never our own. This is palpably false to fact, but it’s a good way to try to escape blame for choosing the opposites of grace – or to excuse those choices in others.
Whatever. Each man to his own saints. It’s the underlying story of Christmas that I find interesting.
When someone tells you a preposterous lie, you know that person is hiding something – typically a moral failure, from a faux pas to genocide. When other people insist you must uphold that lie – by not daring to challenge it – that’s the baby form of The Big Lie: Not ethics, politics. Not truth, policy.
So, as an inveterate reader of Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie stories, when the high priest insists that the knocked-up teenager was inseminated by god by remote-control – which alternative theory of the pregnancy leaps to your mind? When he demands that you and everyone must go along with the lie – pretend to give the preposterous a divine posterity – what then?
Here is the story of Christmas, told Willie’s way:
Joseph and Mary were madly in love and ripe to marry when Mary was raped by the high priest or one of his minions – or the grand poohbah or one of his minions. That can’t happen? No news reports where you live?
She kept the incident secret – I hope not from Joseph – until the baby told on her. That’s when the high priest proclaimed the great miracle – with emphasis.
Every adult around them knew it was a lie, but their children only suspected it – and their children believed it as (ahem!) Holy Writ. That’s how Marxism took your kids, just that way, The Big Lie ‘evolving’ into the indisputable, the unquestionable, the inarguable – into dogma.
But the the story of Christmas belongs to Joseph. Not to Mary, not to Jesus, not to lowlife high priests or implausible wayfaring kings.
Because Joseph stayed. He was a cuckold and he knew it – gored by a glorified god or an all-too-real human demon, you decide – and he had been cuckolded in the worst possible way: His virgin bride was stolen from him and delivered back both violated and bearing another man’s seed.
At that point he owed Mary nothing. Was she rape-raped? Or was she a prick-tease who teased the worst possible prick? If things like this don’t happen where you live, make up a bed for me: I’m moving in.
But he could have walked on her – and his family might have saluted that choice: A man plows his own field to feed his own family – not some lying gonoph’s cast-off accidental kin.
Christ is the reason for the season? Blah, blah, blah. Christmas is family, and it is Joseph who made it that way: He didn’t dump the bastard and ditch the bitch.
It’s Christmas because Joseph didn’t abandon Mary when he could have.
It’s Christmas because he didn’t kill her child.
It’s Christmas because he raised that boy as his own – as Isaac, not Ishmael.
It’s Christmas because he stuck it out, day by day and year by year, to launch his children into the best orbit he could.
It’s Christmas because Joseph was the father of Jesus – not a god and not a self-anointed high priest.
It’s Christmas because Joseph knew why fatherhood matters, and why you can’t throw it away – even if that seems easy.
It’s Christmas because Joseph was Father Christmas when having a father for Christmas mattered everything.
It’s Christmas because Joseph lived up to his humanity – setting a proud example for every father since.
Go off to church and worship your gods, if you insist. I’ll stay right here and worship what really matters: Humanity and the fathers who cultivate it.