[James Carroll, in the Boston Globe, via Shalom Center]:
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. The nativity story is told to make the point that Rome is the enemy of God, and in Jesus, Rome’s day is over….
In modern times, religion and politics began to be 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
This is how it came to be that Christmas in America has turned the nativity of Jesus on its head….