In recent years, we’ve all watched come and go the “Christmas wars,” usually involving both displays that represent an attack on Christians and policies that attempt to push Christmas itself out of the public square. This being 2017, of course, mild craziness and discord has exploded into lunacy.
Yesterday, Providence Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin put up a Facebook post responding to a display of two pink-clad Josephs leaning over a baby Jesus. This is the entirety of his commentary:
A Gay Nativity?
Just came across this photo of a “gay nativity” scene — two Josephs dressed in pink watching over the Christ Child. How sad that someone believes it’s okay (or funny or cool) to impose their own agenda on the holy Birth of Jesus. Pray for those who did so, for their change of heart, and that Jesus will forgive this sacrilege, this attack on the Christian Faith.
Whoever wrote the copy for a WPRI article on the bishop’s response characterized this as “dismay,” and the headline writer notched it up to “outrage.” Oddly enough, what comes to mind is the 2012 attack on U.S. agents in Benghazi, when the Obama administration thought it was so plausible that an obscure YouTube video mocking Islam would cause Muslim riots around the world that they used it as a false cover story.
I don’t draw that comparison in order to make this a partisan issue or even to shift to the different handling of incidents involving Christians and Muslims, but to lament the collapse of our ability to communicate and to articulate the facts of the world. Such a collapse must be imminent if both rioting over videos or shooting people over artistic representations of Muhammad and praying for the well-being of people who insult one’s religion are expressions of “outrage.”
More disturbing, however, is the degree to which stories about Bishop Tobin’s post are attempting to force an insane narrative on our society. One would have to be either completely ignorant of the recent past or deliberately obtuse not to recognize this display as intentional mockery, and yet Mark Reynolds actually wrote the following paragraph in his Providence Journal article on the story:
The two Josephs, dressed in pink, are watching over Jesus. This clashes with nativity scenes supported by Catholics and most Christians in which Joseph and Mary watch over Jesus.
Roll that second sentence around in your head for a bit: “This clashes with nativity scenes supported by Catholics and most Christians in which Joseph and Mary watch over Jesus.” So much must the correct side of a disagreement be seen as the victim that Reynolds creates a false narrative of Christians “supporting” different nativity scenes as if we’re Yooks and Zooks battling over the buttering of our bread.
A Christian Nativity scene is a representation of a specific scene in a book known as the Bible. It’s a known quantity with a long pedigree and a great deal of meaning for Christians. Treating a politically inflammatory variation as if it’s just some stylistic difference misses everything important about the disagreement.
More precisely, Reynolds’s formulation dismisses everything important about the Christian argument. Remember that “nativity” means birth, and men cannot give birth. So, not only are Rhode Island journalists presenting a Christian leader’s sadness over a transparent sneer directed at his faith as if he’s the aggressor, and not only are we being asked to pretend that the sneer is just a bland expression of variation within Christian belief, but we’re also being required to accept a biological impossibility as if it’s possible.
As somebody who participated in great depth in the public debate over same-sex marriage, I’d suggest that what 2017 has really brought us is a more explicit illustration of the progressive strategy. To make same-sex marriage a reality, the Left simply pretended there was no reasonable argument for a definition of “marriage” that included the categorical possibility of childbirth, as opposed to merely the feelings of adults. Now, the blind eye is being turned even to biological reality.
This new expression of nihilism suggests not only that nothing in life has meaning, but also that nothing in life can be said to be factual. In rejecting the principle that we can know our Creator through his creation, we cut ourselves off from God. The growing divisions between us — as our ability to reason with each other collapses into the question of who has more power — are just another manifestation of that division.