What do you know about Christmas?

Posted by Saturday, 9 December 2017

Our attention has been drawn by Archdruid Eileen to an article showing that 9 out of 10 Independent journalists know nothing about Christmas.The problem, of course is that 99% of them haven’t been in a church for more than 20 years (“Is it that big building with the minarets?”) and 85% of them have never spoken to a Christian (“They’re the ones in the turbans, aren’t they?”)

The Gherkin

This is probably not a church.

Although we haven’t even got to the 2nd Sunday in Advent, it was clear to the Independent editor that we must already be on about the 35th Day of Christmas, which traditionally starts when Bonfire Night is over, and it was time for a “What we don’t know about Christmas” piece.

Shockingly, when asked to name the 12 Apostles – not that they have much to do with Christmas – the Independent “Staff and Agencies” (a term they use when they can’t find anyone prepared to take responsibility for an article) came up with the following list:

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Adam, Eve, Esau, Jacob, David, Goliath, Pontius Pilate,

and as, mentioned on the Archdruid Eileen blog, they narrowly avoided naming Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen (or possibly Kasper and Cupich and Farrell and Tobin).

John Arnold being silly

Christians – except for “Jihadi John” Arnold – do not celebrate Mohammed’s birthday.

Clearly, it is difficult to find the traditional Christmas story – either you need to find a Bible, and then it’s a long wade through from Genesis until you get to the bit about Bethlehem, or else you need to do “research” (probably Google), and that sounds too much like hard work. Indeed, if you use traditional Christmas keywords such as “snowman”, “robin” and “mince pie”, you may never stumble across the story at all.

The Easter story is equally hard to pin down, and even a Biblical concordance won’t help you if you type in keywords such as “egg”, “bunny” and “chocolate”. We Christians know that these are key parts of the Easter narrative, but traditionally these bits aren’t even read out in church.

I don’t think we can blame Pope Francis, who, when he has finished rewriting the Lord’s Prayer, is definitely expected to introduce that beautiful old Christmas hymn “We all like figgie pudding” into the liturgy for Christmas Day.

snowman dressed as a priest

“And there came three snowmen unto Bethlehem…”

When asked what languages Jesus spoke, 80% of Independent staff said that, although of course He normally spoke in English (see the King James Bible for proof of this), he must also have understood Gaelic (the language of St Andrew), and probably also spoke whatever it is that Jews speak – probably Yiddish. Anyway, there’s clearly no point praying to God (an obscure ritual that some traditional Catholics perform) in languages such as French and German, as HE WON’T UNDERSTAND YOU.

The journalists had heard of the Turin shroud, but most associated it with Alan Turing, the computer chappie, rather than Jesus. “Anyway, wherever Jesus’s body is buried, He’s probably still wearing the shroud.”

Well, with this level of ignorance – and the Guardian is worse – we have a long way to go before we see surveys asking people to explain the Hermeneutic of Continuity, the difference between Modern Reformed Baptists and Reformed Modern Baptists, or the meaning of Eschatology. Let’s start with something simpler, such as explaining the Gospels to Fr James Martin SJ.


Harry Houdini – a master of eschatology.

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