Orbiting Dicta


The election campaigns are over and the voting done.  We are back where we started, pretty much, about 6 billion dollars later.  Washington seems paralyzed by Party bickering.  At least the Israelis and Palestinians are not lobbing missiles at each other for the time being.  The long Black Friday and Cyber Monday (with antecedents and consequents) are pretty much behind us.  Most Americans have all but forgotten about Sandy and the worst storm damage since Hurricane Katrina and the worst ever to visit the east coast.  A strange quiet seems to have fallen over the earth (save for unrest in Egypt, Syria, and large parts of Africa).  Winter is slowly approaching and the beautiful season of Advent , once precious to Christians as a time of waiting and expectation, is half over. It now seems more like the last chance for the forces of capitalism and merchandising canniness to convince the general public to buy everything that can be shoved onto a store shelf or fill our daily email folders with promises of free shipping.

The pope has released his volume on the birth of Jesus.  CNN was all a-twitter last week.  It seems that His Holiness believes that the ox and the donkey are additions, and the date is wrong, and the angels didn’t sing anything, they just said the words, like a click tape for a rock star concert.  (But as my grandpa would say, “Vere you der, Charlie?”)  Still, it’s refreshing to note that the pope is up to about 1965 with his biblical research…

As I would tell my class, how would anyone know there weren’t an ox and an ass present?  It’s just as likely that they were.  They’re the kind of animals one would expect in a stable, especially that stable if one had read Isaiah 1:3.  I’m less confident about the collie dog that the shepherds brought along according to the plaster figure set I bought piece by humble piece over the years back in New Mexico when I was 10 (and 11 and 12).  But everybody knows that angels sing.  Especially in choirs.   (Actually, I’m surprised that the pope conceded that there were angels (in the sky?) at all: most savvy scholars think they are textual add-ons to drive the messianic point home.  Very imaginative, those old Jews.)

It may even snow….