Friday, December 07, 2007

Nativity scene now includes Israeli security barrier

From CNSNews comes an account of the politicising of the nativity scene as Israel's security barrier features in carved wooden prominence: ‘The Amos Trust, a Christian group that works with needy communities around the world, is selling what it calls a nativity set with a difference -- one where "the wise men won't get to the stable."

Organizers say the purpose of the sets - made by Palestinian carpenters with olive wood from Bethlehem - is to draw attention to the security measures put in place by the Israeli government.

The network of walls and fences being built between Israeli and Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of the West Bank runs along the perimeter of Bethlehem, dividing it from nearby Jerusalem. Travel in and out of the town is heavily restricted.

The nativity scenes are available in a small version, for around $30, and a larger set - "perfect for a church" - goes for around $115. The wall in the larger version is detachable, the Amos Trust says, to allow for the possibility the situation may change in the future.

Garth Hewitt, director of the Amos Trust, said Wednesday his group wants to use the wooden sets to make people aware of what is happening, including how the Christian population of Bethlehem is rapidly shrinking.

"We're worried about the entire community there," he said. "They're trapped behind the wall there. It's like a medieval siege."

Hewitt, an Anglican "honorary canon" and singer-songwriter, said proceeds from the sets will go directly to the Bethlehem tradesmen who have been economically hurt by the loss of outside visitors and tourists.

"In the old days, there would have been loads of pilgrims and they would have been able to raise money that way," he said. So far, the group has sold around 100 of the smaller sets and about 50 of the larger ones.

Critics of Israel frequently blame the Israeli government for the exodus of Christian Arabs from the PA areas. Some scholars attribute the shrinking Christian population to harassment and intimidation by Islamists, however.

Two pro-Israel Christian groups criticized the nativity sets.

"We are saddened by attempts to make one-sided political capital out of the Bethlehem story," Geoffrey Smith, director of the U.K. branch of Christian Friends of Israel, said Wednesday.

"Nobody wants a security barrier but so long as terrorists continue to threaten the lives of Jews and of Arabs in Israel, the people there have to defend themselves in ways that will stop the bombers."

He said more than 2,000 lives have been saved by the security barrier in the last five years.

Pamela Thomas, national director of the British branch of Bridges for Peace, agreed. "The wall is there to protect people from the suicide bombers that were coming in," she said.

Although far from common in Britain, nativity scenes occasionally have proved controversial in recent years.

Last year, the Israeli government protested after a Catholic Church in England replaced its usual nativity pageant with a 24-foot-high polystyrene replica of the security barrier.

Visitors reportedly were shown protest signs and what the parish priest called "stark photographs" of the situation in Bethlehem.

This year, the BBC has come under fire from some religious groups for a modernized version of the nativity story, which the public broadcaster will screen in a live show in Liverpool on December 16.

Mary and Joseph will be depicted as asylum seekers swept up during a crackdown on immigration, with the cast singing hits from the Beatles and other famous local pop bands.

Despite the complaints, Anglican Bishop of Liverpool James Jones supports the program, saying that it will cause the Christmas story to "echo through the streets of Liverpool”.’


Anonymous M Burgess said...

As your Grace is aware, Mary and Joseph were not asylum seekers; they had to take part in a census organised by a bossy government. The whole point is that they had to return to their native village.

7 December 2007 at 13:46  
Anonymous firefox_user said...

Perhaps his Grace could offer his thoughts on the BBC's plans for their Christmas production. They did the same this year or last (I think) with the Easter story in Manchester, which I personally thought was quite good. Perhaps he could comment again after the occasion.

Perhaps I should not be so bold as to make two suggestions when this is not even an open pulpit.

7 December 2007 at 14:39  
Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

Well I will not watch it I dont like my traditions or rituals being messed about with.

Perhaps if the palestinians did more talking and less fighting they may get somewhere

7 December 2007 at 15:02  
Blogger Dr.D said...

This is strictly muzlim propaganda, and any Anglican that accepts it should have his head examined for leaks (there may be nothing left to leak out, however).

The Palestinians have been resolute in their determination not to make peace with Israel. The fact that Israel has found something effect in blocking their attacks, the wall, must indeed be frustrating to them. Even so, that has no bearing whatsoever on the Christmass story. Power to the Israelis!

7 December 2007 at 18:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really does seem that the BBC will not learn until they are taught a lesson perhaps taking a leaf out of the Islamists book might do it (not the rabble rousing but a more direct visual approach should do it)...hmm how's my diary looking.

7 December 2007 at 20:06  
Anonymous najistani said...

Your Grace,
Regarding the BBC nativity, may I suggest that in order to promote gender equality there should be three wise persons, one male, one female and one transgendered.

There should also be equal numbers of shepherds and shepherdesses.

The three wise persons may bring gold and myrrh, but the frankincense must be banned because it produces smoke in a public place. Air-freshener sprays may be used as a substitute provided they are not allergenic.

7 December 2007 at 20:17  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

Your Grace

Obviously there are some smart people on this site. So I will raise the tone of my argument.

When I was growing up about 35 years ago, the idea that religion would still have any relevance to the world, would have been almost laughable.

However we are in the year 2007 now and what back then would have been seen as an obvious fact, is now anything but.

Could some of the reasons for mans reawakening of his religious spirit, be something to do with the following?

Virtually all religions are astronomically based on the SAME THING as all high theologians like yourself should be very well aware of.

Science once was used to confirm the existence of a creator, but failed. Then it was used to confirm the non-existence of a creator, and failed that test as well.

However over the last 50-60 years science has shown how little it understands and now is starting to believe that creation of some sort is not only as good an explanation as we are ever going to come up with.

Science has in fact worked out that the modern human race as we know it, MUST HAVE BEEN created. The science community just cant work out the details, and refuse to honestly tell the common people the real crazy truth. For MAYBE very understandable reasons.

They may even have some of our modern human creators minions, already in captivity. They simply want to use this information to cement their power before it becomes apparently obvious to the general public.

There is much evidence of this actually happening, going back over the last 50-60 years especially.

However it may all be the usual CIA disinformation designed to confuse and repress, but there again it may not be anything of the kind.

As you should know yourself, in old testament scriptures going back thousands of years. God was to all intents and purposes a being from another planet.

So the understanding that our ruling elites have indeed directly communicated with our creators is not far fetched at all. On either a scientific or religious level these days.

Interesting times are ahead as the lid is about to blow. Exploding the biggest can of worms since Nagasaki.

7 December 2007 at 21:22  
Anonymous najistani said...

"As you should know yourself, in old testament scriptures going back thousands of years. God was to all intents and purposes a being from another planet. "

A meteorite?

Rational justification at last!!!

Allah is inded Akhbar!!

7 December 2007 at 23:30  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

"Virtually all religions are astronomically based on the SAME THING as all high theologians like yourself should be very well aware of."

No this isn't true, as any good theologian will tell you. I think you are hinting at cosmicism. It's easy to make the Cosmos "Universal" (and ecumenical..) because everyone can see it. At night. But the God of monotheism is transcendant of the material world; as any good theologian will tell you.

8 December 2007 at 01:34  
Blogger Jeremy Jacobs said...


Pity nobody mentions the reduction of Pally Christians in Judea and Samaria due to persecution by the Muslim majority.

8 December 2007 at 02:14  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

Homophobic horse

Well lets put it this way. No High Jewish theologian I have ever spoken to has ever left me with the impression that the gods are any less then super intelligent aliens from another cosmos. But then thats Judaism for you, honest to those that can handle it. Cant answer for papists and alike they seem to make it all up as they go along.

If the Pope ever was honest enough to tell the truth about what he is supposed to believe in. Most Roman Catholics would have him burned at the stake.

All religions are based on cosmology thats just completely obvious to any one with a brain,and an historical understanding, surly.

Also how can you get more transcendant from this material world then the beings that actually created our conscious minds?

The Universe as we understand it as such, exists because we are here to perceive its existence. The being that created us therefore created the universe at that exact time. Whether the being or beings created the whole damned cosmos or not.

Which they may have done anyway, but logically may also may not have done.

But you cant expect even high theologians to be able to tell you that. Its not in their remit.

They can only speculate on what god was supposed to have told mankind though the scriptures.

Our creators may have only a lot better idea what its all REALLY about then we do. But not the answers to absolutely everything.

The gods are very very smart but maybe not that smart.

9 December 2007 at 06:22  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

Sorry here is some more bullshit

Why should we expect that the gods would tell us the whole truth and nothing but the truth even supposing they knew what the absolute truth was?

We more then likely are simply not intelligent enough to understand it, even if we had it written out for us in black and white.

It may even do us more harm then good to really know for sure what the absolute truth is.

9 December 2007 at 06:42  

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