Vicar bans ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’
He was dismayed to discover that ‘where shepherds once used to watch over flocks by night, now security guards watched over the people living there’.
If he had bothered to travel wider in the area, he might also have observed that very little in Israel is as it was 2000 years ago, not least because a church seems to have been built over every possible site where Mary spilled some of her breast milk or to mark the burial site of the donkey which carried Jesus into Jerusalem. It remains true, however, that nothing good comes out of Nazareth.
And Mr Coulter draws attention to a carving he ‘smuggled out of Palestine’ which shows the Israeli security fence separating the crib from the wise men. And while he is in the limelight, he highlights reports that the Israeli government is prohibiting the movement of communion wine from Bethlehem this Christmas because it was deemed a security risk.
Is it any wonder with vicars like these that the Church of England is in such a state of terminal decline and ritually held up to ridicule?
Since when was modern reality being at variance with history justification for banning hymns or carols?
Why does this theologically-foolish and politically-naïve vicar not ban ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’ because they patently no longer do?
Or ‘O Come all ye Faithful!’ because the faithful are no longer coming?
Or ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ and ‘See Amid The Winter’s Snow’ because of global warming?
Or ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ because Christmas now seems to last for about 60 days, from early November right through to January?
Or ‘Away in a Manger’ on health and safety grounds for fear of increasing the likelihood of cot death?
Or ‘Ding Dong Merrily on High’ because so many church bells have either been silenced by local councils or are being supplanted by the local mosque’s call to prayer?
Or ‘Joy to the World’, because joy is not possible in a world of conflict and war.
Or ‘Silent Night’ on the grounds that silence is no longer possible in a world of increasing noise pollution?
Or ‘While Shepherds Watched’ because few people go anywhere or do anything by night for fear of being mugged or murdered?
Or ‘Unto Us a Child is Born’ because so many more are being aborted?
While this vicar is obsessing about peripheral minutiae like the movement of communion wine, he might consider saying something about the Palestinian Christians who are being persecuted.
What has he said about the cases of violence, including forced marriage to Muslims, and the Arab-engineered decline in Christian population of Bethlehem?
Is he aware that His Supreme Governor has recently bestowed an honorary knighthood on the President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres?
What has he observed of the number of lives – Arab and Israeli – that the Israeli security fence has saved?
What has he said in support of Israel’s democracy, in which Arab-Muslims may rise to the highest office?
Since he is intent on censoring divine worship and imposing his puerile politics upon his congregation, Cranmer thinks a little email
The Reverend Stephen Coulter's email addresses are:
Do let him know what you think, especially about the plight of Palestinian Christians and the importance to the whole region of Israel's security. And be sure to wish him a Merry Christmas, even though merriment is far from the present reality in Gordon Brown’s credit-crunch Britain.