A Christmas Message
Forget the Queen’s 3D broadcast, Cärlchen Jupp reminds us what really ought to be on our minds this Christmas.
Christmas is always a time when the secular world gives the religious a chance to say something they think is profound, and then goes back to ignoring them for the rest of the year.
And 2012 is no exception, with another fine example of irrelevance from the Pope. For his Christmas message is simple: gay marriage will destroy the world. It is an evil attack on normal people and must be stopped at all costs.
It’s quite something to use a festival that retells the story of the birth of a child in a stinking animal pen, amidst the dregs of society, to an unmarried teenager, to denounce gay people; a child who was apparently put in a manger because there was no room for his poor family in a foreign town. Someone whose family arrangements could hardly be called “conventional”.
But what does the Pope care about human reality?
What then should we at Cambridge be thinking about at this time of year, as our families gather together and look ahead at what is to come? What should the message of Christmas be to those who have no belief in the Bethlehem story, or who want to think about it more deeply but are rightly pissed off with the rhetoric of so-called religious leaders?
How about stopping and thinking for a moment, away from the bullshit, and getting to the heart of that Christmas story, or myth, or whatever we call it.
How about the children still dying each day because of a lack of food and clean water? How about the gay teenagers killing themselves because their churches tell their families not to accept them? How about the world that is being destroyed by companies splurging out harmful fumes? How about those driven by religion to murder each other in cold blood? How about the centuries-old slaughter of the Middle East, still mired in cultural and religious conflict?
And in our own City – how about the people who cannot afford food, with food-banks increasing by the week? Those who will freeze to death this winter because they cannot afford fuel? Those who we walk past on a daily basis who don’t have a bed for the night? How about those recently out of prison who have nowhere to go? Those mentally ill who feel smashed apart by society? The young children bullied at home and school?
And what, really, do we do about it; and what, really, do we care?
What, in fact, is more damaging to the world; the attraction between two people with the same genitalia as the pope suggests – or inequality, murder, war, starvation, thirst, robbery, sexual abuse, hatred and fear?
It’s difficult not to burst into Midnight Mass and shout that there are far more important things in the real world than whether two gays get married or outrage felt at the use of a condom. There are far more important things than whether we should speak in Latin or English or what on earth to do once women might be allowed to don their pointy hats. And perhaps it’s time for us to start saying so, loudly, and challenging those who ignore the real issues of our times.
Maybe this Christmas, we should listen, step up, and do something. And words are powerful – and with that power comes responsibility. Those spurting hate, whoever they are, need to be taken head on. And if we don’t do it, who will?
‘Oh hush your noise, you men of strife, and hear the angels sing,’ the carol rings.
Maybe we are hearing them, but not listening. Let’s listen to the angels – metaphorical or real – this Christmas, and really mean it when we start fighting for a fairer, more just, and more decent world to live in.