Thanksgiving Ethics Quiz: The Vatican’s Cool Nativity Scene

I don’t understand this at all.

Thanksgiving is, at least in this country, the traditional kick-off of the holidays and all the madness, music, traditions, literature, art, fun, reflection and controversies that accompany them.

Slightly off topic: I just looked in on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade broadcast.

Oh. My. God.

What is a parade without anyone watching and cheering along the route? What’s the point? All the energy, all of it, is gone. Worst of all are the live—are they really live?—performances of numbers from various Broadway shows in the middle of the street. These are always weird, but without any ambient sounds or people in the background, they are creepy and weird. The look like a post-nuclear apocalypse freak-out by community theater survivors. Also creepy: the networks’ socially distanced “hosts” now resemble those old Soviet news shows where the anchors were separated by about 15 feet at a long desk.

Where was I? Oh, right, the holidays…

With all the commercializing and vulgarizing of Christmas, the unlistenable “modern” Christmas songs, and the cynical “Christmas is horrible” movie comedies (like “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”), the culture relies on the Christian religious institutions to provide context, continuity, seriousness and dignity to the season lest the ritual cease to have any meaning at all. With that duty in mind, here is the just-revealed Vatican Nativity scene:


Your Ethics Alarms Thanksgiving Ethics Quiz is…


What this communicates to me is a church that has lost its bearings, is desperately trying to appease those who no longer believe that it is relevant to today’s enlightened world, is no longer confident of its traditions, rituals and message, or perhaps one that is just giving up.

Next up: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s hip-hop version of “O Holy Night.”

14 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Ethics Quiz: The Vatican’s Cool Nativity Scene

  1. Apparently the tree is a symbol of ecology or ecological stewardship(which dies beg the question: how is chopping a 91 foot tree down for a holiday decoration good stewardship?) and the Nativity scene was sculpted by art Italian students about 50 years ago and is supposed to reflect ancient Sumerian and Greek styles. Not necessarily my cup of tea but, hey, artists gotta art, right?


  2. Forget it, Jack. It’s Italy.

    Actually, I think they’re kind of cute. They look like those little round headed plastic figures. Not weebles, but I can’t recall the name.

  3. All that said, it would be more appropriate in a department store or an art gallery. Of course, the Vatican is … an art gallery.

  4. Having scoured Google images and Youtube for the most accurate images and videos from some two thousand years ago, an having come up with nothing, I decided to go to original sources (well, as original as we have). To my dismay, the New Testament is not much help in picturing what the Nativity scene actually looked like. So, darn it, I had to conclude that all of those depictions I had seen over the years were just that, depictions, the end product of someone’s imagination.
    Likewise, what the Vatican intends to display for this year’s Nativity scene (and the image above is only a part of it) is the result of imagination, artists impressions of what may have been.
    Were I more learned in the field, I might mount some criticism from an artistic standpoint (once I had seen the full display), but, as it is, being a ‘dumbass’ as noted in a post some months ago (correctly when it comes to the field of art criticism), and having been immersed in more traditional depictions over many, many years since my infancy, I will just say, ‘That’s not how I would have done it.’

  5. “With all the commercializing and vulgarizing of Christmas, the unlistenable “modern” Christmas songs,..”

    Not quite ‘unlistenable’, but this video makes a related point:

  6. Jack, just for the record, my instant reaction to that Nativity scene shown, elicited a differentWHAT THE end-word.

    I guess the new, modern message (from the governists) is, “Follow us, and we will make you Fisher Prices of wymyn.” Of course, the people who need to get that won’t get it, because anything spoken by Jesus is by definition [to them] the sly deceptiveness of an anarchist, misogynist, grifter-ist anti-Roman JEW champion of a paternalistic [guy-centric] society.

  7. Christmas Vacation is about finding Christmas cheer inspite of wacky in-laws and all the efforts a beautiful Christmas takes. Clark Griswold kept trying, despite his own self-sabotage, to make a lovely holiday and care for his family. He put up thousands of lights, pulled a giant tree out of the forest, and put up with Randy Quaid’s super gross character. He even soothed a kidnapping situation.

    Family and Christmas take effort and can frustrate but are worth it. That’s my takeaway from the film. Also, unlike the previous Vacation film, “Honkey lips” was not spray painted anywhere.

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