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:
Hmmm, how should I describe this? I would say that a law is being used to violate the First Amendment rights of an unethical jerk who is intent on abusing them.
Or, in the alternative, Jasen Dixon may just be an idiot.
Sycamore Township, which is just outside Cincinnati, has responded to complaints by neighbors by applying various ordinances against Dixon’s unusual Nativity scene that he constructed in his front yard. It features life-size figures portraying Joseph and Mary as the walking dead, and a zombie baby Jesus, who has pale skin and pure white eyes. Here, here’s a close-up of Zombie Baby Jesus:
Dixon suspects that the township laws, which prohibit structures in the front or the side yard of a residence that occupy more than 35 percent of its total area, and require that the primary structure must be 3 feet from the street and 6 feet from the dwelling, are really being selectively enforced against him because his holiday display offends some people….well, almost everyone. I suspect this as well.
Poor Jason says he doesn’t mean any harm: he’s just doing the best he can to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus. “I wanted a Nativity and I worked with what I had,” says Dixon, who manages a nearby haunted house called “The 13 Rooms of Doom.” He says his First Amendment rights are being infringed.
“I’ve lived here for 15 years and I’ve never had a violation of any kind,” Dixon said. “It’s a holiday decoration. I know if it was a real pretty Nativity scene they wouldn’t be saying anything.”
Perhaps it was the story about the camel falling over during the Nativity Scene rehearsal, but I have begun to have ethical qualms about the use of real infants to play Baby Jesus in Christmas scenes and pageants. This morning, Fox News featured another one, with Mary and the gang holding a five-month-old child outside in sub-freezing temperatures. “He’s very warm, ” Mary said of the star of the show (I guess a Christmas pageant is one show where the “star” is literally a star; Baby Jesus is, what, the leading man? A key prop?). “Jesus” was wrapped up like a mummy, though his face looked cold. Was it really necessary to have a real child? Continue reading →