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Celebrating no great new insights.
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Just as this is a God who does not merely remain aloft (and unapproachable) in the heavens, but instead “descended to Earth,” His great message is likewise one not reserved only for erudite theologians or scholars but instead accessible to all, understandable by all, livable by all. We should not scoff at the simplicity and the familiarity of the Christmas story, nor at the easy accessibility of its themes of rebirth; as Erasmus wrote in the same section of his Paraclesis, “nothing may stand forth with greater certainty than the truth itself, whose expression is the more powerful, the simpler it is.” (Emphasis added.)
And: “The sun itself is not as common and accessible as is Christ’s teaching. It keeps no one at a distance, unless a person, begrudging himself, keeps himself away.”
So we have a God making Himself accessible, yet we ourselves strive for more complex meanings and scoff at the familiarity of the themes. We therefore err: It is not the story or the traditional interpretations of it that are hackneyed; what is hackneyed, what is trite, is the modern dissatisfaction with the quiet glory of an event at once simple and profound.
Riding around New Orleans after the Festival of Lessons and Carols, what one sees is not a new or more complicated city, but a revitalized city within the same familiar street grid beneath the same familiar oaks alongside the same, familiar river of currents powerful and deep. And that is good.
As Trinity middle-school students have done every year since 1960, as Linus has done in the TV special every year since 1965, a Trinity student this year stepped to the church lectern and read:
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people…..
And the church went entirely dark, except for bright back-lighting behind the glorious stained glass window above the altar, and in that darkness a church full of students, parents, faculty and alumni sang of a silent night, a holy night, where all was calm and all was bright. There needed be no great erudition there, no complicated insight. The message isn’t exclusive; it is a universal one, which shall be – which is offered to – all people.
“This philosophy,” wrote Erasmus, “unlettered as it appears to these very objectors, has drawn the highest princes of the world and so many kingdoms and peoples to its laws, an achievement which the power of tyrants and the erudition of philosophers cannot claim.”
But we, we even in our mod cocoons, are invited to claim it. We claim it, Erasmus said, by living it. To repeat: We need only celebrate “the truth itself, whose expression is the more powerful, the simpler it is.”
A blessed Christmas to all. Simply blessed.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?