While Mrs. P was in the kitchen this Advent baking her self-identified and non-binary-gendered gingerbread persons, I was wondering whether in a hundred years from now the Christmas story would have to be flagged by a trigger warning, or banned outright.
After all, the three principal characters belong to an all-white, conventionally heterosexual family. As the inheritors of white privilege, they are adored by poor and oppressed shepherds; and the only people of colour in the Nativity frame are stereotyped as third-world despots paying fulsome tribute to an aristocratic Prince who will soon extend his colonial hegemony over the entire world.
Mary, in spite of having been violated by the Father, goes meekly, indeed, gratefully along with her degradation in Judea’s misogynist, male rape culture; and the only person who is troubled (Joseph), blames the victim.
As an adolescent, Jesus is permitted to go to school to become a rabbi (an occupation barred to girls), and eventually preaches in the Synagogue (which is located on Israeli-occupied Arab land), whose priesthood is, once again, debarred to women. It is true that Mary does eventually break the glass ceiling when she is assumed into heaven; but this is pure tokenism, since there she remains the only woman on an all-male board of directors.
At Cana, Jesus presides over the first Christian marriage, a civil right that is still denied by his followers to gay couples, who have been subjected thereafter to centuries of Christian homophobic persecution. Indeed, as the renowned New Testament scholars Martin Scorsese and Dan Brown have shown, Jesus’ scarcely disguised lust for Mary Magdalene is inauspiciously hetero-normative. It is impossible not to notice, moreover, that in the various acronyms associated with his name—“alpha and omega”, “IHS”, “INRI”, and others—not a single one of the letters LGBTQQ1P2AA appears. Coincidence? Hardly.
Leaving Cana, Jesus upbraids the Samaritan Woman at the Well (betraying his xenophobia) for having been married five times (his own celibacy being a sign of his sexual repression), and then complains that her water is “insipid”, but says nothing about the industrial run-off that has made it so.
It is heartening that Jesus rails against the bankers and the one-percent (driving the money-changers out of the Temple, and bequeathing to future class-warriors a nice line about the rapacious rich and the eye of a needle). It is also true that he shows compassion for the poor and disenfranchised. But he does nothing to alleviate their plight. No community organizing; no union organizing; no enduring social programs. Just a few measly loaves and fishes.
What’s worse, he counsels virtue, “meekness”, and patient hope for “future rewards”, facilitating the power structure in its conspiracy to keep the downtrodden and marginalized stupidly content and compliant in their poverty and servitude. And when the Pharisees demand that he prove that he is the true messiah by inaugurating the revolution that would usher in the workers’ paradise, he dismisses them with some antiquated moralizing about the kingdom of God being within.
The only progressive thinker in the entire story is Pontius Pilate, the Roman deconstructionist who asks, What is truth?
A Merry Progressive Christmas to Priceton readers, everyone.