Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Christ Story

I need some help here with the Christ thing. Maybe one of you can explain to me how this works.

I have a casual understanding of the Christ story, an understanding that comes from talking to Christian friends and reading the bible, so there is a lot I don't get.

It being the season I've lately been listening to a lot of Christmas carols, and in the course of paying attention to the lyrics, I keep coming back to a few things that I don't quite understand.

The star thing. Did everyone really know this baby was the special lord guy when he was born? Or did the star-means-Christ-is-born knowledge arrive after the fact in a revisionist sort of way?  Because if everyone knew that Christ was this powerful guy in baby form then it would seem to me that not only his birth but his whole upbringing would have been fraught with all kinds of danger and close calls and we'd hear lots of stories about how he barely escaped death some ten or twenty times a day, and I don't hear about that.

Also, I seem to recall from some story somewhere that Jesus' parents had other children. If his parents knew he was this special from the start, wouldn't he know, too? Surely his siblings would have figured it out, too and wouldn't that have put some strain on the family dynamics? "Your brother's special, sweetie, and while we love you all, we love him -- differently. By the way, don't drink that water after he's handled it and for sure no eating those crackers he's touched."

Again, I'm sure there's plenty I don't understand.  Anyone want to help me make sense of this?


  1. The puppet regime that the Romans had installed was that of King Herod. When the wise men first came to pay their respects, they knocked on this guy's door for directions. So really, in addition to the gold, frankincense, and myrrh of legend, they passed on a hit contract to the kid.

    Herod was a lousy shot, however, so he ended up taking out the whole village's crop of kids.

    The other thing I remember from my sunday school brainwashing sessions, was that for most of his life, the woodcarver dude was kind of a goof-off, not getting much done nor pissing off anyone of note until he starts hanging around with the waterdunking guy and pissing off the temple franchise holders. His siblings (technically his half-brothers and half-sisters, since no one could pin their paternity on Yaweh) were hardly dazzled by his woo-woo, they just saw him as the same kind of pain in the ass that every sibling sees.

    I remember a Sunday school lesson about this, where we're supposed to keep an open mind about people we find despicable, since who knows what they could grow up to become?

  2. I recommend Christopher Moore's book on the subject as the most entertaining explanation- and as likely as any other.

  3. The other thing that's probably worth trying is going to the original source material. Jesus's life is covered by only four chapters of the bible, and only two of them have anything to say about his birth and/or childhood.

    Matthew has 'wise men came from the east to Jerusalem, and asked after the new-born King of the Jews, because they'd seen his star. The current king didn't like the sound of that.' Once he started asking, his advisors figured out that this kid was somewhere in Bethlehem, but it looks like only those foreigners knew what the star meant. Matthew tells us that the wise men decided not to tell Herod where the kid was. And that's everything Matthew has about the birth of Jesus. (see Matthew, Chapter 2, abbreviated Mat:2)

    Mark has nothing to say about the subject. Most of the story is based upon the first two chapters of Luke. Chapter 1 is about the conception. Chapter 2 has the birth, and gives us angels, shepherds, and the manger. (Luke:1-2)

    And that's pretty much it. There's been a LOT of artistic license applied over the last couple of millennia.

    It also looks like "specially-chosen Son of God" never did look like it came with perks. Rather, Mary was told that he was scheduled for a highly meaningful but nevertheless early death. Whee.

  4. I feel much enlightened about the subject. And about my friends, who know far more about this subject than I'd ever guessed.

    Another friend tells me that there is no indication of siblings, so my whole trail about family dynamics is moot.