With Christmas approaching the news are definitely getting more festive by the minute. Just read an article in the Telegraph about a scientist who has studied the anatomy and physiology of angels and fairies and come to the surprising conclusion that they can’t fly. There’s research money put to good use here, as a fellow Twitter user commented!
More research apparently is being done on the giving of Christmas presents. The Times Higher Education Supplement on 17 December recommended a range of scholarly articles from ‘Gift selection for easy and difficult recipients’ to ‘Is it better to give than receive?’ and even ‘A guide map to the terrain of gift value’.
And as religion always tends to sell nearer to Christmas The Times put in an article for good measure claiming that cryptic signatures in the visitors’ book at the Venerable English College in Rome dating from Shakespeare’s so-called ‘lost years’ in the 1580s prove that the Bard was actually ‘a secret Catholic’.
Well, that would deal a blow to a number of conspiracy theories on the identity of the real Shakespeare, most of all to those claiming his works were either authored by Francis Bacon or Sir Henry Neville as both of them were clearly Protestants.
And finally, the Telegraph informs us just in time for the anniversary of the birth of baby Jesus that archaeologists have ‘unearthed a house dating to the time of Jesus Christ in the town of Nazareth, casting fresh light on his early life.’ According to the paper, they ‘found two rooms, a courtyard and a cistern that would have filled with rainwater, along with a few shards of local pottery and the remains of chalk lamps.’ The find ‘tells us there were few luxuries, no imports,’ one of the archaeologists is quoted as saying. ‘It would have been a simple, basic way of life.’
Well, so the Bible tells us, I believe. Mary, according to St Luke, wrapped her baby in swaddling clothes after it was born in a shed in Bethlehem ‘and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.’ We are also not told that little Jesus was given a PlayStation any time during his life. And as for gold, frankincense and myrrh – who really needs that?
Some really helpful Christmas advice meanwhile was given by a priest in Yorkshire, who told his hard-up parishioners to shoplift in order to cope with the recession. Yet, even shoplifters should have a social conscience, the Independent reported the priest as saying. ‘I would ask that they do not steal from small, family businesses, but from large national businesses,’ Fr Tim Jones said, and ‘I would ask them not to take any more than they need, for any longer than they need.’ There clearly is one alternative Christmas message here: look after the poor, or the poor will start looking after themselves.