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steve tomkins
crows nest
By Stephen Tomkins
More Crow's Nests here
Declaring war on Santa
December 2003

Jose Galvan and Juan Luna were arrested in Chicago on 30 December last year on a drug trafficking charge. Acting on an anonymous tip off, police stopped their pickup truck and found plastic bags containing 100 kg of what they took to be marijuana – worth $700,000.

But after they had been 3 weeks in custody, forensic tests revealed that it was not marijuana, but hay – which Galvan and Luna had been taking from St Wenceslaus Roman Catholic Church, where it had been used in a nativity play, back to a friend's horse farm.

Ah, the trials of the nativitous season! Stress, debt, indigestion, "Mistletoe and Wine"... and that old grey area between crib decor and psychotropic vegetation.

Crow's Nest wishes all our readers a simply adorable yuletide, with our seasonal round up of all that is Christmassy in the wonderful world of religion.

Staying with the dangers of crib scenes, Father Henry McCann of Bangor in Northern Ireland was hit on the head with a shepherd while saying Mass at St Comgall's. The assailant "was screaming and shouting and was clearly having difficulties with the Church at the moment," said McCann. The priest was treated for shock, but the shepherd was beyond repair.

Crib scenes can be equally dangerous for participants. In front page news from the New Jersey daily The Trentonian, baby Jesus was stolen from his manger on the lawn of Tom and Candy Konczos in Hamilton Township.


Police Lt. Mike Kane said the luminous Christchild generally sold for $69. He has "no immediate suspects".

Candy Konczos says she can only hope she wakes one morning to find Jesus returned. By a thief in the night, I guess.

The season of peace on earth and good will to all men is of course the stress and aggro highpoint of the year, and the church is doing its best to give a lead in the arena of Chrissy conflict.

A Jesuit priest in Frankfurt, for example, has declared war on Santa. Calling on Frankfurters to return to the Christian values of St Nicholas, from the commericalism of Father C, he is selling "Santa Free Zone" stickers, which have brought in 5,000 deutschmarks so far.

Catholics sued the Dutch Animal Rights Organisation this year over a campaign encouraging people to have a vegetarian Christmas. Their posters depicted the Blessed Virgin holding a dead rabbit – the traditional Dutch C-day dinner.

The Foundation for Dutch Roman Catholics is, predictably, "shocked and outraged", but it's hard to see any good reason why. Mary is just looking compassionately at the lapine corpse in her tender hands. If she was holding a dismembered rabbit, with a maniacal glare and perhaps a little bit of bloody rabbit's ear sticking out of the corner of her mouth, now that would be offensive.

Then there are Tony and Angelica Flores of Arizona who were arrested last January for leaving their Christmas lights up for too long. Tough but fair, I say, but then what about supermarket managers that put them up in September? Boiling upside down in cranberry sauce is too good for them.

And a Dutch scientist has launched a campaign to ban all indoor Christmas trees, real and artificial, on the grounds that they pose a threat to safety when set on fire. They also pose a threat to safety when someone rams them up your pants for being a miserable busybody, had he thought of that?

Yes, Christmas grief and aggro. Makes you want to put up a billboard ad saying "Peace on earth and good will to all men", to remind folks to remember the spirit of warmheartedness and conviviality that makes the season special. This is precisely what Christians in Cape Town did, until the Women's Media Watch complained to the council about its sexism, so it was taken down and replaced with a picture of a Christmas tree.

Finally, one more Noel tale to disgust and outrage. Woolworths have had to repackage a Kylie Minogue advent calendar, as boys were going into the shops and opening door number 27 because it was positioned on her bottom. 27? An advent calendar that doesn't have the sense or decency to stop at Christmas? What is the world coming to?
also see
hubris 2
Mark Howe's regular rant about Internet culture
strangely warmed
Andrew Rumsey's regular column about the religious life
loose canons
Stephen Tomkins' regular round-up of the saints of yore who were one wafer short of a full communion
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