Christmas to me is the remnant of an evaporating culture to which I once belonged. I am not a Christian, yet I am attached to its culture, personally, nostalgically and sentimentally. It is not the only culture available, there are others, equally valid or invalid, both religious and secular. But, for me, as someone who grew up in an Anglican home, sang in the cathedral choir, and has an enduring fascination with the Christian scriptures, the Christian story, in all its quaintness and implausibility, holds great meaning. Christ continues to move through my imagination, a vaporous ghost beckoning from the shadows, and his story affects me deeply. Jesus is an absurdity that continues to rise eerily from my yearning for spiritual comfort, within a cosmos I cannot begin to understand….
Christ is a symbol of our imperfect and limited attempt at understanding eternity, and addresses the vulnerability of humanity itself. Perhaps we should not look at the Christian story as a symbol of our naivety or ignorance, but instead cherish it as our attempt to comprehend the incomprehensible.
So, Tim and Joshua, as Christianity retreats back into the churches and cathedrals, as all conspicuous notions of Christ fade from our culture, and Christmas becomes the sole province of a roly-poly man in a Coca-Cola red suit (whose days may also be numbered) I will visit a church this Christmas; I will kneel before the fading vestiges of an outmoded idea called spiritual transcendence and our beautiful and moving attempt to humanise the ecstatic cosmic drama, and I will pray.
(If perchance you’d like a wider range of views of Christmas, please click on the “Christmas” tag at the bottom of this post.)