My favorite Christmas book is The Donkey’s Dream, which is about the journey Mary and Joseph made to Bethlehem. Meant for young children, Barbara Helen Berger’s story is a brilliant and subtle work of theology. Or perhaps antitheology, as it allows simple images to tell us more than words can convey about what the incarnation signifies.
We have many defenses against hearing the Christmas readings and taking them to heart.
In the spring of 2003, Washington Post reporter Anthony Shadid noted that, for Iraqis, the Arabic word for occupation is ihtilal. The word is "shadowed by humiliation, notions of resistance, and still resonant memories of the occupation by the British 85 years before.” Yet that same year the U.S. secured sweeping formal authority from the UN Security Council to serve as the principal “occupying” power in Iraq. John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to the UN, declared that “the council has taken decisive action to help the Iraqi people.” This was not the way many Iraqis greeted the news.
“We can’t completely separate politics and faith. They rise from the same wellspring: the concern about the distance between what is and what ought to be.”—Tim Kaine, a Catholic and a Democrat, who was elected governor of Virginia in November (Newsweek, November 21).