Are Christians being paranoid and silly concerning the prohibition of nativity scenes in many places throughout this country? Dr. Benjamin Wiker thinks that Christians have cause to be concerned. He explains below:
The popular comedian Jon Stewart recently lampooned the notion that there’s a war on Christmas. Mocking Christians offended by prohibitions against nativity scenes, Stewart claimed that, on the contrary, Christmas is doing all too well. . . .
Stewart is wrong. Christmas is under attack, and his evidence against there being such a war, is actually evidence for it.
The nativity scene, or crèche, was originated by none other than St. Francis of Assisi. He created the first live reenactment of the birth of Christ in a stable in a cave in Greccio, Italy in 1223. His goal was to focus the attentions of Christians on the deep worship of Christ, rather than on worldliness and revelry. Such reenactments became popular all over Europe.
What St. Francis intended can be discerned from his own life. St. Francis has been, unfortunately, turned into a sentimentalized garden-fairy statue making happy with the birds, a saint of niceness. The real St. Francis was, like the real first Christmas, terribly holy, for he took Christ’s call to follow him in complete poverty with a terrible seriousness. The rich son of a wealthy cloth merchant given to high living, he was suddenly struck by God, gave up the life of party and glitter, and embraced a life of such severe austerity as few have ever experienced. So much did he identify with the poverty and suffering of Christ, that in literal imitation, he bore the stigmata, the actual bleeding wounds on his hands, feet, and side.
That same St. Francis was, again, the man who invented the nativity scene. I imagine that, were he to show up now, he would defend the nativity scene with his very life, as the stubborn sign of what Christmas really is.