Posts Tagged ‘myth’

Christmas Article

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

I like the traditional Christmas carols Richard Dawkins

The world’s most famous atheist could be described as a cultural Christian enjoying both carols and parts of the wider Christmas celebration. What insights can the church gain from his festal joy?

Christians celebrate something beautiful at Christmas. The sound of the opening solo of Once in Royal David’s City, marking the beginning of so many carol services, can feel like a suspension of time, latent with possibility. While the quiet melancholy of Silent Night can meet people in those times of sadness or loneliness. The image of the light coming among us at this time of deepest darkness, during one of the year’s longest nights, recalls the expectant possibility of hope and renewal. While the story of the birth in a stable, before the family flee to Egypt, touches those times when we, or those around us, struggle.

An atheist may call this a myth even if it is beautiful. In doing so they would be using the word myth in its popular understanding of a traditional and untrue story. However, as a Christian I see the power of this myth, its ability to engage and transform people, coming from its truth. The traditional carols engage our minds and imaginations because they convey a timeless truth. A truth often heard in the poetry of the King James Bible, “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us… full of grace and truth”, (John 1:14).

For Dawkins beauty and truth are unconnected; so there can be beauty in our Christmas celebrations without there being any truth content. I would say this is a misunderstanding; Christmas is beautiful because it conveys truth. There is an Islamic tradition which identifies beauty as a key attribute of God. This beauty is then exquisitely expressed in art and architecture. Beauty is also expressed in the Christian tradition but it is expressed among the dirt and darkness of a stable night because the primary Christian understanding of God is through the vulnerable babe of Bethlehem.

With love, prayers and festive greeting – Paul