dog crib
Church of England

Cathedral crib competition: the best, worst, coolest and naffest

This Doggy Nativity isn’t in an actual cathedral crib, but perhaps it ought to be. It is reproduced here not only because it is the best crib in the whole wide world, but because it’s strangely quite moving…

In a world where the significance of the the birth of the baby Jesus sometimes seems quite remote (to say the least), if not buried beneath mountains of tinsel and smothered by tons of turkey, there is a vast and noble congregation in England which cares more about dogs than people. That isn’t a judgment of rebuke, but a relational reality: dogs are kind, affectionate, fun, compassionate, more faithful and loving than most people. The bond between a man and his canine best friend is often very special and profound. A dog is family, sometimes a person’s only family, and can even be a life-saver, as Channel 4 News explained earlier this week in their report ‘How four-legged friends benefit the homeless‘. You think that’s barking?

Well, just look at that little bundle of puppiness in the manger. Isn’t it just bless? Now take a moment to reflect on the fact that he is going to suffer terribly and die for you.

😢

This is a guest post by Church of England ordinand Fergus Butler-Gallie (and first appeared in his Twitter feed):

Christmas is a time of year where normal standards of aesthetics go out the window. I’m very pleased to report that England’s Cathedrals have not disappointed in this regard when constructing their Nativity scenes:

canterbury crib

Canterbury, for instance, appears to have raided the ‘disused mannequin’ bin round the back of a local history museum in order to construct theirs.

salisbury cathedral crib

 

 

 

 

 

Salisbury appears to have accidentally left up its Halloween decorations.

lichfield cathedral crib

 

 

 

 

 

Lichfield have decided to contextualise the Holy Family with a ‘Hipster Loft Space’ vibe.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s all gone a bit Airfix down in Winchester.

st albans cathedral crib

 

 

 

 

 

St Albans’ decision to knit their crib scene has led to a very unrealistic representation of the typical physique of the population of the Bethlehem area in the First Century AD.

st pauls crib

F9A04B

 

 

 

 

 

At St Paul’s, a masterpiece of Western art that transformed religious aesthetics for years to come is rather embarrassingly paired with some tatty old painting by a Victorian bloke.

hereford cathedral crib

 

 

 

 

Diocesan budget cuts mean Hereford have axed most of the supporting players and opted to replace the star with some sort of skeletal death wing.

lincoln cathedral crib

 

 

 

 

 

Someone should probably tell Lincoln Cathedral that the nativity of Jesus didn’t take place during the eruption of Vesuvius.

coventry cathedral crib

 

 

 

 

Coventry’s crib appears to be doubling up as a jumble sale, but where the only people donating clothing have been Saharan Tribal Warlords.

liverpool cathedral crib

BGTD1A

 

 

 

 

 

Liverpool Cathedral’s nativity scene looks like the storyboard for a BBC costume drama c.1976, but acted exclusively by mannequins from BHS.

gloucester cathedral crib

 

 

 

 

Part Alice in Wonderland, part Pan’s Labyrinth – I’ll have some of whatever Gloucester Cathedral’s crib sub-committee have been smoking.

leicester cathedral crib

 

 

 

Scene, Leicester Cathedral, 30th November:
“Have we missed anything in our prep for Advent?”
“Tree, carol sheets, calendars. All seems ok.”
“What about the Crib?”
“Balls. Get to Poundland sharpish, I’ll rifle through lost property. How hard can it be?”
“Right you are, Mr Dean.”

christ church oxford crib

 

Christchurch Cathedral, Oxford:
“Are you sure that’s what the Dean said?”
“Absolutely.”
“He was born under a table?”
“Yeah, something like that anyway. It’ll be fine.”

sheffield cathedral crib

 

 

 

Sheffield Cathedral have opted for a more permanent installation – one where St Joseph is the man from the Fisherman’s Friend packet and Baby Jesus is a Coke can.

 

 

 

That’s your lot folks – why not go and visit a cathedral or your local church this Christmas (because if you think these are corkers, the average parish’s is even better) and see them for yourself. Chances are you’ll find the real thing there, too.

  • Ray Sunshine

    I’ll stick with the dogs, please, Your Grace, if you don’t mind. The future Rev’d Butler-Gallie is to be congratulated on his keen collector’s eye, but after all, these are really only Nativity scenes for dummies.

  • I have a sudden urge to be thankful I am a crib-less Presbyterian.

  • David

    Hmm words almost fail me.
    As reverence has clearly been abandoned here, I’ll spot the most friendly and sincere one.
    Without hesitation, having a soft spot for canines, my vote falls for the eagerness of the doggy scene.
    But I note that The Rotundies of St Albans spell out the perils of Christmas gluttony – be warned !

  • len

    The dogs seem to have a natural enthusiasm for the event. Especially love the one at the back, a Lab or golden retriever?

  • Anton

    I’ve seen a depiction of a crib in which a lamb was dressed up in the manger as a baby. That was more biblical.

  • Anton

    You couldn’t do this with cats. They’re a lot more sensible.

    • carl jacobs

      You couldn’t do this with cats because cats are evil and no one would buy the representation.

      • Anton

        But they don’t need taking for a ‘walk’ (we all know what that really means) when it’s raining…

        • carl jacobs

          You will notice there aren’t any “police cats”. That is not an accident.

          Person in Distress: “Help! … Help! Help!”

          PC Tabby: “But the ground is wet…”

      • Chefofsinners

        You are forgetting the greatest feline in all scripture: The Magnificat.

        • carl jacobs

          Ah, but that isn’t in the autographs. That’s from the Vulgate. It only sounds that way in Latin. So its yet one more Roman corruption. Cats and Rome … they go together.

          • Anton

            Nonsense. Dogs are like Catholics as they think in terms of hierarchy (in the pack) whereas cats are nonconformists.

          • carl jacobs

            Only a cat considers itself infallible. Not to mention imperious.

          • Anton

            Dogs don’t come out of scripture very well, whereas not a bad word is said in the Bible about cats.

          • carl jacobs

            Not at all.

            One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

          • Anton

            Clearly a reference to the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

          • Chefofsinners

            We shouldn’t be too dogmatic about these things.

  • Father David

    The dog in the manger

  • Inspector General

    Strewth! Sheffield have our Christ stuffed in an 8 inch shell casing…

    “Gun Crew. Prepare to fire on command!”

    • Please don’t say such things around Carl, Inspector!

      • carl jacobs

        Ummm … wut?

        I’m missing something here. My immediate thought was to remember HMS Sheffield from the Falklands War and not the HMS Sheffield that hunted the Bismarck. That’s pretty much it as a reaction.

        • dannybhoy

          Well,
          For you that’s pretty extreme Carl..

        • Anton

          Have you read Admiral Woodward’s Falklands memoir !100 Days”? That’s by far the best book on the conflict I’ve read, although it is light on the land campaign.

          A big thanks to President Reagan for ignoring Jeane Kirkpatrick in 1982.

        • It was this recent comment of yours that Jack had in mind:
          “I would have killed every German in Germany to keep Hitler from winning that war. In a war like WWII, there is only one law: “Win.”
          The idea of the Christ child in a bomb just struck Jack as the height of irony.

          • carl jacobs

            Was I wrong in what I said? Do you have any idea what Hitler had planned for the Slavs in the East if he had won that war?

          • “Was I wrong in what I said?
            Yep.

          • carl jacobs

            The problem with your position, Jack, is that it’s an abstract position that can really only be held by those who have neither lost a war nor suffered the the consequences of defeat. If Hitler had won the war, Auschwitz would have been a minor footnote in the overall scope of death.

            A million die could at his right hand and ten million at his left, and still it would not be a third of the death toll he would have inflicted on those whom he conquered. So, if many must die, then choose the aggressors for death rather than their victims. How do you not see this?

            The Poles, they see it with blinding clarity. I guarantee it. But then they have stood where you have never had the misfortune to stand, and that has all the difference made.

          • Moral propositions reflect absolute and universal moral truths, they’re not relative to social, cultural, historical or personal references, and there is a single standard by which to assess a moral proposition’s truth.

            II. GOOD ACTS AND EVIL ACTS

            1755 A morally good act requires the goodness of the object, of the end, and of the circumstances together. An evil end corrupts the action, even if the object is good in itself (such as praying and fasting “in order to be seen by men”).

            The object of the choice can by itself vitiate an act in its entirety. There are some concrete acts – such as fornication – that it is always wrong to choose, because choosing them entails a disorder of the will, that is, a moral evil.

            1756 It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply their context.

            There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.

            (CCC)

          • carl jacobs

            Rejoice, Ye Dead, for you have died as a testament to my goodness. For I could have acted, but on principle I did nothing.

            Rejoice, Ye who endure a thousand years in darkness, for your tears illuminate the cleanliness of my hands. See, they have done nothing, though multitudes died within my reach.

            It’s all about me, after all.

          • No, it’s not all about individual man. You’re overlooking our Heavenly Home and God’s care of His creatures while we are on earth.

    • Chefofsinners

      Your local, Gloucester, appears to have a Blackamoor involved. Presumably a gift from Princess Michael of Kent.

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        The fuss over that brooch! Utterly ridiculous!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • dannybhoy

          The lady was making a none too subtle point..

          • Inspector General

            A few records to be broken in the next couple of decades, Danny…
            The first royal to join a street gang
            The first royal to be stopped and searched
            The first royal to be sentenced to probation
            The first royal to release a rap recording

          • Royinsouthwest

            Anyone who didn’t know you might suspect you were becoming a touch curmudgeonly Inspector!

        • Chefofsinners

          Princess Michael, quite Third Reichal,
          But somehow still has a title.
          Princes Markle, lost her sparkle
          When she saw the brooch so darkle.
          Now the jewel is in the bin.
          Virtue signalling – you win.

  • Proof the Church has lost its way. They’re all ghastly, almost mocking Christ.

  • Manfarang

    The golden Labrador needs a tefillin.

  • pobjoy

    While lambs and puppies have appropriate emotional pull (as at the Passover in Egypt), in Beth-lechem Ephrathah, Plenteous House of Bread, an alternative ‘baby’ in a manger might be a loaf of bread. After all, Jesus did say that he was the bread of life, sine qua non vita.

    “Okay,” I hear you mutter, “but does that not make humanity like unto horse and mule, that have no understanding?” Yes, I take the point, but is not contrition the beginning of wisdom, and do the two millennia since Jesus lived not justify to some extent this appraisal of human sentience in the estimation of heaven?

  • Cressida de Nova

    LOL…Sorry but I think these dogs are hilarious. It looks like something that sweet children would conjure up at play.

  • Norman Yardy

    Well! Dog is an anagram of God but that’s as far as one should go.
    Are your two dogs in there your Grace?

    • Chefofsinners

      There are certainly a pair of cockapoos involved, but that could be said for almost any Church.

    • dannybhoy

      Rearrange ‘cats’ and you get ‘stca’.
      I’m sure there should be something deeply significant about that..

      • Ray Sunshine

        Rearrage Dannybhoy and you get Bonny D. Hay.
        Happy Christmas, Bonny! Oops, Danny!

      • Sarky

        Rearrange dog and you get….

    • Anton

      I’ll go a bit further by quoting a fine message I saw outside one church: “God is not just for Christmas”.

      • britewite

        Nor yet Christ just for dogmas …

  • Inspector General

    The Inspector is going out. London Zoo have invited him to attend an impromptu barbeque they’re holding today….

    • Ray Sunshine

      The reports I saw said no animals were injured. I hope they’re right.

      • Anton

        Unfortunately an aardvark called Misha definitely copped it. Four meerkats are missing and one may hope that they are alive and well and have a grand time Christmas shopping before they are recaptured.

        • Inspector General

          It were meerkat youth having a crafty cigarette under straw that caused the blaze. The aardvark smelt smoke and went in to investigate…

        • Chefofsinners

          All that pent-up price comparison work has to find an outlet.

      • Royinsouthwest

        They won’t be if the Inspector has eaten them.

    • Jilly

      Not funny.
      A much loved Aardvark perished in the fire, meerkats unaccounted for.
      They may be ‘just animals’ but nothing amusing about a horrible death, trapped in a fire.

      • Inspector General

        One’s immediate concern was for the welfare of the Gay Animal House, Jilly. We all remember that terrible time in the early 1990s when an outbreak of AIDS killed everything inside. Having assured himself these pampered, indulged animals were not in danger, the Inspector sat down to a good helping of roasted Giant Panda, seasonal veg and a glass of chianti.

        • Jilly

          Weird…..

          • Inspector General

            There’s a corn snake in there who thinks he’s a parrot. He was high up in his cage, curled around his perch, staring at the mirror and mouthing “who’s a pretty boy then?”

          • Anton

            When snakes start talking, Inspector, it’s time to run.

  • dannybhoy

    I’m afraid that first photo is wrongly titled Mrs. Proudie.
    It’s actually a picture of the St. Bernard’s Canine Choristers, after they had rescued a visiting gender fluid Anglican bishop of the Mbenga peoples, who whilst performing a baptism, accidentally fell into the font.
    After a brisk rubdown the modest pooches agreed to a photo shoot…

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Not my post, dear danny…

      • dannybhoy

        Ah..
        Apologies.
        Force of habit..

  • Chefofsinners

    Remember, people, a dog is not just for Christmas. If you do soup, rissoles and a curry you can make it last a whole week.

  • Chefofsinners

    Caption for the picture at top of page:

    A dog’s Brexit. English bulldogs finally get their towels down before the German Shepherds arrive.

    • Anton

      Thereby hangs a tail.

  • Albert

    Someone should probably tell Lincoln Cathedral that the nativity of Jesus didn’t take place during the eruption of Vesuvius.

    Superb!

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Masterly!

  • Father David

    I think I preferred Greggs sausage roll in a manger rather than these hot dogs!

    • David

      Ho ho ho !
      We are in the Christmas spirit now aren’t we !

  • magnolia

    My dog likes your nativity, and gave it a thoughtful look and a contented snort, then went to sleep for the rest of them, so the dogs have it!

    Maybe the other cathedrals did a bit better, and to be fair Winchester and Oxford aren’t too bad.

    Spot on with Vesuvius.

    As for the virtues of dogs, particularly the larger and more noble breeds, Byron observed accurately (in this respect) and had it very right, as can be seen by visitors to Newstead where the following can be seen:

    “Near this Spot
    are deposited the Remains of one
    who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
    Strength without Insolence,
    Courage without Ferocity,
    and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.

    This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery
    if inscribed over human Ashes,
    is but a just tribute to the Memory of
    Boatswain, a Dog
    who was born in Newfoundland May 1803
    and died at Newstead Nov. 18th, 1808”

  • Anna055

    How on earth did the shepherds not bite Mary and Joseph? I’m impressed!

    • not a machine

      What should I explain to the children about the sniffing?

  • Chefofsinners

    The Archbishop of Yorkie, the Most Rev John Scoobydoo, issued the following Christmas blessing:

    May the joy of the Airedales, the eagerness of the German Shepherds, the perseverance of the Weimaraner, the obedience of Joseph and Muttley and the pooch of the Christ-child be yours this Christmas. Amen.

    • magnolia

      Let’s hope we get the pointers in through the labradors this Christmas, pack them in to the poodles, that they be setters and not dash out like greyhounds, and that they hear the good newfies, and not think the tail is all a cockapoo story.

      • not a machine

        Where does a St Bernard fit in?

        • Jilly

          It doesn’t…too broad across the shoulders. And it drools.

          • not a machine

            You need broad shoulders sometimes when your trying to understand God

          • Jilly

            Good point but drool isn’t helpful…. and their digestives processes can be a bit unsocial…

        • magnolia

          Anointing the Christmas pudding – with brandy of course!

          • not a machine

            Mmm thinking of Christmas day lunch now

        • Chefofsinners

          Alright, may the slobber of St Bernard rest and abide with you, amen.

    • Royinsouthwest

      “German shepherds?” Why not call them Alsatians? That is the politically correct name – or it was politically correct during the First Workd War. I admit that I may not be entirely au fait with developments since then.

    • betteroffoutofit

      And may the 3 Wise Chorgis continue to bring you all messages from Heaven.

    • IanCad

      Ah!! Airedales! Was once owned by one and was well content to submit to his gentle demands. Perhaps again; our last American cat is down to skin and bones and the tastiest temptations merely get sniffed at.

  • not a machine

    Things at the canivity are a little ruff the three wise Ben’s have turned up with dentastix , a tennis ball and Grrrr and with that howler I shall sleep things off in my basket.

    • not a machine

      Well that’s a big 10/4 rubber duck my first thought is for those who on the eve of Christmas will encounter what God may have for them. That aside the unfestive trucker conundrum has a taxing problem, pay per mile is one of those taxes that could make a lushe spending gov look smart and being as the technology could achieve something of what you think you want you may well devise a system that causes more problems for transport. You want or have to think of something that replaces fuel duty without hitting lower incomes and that considers fuel changes.I don’t think we do too badly in our mot system which does reflect some high mileage users. It may well be that only a uk mot is valid on uk roads, reciprocal mot equivalent would no doubt also exist so I would imagine long distance hgv would settle to an economy of limited permit where the regular work made it economic. The other aspect is roro which could well be different with a different construct in container fast movements to EU ports. You pay your tax when your vehicle passes its mot. The other problem is how fuel will be supplied in transition and any hobbies or bits that cannot change from the old fuels. The charging regime so far understood for the electric hgv poses problems any where you do it, so you will screw up if you don’t see the way the technicals will be or will evolve. Probably need a good mot record system and some way of making payments eg for high users direct debit as they have to have regular mot. I am not keen on more stupid infrastructure, I think some tory recently gave a money prize for such a monitoring system so putting the infrastructure will only mean you do devolve it to collect from a bigger base.

  • Anton

    For what they are worth, here are the non-personal paragraphs from the circular that goes into some of the Christmas cards I am sending this year…

    In June our Conservative Prime Minister called a snap General Election that turned out to reduce her majority and will complicate the process of British withdrawal from the European Union. The possible scenarios fork so abundantly from here that speculation is pointless. Suffice it to say that Britain is intending to leave a project that would not have remained as it is; the EU will someday either splinter under its own tensions or proceed to full federalisation, and in neither case do I wish Britain to be involved. Unemployment due to tensions in the Euro currency is already causing a distressing poverty in Mediterranean lands that is likely to facilitate fascism or communism in a generation’s time. To be clear, Europe’s cultural identity is dear to me; it is continental politics that I do not identify with. The issue for Britain is more than merely economic.

    The best book I have read in recent months is How We Invented Freedom and Why It Matters by Daniel Hannan, about the apparently unique ancient tradition (pre-Norman!) by which the people of England have regarded themselves collectively as above their rulers and sometimes reminded them forcibly of it, as in Magna Carta and the Civil War; from this tradition developed the political doctrine of freedom of the individual under the law, which has since spread widely. A more disturbing read was The Strange Death of Europe by Douglas Murray, about the fundamental cultural changes that European (and British) demographics and immigration policies portend. The blindness by which secular politicians are busily importing a militant religion that rejects their own beliefs and will contend for power in their children’s time is a mystery.

    Happy Christmas!
    Anton

    • David

      Yes I agree with all that, including your response to the two books.
      Hannan brings out very clearly just how individual were the historical circumstances that give rise to our precious concepts of freedom under the Common Law. What continues to puzzle me is why the Remain supporting establishment cannot see just how valuable and precious that legal and cultural heritage is. Is it just a case of group think ?

  • Ian G
  • ardenjm

    Yikes.
    These are all awful.
    But at least none of them are that homoerotic awfulness that presently sits in St Peter’s Square.

  • IanCad

    If, Mr. Butler-Gallie, you penned the notes accompanying the photos, then I must offer my admiration.
    Deliciously sharp, somewhat catty – just perfect.

  • Chefofsinners

    It’s the great cribulation.

    But let us treat this nativity creativity with positivity, rather than a proclivity to negativity, for this is a time of festivity.

    • Anton

      Inspired by Tom Lehrer or did you crib it from him?

      • Chefofsinners

        “Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it depends on what you put into it.”

  • John

    It would not be right to take the children’s food and toss it to dogs.

  • Cressida de Nova

    I am having an Antipodean Christmas this year. It’s hot so off for a surf and tonight midnight Mass at St Marys Cathedral..I wish you all a Happy and Holy Christmas and I know this is not (p c. all inclusive ) but a Christmas kiss under the mistletoe for all of the Catholic chaps who visit here:)

    • Chefofsinners

      Any chance you could post a pic of an Aussie rules crib scene?
      You know – an outback shack, Shane and Sheila, with little baby Brucie. Assorted wombats, jumbucks and six white boomers standing by. Three highly educated foreign nationals arrive, having passed the skills shortage test.
      There’s some heavy sledging from Herod and the English crib scene suffers a middle order collapse.

      Kylie Eleison.

      • orthodoxgirl

        Hahahaha! Hilarious! 🙂

    • Anton

      I know that Melbourne isn’t a surfer’s city being on a bay, but please get down there from Sydney and give a kiss to the England cricket team because they need it.

  • Anton

    In her Christmas message, Theresa May has said that there is a “confidence… that in Britain you can practice your faith free from question or fear”. Does that include verses 9:5, 9:29 and 9:123 from the Quran?

    • pobjoy

      There are not so many Muslims who know what the Qur’an actually says. If they did, they would be aware that, outside the protection of Sharia, they are subject to arrest and trial for offence(s) as defined by any non-Sharia legislature.

      It may be replied that followers of the Bible are equally subject to due process.

      ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, cheerfulness, concord, patience, kindness, trustworthiness, sincerity, humility and self-control; against such things there is no law.’ Gal 5:22

  • Redrose82

    Altogether now. Bark the Herald Angels followed by Barking Wenceslas.

  • Anton

    Two of the Canterbury mannequins are wearing glasses, an obvious anachronism.

  • Chefofsinners

    Carl! Carl! Look! It’s the five pointers of Calvinism!