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, for instance, appears to have raided the ‘disused mannequin’ bin round the back of a local history museum in order to construct theirs.
Salisbury appears to have accidentally left up its Halloween decorations.
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’ 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.
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.
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.
Someone should probably tell Lincoln Cathedral that the nativity of Jesus didn’t take place during the eruption of Vesuvius.
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’s nativity scene looks like the storyboard for a BBC costume drama c.1976, but acted exclusively by mannequins from BHS.
Part Alice in Wonderland, part Pan’s Labyrinth – I’ll have some of whatever Gloucester Cathedral’s crib sub-committee have been smoking.
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.”
Christchurch Cathedral, Oxford:
“Are you sure that’s what the Dean said?”
“He was born under a table?”
“Yeah, something like that anyway. It’ll be fine.”
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.