The Catholic News Agency is reporting that a shopping mall about 40 miles northwest of Edinburgh, Scotland, is refusing to include a nativity scene in its annual Christmas display. Representatives for the shopping center trotted out the usual insipid claims of religious and political neutrality. Isn’t it interesting that displaying a crèche is considered a political act?
It takes a certain degree of cognitive dissonance to exclude a manger scene from a Christmas display. Cognitive dissonance might be the best explanation for many cultural and societal trends, especially those that wish to advance principles of Western civilization like human rights and dignity, but entirely severed from the religious foundation which renders them intelligible in the first place.
People seem to want a season of hope and joy and generosity, but without the Christian claim to inform them and give them their deepest meaning. Give us Christmas without Christ, or so they say. Christians themselves, though, often do the same thing. Give me Christianity without the cross, or a gospel without its demands on my life. Perhaps the best solution to the increasingly common trends like the one on display at the shopping mall in Scotland is to rediscover the faith in all its beautiful and sometimes uncomfortable fullness, that its brightness might shed a little bit of light on darkened minds and hearts this season and year-round.