Banksy, speaking of his new work,"Cardinal Sin", said:
"The statue? I guess you could call it a Christmas present. At this time of year it's easy to forget the true meaning of Christianity - the lies, the corruption, the abuse."
Having been personally all too aware of some of the issues of which he speaks, I sympathize with the sentiment. I too for a significant term rejected Christianity with repugnance.
More recently, however, I have found that the pilgrim path may be circular. I had had faith but found it wanting and, after long since setting it aside, decided to look again. I am the sum of all my experiences and since religion has been an important influence on my life in the past, I cannot ignore its effects in deciding who I am now.
My life's path has taken me on a long and winding road from my Christian origins. My experiences, thoughts and reflections had brought me to a somewhat agnostic view and I had not followed any organized religion for some time. An observer, however, might have seen me living in a way that seemed quite congruent with the principles taught by Christ. This does not displease me. Perhaps there is a spiritual DNA that informs our actions however our rational dictates characterize our worldview.
I find myself willing to consider the words of Lord Acton:
"To the symmetrical natures religion is indeed a crown of glory; nevertheless, so far as this world is concerned, they can grow and prosper without it. But to the unsymmetrical natures religion is a necessary condition of successful work even in this world".
I had always placed myself among the former but am now wondering whether that was an error in classification.
Although I understand Bansky's sentiments, they sadden me. We as humanity are a family with shared parentage but we have let the behaviour of some members make us reticent to believe that our family history has any value at all.
The sentiments that I expressed last year still resonate and have become even warmer since last Christmas.
What can we do to create an environment that fulfills Isaiah's promise? Instead of an angry polemic about "putting Christ back in Christmas" which blames those who have drifted (or run to escape), could we remember the statement by the one whose birth is celebrated? "You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?"
Instead of antagonism against those who have been disillusioned by the thorns and thistles, can we demonstrate the attributes of the vine that is sought? Just a thought.
Picture: The Nativity
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bt ARA (1833-1898)