Around this time of year, people who have never darkened a church door, or knew that Bibles actually exist outside of hotel night stand drawers, will try to tie some aspect of the Nativity or the life of Jesus to modern day politics. Usually it's when we hear about how Mary and Joseph were "homeless".
Balderdash! Mary and Joseph had a home...in Nazareth. Joseph had a job. He was a carpenter. The fact that they had no lodging for the night was largely a function of big government uncaring and incompetence:
Luke 2: 1-5 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
Caesar Augustus decides that there's not enough revenue coming into the government, so he decreed that all the world should be taxed. (Making Caesar Augustus the world's first Democrat.) And so afraid that he might miss someone and not be able to identify them and collect their taxes, he decreed that a census be taken in the home town of one's ancestry. That means that everyone living at that time, who was born in the lineage of King David, had to trek to the little town of Bethlehem* and wait around until some government bureaucrat made sure their name was on the tax roll and said they could go.
Generations of people showed up, as required by law. And, lacking cell phones and Internet, it was a little harder to book a room back then, even if there were any available, which apparently for at least one evening, there were not. How many of us have had problems booking a room, even in larger cities when, say, a convention was in town?
So, a gainfully employed man and his pregnant wife leaving the home temporarily, for the sake of complying with the government's tax code, hardly made them "homeless".
This year, there may be new depths of shallow:
Jesus would join Occupy movement
Give me a break! And there's enough blame for both sides!
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, kicked up a bit of a storm on CNN's "Belief Blog" by declaring that "Jesus was a free marketer, not an occupier."Really, the only Tony Perkins I know was holed up at the Bates Motel in "Psycho". (But, I'm not saying they're related.) Jesus did not come, was not born into the world to proclaim the beauty of the free market system. (Sorry, Tony! Maybe he missed the whole "Render unto Caesar" thing?)
To prove his point, Perkins relates a number of different parables that Jesus taught. Unfortunately, many people in interpreting the Bible, do not make the distinction between a parable and an allegory.
A parable is a story with one central point**. An allegory, like Pilgrim's Progress, makes any number of points. When you treat a parable as an allegory, it's very easy to come up with all sorts of wild and erroneous interpretations which are then labeled "Biblical".
On the other hand, we have a writer (at least the writer of the headline) who would put Jesus in the "Occupy" movement. (Anyone who has a problem visualizing the Son of God breaking store windows and crapping on a police car, raise your hand.)
The author falls into the same trap as Mr. Perkins, trying to take a parable of one spiritual thing and then apply it as an allegory of earthly things:
...there's the parable in which a landowner insists on paying all of his workers the same wage, whether they went on the clock early in the morning or an hour before quitting time. There are winners and losers in that story, but "diligence and determination" aren't the deciding factors.
Only Jesus wasn't really talking about wage earners here. The "wage" is salvation, which is the same to all that receive it. If one is converted as a child and lives a life dedicated to God, that person is no more "saved" than a sinner who repents on his death bed. Salvation is presented as a gift through Scripture, not a wage. Parables take earthly analogies to make spiritual points, not the other way around.
The writer stated that she was "no theologian", but she did make one very astute observation:
The creator endowed humans with an endless ability to conscript Jesus and his words for their own ends...
*We know it was a little town, because we're always singing about it!
**An excellent volume on the study and meaning of the parables is Richard Chenevix Trench's "Notes on the Parables".
***Image via Pitsnipes Gripes