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« ’Life is Short So Have an Affair’ | Main | Where the Sidewalk Ends: Apocalyptic Edition »

December 17, 2008

Finding Jesus in the South Bronx

15presepio480 How do you take a 2,000-year-old event and make it fresh and real for modern eyes?  For writers and artists, the answer is often to inject some imagination. 

That's what Joseph Sciorra has done with his Nativity scene set in the South Bronx of 1975

“The South Bronx always seemed to me to be another landscape suited to the Nativity narrative,” said Mr. Sciorra, a folklorist who has long studied Italian-American religious expression. “God is being born in a humble situation, right? What’s more humble than the South Bronx in 1975?"

(Image © David Gonzalez for the New York Times)

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Clarence Jordan (father of Hamilton Jordan of the Carter Administration, but don't hold that against him) helped me to get inside the Christmas story with his modernization. (Plus, he loves to skewer the self-righteous.)

Here's the first part of Luke 2. It helps with the rhythm if you've heard Charles Stanley preach:

It happened in those days that a proclamation went out from President Augustus that every citizen must register. This was the first registration while Quirinius was Secretary of War. So everybody went to register, each going to his own home town. Joseph too went up from south Georgia from the city of Valdosta, to his home in north Georgia, a place named Gainesville, to register with his bride Mary, who by now was heavily pregnant.

While they were there, her time came, and she gave birth to her first boy. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in an apple box. (There was no room for them at the hospital.)

Now there were some farmers in that section who were up late at night tending their baby chicks. And a messenger from the Lord appeared to them, and evidence of the Lord was shining all about them. It nearly scared the life out of them. And the messenger said to them, "Don't be afraid; for listen, I'm bringing you good news of a great joy in which all people will share. Today your deliverer was born in the city of David's family. He is the Leader. He is the Lord. And here’s a clue for you: you will find the baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in an apple box."

And all of a sudden there was with the messenger a crowd of angels singing God's praises and saying,

"Glory in the highest to God,
And on Earth, peace to mankind,
The object of his favor."

When the messengers went away from them into the sky, the farmers said to one another, "Let's go to Gainesville and see how all this the Lord has showed us has turned out."

The rest is here. http://www.rockhay.org/cottonpatch/index.htm

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