One of the funniest things about being freinds with a pastor is that you get to have these really interesting conversations about how religion (specifically the Bible) can be (and is often) wildly misinterpreted.
And often times you get to have these conversations in public, which is even funnier. Take Wednesday, for example.
Pastor Jill had come to Indy for a luncheon she had to attend, and afterwards we planned an afternoon of Christmas shopping and baking. Pastor Jill, for all her many good qualities, isn't especially trustworthy in the kitchen, so baking together was a good way to ensure her friends at the church would get edible holiday treats- and let's face it, shopping is just fun.
We were talking about Christmas cards on our way into the mall when Pastor Jill hit me with her latest religious hilarity.
"Did you know," she asked, "that when you get a traditional Christmas card featuring Mary in a stable with the animals and the baby Jesus and the wise men and shepards all looking on, that's actually not biblically correct?"
"Um...what?" I said.
She then proceeded to explain how only two stories from the Bible actually describe the birth of Christ, and their explanations tend to differ.
It's very interesting and of course not being a pastor I immediately started confusing the details in my head (a likely reason that we've ended up on the happy-go-lucky manger birth story in the first place) so before you proceed with my tale, read Pastor Jill's info on the topic here at her blog.
"So, wait a sec," I asked after she had finished telling me this (in Von Maur). "Do you mean to tell me that the real story is that after Mary was knocked up by the Holy Spirit, either she or Joseph was informed of this by an angel appearing to one or possibly both of them, after which they discussed it with the other? And after the angel appeared to one or the other of them, during a time in which they may or may not have already been living in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus in a room that may or may not have been in a house, group dwelling of some sort, or former stable that may or may not have housed animals at some point, and laid him in something lined with straw that may or may not have been used to feed said animals at some point?"
"Pretty much," said Pastor Jill.
"And following said birth in said place," I continued, "The Baby Jesus was visited fairly soon thereafter by shepards who may or may not have been there because of the animals or because of the miraculous birth? But who, regardless, certainly did not overlap in visiting hours with an indeterminate amount of wise pagan astronomer priests who visited him in his house up to, but not later than, two years after his birth and who possibly bore gifts? And then left, but did not speak of it, because pretty soon after King Herod started offing all the male infants in the land?"
"Yep." said Pastor Jill.
"Wow," I said. "I'll never look at a manger scene the same way again!"