Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mary, Mary

Downtown in front of the Waverley Library each December a large nativity scene is set up. This is Mary, mother of Jesus, with one of the wise men  and a sheep behind her. Her hands look awfully big for her face, which looks childlike.While the male figurine is brown-skinned, Mary is not. Western Christians have re-imaged the mother of Jesus, making her more European-looking -- and sounding. Jesus's mother's name was Miriam, but that was changed to Mary in English.
Here is what the nativity scene looks like. Joseph on the right, the Three Wise Men in the back and the cows and sheep scattered about. The empty space in the straw bed is for the baby Jesus, who is put there either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. If Jesus is not there yet, shouldn't Mary's stomach be heavily pregnant? Or is her body also miraculously un-womanly looking even while she was pregnant? Strange. This nativity scene is quite traditional.
This, however, is more what the nativity scene would look like if we envisioned Bethlehem beyond the myth -- to the reality of occupation. Today, if Jesus were to come to earth and be born in a manger in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph and the three wise men and the animals would have to deal with the Apartheid Wall. Now, Mary and Joseph, being Jewish, would be able to pass through the Wall without permits. I'm not sure about the Three Wise Men, though, as they would be arriving from Iran, Arabia, and India. Maybe they were all Jews, too? Not sure. Would the IDF let them through?

The olive wood nativity scene above is made by a Palestinian Christian artist from Beit Sahour, trans. the Shepherd's Field. (The nativity scene is for sale; click on the link below): 

In 2007 as an act of quiet resistance, he made a "walled nativity set" - a nativity scene where the wall stopped the wise men from getting through to the Holy Family. He said “I made these sets as a protest at what is happening to the local community of Bethlehem and Beit Sahour”. Beit Sahour - is in the Bethlehem area, where 87% of the land has been taken by the Israelis. "We are surrounded by the wall and our freedom of movement is denied".



Merche Pallarés said...

My,my... You are prolific lately!!! Very interesting posts. I didn't know that South African poet and the movie sounds interesting. I hope it comes to Barcelona. And about Israel... What more can we say!!! I hope you noticed that only the U.S. and Canada voted against Palestine becoming a member of the UN. Of course! They're both "provinces" of Israel! Hugs, M.

Anne said...

Looking back over your recent posts makes me so sad to think that people can't seem to see that we are all human beings, that there is no good reason to kill each other. And sad to think that people who were themselves so recently brutalized and persecuted now themselves have become savage and murderous to others. So, so sad. The real message of Christmas so lost.