Saturday, December 23, 2006

Real Barn or Pottery Barn?

Over at NRO, Jennifer Graham urges us to desanitize our Nativity.

In America today, we sanitize everything. We are all Howard Hughes now. Many grocery stores offer disinfectant wipes so we can clean the shopping cart’s handles before we touch it; God forbid we make contact with a germ. I love Louis Pasteur as much as the next guy, but, having once carried Purell to church for use after the Sign of Peace, I’m trying cut back.

As we have sanitized our lives, so we have also sanitized the Christmas story. We have made this stable, this “mean estate,” a romantic, straw-strewn birthing suite, with a supporting cast of merry animals straight from the set of Snow White. The stable we envision, the one that is depicted in the wood or marble crèches on our mantles, is like my little barn the week before the animals moved in: rough and cozy and clean, scented with fresh green hay and aromatic wood chips. Add a Wii and a sleeping bag, and my teen-aged son would have been content there for a week.

But, oh, look at it now. There’s a reason no one sells Eau de Donkey Dung.

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