Happy Boxing Day. This is an excerpt of a fable, meant to shepherd non-believers into Christianity:
When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on his window. In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and couldn’t go on. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed.
The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It’s warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside.
The geese just fluttered around aimlessly and didn’t seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them and they moved further away. He went into the house and came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a breadcrumbs trail leading to the barn, but they still didn’t catch on.
Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe.
“Why don’t they follow me?!” he exclaimed. “Can’t they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?” He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn’t follow a human.
“If only I were a goose, then I could save them,” he said out loud.Geese winter
Then he had an idea. He went into barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn – and one by one the other geese followed it to safety!
You get the point. God sent/became Jesus because that was the way to save people (from the punishment God gave them, because of the world God made).
My parenthetical above indicates the problem with interpreting and teaching off of religious narratives: if we really think about the story and go beyond taking it at face value, serious questions emerge and the whole lesson starts to crumble.
For example, according to the Christian narrative, God does not just go into a barn, get one of his geese, and so on. If the fable is to match the narrative better, well, then the man really should wait a few centuries, build a relationship with one goose, then wait, then impregnate a chosen goose, and then have that man-goose offspring get itself beaten up and tossed into the barn to sit at the right hand of the man.
Cast in this light, the Christmas story looks again like what it really is: not a drama of humanity’s rescue from darkness but a comedy of how we continually attempt to lionize our own experiences and struggles. In my area of the U.S., we really do debate whether the most recent championship was the best ever. When the Red Sox won the 2013 world series, we all asked aloud if it was the most improbable and amazing championship ever. Grown men in this area have full and total meltdowns if one dares to claim Peyton Manning is a better quarterback than Tom Brady (which is totally untrue by the way).
Back to the fable: as usual in these anti-atheist pieces, the non-believer is spiritually blind and sort of a dick. You never hear about the considerate, thoughtful atheist who is also a regular person. But I’ll say that I for one never make disparaging remarks about Christianity to my wife, and I hope she wouldn’t try to forward me silly fables about non-believers. Whenever my wife wants me to come to church, I do.
I have linked above to the source of the full fable. Fortunately, they don’t get very many comments, but if you have no tolerance for being called a ‘pre-believer’ or don’t want to hear that you have been seduced by Satan’s lies, I’d stay away.