Three years ago, Jeff Miller (aka the Curt Jester) posted a somewhat-lengthy discussion of the Christmas movies he’d been watching. Along the way, he noted just how many of them hit the same themes over and over: 1) Family is important; 2) Materialism is bad; and 3) Santa Claus is real. On the other hand, the only other option seems to be watching some iteration or other of the Nativity story. Couldn’t somebody, Miller wondered, manage to write a story that would hit the Nativity themes without being a Nativity movie?It sounds like an interesting idea. At least, until you ask yourself: How do you separate the themes of the Nativity from the fact of it? Three years and two or three dozen Hallmark Channel movies later, it still seems a terribly difficult task.Let me set the scene:For thousands of years, in the midst of the toil and heartache of survival, humans have been wrestling with the apparent indifference of the universe to their existence. They’ve watched children come into the world and loved ones go out, and learned that the strange phenomenon called life is ephemeral—brought forth in pain, yet destroyed so easily. “Why,” they’ve asked the remote, abstracted heavens, “why all this pleasure and suffering and joy and sorrow and health and sickness and war and wedding, if it all comes to nothing at the end of our days? Is there a purpose to all of this? Do we matter at all in the grand scheme of the cosmos? Is there nothing about our scratching to survive and fighting to love that inflames some greater being to pity?”
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