CSotD: Overture, Curtain Lights

There have been some churches featured on Facebook and Twitter that have caged the Baby Jesus in their nativity sets, and I like Mike Luckovich‘s version of the concept.

But lest we forget, this idea has Scriptural relevance:

And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. — Matthew, 2:13

According to the Bible, Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus were refugees who had to enter Egypt or face the death of their child.

Think how different our world would be if the Egyptians had turned them back and the child had been slaughtered.

Okay, you don’t have to believe in the historicity of the Bible, though we once dismissed the stories of Troy as fiction.

Oral histories in those days, and even written ones, tended to be folkloric.

Ares didn’t really transform himself into a great wave, but Agamemnon did indeed wage war on the city of Troy.

And George Washington never threw that dollar across the Potomac.

Point in this case being that there’s no record of Herod ordering the death of all male children under a certain age, but the moral teaching remains intact, reinforced by the parable of the Good Samaritan and the passage in Leviticus that reads

33 And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. 34 But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Whatever the history, the moral teaching remains and is being ignored by people who claim to live by that book.

Pointing out their hypocrisy is righteous.


And as long as we’re celebrating folklore

Christmas pageants are fun, mostly because the sheep tend to wander off in search of their mothers, and it can be hard to keep Baby Jesus in his manger when Mary and Joseph aren’t that much older than he is.

The great moral teaching being to just relax and let it happen and then go have cookies in the church hall.

But this Lockhorns did remind me of a more serious church play I was in, a Mystery Play that dates back to the eighth century.

The Mystery Plays were a series of stories performed on carts by various guilds, such that you could stand in one place and have the whole Bible pass by in little bite-sized one-act plays.

The Saddlemakers performed the Harrowing of Hell, in which a crucified Jesus descends into Hell to free the righteous there.

I think Leroy would have made an excellent Satan.

For my part, switching from RC to Episcopalian not only helped smooth over my divorce but exposed me to a much more historic view of religion, in this case an insight into how the Bible was taught to illiterate people.

Who likely accepted it as history, since they lived in a world in which a lot of things were mysterious, remembering that nearly 1,000 years later, even some educated people would mistake Gulliver’s Travels for non-fiction.

History, properly taught, should not only let us shake our heads over what our ancestors didn’t understand, but make us humble about what we probably don’t get and how our descendants will giggle over that.


In less fraught drama

I offer this 1998 Non Sequitur because there aren’t enough “Cats” cartoons yet, though I’m sure they’re coming.

Apparently, from everything I’m seeing on social media, there is a consensus that the new Cats movie really sucks.

My question is, “Compared to what?”

The original musical ran on the London stage for 21 years and on Broadway for 18, and they don’t keep plays going if nobody is buying tickets to see them.

For my part, I would rather be smeared with honey and staked to an ant hill than dragged into a theater for two hours of people singing and dancing in cat suits.

But that would make me recuse myself from reviewing the movie, and I’m still waiting for the person who says, “I loved the Broadway musical, but here’s where the movie falls short …”

So far, Rotten Tomatoes shows that it got a 19 score from critics and a 62 score from the audience, which suggests to me that the people who bought tickets because they wanted to see it liked it a whole lot better than the people who were assigned to go see it.


At which point I defer to Mr. Whistler.


And then I defer to Ward Sutton in terms of choosing a Christmas themed play I would like to go see. These all look good, especially after having had a few whiskies with Whistler.

They’d better be good, because we’re gonna have to sit through them whether we want to or not.


And on a related note

A couple of weeks ago, I groused about a period when famous actors and actresses were writing insufferably cute, stupid children’s books.

When Bizarro commented on the topic earlier this week, I thought about using it but passed. However, in his roundup of reflections on the week’s panels, Wayno offers this proposal:

We at Bizarro Studios are supporting a congressional bill requiring that for every actor who publishes a children’s book, Hollywood must give a cartoonist the lead role in a movie.

Wayno’s blog is a great weekly stopover, but that particular comment not only cracked me up but seems perfectly fair.

Even cartoonists, who are, after all, experienced storytellers, are having mixed success in switching to book-writing, and I’m not seeing a connection between their success in cartooning and their success in books. It’s a different medium.

On the other hand, the President of the National Cartoonists Society may get an Oscar for this performance as “second demolition guy.”



7 thoughts on “CSotD: Overture, Curtain Lights

  1. Love the title. That is my favorite show biz song, period, and a delight to play. Worth forcing myself out of bed at six on a Saturday morning to hear, especially knowing what it portends.

    Moving right along, Studio One presents The Nativity (medieval mystery play). Shown in actual medieval black and white!

    Two more mystery plays (These I haven’t seen, but found them when I went to get the link to Studio One). Sort of smeary-looking, but in color (who’s this Colin Farrel?)


  2. Nice work all around.

    Point to Doc & Raider for that last panel, which ties in with both Wiley’s cartoon and my prediction: Half the people who go to this will hate it before the opening credits.

  3. I saw a community theater version of “Cats” a few years ago because my nephew’s girlfriend was in it. I thought it was one good song surrounded by two hours of utter boredom. The only way anyone could get me to watch the movie would be to strap me to a chair and pin my eyes open.

  4. re “The only way anyone could get me to watch the movie would be to strap me to a chair and pin my eyes open.”

    Reminds me of the old joke of the tourist who encountered a moonshiner up in the mountains, and was offered a drink.
    “Sorry, but I don’t really like alcohol.”
    “Take a drink anyway.”
    “Really, I’d rather not.”
    “Well, if you want to do it the hard way….” [cocks gun, points it at the tourist] “Now, damn you, TAKE A DRINK!”
    [Tourist drinks, goes into convulsive coughing fit, rolls around on the ground, screams, finally regains control and cries out “THAT’S THE MOST HORRIBLE STUFF I’VE TASTED IN MY LIFE!”
    Moonshiner says “Yeah, I know. O.K., now *you* hold the gun on me and make *me* take a drink.”

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