The only Christmas spirit that could possibly matter

I commend to you Ross Douthat’s column in The New York Times in which he compares the realism of the evil in a Dostoevsky novel and the reality of the evil in Connecticut. Douthat writes:

The only thing that my religious tradition has to offer to the bereaved of Newtown today — besides an appropriately respectful witness to their awful sorrow — is a version of that story, and the realism about suffering that it contains.

That realism may be hard to see at Christmastime, when the sentimental side of faith owns the cultural stage. But the Christmas story isn’t just the manger and the shepherds and the baby Jesus, meek and mild.

The rage of Herod is there as well, and the slaughtered innocents of Bethlehem, and the myrrh that prepares bodies for the grave. The cross looms behind the stable — the shadow of violence, agony and death.

In the leafless hills of western Connecticut, this is the only Christmas spirit that could possibly matter now.

Read the rest here.

One Comment

  • James Rednour

    The Brothers K is the work that initiated my path to atheism and is the main reason I am no longer a theist. Ivan’s arguments against a good God are devastating and cannot be refuted by thinking individuals, so they are left in the category of “mystery”. As Ivan says to Alyosha, suppose one could create a perfect world for man but it could survive only by torturing to death “one tiny creature.” Would Alyosha be the architect of such a world? Of course, no person we would call “good” would agree, yet Christians let God off the hook for it.

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