One of my photos

Liverpool Nativity

December 17th, 2007 · Posted by Skuds in Life/Music · No Comments · Life, Music

I had not intended to watch The Liverpool Nativity on BBC Three tonight, and would not have expected to enjoy it even if I did. But I did, and I did.

The whole thing was a very ambitious undertaking, performed and broadcast live in various locations in the city but it went OK with hardly any obvious cock-ups, and none of them serious.

There were some interesting adaptations of the basic story.  I had heard about the idea of having Joseph as an asylum seeker who has to go to the passport office and it sounded like a bit of a gimmick- like those adaptations of Shakespeare which locate his plays in a modern setting.

But sometimes those gimmicks work- look at the film of Richard III filmed in Battersea Power Station with a nazi theme for example, or for a more extreme example look at West Side Story.

In this case it started to worry me, when Cathy Tyson as the megalomaniac Herod-figure started talking about rounding up asylum seekers to make her appear stronger to the media.  It felt like the concept was being shoe-horned in a bit clumsily, but by the end I felt that it had worked.

The Christmas story is well-known, but many aspects of it are now hard to identify with.  I am no student of the bible but I understand that Jesus was a champion of lost causes in some respects and part of his ethos was to look beyond the surface to see the essential goodness of an individual  regardless of their circumstances or status.  I am guessing that the nature of some of the people he sympathised with raised a few eyebrows, but as we no longer hold exactly the same prejudices that are described in the bible we don’t fully understand the scale or scope of what he did.

So it was a clever idea to use a modern prejudice instead: one which everyone would immediately understand and many would automatically react to.  Its a knee-jerk reaction now to assume asylum seekers are up to no good as society and the media increasingly de-humanise them – despite this country being, nominally, a  christian country with its tradition of offering refuge and help to those who need it.

It made me think about a few things, and that’s a rare and valuable thing in entertainment these days, and it was encouraging to see a large crowd cheering on an asylum seeker which doesn’t happen much outside Vicarage road.  Specifically, it made me wonder why so many people who call themselves christians act so at odds with fundamental principles of christianity – most obviously with the way the BNP always try to identify with the church.

I’m not going to pretend that the Liverpool Nativity made me more receptive to religion at all, but if it made some christians more receptive to tolerance by reminding them of the roots of their religion then fair play to it.

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