Merry Christmas!

by on December 25, 2017 at 7:20 am in Religion | Permalink

Andrea Mantegna (Italian (Paduan), about 1431 – 1506)
Adoration of the Magi, 1495 to 1505. From the Getty.

1 Bill December 25, 2017 at 7:59 am

It always struck me as strange that

The Three Wise Men

Did not bring

Baby toys.


2 Vox clamantis in deserto December 25, 2017 at 8:41 am

They brought some even better: cash (gold).


3 Axa December 25, 2017 at 8:45 am

It always struck me as strange that baby toys are considered an appropriate gift for the King of kings 🙂


4 Vox clamantis in deserto December 25, 2017 at 9:44 am

The King of Kings as a young man.


5 clockwork_prior December 25, 2017 at 9:21 am

Jeses clearly deserved bitcoin, not something tangible. After all, faith is what sells.


6 Vox clamantis in deserto December 25, 2017 at 8:38 am

Remember, remember the twenty-ninth of December! The foreign treason and plot; I know of no reason. Why the foreign treason. Should ever be forgot! Remember, remember the twenty-ninth of December! The foreign treason and so on and so forth.


7 shrikanthk December 25, 2017 at 8:43 am

Good to see Tyler and Alex celebrate Christmas with explicit theological images, despite not being very orthodox Christians themselves.

This is so admirable. A fine example in what it means to be culturally and civilizationally rooted.


8 blah December 25, 2017 at 11:00 am

I agree.


9 shrikanthk December 25, 2017 at 11:12 am

Sharp contrast to India where the elites are so hyper secularized and deracinated.

Can you imagine our leading public intellectuals (say a Pratap Bhanu Mehta or Shashi Tharoor) celebrate Janmashtami or Diwali with theological paintings on their blogs / twitter feed?


10 blah December 25, 2017 at 10:16 pm

This is slightly subtle so some qualifications on that:

The elites in India do use religious imagery, but strictly in a way amenable to their secularization. In India Hindu festivals are increasingly secularized (Navaratri = garba with bollywood songs etc.), and this is sort of parallel to how Christmas is secularized into “happy holidays” in the US. Thus, the treatment of Ramzan in India is always about kindness and sanctity and peace and all that jazz, but the treatment of Hinduism is basically prostitutionalization, with people like Sunny Leone and Rakhi Sawant assuming an increasingly prominent role. In contrast in the west, these paintings show that traces of the finer religious sentiments behind Christmas remain alive in the west among leading intellectuals, which is not so in India. In the US too, pornographic magazines have their christmas special, but the prostitutionalization of Christmas isn’t as mainstreamed in US as that of Hinduism is in India.

I often wonder about the extent of historical baggage that might have motivated this. India was ruled by Muslim males, who found it easier to think of Hindu women as prostitutes. This is most likely why often prominent Pakistani actresses adopt Hindu names – Meera, Veena Malik etc. It is likely that this sort of historical baggage coming from a Muslim rule, and conventions of aesthetics that reinforced their tastes, was partially inherited by a class of elite liberals in India subconsciously think of Hindus as a slave race, though they will never bring it to even their conscious mind, let alone think aloud about that. This attitude, for instance, is manifest in Bollywood movies whose portrayal of Hinduism is always either violent or a “village idiot populism”, in contrast to a very sufi esoteric portrayal of Islam.

In contrast, the west doesn’t quite suffer from this historical baggage. Liberalism in the west has undermined Christianity at least from the 19th century, but at least in terms of symbolisms and aesthetic conventions (which have their say on intellectuals’ proclivities), Christianity remains the mainstay of American culture.


11 shrikanthk December 26, 2017 at 8:25 am

I think your comment is more pertinent in the context of North indian Hinduism – which no doubt is badly bruised by the Islamic experience, and has been reduced to a tribal identity.

But Hinduism in the South is still very much vibrant and in touch with its roots.

Even in the North, we sometimes exaggerate the decline. Old bollywood movies feature many fine bhajans and a deep awareness with theology. It’s just that our intellectuals are too deracinated and westernized to leverage them explicitly in discourse.

It would be nice to celebrate Diwali with miniature paintings from the medieval period depicting Rama’s return to Ayodhya or Krishna’s annihilation of Narakasura. Or Janmashtami with any of those numerous paintings / sculptures depicting the Krishna leelas of Vrindavan.

12 cw December 25, 2017 at 6:03 pm



13 clockwork_prior December 25, 2017 at 9:33 am

I believe at least Prof. Tabarrok is Jewish. At least for those who follow Jewish religious precepts, Jesus is most certainly not the Son of God, nor is Jesus the Messiah. And at least the picture that Prof. Tabarrok picked can be seen in a secular light, if one wishes (easy enough to ignore the inaccurate, in the same sense that the clothing is inaccurate).


14 Seth December 25, 2017 at 11:13 am

Tabarrok is Persian!


15 dearieme December 25, 2017 at 10:13 am

None of them are looking at the camera properly.


16 Meh December 27, 2017 at 2:58 am



17 jseliger December 25, 2017 at 11:00 am
18 Bill December 25, 2017 at 3:32 pm

With this picture,

I am glad to see,


The War Against Christmas

Is Finally Over.


19 Dan Foley December 25, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Merry Christmas!


20 Attila Smith December 25, 2017 at 4:59 pm

Che bello e commovente quadro! Grazie tante, caro Alex.


21 cw December 25, 2017 at 6:02 pm

Poor baby. His head is way too small. Microcephaly. Zika. And all the adults look angry to me (especially the scheeming micorencephalitic with the chalice full of obviously poisoned hot chocolate) like they are all pissed because this baby is going to be a whole lot of trouble for them.


22 Careless December 25, 2017 at 6:06 pm

Why would three wise men from three different continents be travelling together to get to one place in between where they all came from?


23 Vox clamantis in deserto December 25, 2017 at 10:33 pm

They were sharing the ride and made a kitty to buythe gifts. You just do not want to know how expensive gold can be.


24 Enrique December 28, 2017 at 10:16 am

And a Happy New Year (both in total and at the margin)!


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