The Vatican unveils a brutalist Nativity scene
Like many of Europe's tired denizens, sick to death of their continent's humanist treasures, preferring brutalist modern art instead as proof they are all about 'progress,' so we have the 2020 Vatican nativity scene.
the 2020 Vatican nativity manger. i didn't know fisher price was making manger sets. pic.twitter.com/59OsP4o0hk— Fr. Chris Miller (@FrMiller) December 12, 2020
Gee, how 'with it." The angel has these weird leaden stone disks coming out of it, an odd thing for something supposed to be pure spirit and therefore swifter than the speed of light or at least fluffy feathers. The Virgin Mary has a primitive looking face of a young boy. Assorted Martian characters surround the creche and I can't tell what or where the baby Jesus is, I think it's one of the lumps, so what is the point?
TheRightScoop has a large curation of images here.
Nativity creches were invented by St. Francis of Assisi in 1223. St. Francis, who heralded the dawn of humanism and the Renaissance itself probably more than anyone, a man of amazing influence across Europe, wanted the peasants he preached to in the town of Grecio to see, feel, visualize and maybe touch the re-enactment of the manger scene. He used live animals, and possibly live people. He wanted it all to be human, so that the peasants would respond easily. No weird Star Wars affectations to feel hip and modern as we see now. St. Bonaventure wrote the first account of it after St. Francis's death and the idea took off like wildfire worldwide, everyone wanted to create the same thing. Slate, of all places, as a pretty good piece highlighting how the idea developed.
To me, I've always loved the idea of a beautiful Nativity scene at Christmas, much better than a tree or feasts or presents or decorations. To me (I'm a Catholic), the Nativity is a reminder of the relationship we have with God and the Holy Family. I like to think of Mary looking down from Heaven at all these Nativity scenes lighting up the world worldwide on Christmas night, with exotic local interpretations (let's face it, the Inuit don't have palm trees so they might create their creches a bit differently from people from Tahiti) and thinking back to the actual night and telling herself that from that terrible hardship (imagine having a baby in a barn full of donkeys and cows making noise), there was a Divine plan -- because now, every kid on earth knows how to celebrate it, because they know the images, the simple human representations, something that works better than mere theological talk. These things stir children's imaginations and make them Christians for life.
The Vatican, though, after a magnificent and grand history, now seems to think it's a great idea to make this creche this year less than representative, complete with Martians and brutalist shapes and textures, a celebration of Ready-Mix cement, and certainly not anything with the 'smell of the sheep' as Pope Francis once put it. The abstract shapes and hard unforgiving materials with weird interpretations make this Nativity scene less accessible, and quite contrary to the spirit of humanism, which is what St. Francis wanted.
This ugly stuff was the 'in' thing 20 years ago and looks like all the other ugly industrial-inspired and primitivist "art" that comes out from much of Europe's self-absorbed internationalist socialist aesthetic. Germany, of course, is big on this kind of rubbish, France, which demanded the burned Notre Dame cathedral to be rebuilt exactly as before, apparently much less so. Bottom line, it's ugly and sadly for Christmas, this Christmas, where people are longing for something warm and familiar in the year of pandemic, this inspires no one.
Image credit: Twitter screen shot