Nativity Plays, Christianity and Islam(3 Posts)
With DS at secondary school now, my nativity-attending years are behind me - but I have been musing about the merits of the nativity play tradition, specifically in a school setting.
Is seeing your child smiling angelically under a crooked tinsel halo worth all the madness?
The curriculum on hold.
The camel-costume-by-next-Tuesday demands in the book bag.
The endless rehearsals.
The burnt out teachers and exhausted children.
And what does it all mean anyway in the post-Christian landscape of the UK?
A recent report noted that nearly 10% of children, in the 0 – 5 range, come from Muslim households. (In some areas, of course, children from Muslim backgrounds are in the majority.)
Jesus – Isa - is a revered prophet in Islam with an alternative rather different nativity story. Do Muslim families feel shut out by schools adopting the ‘wrong’ story?
Incorporating the Quranic version of Jesus’ life would see Mary – Maryam – giving birth under a date palm tree and, rather intriguingly, Jesus speaking as a newborn.
A palm tree could be an interesting additional character – the perfect role for a wooden actor! And anyone who has read A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving will know that a real live speaking Baby Jesus can perk up proceedings considerably.
I ‘d particularly like to know what Muslims think. Would you like your children to take part in a traditional nativity play, a ‘Islam-friendly’ version or just sit the whole thing out? Do you think the Islamic prohibition on representing the prophets artistically covers nativity plays? Would the mention of Jesus as the son of God within the play be problematic for you? Maybe you would prefer your school to put on a secular play – or no play?
Christians, do you regard the biblical version of events to be sacrosanct and think that those who produce nativity plays should not ‘ski off-piste’? (I must admit that I’ve seen a number of nativities that would have scriptural purists reaching for the smelling salts.)
Atheists - I have not forgotten you! Are you cool with the concept of the nativity play or is it stealth Christianity in our schools? Are the plays more acceptable if they don't seem to be aiming for any sort of religious truth and include Santa, a couple of spacemen and the odd octopus?
Personally, I have to confess I did enjoy the nativity-attending years. It really didn’t matter to me though that I was watching a nativity play. If DS had a few lines and I had a clear view of him looking rosy-cheeked and winsome, I was happy to watch just about anything!
But what do you think?
As atheist (foreign) who never saw nativity plays before, I quite enjoyed them.
I would quite like to see a full on frosty the snowman style play at school actually.
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