The Liverpool Nativity

The Liverpool Nativity was fantastic.  In my opinion it is the highest profile the gospel has had in the UK since the Manchester passion.  Whilst it was always going to miss the presence of Keith Allan, Geoffrey Hughes gave a sterling performance of Gabriel.  OK, so it was sometimes not true to the nativity as written but it appeared to be true to the whole of the teachings of Jesus.  It has to be said though, Ruth and I knew more of the songs from the Manchester Passion.

My one complaint about the show was that it was often used as a vehicle for political comment and this was allowed to dominate the Christmas story.  Casting Herod as a black woman made a big statement about the current media concerns that made people make a justifiable double take.  However, Herodia’s major crime was racial prejudice and lack of compassion to immigrants.  This presented her currently topical right wing political views as the vehicle for her to become a figure of hatred.  I suppose the best illustration of the nativity using it’s position on TV to make political comment was the retort to Herodia by one of the Magi, “Shouldn’t that be homeland insecurities”?  As I say, it seemed to be concerned with Gospel issues but sometimes it felt like a shameless attack on modern forms of government.

Where I felt the modern issues particularly worked as part of the story was the casting of Mary and Joseph as a mixed race couple.  This was a stroke of genius that highlighted one of the major issues facing the UK at the moment.  Placing Joseph as an immigrant made the issue real and gave a voice to those who are marginalised at Christmas time.  When we are all tucking into turkey and raising a glass it is often difficult to remember that we are one of the few who can.  The Liverpool nativity took one of the issues that is throughout the Gospel whilst not staying true to the letter of the story.  This in my opinion is a much better deviation than the addition of donkeys, goldfish, Caspar and reporters that we are usually force to endure.  As a-religious as the story at some points appeared, it cannot be denied that it represented Jesus.  This is best demonstrated by the final line of the show,

Jesus really was a revolutionary.  Throughout his whole life his message was love! 

The real question I have is – how come it only dawned on us half way through the show that we could have been 40 miles down the road and seen it live.  Dur!!

If you missed it it is repeated on BBC1 on 23rd December.

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4 Responses

  1. I couldn’t disagree more.

    Artistic license is one thing, but a complete mutation and bastardisation of the nativity story in a way such as this appalled an offended me.

    Is Jesus really thought of as a terrorist?
    Was Joseph a black illegal immigrant in a mixed race relationship with a street girl?
    Was Mary really a liverpool lass who liked to cruise the streets looking for men with money?

    What really got me though was that the “show” seemed to suggest that we are currently living in an oppresive society in Britain at the moment; where the government hunts down assylum seekers in an attempt to conduct what amounts pretty closely to ethnic clensing.

    What message is this suppose to teach young people… except how far removed our modern society has become from true “christian” values – if such a thing exists nowadays.

    Perhaps this programme finally proves that it doesn’t!

  2. “Is Jesus really thought of as a terrorist?”

    It is the reason why he was executed. As I said in my blog, the main message hammered home at the end of the program was that “Jesus really was a revolutionary. Throughout his whole life his message was love!” I think you may be mistaking the word revolutionary for terrorist.

    I think that it is better to have the nativity story out there with a real context that people can connect with that the “bastardisation” that is the standard school nativity play. How many donkeys are there in the nativity story? How many kings are there? How many reporters and goldfish are there? No, Joseph wasn’t a “black illegal immigrant in a mixed race relationship with a street girl”. Of course, in the Liverpool nativity, Mary wasn’t a street girl and Joseph wasn’t an illegal immigrant either. Neither did Mary “cruise the streets looking for men with money”.

    You seem to argue against yourself towards then end that the program gives an inaccurate portrayal of modern Britain and that this also teaches young people “how far removed our modern society has become from true “christian” values”. This seems incongruous.

  3. haha just read this after writing my very, very brief blog about the Liverpool nativity and found that i’ve said the same as you Robb. the charge against Christ was one of terrorism.

    and as for the rest of your reply. I also agree

  4. Thanks 😀 I will check out what you say on your blog when I am at a computer that allows me to see myspace :-/ Everytime I log in it announces that you have written something new lol

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