Tuesday, 24 December 2013
Review of the Bethlehem Papers
Well, its been a busy day and there seems to be a lot going on, all fairly confusing. Reports are coming in thick and fast of odd things happening. Lets take a look at the first editions of the morning papers.
The Israel Independent leads with
Hundreds have been stranded without a bed for the night as the Roman census has caused traffic chaos on all the major roads in Judah. We've even heard of a baby that had to be born in a stable. Inside we ask: is our transport and hotel infrastructure fit for purpose?
The Roman Times reports:
Further chaos was caused by the unexpected arrival of a major foreign delegation at the royal palace of King Herod last night. Wild Rumours have been spreading that they came seeking for a new king who will replace Herod, but the palace have denied that there is any truth in these rumours. I repeat, no truth at all.
This years 'I'm a tyrant get me out of here' champion, King Herod himself, wasn't available for comment, but a palace spokesman said 'We're monitoring the situation closely, and can assure you that all appropriate steps will be taken.' Pressed on what exactly this might mean, he said 'nothing has been ruled out at this stage of the investigation.'
A spokesman for the Roman Governor, Quirinius, said 'nothing will be allowed to disturb the Pax Romana. We will work closely with the Palace authorities to ensure a silent night.'
The Financial Pages note that the disruption caused by the census has made this a bad week for business.
However, the Hospitality industry have been the winners here, reporting 500% increases or more on usual levels of business. One innkeeper in the usually sleepy little town of Bethlehem told us 'We were turning people away from 11 o'clock in the morning. I even had to let one young couple sleep in my stable, where the young woman gave birth, because there wasn't a bed to be had for miles around.'
And in the Daily Star, for the first time ever, its the horoscopes that are front page news. In an amazing coincidence this week, whatever your star sign, the message is the same:
'expect some good news this week! But be prepared, life may never be the same again.' We asked a professor of astronomy what this could mean, and he told us that such a combination of planets and comets as we've seen in recent months has never been seen before, and could mean big news for Israel, and even for the whole world.
And its not just the headlines making the news today. Inside, the papers are full of comment on the strange goings on.
In showbiz news, the Countryfile 'sheep and shepherd special' was dramatically interrupted last night when the shepherds all deserted their flocks by night and flocked to a nearby village. Asked to explain themselves, a spokesman said 'it was amazing: the sky seemed to be full of angels, singing gloriously and telling us to go quickly to Bethlehem, to be the first to see the promised Messiah.'
It is thought this may have been a publicity stunt for the final of Joseph Malone's smash hit reality show, Sing While You Slave.
And we can leave it to the Judah Guardian to analyse why all this might be happening.
The leader article suggests, rather solemnly, that this might all herald the coming Messiah: the one the Prophets foretold. And if that's the case, it adds, we might all want to take a look at how the Prophets suggest we should be living our lives.
And in a big centre pages splash, They sent a reporter out into the streets last night (earlier this evening) to make a note of what people were singing, and then asked various experts to comment on the popular voice.
One song the rabble were allegedly singing in the hostelries claimed 'goodwill henceforth from heaven to earth begin and never cease'. Asked to comment on this, a priest high up in the Temple dismissed the idea, saying 'This is a very dangerous rumour to put about. If People start thinking God loves them on his own initiative, and without ceasing, who knows what could happen? Everyone knows the supreme importance of keeping ourselves righteous, and keeping the Temple sacrifices going, if we are to be sure of God's favour.'
Another song reportedly included the words 'god of God, light of light, Lo, he abhors not the Virgin's womb.' A leading Pharisee commented 'this appalling lyric seems to suggest that Jehovah himself, the God who created heaven and earth and all that is in them, would deign to be born from a woman. Leaving aside the ridiculous idea of God being able to fit himself into something as small and stupid as a human baby, the idea that he would dirty himself by going anywhere near a woman in childbirth would be laughable if it wasn't so blasphemous. Just think: if you took that idea to its logical conclusion, you'd be saying that women and children, and I suppose the ill and maimed as well, are as precious to God as righteous healthy adult men, which is clearly ridiculous.'
And a leading scribe, asked to comment on the rousing chorus 'born that we no more may die; born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth', was similarly dismissive. 'Everyone apart from the misguided Pharisees knows that when you die, you die,' he said. 'And who on earth wants to be born a second time, even if it were possible? No, this sort of fantasy, really isn't helpful. Its just a distraction from the requirement to get everything right and make sure that you never set a foot wrong in this life.'
And finally, in other news: we're down to the final three in the smash hit of the season, Strictly Come Magi. Lucky finalist Melchior said 'We've all been an amazing journey.' What does he have in store for us for that final in 12 days time? Melchior wasn't telling, but he did suggest that all three finalists might have some very special surprises up their sleeves.