1) Secular Christmas is a lie – Giles Fraser brilliantly reflects on the difference between the Christmas of Christianity and the ‘Christmas’ sold to us by our culture: “The difference is between optimism and hope. Optimism is generally fuelled by denial, a refusal to face the darkness. It’s a kind of holiday from reality. Hope, on the other hand, is a much more belligerent emotion. It stubbornly dwells in the darkness yet refuses to be beaten by it.”
2) The Night Before Christmas – This new spoken word piece, filmed on location in Rome, is based on a chapter from Glen Scrivener’s new book, The Air We Breathe. Trigger warning: some of the sexual violence of ancient Rome is mentioned in this poem, as Glen makes plain the darkness that preceded the beautiful dawning of Christianity.
3) We are all Kevin McCallister – It was Die Hard last week, but this week Phil Knox helps us find the gospel in this Christmas classic.
4) Billie Eilish says watching porn from the age of 11 ‘destroyed my brain’ – The hugely popular and Grammy-award winning singer, 19, is remarkably honest here. Big respect to her for speaking out about this. This was picked up by Janice Turner in The Times here.
5) Joy to the world – Ruth Jackson reflects on her experience of miscarriage and the bigger question of suffering and the Christian faith – even in the midst of Christmas.
6) We need to preach the great story – Quite fascinating to read this in the Church Times. Angela Tilby makes the case that more Church of England preaching could do with seeing all of Scripture as one story – as exemplified by Nine Lessons and Carols services. Reminds me of something I wrote here: Why Our Attempts at Solving Biblical Illiteracy Must Move Beyond Telling More Bible Stories
7) In Our Time: A Christmas Carol – For something a bit different, Melvyn Bragg & guests discuss Charles Dickens’ novella, written in 1843 when he was 31, which has become intertwined with Dickens’ reputation and with Christmas itself.
And if you missed it…