Tim Stanley, blogger, journalist, historian and Catholic

And in the Big News today from a Faith Perspective, Christmas Carols. Some people like modern songs, but modern songs are rubbish. Traditional carols are the only proper ones.

In traditional carols people were poor. People are becoming poor again. Being poor is traditional and therefore good.

Which brings me to the temporarily visible third of the Invisible Magic Friend, who is born, but then dies, but then gets resurrected and then goes up into the sky on a cloud. This is all traditional and therefore good and therefore definitely true.



3 thoughts on “Tim Stanley, blogger, journalist, historian and Catholic

  1. Christians like Stanley want us to think of their religious story as being unchanging, a beacon of hope in a harsh world. We are not fooled – for all but the last 2000 years of the 13.5 billion years that the earth universe has existed, the visible third of the Christian god was unheard of. The earlier Hebrew bits of the bible only go back another 1000 or so years.
    See Amid The Winter’s Snow’s “See the tender Lamb appears, Promised from eternal years” suggests Stanley’s supernatural belief has not changed for billions of years. Stanley wants us to think of the snow bleak 19th century hymns as “traditional”, but they were written during a (scientifically explainable) “little ice age” and so used imagery not used in UK Christian theology before then – not “traditional” for pre-19th century Christians then.
    If he was a 16th century Catholic Christian commentator he would be telling us that we should be sticking to the “tradition” of only writing bibles in Latin.
    If he was a 5th century Christian he would be moaning about people not sticking to the true gospels that haven’t been included in the bible.
    Christians like Stanley (and Fraser on Moral Maze last night) want us to think of their beliefs as eternal and unchanging, but in reality they are just another passing cult.


  2. If Mr. Stanley wants to make a song and dance about traditional carols then perhaps he should find out what a traditional carol was.

    “carol, n.”. OED Online. December 2022. Oxford University Press. https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/28123?rskey=9U9ShJ&result=1&isAdvanced=false (accessed December 08, 2022).

    It seems that a traditional carol was a dance with or without a song and without any religious content in the C13-C14. The religious content did not arrive until the C16.

    Holly and ivy. Possibly Druidical leftovers.
    “Mild, obedient, good as he.” The canonical gospels have little to say about the childhood of Jesus beyond disobeying his parents by remaining in Jerusalem after a pilgrimage. (He might have been thirteen and religiously an adult but did disown his parentage.) In the apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Thomas he murdered some of his playmates.


  3. Things that are regarded as “traditional” all too often turn out to be completely untrue. There is no evidence at all that Jesus was born on Christmas Day (if indeed he ever existed). The myth that he was dates only from the late 3rd century, and seems to derive from a much older notion that the death of a semi-divine hero should coincide with the date of his conception. It was also quite handy that a pagan December festival (Saturnalia) already existed and could be taken over.

    Tim’s concept of “tradition” is pretty Anglo-centric, anyway. French carols are very different from English, and there is no Italian equivalent at all. The Scottish tradition is to celebrate Hogmanay, and the Orthodox Christmas is in January. Many of our Christmas so-called traditions were imported from Germany in the 19th century. But I do agree that most modern carols are pretty ghastly, not that the more saccharine 19th century ones are much better.


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