I wonder if Christians realize how strange and creepy their manger adoration fixation looks to an outsider: adults on their knees, smiling half-wittedly while worshipping a baby who glows with an eerie light; wise men or kings or whatever they’re supposed to be traveling a great distance to bestow gifts on the same baby, guided by a striking celestial phenomenon not recorded by the many ancient civilizations that studied the sky and scrupulously recorded anything novel therein.
Meanwhile, Mary looks on with even more saccharine goopiness than one normally expects from a new mother. How quickly she has recovered from giving birth! Did she not writhe in pain during the process, shrieking at Heaven “I hate you!”? Perhaps giving birth to a godling is different from normal mortal birthing. Perhaps it’s an exquisite experience rather than an excruciating one. Perhaps the Blessed Virgin writhed, not in pain, but in ecstasy, shouting, “Oh, God! Oh, God!” I believe the Gospels don’t say, but possibly medieval Christian theologians discussed this matter, although without recording their conclusions.
Now I’m wondering what other aspect of newborn care might be different when the newborn is God himself. Never mind painless birth. What about His poop? Did Little God’s diapers smell like roses? Even that seems wacky for a godling. Perhaps he didn’t poop at all. Or pee. Or eat. How can a god eat—or need to eat—human food or nurse at a mortal breast? And if he does, you don’t want to make him eat what he doesn’t want to eat or deny him that breast when he wants it. The consequences could be awful. Don’t cross that baby! If he wants to stay up late, let him! If he wants to put something in his mouth, don’t tell him it’s dirty or dangerous. Let him!
If luminescent Baby Jesus did poop and pee, not only must the output of his godly bottom have smelled, well, heavenly, but it would also have been extraordinarily valuable and deserving of reverence. Never mind bringing gifts to the divine infant; people would have been fighting viciously for the infant’s gifts. Perhaps there’s a hidden storeroom at the Vatican containing all of those soiled diapers, a secret room where only the Pope and the most cardinal of the cardinals may enter to worship the ethereal nappies.
Oh, but wait! The sanctity of His shit wouldn’t have ceased with infancy, would it? That room must contain all 33 years of his infallible feces. And pee. And presumably any vomit and perspiration. That’s a big room.
That room must also be very well smellproofed. The odor of the divine dung, etc. is surely not only indescribably lovely but also of godly power, intensity, and reach. Thus the room must be smellproofed appropriately, for otherwise, treasure hunters would have only to follow their noses in order to find the hidden brown gold. Or, having done so and found—and smelled!—the paradisiacal poop, would they have a religious experience, fall to their knees, and promise to be exceedingly good thenceforward? Probably not. Better to smellproof the room really well.
Putting that aside, let’s get back to the nauseating weirdness of that adoration of a baby. I’ll admit that I start with a strong prejudice against any sort of adoration—of a celebrity, a politician, an athlete, an entertainer, etc. Such adoration puzzles me, and from puzzlement I usually move quickly to contempt. So when I see manger scenes or hear a Christmas Carol such as “Adeste Fidelis” (quite a beautiful song if you hear it in Latin, but in English the lyrics are nauseating) or hear references to the sweet little Baby Jesus, contempt comes quickly—contempt for the cringing servility of it all, the belly-crawling, boot-licking doggishness, the subjugation of the human spirit to an imaginary superhuman monarch, and moreover one in the form of a mere infant.
Religion is inherently nauseating, but Baby Jesus adoration is one of the weirdest, creepiest, and most nauseating forms it takes.
That’s even without the super poop.