Baby Jesus was poor: How to #OccupytheBible at Christmas

He’s cute, that little baby Jesus we see lying on a bed of straw in the Nativity scenes in so many Christian Christmas pageants.

“Away in a Manger”

But when we #OccupytheBible, that is, read the Bible from the perspective of those who are struggling in an economy structured by extremes of wealth and poverty, we can see something else happening where Jesus is born. We can begin to see the dirty straw and perhaps even begin to get a whiff of the stable smell. Baby Jesus was born poor.

What we can also start to see more clearly is that one-quarter of American children are in the same situation today. That’s right. One in four children in the U.S. now lives in poverty.

The #Occupy movement in the United States and around the world is made up of people who are trying to make a concrete statement about how they have been driven out of their homes and jobs by big banks and big corporations. For a long time now, in the United States, the gap between the wealthiest 1 percent and the rest of us, the 99 percent, has been growing wider and wider. Charts like this one from the Congressional Budget Office tell the story:

CBO Report

Read more of this new column at the Huffington Post.

About Susan Thistlethwaite

I am President Emerita and Professor Emerita of Chicago Theological Seminary; I write for the public here and in local papers. I am interested in what I call "public theology," or how deeper meaning is made and contested in the public square.
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