I see by this morning's Register that a nativity scene has been installed in the rotunda of the Iowa Capitol and, personally, I'm blaming myself --- for failing to launch the war on Christmas in a timely manner. Which is too bad, because this year's theme would have been one of the best --- "Y'all focus on getting a little 'Christ' in 'Christian,' then we'll talk about Christmas."
But the figures are kind of nice and the wooden parts --- a stable in the background and fence around --- were crafted by an Omaha Eagle Scout. Can't get more all-American than that.
It's the installation that's kind of clumsy, just plunked down there on the floor. Had the Thomas More Society, display sponsor, done the sensible thing and hired a gay guy to do the decorating we'd have had boughs of evergreen, twinkling lights, maybe even a star. At least a little ambience in keeping with the Victorian splendor of the setting.
Bishop Richard Pates of the Diocese of Des Moines was there to say a few words, as reported in The Register: "... the beautiful scene of the Savior represents that Christians are people of peace. 'We are committed to the pursuit of truth and justice, seeking always to exercise mercy and goodwill. We stand together with all who seek the common good and the free exercise of human rights.' "
Now that's a lovely sentiment and you can't blame the bishop for trying --- Christians generally talk a good game as the holidays approach. But more aspirational than actual I'm afraid.
And now the fun begins. It's perfectly legal to place a display of this type in the rotunda, little doubt about that. But having started this, courts have ruled, the area now becomes open to anyone else who would like to express a holiday sentiment, too.
Here's how The Register reports one those alternate displays in one of our neighboring states: "At the Wisconsin Capitol, the Freedom from Religious Foundation has installed a Winter Solstice "no gods" display for the past 21 years. The display is intended to counter a devotional Nativity display. A sign at the exhibit reads, 'At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.' "
So Merry Christmas to you all --- and Solstice Salutations, too!