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...and that means (as previously noted) another Christmas cover! Marks set the bar perilously high with his first post, so I won't even try to top it. Instead, I'll get all ruminatey about The Theology of Rankin-Bass as Illuminated by 'Twas the Night Before Christmas:

Even a miracle needs a hand! Such a complicated statement! It contains echoes of St. Augustine's famous dictum, "Pray as though everything depended on God; work as though everything depended on you" - a notion so theologically thorny that the same quote is also attributed to that famous ex-Augustinian, Martin Luther.

But the echo is distorted, because Augustine and Luther were addressing ignorant humanity: "You cannot understand the motions of the Divine will, and so the best thing is to submit yourself in prayer and then go and do your best." Rankin-Bass are upping the ante, addressing the thing itself. They are telling us, "The Divine will is insufficient: if you want a miracle, you must work to make it happen."

A bold claim, to say the least. And yet, does not St. Paul say that we make up in our own bodies what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the salvation of the world? Is there not a handless statue of Christ in Southeast San Diego bearing the inscription, "I have no hands but yours?" Was Mary's assent to the Incarnation not essential to its completion?

Pelagius, call your agent. The old argument about nature and grace rages on, but now it's got a soundtrack! The rest of you, read our Christmas Movie Cover story, due out December 22!

ADDENDUM: If you find this song almost too sweet to believe, believe this: it's so sweet, when South Park took it on, they dropped the cynic-schtick. I mean, there's a couple of jokes in there, but those kids mean what they're singing. Astonishing.

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