Myth making and power

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In the days when art movies were popular, there was one I saw that could be described as a counterpart piece to the novel that upset many adherents of a belief system from the Middle East. In this film, the story focused on the manufacturing of a myth around the birth of a child who was deemed to be holy.

The film’s director was canny enough to set the story in an era after the emergence of the Holy Roman Empire, so there was a Cardinal in the plot who was in charge of the myth making process. Echoing several elements of the tale that is central to the values of the Western world, a baby was born in a stable and placed in a manger.

It was decided by the power brokers in the community that the child’s mother was not good looking enough to be seen in iconic images of the momentous occasion, but she had a daughter who was regarded as more suitable – she looked like the women who were probably chosen by many Old Masters as a model for images of the Nativity, so she was presented to the community as the virtuous mother of the new arrival.

This young woman had a secret lover and they arranged to meet in the stable to spend some quality time together. Everything seemed to go according to plan, but when the couple were just about to settle into love making, a warm glow of light appeared over the manger. The baby (who was still too young to form words) rose from the manger and spoke. He said the woman was not keeping her side of the deal in the story and would be punished for it.

An ox suddenly broke loose in the stable and gored the male lover in his abdomen. All hell broke loose from that moment onwards in the community. Needless to say, the film was not seen by large audiences. I sense that there were formidable powers at play, and they made concerted efforts to suppress circulation of information about the film’s existence.