One of the points about “traditional” church going that always bugged me was the difficulty in reconciling logical inconsistencies in the Bible with the divinity of the text. Even among churches that don’t insist on the literal truth of the Gospel, you sometimes get people discussing the differences in the Gospel of John, for instance, from the other gospel accounts, without digging deeper as to the meaning.
Perhaps worse are the “cultural memory” versions of scriptural events, such as the placement of the birth of Christ in a wooden barn, with the magi attending, everything glowing and pretty, and a beatific, happy Mary at the center. As Real Life Preacher points out today in the introduction to what he promises will be an eight-part series about the real Christmas story, it is much more about “pain and surprise, of grace, beauty and brutality.”
RLP goes on to lay out known flaws in our received picture of the Nativity, including the aforementioned wooden barn, magi, and prettiness. The other thing, of course, that’s left out is that Mary and Joseph were scared teenagers who had to travel sixty miles during a highly advanced pregnancy. But they did it anyway. God works in mysterious ways.