Advent Firesiders

Snow (2011)

My consolation for the year was an antidote to Maurice Wiles  in the form of Colin Humprheys who has painstakingly pieced together a credible account, based on computer-powered astronomical calculation, of how the different, apparently conflicting, accounts of Holy week, are actually consistent. I find he also wrote a paper explaining that a comet in the Spring of 5 BC is the best way of dating the birth of Jesus. We have read similar accounts  before, but Humphreys is particularly persuasive, so I am rather relieved that my 2011 carol is entitled Were he born in Summer. I know, it's the white Christmas that has taken a grip on our imagination and not primarily because of Bing Crosby but as a result of Rosetti's lovely poem and the exquisite setting of Harold Darke. Christmas in the tropics or the Antipodes never feels right. So I am expecting an eminent meteorologist to write a convincing book any time now showing that there have been freak snow storms in Palestine as late as April.

There are many things more improbable than freak weather including quite regular weather which, this year, has flooded Bangkok, visited a snow storm on New York in October, given Western Europe its highest ever October temperatures and brought us exotic birds more usually found in North Africa.

I believe that the weather, the global economy and a postmodern approach to ideas are combining to create a new age of uncertainty which reflects the condition which most of humanity has lived in for most of history. The period of world war and industrial

production brought about quite remarkable social and economic rigidity but the certainties are now passing away.

There's no point in being nostalgic except for the purpose of giving ourselves some pleasure in the company of old friends; I doubt those days of strict routine, predictability and moral certainty will return in our lifetimes. But we still have the Incarnation of Jesus and whether or not the manger was in an out-house or in the animal section of the inn and whether it snowed or not doesn't really matter.