A friend was telling me recently how much she enjoyed Christmas Uncut by Carl Laferton. I must have sounded interested because two copies arrived in the mail a few days later. It’s a good time to release a book like this, with Christmas only weeks (or is that days) away. I glanced through it, decided I liked what I saw, and promptly gave my two copies away! Anyway, I’ve since got hold of more copies and have now read it through carefully.
It doesn’t take long to finish this book, as there’s less than 60 pages with words on them. The pages are small and there’s even a few cartoons to keep you interested. Truth is, we don’t need pictures to hook us in. It’s well written, humorous, intriguing, matter of fact, and logical. Laferton shows how Christmas has become something of a children’s fiction. We all know that we’re not going to find Santa, or reindeer, or elves, or Christmas trees in the Bible. But what we don’t readily appreciate is how far from the truth many ‘Christian’ presentations of Christmas can be. Far from being a cute nativity story for kids, the real Christmas is filled with scandal, controversy, massacres and mystery. Maybe Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick should have teamed up to produce The Nativity – Director’s Cut!
This little book gets us beyond the commercialism and hype, the fiction and the fantasy, to the true message of the historical Christmas. Each chapter is divided into two parts: (1) what really happened, (2) why it really matters. Laferton uses real quotes from the Bible, accompanied by explanations and commentary of his own, to reveal exactly what took place. Then he explores some of the mind-blowing, earth-changing implications of these events. If you check out this video clip you can listen to the author tell you about his book, Christmas Uncut.
There are seven chapters, or ‘scenes’, in this book. Each one focuses on one character from the Christmas story and gives us a window into the significance of what took place for us today. Unlike many events in human history, that can be ignored without affecting anyone, the events concerning Jesus have major ongoing repercussions. Appropriately for Christmas, the bulk of the book deals with the accounts of Jesus’ birth and early years. However, these events cannot be fully understood without moving to the end of his life and examining the Easter accounts. The last two chapters tie all these pieces together.
Following the seven scenes are four brief chapters that point a way forward and begin to answer some common questions. The chapters are:
Yes but… isn’t this all made up?
Yes but… was Jesus really the Christ?
Yes but… surely Jesus didn’t really rise?
I enjoyed reading this book as it reminded me of what Christmas is really all about. It’s fun to read and it doesn’t take much time at all. This book makes for a cheap, worthwhile Christmas present. For less than $4 you can buy heaps of these, and if you speak to the publisher about bulk purchases they’ll probably do a deal (but don’t quote me!). I’m planning to get hold of more copies because I can think of many uses for this book…
- As Brumbies chaplain, I’ve decided to give one to each of the players, coaches, team staff and admin at the annual Christmas party.
- Your church could buy a whole bunch to give away to guests at your Christmas services or carols events.
- You could get one for each of your work colleagues.
- Your kids could give one to each of their teachers.
- You could stick one in your Operation Christmas Child shoe box next year.
- Get them to give away at your Gingerbread House, or equivalent, events.
If you’re a pastor, and you haven’t written your Christmas message, and you’re fishing for ideas, then this book will come to your rescue. There are at least seven Christmas sermons in this book. But don’t be so lazy!