Well, it's almost Christmas time again. For those that know my feelings about the Yuletide season, you'll recognise that's me on the right.
So far this year, I haven't felt any different than I usually do. I still cringe at Christmas carols, bristle at tinsel and avoid the gaze of the creepy Santa Claus on the facade of the Whitcoulls building in Auckland city centre. The non-stop grinding commercialism is wholly depressing, in spite of the 'delightful' veneer.
The biblical Christmas story inevitably gets caught up in that crassness, which is unfortunate, because that's really the only part that has any meaning, for me anyway. Here's an article from one theologian who addresses the issues around this exceptionally well.
The non-theist Christian in me recognises the biblical Christmas story as early Christian writers trying to come to terms with the person of Jesus that they encountered as an adult, attributing supernatural circumstances around his birth befitting one perceived to be the Son of God.
At the same time, the cartoonist in me loves the pure ridiculousness of the story with its travelling stars, hosts of angels and bizarre characters. Over the coming fortnight I'll be posting a few more such cartoons, which I hope will help connect you more to the real meaning of Christmas, rather than the manufactured glop that will continue its bombardment over the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Nelson Mandela died this week. There have been many cartoon tributes to this great man published already so I don't think I could anything profound – cartoon-wise – to what's already out there. However, it certainly has been on my mind, not coincidentally for the fact that we are about to celebrate the birth and life of another revolutionary figure.
There's no doubt that the life of Nelson Mandela created a turning point in human history, and it would be fascinating to see how he is remembered in 2000 years from now. There will be many songs at his funeral this week and I would not be surprised if there are still songs sung about him in millennia to come. Who knows? Mandela Day may become as significant a celebration as Christmas.
Surviving 27 years in prison and emerging to go on to defeat a dehumanising societal system and lead a nation, while inspiring millions across the planet to learn from his example should surely qualify for an annual festival of peace and goodwill to all.