Christmas in a time of fiscal restraint

William Loader

When Quirinius was governor of Syria, the administration of the empire was facing fiscal restraint and urgent need for a strategic review of resources. However the planned census failed to pass the committee stages of the senate with the result that the census was confined to Judea in Palestine. This would benefit the government by leading to the laying off of 85000 staff, many of whom would starve to death, leading, in turn, to significant savings in welfare payments. The federal bureau of resource economics had proved beyond doubt that people who were either dead or too infirm to make the trip to the sources of relief produced a negative impact on demand resulting in the likelihood of an improved surplus.

Now the recent quality assurance review of office management conducted in Judea and surrounding regions produced an efficiency bonus for census statistical returns by promulgating a restructuring of census procedures according to which it would be much more efficient if people travelled to their place of birth to register, those with names beginning with the letters A-L in week one and those with names beginning with M-Z in week two. This would save the officers needing to fill in the square indicating place of birth.

So Joseph and Mary had a bit of a problem because their names began with J and M. This was not the least of their problems. It began with Mary receiving a heavenly call from someone called Gabriel, but the satellite connexion failed. Joseph knew he shouldn't and Jesus was sort of in limbo for a while until Michael hit on the idea of a frozen embryo arguing that this would aid the development of the christology of pre-existence wisdom/sophia and deal with some of the problems of gender balance in the Trinity.

When they finally arrived in Bethlehem there was no stable in the inn, because the 20 officers who managed the office had parked their chariots there, so they spent the night on the hillside with a lost sheep and one shepherd who kept hearing voices in the night. The bright light from the nearby cricket oval lit up the sky so it was not at all unpleasant. At one point Joseph also heard the music and asked that it be turned down because the baby was sleeping.

Oh yes, the baby. Well Mary and Jo were quite perplexed because Gabriel never rang back. While they were sitting there a man appeared coming down the hill dressed in bright red and with a white beard looking decidedly pregnant. Then they knew. Some other traditions named him round John virgin. Having delivered the child round John virgin rode off on his reindeer - that year's expense account did not allow for a sleigh - and Jo and Mary surrounded the child with common sense, frankness and mermaids who symbolised prevenient hypostatic union of two ousia.

There were to have been three kings, but two sent apologies - by fax - and the third was a deputy head of state. Unfortunately he didn't make it because there was a demarcation dispute with the man in red. The baby cried all night, but Jo had no quid for a bed - as we know - so they just had to put up with it. It was when Mary was crying, 'Messy, messy, messy' that something struck Jo, - something quite confessional.

The rest of the story had to be shortened. Time management deleted childhood and youth and twenties from the scheme of things and birth, if recounted at all in the records, is quickly followed by the first bath.

The whole project turned out to be quite impractical and did not fit any of the established classifications, especially in times of fiscal restraint. The project had to be abandoned less than twelve months later. Like Jack's bean, this human bean was discarded among the mustard bushes and ploughed in. But like Jack and the beanstalk, beans talk and people haven't stopped talking about it since.

Return to Home Page