I’m always amazed during the Christmas holiday season when crime and thuggery capture the headlines.  Last year the “hot thing” for the criminal element in society to do to celebrate Baby Jesus was to hunt down giant, inflatable, fabric Snowmen, Santa Clauses and Angels and slash them with knives to deflate their delight.

The owners of the happiness inflatables would patch the wounds and blow them up again — only to have them knifed and deflated overnight.

It was an ongoing and vicious cycle of stabbing and repairing. This year, the temptation for the criminal element has been to steal the Baby Jesus from His crib in public nativities.

The circle of stealing and replacement of the Baby Jesus becomes the height of ridiculousness and absurdity with the reported installation of a GPS device in a Florida Baby Jesus to track Him beyond His crèche.

A statue of the infant Jesus on display near Miami in Florida is being fitted with a Global Positioning System device after the original figurine was stolen.

I’ve read about other communities lashing their replacement Baby Jesuses (Jesusii?) to His manger with nylon tie-downs and chains and one community in rural Nebraska even used barbed-wire to bind Baby Jesus to His crib! Imagine the ensuing dialogue with me:

CHURCH OFFICIAL:  D-oh!  He’s gone missing!

BABY JESUS BINDER: Arisen from the crib again, eh?

CHURCH OFFICIAL:  Now it’s time for some serious ball-busting! Take this and shove it in Him.

BABY JESUS BINDER: Uh-huh… so… where should I stick this GPS tracker?

CHURCH OFFICIAL:  Well it won’t fit in His ear!

BABY JESUS BINDER: I’ll put it in His tummy, then.

CHURCH OFFICIAL:  Now you’re messing with the whole idea of Immaculate Conception! Don’t ruin Christmas!  It’s his birthday, for Crisssakes!

BABY JESUS BINDER: You’re not saying…

CHURCH OFFICIAL:  Up the bum, it is!

My final question is this:  “If someone wants the Baby Jesus so much to lift Him from His crib — for whatever reason — shouldn’t they be allowed to have Him as needed?” Why do we immediately criminalize the want to take the Baby Jesus home?  Might something more mysterious be afoot?

Perhaps there are deeper needs He’s serving than just selfishly basking in the glowing display from His manger in the dead cold of the overnight. How do we know the Baby Jesus isn’t calling out to the forsaken and to the heartbroken and inviting them to take Him home for solace and comfort in their time of unhappiness?

Tracking the Baby Jesus with a GPS device, lashing Him with nylon ties, and binding Him with barbed-wire seems to me — as your most devout, loyal, atheist
— to be the most anti-Baby Jesus behavior imaginable… and yet easy access to Him is sponsored by the very people who claim they want you to come and adore Him.

You came. You saw. You adored. You took Him home.

Isn’t that the whole point of Christianity?

Even if the intent was to remove Baby Jesus with malice — who better to fight that evil than the love and the warmth of: The Baby Jesus? We hope future “Our Baby Jesus is Missing!” reports are created with wonder and a welcome knowing that there are enough of Him, and what He represents, to go around, and that every public nativity scene will have a small sign saying — “Take One, They’re Free!” — posted at the foot of every manger. What will next year’s criminal “hot thing” holiday intent hold? Here’s my early line: “Santa on a Cross.”


  1. Who knows ?
    The baby jesuses may have decided to leave of their own accord and chosen to go home with these people – because they may have felt their message would be more understood ?
    Maybe they would have a *better life* outside of their current position – where they would be loved and adored all year around, instead of being kept in a cold dark box all year and then being stood out in the freezing cold for a month in all weathers?
    I can understand they guy crucifying Santa.

  2. Right, Nicola!
    You’d think these churches would be PRAYING for people to steal their Baby Jesusii — because it would indicate their message is getting out, having an effect, and celebrating the divinity embedded in a representative hunk of plastic!
    But no!
    “What’s mine is mine and you can’t have it!”
    I admit I love Santa on the cross, too — all credit goes to Gordon Davidescu who sent me the link late last night… he unwittingly gave me the perfect topper for the end of the article — oh, if it were only Mike Huckabee instead!: “I’m not on a cross in a Santa suit. It’s just two pieces of wood attached to each other and while my suit is red and my beard white, I could be a blushing Father Time or a really drunk Bill Clinton.”

  3. I think they have missed a marketing opportunity here 😉
    Ex PM Tony Blair is getting a lot of flak for his recent conversion to Catholicism – with a lot of prominent Catholics questioning some of his decisions as PM – ie the Iraq war, Abortion, genetic ethics etc – most of them at odds with Catholic doctrine.

  4. You’re right, Nicola! There’s big business in the “Take Home Baby Jesus” movement! 😀
    I think Blair’s strange conversion is convenient, opportunistic and his “way out” for the sins he perpetuated on a generation in the name of war.

  5. Oh, and yes you’re terrible for wanting to take a pin to Frosty! Actually, it would take more than a pin. They’re made of nylon and they have fans inside them that keep the pressure constant. I think they’re kind of fun and cheery in an obnoxious sort of holiday manner. :mrgreen:

  6. My warped mind wonders if you could tie in a sex education lesson along with the *take a baby home* movement ?
    That is a serious frosty …………. I would so love to make it go bang though 😉

  7. Oooo! I love that idea so much! One plastic Baby Jesus and one condom: No immaculate conceptions here! 😀
    Frosty and Santa are very popular in our neighborhood. They’re 10-15 feet tall and 4-7 feet wide and they are lighted from the inside so they glow at night and the fan that keeps it all inflated is very loud. It’s surreal to watch them “come alive” as the fan inflates the whole being.

  8. I bet a lot of families would be more than happy to hand out little baby j with some appropriate reading material. Some people hand out reading material on 10/31.

  9. That’s a great point, Gordon! People are ready to spread the world but not let the baby go! We need to realign our thinking and let the semiotic rule the semantic.
    Thanks again for that great link to the “Santa on a Cross” article! It was a perfect fit!

  10. Jack the Cat had a rough day. He’s home now. Teeth are fine. He had an “ingrown cyst” in his cheek that took a lot of cleaning and stitches and a “tube” that looks like a knotted piece of twine hanging from his cheek. He’s wearing a cone around his head. He’s coming down from the anesthesia. He’s freaking out with the cone and is very unhappy. He has to wear it until Saturday. I keep fearing he’ll tumble down the stairs. We have a lot of stairs.

  11. Poor mite ……… hope he heals quickly , doesn’t rip the tubing/drain out ( presumably that is what it is ) , manages to keep his cone on and avoids all the stairs.

  12. Yeah… he floats between 10 minutes of furious, insulted, consciousness when he tries to get rid of his cone using every available paw… and 20 minutes of a deep-snoring sleep on my shoulder.
    Yes, his “tube” — Janna says it looks like a tampon and she’s right, that’s its role — is all bloody and hanging from his stitched lip. Ouch!

  13. Yes, it’s pretty messy — but he just ate now and gobbled up all his food, so we know all will be well now. I’m concerned what he’ll be like with his regular mega-strength in an effort to defeat his cone… but we’ll have to see if technology can out-muscle an ever-evolving cat! 😀


    News out of — where else — Florida: In 2006, thieves stole two statues of the baby Jesus from a display in front of the Wellington Community Center — even though, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports, the little guy was strapped in with a cable. “They’re expensive,” Paul Schofield, the village’s community services director, told the newspaper — noting that the statues cost $400 a pop.
    So the village tried to do something about it this year. They implanted a small GPS tracking device on the statue — which, sure enough, was subsequently stolen late Wednesday. The tracking device was activated, and Jesus was found in a house a short distance from the community center.
    Police subsequently arrested Danielle Santino, 18, of Lake Worth, Fla. and charged her with grand theft. She was still in jail late Thursday.
    “I stole Jesus,” she told police, according to the newspaper.


  15. Yes! I love that idea! I hope she fights in court to the death her reckless prosecution. She could claim being taken over by the Holy Sprit as a defense.

  16. Sorry I’ve come in so late on this one David!
    We had an “incident” this year at the local Christian college, Greensboro College. They have lifesize figures of Mary, Joseph, babe in manger, wisemen, camels etc etc and the whole shabang was destroyed by a vandal on 12/8.
    I didn’t realize that this scene was a 70 year old Greensboro tradition. I knew folks lined up to see the lighted display and it meant a lot to quite a number of people. I hadn’t been in years, not because I didn’t want to visit, just never got down there.
    A student from UNC-Greensboro, our public university (of which I am an alum both undergrad and grad) bragged to someone about
    how he spent his Saturday morning. And so he was expelled and arrested. I understand the pieces were made of fiberglass and cost 5,000 each. I hadn’t heard further about the young man’s fate. I certainly hope that he is not destroyed by this but certainly he must face consequences.
    I see it very simply David. Stealing is stealing.
    Vandalism is vandalism. Accept the consequences. It is still someone’s property whether it’s the baby Jesus, Buddha, a big ol’ Santa. Why diminish the crime just because it’s Jesus? Would you feel that way if a fine piece of art was stolen?
    Some may find it ridiculous or that the cost is exorbitant. But it brings great joy and comfort to folks and in this violent and cynical world I can’t find much wrong with that picture.
    I for one find great comfort and joy in my little manger under the tree. So please don’t steal my baby Jesus though I’d be happy to get you your own babe in cradle!
    Wishing All of You a Blessed New Year!

  17. dmtessi —
    Thanks for the comment. I find those sorts of public “look at how religious I am!” displays distasteful and obvious in an obnoxious way that celebrates largess and expensive things over real meaning.
    If you don’t want to risk someone taking Baby Jesus home to worship Him or to test his viability in plastic, then don’t put him out in the first place.
    There’s common sense and there’s street sense and the real Baby Jesus had both but many of his followers don’t have either one.

  18. dmtessi —
    I never used the word “hate” — you slyly did — and I find that un-Christian of you to falsely accuse me of something I have not claimed or done.
    The Baby Jesus is not smiling on you for that — but you’ll seek His forgiveness and not mine — because that is the cudgel you are used to honoring in order to keep you believing in a punishing deity instead of real people.
    Pressing a particular religious replica in the public’s eye for selfish gratification is not art and it is not the same thing as an architecturally delightful house or even a decorative hedge sculpted in the image of a giraffe.
    There is some incredibly beautiful religious iconography that is original and authentic and it has everlasting meaning behind it across generations because the intention of the artist was to influence future minds with a vision and with an original hand and a loving, creative, eye.
    The junky manger displays you see trying to pass for art all fail to capture the beauty of a historic moment and they become overarching, sad, and culturally manipulative against those who “Do Not Believe” and they cheapen the real meaning of moment they pretend to honor.

  19. I realized after I posted that that was a poor choice of words. You obviously are not “a fan” of those displays. I did not mean to imply anything else, but I can see where it would be construed that way. And perhaps I used it subconsciously because your feelings are strong on this matter, to say the least.
    Who can say what is truly beautiful and what has meaning and what doesn’t. Ofcourse I don’t consider those mass-produced mangers “art,” but I don’t call them junk either because they do hold meaning for people. And as I said, I do have a commercial manger under my own tree and it has meaning for me on several levels which I would never discuss here.
    The commercialization of Christmas is not a pretty matter, to say the least, and I would be lying if I said it was not a struggle for me, personally. There are many things that bother me about Christmas. But nativity displays are not one of them. I welcome them, but then again I am a believer and don’t walk in your shoes.
    Really I don’t know what to say. Your words have literally jumped off the page and slapped me in the face. I guess that’s why you’re a professional writer and I’m not.
    I feel so sad right now; on the verge of tears really.
    How did a discussion on stealing the baby Jesus turn into this? I have no idea.
    But I’m not buying all your high-brow B.S. Yes, I’ve studied all the great artists and certainly we can debate on that subject as well if you’d like!
    And please don’t profess to know who I am and what I believe. I don’t seek anyone’s forgiveness. I simply attempt to live a good decent life. Like everyone else I’m doing the best I can and make many mistakes which I seriously reflect on and attempt to correct along the way.
    But I can tell you: I don’t steal other people’s belongings period. End of story. There’s no shade of grey there. Even if it’s not pleasing to me.
    And that, David, is probably why I’m so sad and feel like crying. It’s a sad day when we can’t even agree that stealing something that does not belong to us is not a good thing.
    And it all gets twisted and turned into something truly ugly. . .

  20. I’m sorry you’re upset, dmtessi, but when you unjustly attack someone on the internet, you should expect a rigorous defense in return.
    No one is arguing with you that stealing is wrong, or that the young woman did the wrong thing or that the police overreacted and that the church overreacted — what we’re discussing is does the crime fit the punishment?
    Taking it to the next level of discussion, I feel all plastic American flags should be burned just as all plastic Baby Jesusii should be burned — not because of what they represent, but because of what they are not. Neither are the real things. Both are fakes. The original flag hangs in the Smithsonian. The real Baby Jesus is untouchable and everywhere.
    But there are still those in the world who believe all representations — in plastic, in chalk, in crayon, in marble, in tempera paint — of the American flag and the Baby Jesus deserve equal protection under the law and to desecrate them or reject them in any meaningful way is hate speech and should be punished by the law to the fullest extent.
    I am of another mind. I can separate the difference between the original and the representative and fakes and imitations will never replace the original inspiration that actually created the genuine article.
    Is a 10 cent plastic American flag and a 10 cent Baby Jesus worth all this sort of attention and harassment? Not really.
    In the original matter, the church could’ve done the Christian thing and forgiven the woman for her mistake — as Jesus certainly would have — and the matter would’ve been dropped in the spirit of Christmas. Do you agree? Or are you still of the mind that prosecuting her with trumped up charges is the only meting of justice she deserves?

  21. Hi natzgal!
    Welcome to Urban Semiotic. It is grand to have you with us!
    I’m glad you took the laughing approach to the article as intended! 😉

  22. Hi David! Thanks for the warm welcome 🙂
    I very much appreciate humour which addresses real issues and is thought provoking at the same time. Your writing intruiges me.
    Slightly off-topic… I see you have urban shamanism and mysticism listed as further interests of your’s. Do you have any writings around those subjects as well? They are very close to my own heart 🙂

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