The Nose: Baby Jesus theft could put faith-challenged state back in news

TheNose@thenewstribune.comDecember 20, 2013 

Our fair state has the reputation of being a “none zone,” a spiritual wasteland that is an outpost of Sunday-morning commitment-phobes where organized religion takes a back pew to the church of REI and the temple of Starbucks.

Don’t know if we’d go so far as to say Washington is godless. For many folks, the only proof they need of a higher power is the Seahawks’ 12-2 record.

But for now the state Capitol is, indeed, Jesus-less. (Please, no jokes about how what’s really missing in Olympia are a few wise men.)

It happened last weekend when thieves plundered the nativity scene that Olympia Realtor Ron Wesselius gets a permit to put up each Christmas season on the Capitol campus. Alas, the Mary and Joseph figures are left to ponder an empty bed of straw where the Christ Child once lay down his sweet head.

No Amber Alerts will be issued. No fliers will circulate around the South Sound warning young families about “stranger danger.” (Or, rather, “manger danger.”)

But we won’t be surprised if the national spotlight shines again on Washington, as it did five years ago when Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly made us ground zero in the War on Christmas. Why’d he do it? Because an atheist group was permitted to place a sign at the Capitol (next to Wesselius’ nativity scene, of course).

Leave it to those Northwest pagans to kidnap Baby Jesus, the cranks will say. Such a blasphemous act could never be committed anywhere else, right?

Away in a manger: Actually, Baby Jesus figurines go AWOL every Christmas all over America, from the Bible Belt to the Last Frontier. A few years ago, the holy infant vanished from a display in Ketchikan, Alaska: quite a Houdini trick, since he was chained down.

Another memorable heist was reported in 2005, when a 70-year-old grandmother took the babe from the city nativity scene in Eureka Springs, Ark., and was cited for misdemeanor theft. Did we mention Grandma was also a Sunday School teacher? (A Methodist, natch.)

Some might say it’s hard to keep the Christ in Christmas when Christ keeps disappearing. But we say he was never meant to be contained, either by mangers or crosses.

And he does show up for those who keep looking, even here in wishy-washy Washington. Consider University Place, where the entire Holy Family was swiped from a community display on Day Island after Thanksgiving several years ago and all returned safely before Christmas.

As the grown-up Jesus once said: “Seek and ye shall find.”

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone would seek and find hope this Christmas, despite those who would try to snatch it away?

Try enlisting a few companions, following a star and being patient in the journey. That’s what the wise guys do.

Our favorite Tacoma holiday traditions:

 • Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Though we can’t figure out how the zookeepers get the animals to hold still long enough to hang the lights on them.

 • The Singing Christmas Tree at Life Center church. Though someday we’d like to see a Tacoma rabbi stage a performance of the Singing Menorah. And can the Singing Festivus Pole be far behind?

 • The ceremonial dimming of the “S’ on the Tacoma Self Storage neon sign. Though oddly, we’ve still never seen an elf anywhere near the joint.

Gift idea for Gig Harborites: It’s not as personal as jewelry, admittedly, but you can’t go wrong replenishing your wife’s Good to Go account this Christmas.

There’s no better way to tell the love of your life: “Hey, don’t forget, it was your bright idea to move to the other side of that bridge.”

More romantic gifts: The city of Tacoma’s solid-waste department wants us to avoid buying stuff this Christmas. “Giving a gift certificate or donation to charity is one of the most basic ways we can reduce holiday waste.”

They also want us to wrap presents with reusable materials, such as pillow cases.

So Mrs. Nose is getting a double bonus this year: a Good to Go gift certificate wrapped in a dish towel.

Merry Christmas, dear. Don’t know how to top this for our 25th wedding anniversary.

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