Transhumanist Advent: The Christmas Message



Gerard van Honthorst

We get the Christmas message mixed up. We read it as a very special baby, and everyone comes to witness or see and point to, and adore the baby, who will grow to become the savior of the world. We read the child as the focal point, and our role as spectator: the classic carol O Come All Ye Faithful captures this sentiment in the refrain’s crescendo: ”O come let us adore Him! O come let us adore Him! O come let us adore Him! Christ, the Lord!”

It is a heavy burden this baby will take--the burden of all the sin, all the evils of the world. This baby will grow, and for the first time for humanity, this baby--now grown--will say:

“I love humanity. I love this world. I will do what the highest aspiration and calling in me demands: I will swallow up everything that is evil, and take full responsibility for it all. I won’t single out the evil that only happens to me and my tribe. I won’t differentiate between tribes or individuals. I’ll accept responsibility for it all. I’ll take the full burden.”

But what we should read in the whole scene: the shepherds, the wise men, the angels, the animals, and Mary and Joseph, is that we are there, seeing this baby, and imagining what it will later take on. And the witness we are making is not a spectator’s witness, but a witness as an oath to share in the burden. The image of the baby--helpless, naive, dependent, incapable on its own--should burn this oath on our souls.

There was nothing sacred at the time of Jesus’ birth, only potential. It became sacred when He taught and lived a radically, infinitely progressive and expansive morality, and ultimately took on the whole of evil and death. Those acts, which required his birth, were what made His birth sacred.

Our oath this season as we witness His birth is that we will carry the burden. We too will take responsibility for evil and death in the world, to the degree that we can, and recognize that our ability to take responsibility is, like the baby’s, more than we can currently imagine, and is continually increasing as our moral, physical, and technological horizons expand. A recent Norwegian version of O Come All Ye Faithful has a different refrain, but with (as I imagine it) the same escalating crescendo. It goes like this: We are His Thousand Hands! We are His Thousand Hands! We are His Thousand Hands! Be with us today!

(Norwegian text "Come Now in Freedom" by Erik Hillestad. Translated by Carl Youngblood)

  • Ben Blair

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