Monday, December 28, 2015

Mikołaj Zieleński - Vox in Rama

Dissonance Chamber Choir
Magdalena Wdowicka, director


As the name of the group would suggest, this piece has some interesting use of chromaticism -"dissonance" in it.

The Slaughter of The Innocents Here And Now

The present day understanding of the story in the Gospel according to Matthew of the slaughter of baby boys in Bethlehem considers it to be, likely, an invented narrative.  For anyone who might not be familiar with it,  Herod, the Roman puppet ruler being informed by the Magi that a baby boy who is to be "king of the Jews" has been born consults his own experts as to where such a boy would have been born.  When they told him in the tiny little town  Bethlehem, he ordered all baby boys there to be killed so as to not present a rival for the succession to his line.

I remember, when first hearing the story as a little boy, I imagined, in the horrific imagination of childhood, a huge number of babies being cut up with swords over a large area of land, considering that the estimates for the population of Bethleham at the time are believed to be anywhere from 300 to 1000 some of the modern writers who argue for the plausibility of the story put their estimate at the number of baby boys killed in such as slaughter at a maximum of 25.  Given what he know of the complete lack of value the Romans would have put on the lives of babies born to the peasants under their rule, I don't find the idea that such a slaughter was ordered unthinkable.  That it was unrecorded, otherwise, would, also, not shock me.  Even if such a slaughter did happen it wouldn't have been documented on the equivalent of the inside stories of the New York Times where contemporary slaughters of larger numbers might, might appear.  The Romans and their puppets were every bit as willing to use the most appalling acts of violent terror to assert their control of populations as Americans or Brits or Belgians or Nazis or any other large military-economic power.

The fact is we don't know if what Matthew recorded refers to an actual event of actual people being murdered or if it is some kind of rumor or myth.   I think that instead of thinking about the slaughter of children by an imperial power which we don't know about, we should think about and do something about the slaughters of children and their families which go on today, committee by our governments and armies and corporations.  The slaughter of innocents didn't end back then, it's a daily fact of life.  We don't have to imagine it, the images of it, the accounts of it, even buried in the middle of newspapers, has attained the terrible status of the sin of complete and habitual indifference.  Even policy as discussed by academics.

1 comment:

  1. Even at Christmas, life goes on with its business, some of which involves killing.

    And especially at Christmas, we should remember that even the Christchild was vulnerable, and not just at the end of his life.