"Hipster" crib in Montreal does not please all the faithful


MONTREAL – A crib in Canada's largest church asks the question: What will Joseph and Mary do if Jesus is born in modern times? The answer: take a selfie and show a sign of peace.

A controversial representation of the birth of Christ on display at the Montreal St. Joseph's Oratory reflects the adoption of technology, healthy living and self from Western society.

Joseph and Mary are posing next to baby Jesus for a selfie – presumably to boast about how his son is God's son, as opposed to all the common babies in his friends' social media feeds.

Beside the manger – which is covered by solar panels – are the three wise men of the Segways, holding boxes that are noticeably similar to the packages of the online retail giant, Amazon.

The innkeeper, who in the biblical account rents the manger to Joseph and his pregnant wife, is fixed on his portable digital screen and wears headphones that would stifle news of the miraculous birth.

"The feelings are mixed," said Turbide, whose museum is located within the historic oratory on the flank of Mount Royal.

So much so that the museum had to put a warning beside the scene in order to calm the unhappy visitors.

"The museum is aware that the appearance of this daycare raised some concerns," he says. "Far from being irreverent, this daycare is meant to make us smile."

The St. Joseph Oratory has about 1,000 cribs in about 100 countries, Turbide said.

What she called the "hipster daycare," first exhibited in 2017, is part of the Church's permanent display of cribs from around the world.

Turbide said that while the scene is certainly provocative – for example, Mary has a bare shoulder and exposed bra strap – it is customary for Nativity scenes to be interpreted around the world according to local customs and cultures.

She pointed to an African scene, where the cow and the donkey are always replaced by a giraffe and a zebra next to the baby Jesus.

"This one does not have a donkey," Turbide said, "but there's a cow, stamped with 100% organic on his ass."

François Trudel, 74, who was visiting the oratory on Monday, said he liked the scene very much.

"Jesus did not live only in the first century he was born," he said. "He lived for all eternity. The nursery shows how intelligent the man is. It shows what God has put into it and how these tools have progressed to make life better. "

Dinara Salaeva, 27, who was visiting from Toronto, said she did not think the scene was appropriate.

"I am agnostic, but I still respect everything related to the Bible and the images," she said. "So when I see it, I feel it's not necessarily a mockery, but maybe it's a bit disrespectful to other people's beliefs."


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