Having just passed through December, you may have seen the Frank Capra film, It's A Wonderful Life. The 1946 classic has become a Christmas tradition, rivaling eggnog and mistletoe. In the story, an "ordinary" man named George Bailey runs an "ordinary" building and loan company in the "ordinary" town of Bedford Falls.
Life goes along in an "ordinary" way until the Bailey Building and Loan Company falls into serious financial straits, through no fault of George. He goes into a state of depression, and tries to take his own life--but fails. In despair, he says, "I wish I'd never been born."
An extraordinary angel grants his wish, and we all find out what Bedford Falls would have been like if George had never been born. We discover that through the choices of an "ordinary" man who repeatedly put others above his own dreams and desires, the culture and history of an entire town was radically affected.
In the latest issue of The Journal, published by Summit Ministries, the lead article highlights a similar, yet far more profound, question: What if Jesus Had Never Been Born? The article references the book by the same title, by Jerry Newcombe and D. James Kennedy.
The answer to that question has all the elements of a great film. Christmas would never be, Handel's Messiah would not have been written, the video I mentioned last week would not have been done by the 5th graders of Kuinerrarmiut Elitnaurviat school, and It's A Wonderful Life itself would never have been filmed, because it was built around a simple Christmas card message that came to Frank Capra's attention. But this only scratches the surface.
What do we take for granted that would not be here apart from the life of Christ? What direction would Western history have gone? What would our world look like? Feel like? Sound like?
As a music major at the University of Washington, I took two years of music theory, along with a lot of music history. What I learned was, if Jesus had never been born, Western music would not have developed the way it did. Without the groundwork laid by Gregorian chanters (Christian monks) and Johann Sebastian Bach, Elvis Presley could not have recorded You Ain't Nothin' But A Hound Dog.
I'll continue next week.