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That Common Mistake


I saw an online cartoon today which seemed unseasonal but got me thinking. It came up in my Facebook feed when I was browsing via my iPad and I can’t track it down but I can describe it.

The introductory slide was someone (a teacher) introducing a nativity play performed by children with illustrations they had produced themselves. They spoke about three wise men bringing gifts and then held up illustrations of the gifts – gold, myrrh and Frankenstein! In the next panel, the audience are laughing and the teacher helpfully steps forward to explain that it is not Frankenstein… but Frankenstein’s monster. Ah, it’s a Mary Shelly joke, not a Christmas joke.

I wonder if the artist was aware not just of that detail about the flat-skulled, neck-bolted creature that many erroneously call Frankenstein but also that the Bible only speaks of magi from the east (‘wise men’ is a reasonable alternative but kings is probably not) who bore three gifts. There could have been two of them or twenty. Although it is not quite the season (mark that one against Facebooks chrono-agnostic timeline algorithm) it is a reminder that there are lots of things we think we know which bear closer examination.

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