By Andy Lund
The shepherd's given the news of Jesus' birth are invited to tell their story in a TV current affairs show.
3 shepherds (Seth, Nathaniel, Daniel)
Donald Koppit (theologian)
D.P. Fried (psychiatrist)
Ivor Harrow (Agricultural Workers Union)
(Analysis TV programme music- Panorama type programme. This initial voice over could be pre-recorded and played back on sound or audio tape)
Presenter: Last week, the normally tranquil atmosphere of rural Palestine was unusually disturbed by rumours and recriminations. The local populace was thrown into turmoil as tales of strange goings-on; extra-terrestrial appearances and noise pollution on a previously unheard of scale began to spread within the community and beyond. At the centre of the controversy the unlikely trio of three agricultural workers. What is the truth about the events of last week? What really happened in the fields above the small town of Bethlehem? Tonight "Analysis" brings the events and the debate to you, the viewer, for you to decide.
(Title: Analysis: Shepherds' Delight)
Presenter: Good evening. Welcome to Analysis. Up to the minute discussion and debate of a current topical issue. Tonight we concentrate on the strange events surrounding three rural agricultural workers-shepherds by profession (three shepherds look embarrassed and uneasy) and we have them in the studio. Also with us to debate the whole issue are the theologian and writer Donald Koppit, Clinical psychiatrist D. P. Fried of Kentucky State University, and Ivor Harrow of the Agricultural Workers Union. If I could turn to the three men at the centre of events first of all. Perhaps I could ask you to introduce yourselves.
Daniel: Well, p'raps I could take on that little task. I be Daniel, this be Nathaniel and this be S.. S
Presenter: (helpfully) Spaniel?
Daniel: No. This be Seth
Presenter: I see. Welcome gentlemen. Perhaps you could give us a thumbnail sketch of the strange events of the last week.
All three: Sure (All begin to talk)
Presenter: Well, perhaps one spokesperson would be in order.
Seth: 'Twas last Friday night. On the hills up above Bethlehem. We was just going about our business as per usual.
Daniel: Yes, on night duties we were.
Nathaniel: You know guarding the sheep against wild beasts and so on. It's an important job, if a little tedious.
Seth: Anyway, 'twas getting for the wee small hours and we was taking it in turns to keep awake.
Daniel: I was actually on duty at the time. Well, anyway there was this terrific noise and a blinding great light
Seth: Course, we was all awake pretty darn quick then. I don't mind telling you I was scared out of my boots. I thought it was sommit like the end of the world, or something.
Nathaniel: That light was brighter than anything I've ever seen before. It was awesome, is the only way I can describe it.
Seth: Well, that weren' the end of it by a long chalk. With the light and noise came these figures
Daniel: Angels they were, I swear it.
Seth: Mebbe. Whatever they were they certainly told us some remarkable things.
Nathaniel: Yeah, like announcing the birth of someone really special. They said the long awaited Messiah - you know the one you read about in prophecy - was being born down in the town
Daniel: Yes, and if we should care to go down we'd see him in one of the animal feed troughs.
Seth: Yes, and this baby was the Lord.
Nathaniel: Then there were a whole load of other figures came.
Nathaniel: (getting excited) And then. and then.. Singing like you've never heard before in your life. It was .
Presenter: Perhaps I could just interrupt you at that point and bring in some of our studio experts. Donald Koppit, turning to you first. You are an expert theologian with especial knowledge of messianic movements. Can I ask you to comment on what you've heard so far?
Donald Koppit : Yes, of course. Err, I don't wish to be disparaging in anyway but I would want to question the um.. qualifications of our three friends when it comes to exegesis and interpretation of messianic doctrine and prophecy. As you know, there are many schools of thought on this one. Professor Herbert von Filzstift has written a remarkable paper on just this kind of dangerous literal interpretation of ancient writings and
Presenter: Yes fine, thank you. Perhaps I might just bring in D. P. Fried of Kentucky State University for a psychological perspective of the whole issue. Professor has modern psychiatry anything to help us here?
Seth: What! Is he saying we're batty, or something?
D. P. Fried: Certainly. I think I can be of assistance here. It is not unknown for certain groups to experience something akin to mass hysteria and, shall we say delusions. In this case the delusions seem to be of a rather grand operatic scale with the appearance of massed choirs..
Daniel: Delusions? He is saying we're nuts.
Seth: Oi, mate, you looking for a fight, or something?
D. P. Fried: By no means. I merely proceed from the point of view that something in your environment, your upbringing, maybe both nature and nurture, as it were, have combined to to
Seth: Make us bonkers. Well I'm not having any of it, mate. We're farm workers, not fairies. We know what we saw and heard. We weren't up in the fields reading fancy blooming psychology books. We was doing a job of work.
Nathaniel: (Getting angry) Right enough. We know what we saw.
Presenter: (Conciliatory) Quite so. Perhaps this might be an opportune moment to have a voice from the agricultural world. Ivor Harrow of the Agricultural Workers Union, thank you for joining us tonight. How do you view these matters?
Ivor Harrow: Well, I'm no theologian, or for that matter psychologist. My main concern is with these gentlemen' s rights. As I see it very long hours and monotonous routines imposed by the management have combined to exert a great deal of stress on them. It is small wonder that this work induced stress comes out in this kind of way. We in the AWU have long been asking for a full-scale review of night working amongst shepherds and other manual farm labourers. I think you'll find that the hours demanded by management are just ridiculous.
Nathaniel: Can't say, as I'm that bothered.
Daniel: Actually, I quite enjoys night shift myself.
Seth: Best part of the day. When you sits under the stars you can' t help but wonder at the creation. What' s it say in the psalms, Daniel?
Daniel: "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?"
Ivor Harrow: Well I'm more concerned about the work of your hands and your rights.
Nathaniel: Well, thank you very much. I'm sure but I've a feeling sommit more important than all of this or all of your talk was happening on our hills last week. And I for one am hardly likely to forget it.
Seth: Well, you've not asked us about the best bit, anyway. Tell 'em, Dan.
Daniel: What oh ah..yeah. The best bit is that 'tis true.
Seth: Yes, totally true.
Donald Koppit: Ah.. truth. What is truth. Are we talking truth as you perceive it? I do hope we are not into absolutes here.
D. P. Fried: Yes indeed. There are innumerable sides to truth, you know.
Nathaniel: Well we are talking quite simple truth really. Pure and simple.
Daniel: You see, when we got down to the town we saw with our own eyes
Seth: That what we'd been told really had happened.
Nathaniel: And that's really amazing, innit?
© Andy Lund, Durrington Christian Fellowship
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