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Viewpoint from Rt Rev Graham James 26/12/2014 

bishop of norwichRt Rev Graham James
Lord Bishop of Norwich
 
I was about six years old when my parents took me to a pantomime at Christmas for the first time.  It was Aladdin (this year’s pantomime at St George’s Theatre).  We sat about the fourth row from the front of the Cosy Nook Theatre in Newquay, Cornwall.  It was a tiny theatre though I thought it big at the time.  I can still see Widow Twankey now.  I was glad she wasn’t my mother.  She was huge and seemed rather kinder to Aladdin than she did to her other son Wishy Washy who was destined for a lifetime of drudgery in the laundry
 
dove leftPantomime is about conflict.  It’s about the conflict between good and evil, between good fortune and bad luck and between ugliness and beauty.  The pantomime in Gorleston at the Pavilion Theatre this year is Snow White.  She is young, innocent and beautiful but hated by her step-mother who wants to be the fairest in the land and cannot stand competition
 
Dove rightPantomimes are intended to be fun, to entertain us, to make us laugh.  But they portray human beings in a constant battle between good and evil and between what is right and wrong.  Perhaps this is why pantomime became a Christmas tradition.  As soon as Jesus was born the wicked King Herod sensed competition.  He ordered all male infants to be killed.  Joseph and Mary took the baby Jesus to Egypt and Herod’s evil plan is defeated.  The child grows, tells stories about wicked servants, good Samaritans and prodigal sons.  He says that the poor are blessed and that the meek will inherit the earth – things no one had ever imagined could be true.  He disturbed people by the innocence of his life and the beauty of his teaching about God’s love.  These things are not always welcome.  The only way his opponents could deal with him was to destroy him
 
It’s intriguing how that’s a pantomime theme too.  Goodness is always on the brink of total defeat.  That’s how it seems in our world with its wars and conflicts, hostilities and suspicions.  Yet just as pantomimes always end with everyone living happily ever after, the Christian story begins again with resurrection and new life.  It’s not over yet.  Christmas brings us the hope of a new birth, and a new year gives us the opportunity to live more loving and better lives.  A very happy New Year to you all