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A Christmas Carol
by Bruce Bawer
Here's a cozy little seasonal story for you. You may want to play some yuletide music in the background as you read it. Or maybe not.
Two years ago, as Christmas approached, it was reported that Klara Vogl, the vicar of the Church of Norway parish in Ellingsrud, an outlying and heavily Muslim neighborhood of Oslo, Norway, planned to have schoolchildren read various passages aloud from scripture at a pre-Christmas service that was designed especially for pupils from the Ellingsrud school. One of the excerpts she'd earmarked for the service was the following, about what happened to Mary when she was about to give birth to Jesus: "Then the birth pains came to her, by the trunk of a palm tree. She said: 'I wish I had died before this, and became totally forgotten!' But then he called to her from beneath her: 'Do not be sad, your Lord has made below you a stream.'"
If you don't recognize those lines from any of the gospels, there's a good reason for it. They're not from the Bible. They're from the Koran (19:23-24).
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