Walter Russell Mead has written several excellent essays about Christmas this year, but this one is especially worth sharing: on the accessibility of the Gospel. It's hard to quote just a small bit, but here's the most interesting thesis to me:
If the Gospels came out of a culture that was closer to Western modernity, and they had therefore been written in ways that satisfied contemporary academic historiographic models (complete with photos and footnotes), the resulting 900 page biographies of Christ might be more satisfying to us, but perhaps much less accessible to poor farmers in Africa or simple fishermen in Indonesia.
Shockingly, that matters a great deal to God. The story of the Gospels is a story for everybody, not just for sophisticated, college educated citizens of advanced industrial democracies. Just as we find just enough common ground, intellectually and culturally, with these documents to grasp what they are getting at even while we are frustrated by their indifference to some of our cultural expectations, so other people in other places and times have found them clear enough to hear and believe. The Gospels occupy a kind of center point in human culture as a whole: products of a particular time and place, but comprehensible to all.