A huge wave of optimism was brought about by the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth century: freedom, reason and scientific technology would signal the end of God and religion. Such optimism was dashed with the advent of two World Wars.
Religion and the search for spiritual enlightenment in myriad forms are not only alive and well but growing. This over-confidence in reason and scientific technology reflect the optimism and power of a man, Caesar Augustus, who, two thousand years earlier, dared decree that “a census of the whole world be taken”.
Challenging this world view, St Luke presents in his infancy narrative a reflection on a philosophy of power, two different types of power – worldly power versus divine power, the power of unrelenting independence versus the power of total vulnerability, the power of a throne versus the power of a manger’s crib, the power of public recognition of authority versus the power of a mundane birth.