Last week I took up the implications of the past/future dual focus of Advent for the storyteller. In the final week of Advent the focus of the daily readings turns decisively toward Christmastide, which is now upon us. And so this week I take up a theme little considered in connection with Christmas, but which, in that specific connection, may be uniquely instructive to writers: namely, judgment.
In one of the traditional Christmas texts in the gospel according to St John, we read the following:
This is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
Sometimes the most effective judgment is simply to turn the lights on. Flick the switch in the kitchen and the naughty cockroaches scurry for the dark underbelly of the refrigerator. Publish the content of the shady backroom deal and the naughty politicians scurry to the comforting darkness of their war rooms and lawyers’ offices. Let a six-year-old speak simple Sunday School truth to an erudite middle-aged sociologist, and watch the hedges magically appear like Jack’s beanstalk. Those whose eyes have adapted to see in thick darkness do not take kindly to the curtains going up in the morning. If our stories are to bear any verisimilitude, they will display this general light-antipathy.
Yet for all the rage against the arrival of the light, the light, like the little beam from the star Samwise Gamgee saw hanging over Mordor, will find its way into and – simply by being itself – judge the darkness.
Merry Christmas to all!
 St John 3:16-21.
 St John 3:19-20 (ESV).
 J. R. R. Tolkien, The Return of the King 199 (Houghton Mifflin 1965).