Perhaps I’d still be a Christian had there been more dragons.
Many elements of the traditional Nativity scene — in particular, any animals whatsoever — aren’t Biblically canonical. They all derive from apocryphal scriptures, essentially early Church fanfic, such as this passage from Pseudo Matthew about the infant Jesus and the dragons during the flight to Egypt:
“Lo, suddenly there came forth from the cave many dragons; and when the children saw them, they cried out in great terror. Then Jesus went down from the bosom of His mother, and stood on His feet before the dragons; and they adored Jesus, and thereafter retired. Then was fulfilled that which was said by David the prophet, saying: Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons; ye dragons, and all ye deeps.”
Maybe we can add a middle verse to “Away in the Manger.”
The dragons encircle the manger this night.
Great and wise creatures, the drakes end their flight.
They bow at the manger, Lord Jesus they see —
Bask there in his presence where he sets them free.
This Christmas and every Christmas, feel free to add dragons like Smaug or Vermithrax Perjorative to your Nativity, and when someone questions their presence, you can say, “I’ll have you know that dragon is every bit as canonical as the sheep and the cattle.”
Oh, who am I kidding? I wouldn’t still be a Christian even with dragons; my issues with Christian theology run far deeper than the mighty firedrakes of yore. 🙂