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Classical Music

Outdoors: The star of Bethlehem?


Visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, composer Gian Carlo Menotti viewed the Bosch painting "The Adoration of the Magi."

It reminded him of his childhood in Italy, where, on January 6, children received gifts, not from Santa Claus, but rather, from the Three Kings.

This memory inspired him to write an opera for television, "Ahmal and the Night Visitors," which my family watched every year.

From this opera, I learned that three gift-bearing kings followed a star with a long tail in search of a child.

The director of my children’s choir explained that the itinerant men mentioned in the book of Matthew actually were men of science - astronomers - who were studying a new star that had appeared in the sky.

The incongruity of these two images did not bother me during my youth, but, last month, the media hype around the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter being the Star of Bethlehem got me looking into the research on this topic.

Religious scholars, astrologers and astronomers have been debating this for centuries.

Modern scientists have compared computer models of comet and planetary orbital periods with historical documents of the time, but nothing quite aligns.

I still can live with the incongruity of the varied theories pertaining to the men and the star.

What matters to me is that Wise Men (and Wise Women!) study science to find the truth.

And from Ahmal, I have internalized the truth that it is blessed to give.