Or maybe that fish isn't meant to take Baby Jesus out of the picture. Maybe it's supposed to be a birthday present from Joseph, his own catch, and more precious in his fly fisherman's eyes than all that gold, frankincense and myrrh that the Wise Men would bring later. Is that why Jesus would grow up to like fishermen so much, and even to choose some to be his disciples? And why his early followers would later choose a fish as the symbol of their commitment to follow his ways?
Because Scale is right about that close association of Jesus and fishermen. Norman Maclean put his own twist on it in one of my favorite quotes from A River Runs Through It:
“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ's disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.”
Then again, maybe what Scale is trying to do is not to make some point about Baby Jesus, but rather to gently skewer the sport of fishing and the fishermen who make it into a "religion" complete with dogma, priests, true believers and heretics. So we are to assume from this cover that fishermen are actually coming to the stable to worship a fish.
If so, nice one, Scale. I can get behind that.
Or...maybe someone just thought it would be funny to put a fish in the manger scene. As far as I know it hasn't been done quite like this, but something very similar was done a long time ago--in the early 16th century--by the painter Raffaello Sanzio. He called it "Madonna With Fish." As far as I know, nobody was offended by it.
But whatever you think of the cover, I hope you'll look inside this issue of Scale. It continues to bring quality articles and photos covering a wide range of fishing experiences. But this time it also includes an announcement by the editorial staff.
They acknowledge the refugee crisis overwhelming Europe, which is their home base, and the home of many of their readers. They admit that, as a fishing magazine, they aren't going to weigh in on the politics of that issue.
"But," they go on to say, "we do know that we need to help, no question about it. So we as an editorial team have decided to pass on 25% of this issue's marketing yield to the charity Wadi. This organization has been fostering and organizing projects for the last twenty years in the Middle East, aimed at helping people there to help themselves. A particular focus are projects that improve the lives of children and women. That's the kind of initiative we find worthy to support." (My emphasis.)
So, again, whatever you think of their cover, I'd say they got that "love your neighbor" thing right. And I think Baby Jesus would approve.
Give them some love HERE.