Every Christmas I find new ways to access the Nativity story.

Last year I focused on the circumstances in Jesus’ family. He was born into his family’s ancestral home, but Mary was relegated to the first-century equivalent of their pole barn (“katalyma” means ‘guest room’ not ‘inn’) because of her *illegitimate* pregnancy¬†(see Seasons of Christian Spirituality pp. 58-62,¬†http://tinyurl.com/crhvu26¬†).

This year I want to focus on the villain of the piece: King Herod. By all accounts he was a murderous old man, suspicious of his family, who died alone with a gangrenous scrotum.

Safe to say Herod the Great was anything but.

For this Advent season (Dec 2-24), I will be blogging daily about the failed fortunes of this flaccid monarch. Tomorrow we’ll look at his rise to power through the fall of the Hasmonean Dynasty and later in the week we’ll explore his family background and personal life.

For today I want to pose one simple series of questions:

Given that Herod was a skilled politician
(more on that later),
from a notable family
(again, more to come)…
how did he become so singularly evil?

What happened to twist him into a monstrous baby-killing, psychopath?

And, more importantly, if his hunger for power somehow corrupted his upbringing, social advantages, and religious education…what’s to say that couldn’t happen to any of us?

Which makes me wonder: what would you do to get power?