A front-page story in this weekend’s edition of USA TODAY reports that GPS devices are being placed in holiday displays to combat theft.

An Episcopal Church in Illinois added the tracking devices to Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus and others — except the cow that was already missing.

Earlier this week I heard an NPR report that some churches are scaling back on their live Nativity performances due to the economic crunch. Instead of renting camels (that reportedly cost about $700 per night), some congregations are using sheep and goats instead.

Scaling back on Christmas programs is really OK. It might even help the message come through more clearly.

The original event was quite extraordinary — but far from extravagant.

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