Wednesday, December 30, 2009
When we look back at the decade 2000-2009, we may well define it by three crises: the crisis that didn't happen, the crisis that wasn't supposed to happen, and the crisis that we don't realize is happening. We haven't learned the lessons of the first two, and our ignorance of the third may doom us to be slaves to our government, rather than the other way around.
Click here to read the rest.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Heading down stairs (wish I had closed the coat closet before taking the picture).
First, the stockings. Looks like Caitlin has already gotten into hers!
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Here's an excerpt:
Unitarians listen to the Inner Voice and so they have no creed that they all stand up and recite in unison, and that's their perfect right, but it is wrong, wrong, wrong to rewrite "Silent Night." If you don't believe Jesus was God, OK, go write your own damn "Silent Night" and leave ours alone. This is spiritual piracy and cultural elitism, and we Christians have stood for it long enough. . . .
Christmas is a Christian holiday - if you're not in the club, then buzz off. Celebrate Yule instead or dance around in druid robes for the solstice. Go light a big log, go wassailing and falalaing until you fall down, eat figgy pudding until you puke, but don't mess with the Messiah.
Christmas does not need any improvements. It is a common, ordinary experience that resists brilliant innovation. Just make some gingerbread persons and light three candles and sing softly in dim light about the poor man gathering winter fu-u-el and the radiant beams and the holly and the ivy, and you've got it. Too many people work too hard to make Christmas perfect, find the perfect gifts, get a turkey that reaches 100 percent of potential. Perfection is a goal of brilliant people, and it is unnecessary where Christmas is concerned.
You can read the entire column at the link above.
Friday, December 18, 2009
I have no problem with respecting diversity. But is it really worth "celebrating"? Doesn't it make more sense to celebrate the things that we have in common, that bind us together, and that we share rather than the things that separate us?
The older I get the more I prefer "learning" to "education." Learning is something we do for ourselves; education is something that is done to us.
If you have ever doubted that God has a sense of humor, consider the snowstorms complicating both the Global Warming Summit in Copenhagen and the Democratic-controlled Senate's effort to pass a health care bill before Christmas.
The Andy Williams Christmas album is one of the best ever recorded, right up there with the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas and Take 6's He Is Christmas. Christmas is not complete in our house without all three.
Laundry and dishes do not take a Christmas vacation.
I'm really glad our photo greeting cards say "Love always" rather than "Merry Christmas," seeing as how they probably aren't going to be delivered until January.
Our Christmas gift list has been getting smaller the last few years. It will be nice when it starts getting bigger again.
I love having kids who can cook supper.
I need to go Christmas shopping tomorrow. It's the last Saturday before Christmas. Someone tell me that it's going to put me in the Christmas spirit to get out in the snow and fight the crowds. Go ahead. I'm waiting. Tell me.
The tree is up. That may be the only decorating we do this year, and that's okay.
I have a totally amazing family.
My kids have totally amazing friends.
Sometimes I wonder if I have the beginnings of Alzheimer's. Seriously. My stupid quotient (the number of things I do wrong divided by the total number of things I do) is getting higher by the hour.
I think anger may be the most difficult emotion to deal with. When you're sad you can cry. When you're happy you can laugh. When you love someone you can show it. But you're not supposed to act on anger. You're just supposed to be nice and behave yourself and keep it all in. And when the person who has offended you is no longer around for you to talk to about the offense, what is one to do? No wonder so many of us have ulcers and insomnia and addictions and tumors and headaches and [fill in the blank with the malady or syndrome of your choice].
Christians write the best music.
Jesus came for sinners. Jesus came for me.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Peace be to you and grace from Him
Who freed us from our sin
Who loved us all, and shed His blood
That we might saved be.
Sing holy, holy to our Lord
The Lord almighty God
Who was and is, and is to come
Sing holy, holy Lord.
Rejoice in heaven, all ye that dwell therein
Rejoice on earth, ye saints below
For Christ is coming, Is coming soon
For Christ is coming soon.
E'en so Lord Jesus quickly come
And night shall be no more
They need no light, no lamp, nor sun
For Christ will be their All!
Get ready for work
Go to work (choir accompanying at high school)
Leave work early to go to church day school Christmas program practice
From program practice, drive to junior college to pick up son from his math final
Drive home, have lunch
Drive back to day school for afternoon choir practice
Stop by post office on the way back home
Teach piano lessons
Drive son to church for bell choir
Drive back home
Clean up the supper dishes, watch a Tom and Jerry cartoon with 6-year-old and do a load of laundry
Now it is almost 8:00 and I have to get back in the car and go to church for an instrumental rehearsal for the Bach cantata we are doing at church Wednesday night. I hope to get to bed by 10:00, but that is pretty iffy.
Tomorrow it's 5:00 wake up followed by early morning hours at the high school again followed by another Christmas program practice followed by the program tomorrow night. This on top of the week I've just had.
I don't know how much longer I can keep this up. The house is falling apart and I am exhausted. Why does December have to be this way?
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Spaséñiye, sodélal yesí posredé ziemlí, Bózhe. Allilúiya.
Cпасение coдeлaл еси посреде земли, Боже. Аллилуия.
Salvation is created in the midst of the earth. O God, Our God, Alleluia.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Text of the poem:
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed
By the stream and o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee:
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and he is mild;
He became a little child.
I, a child, and thou a lamb,
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Voters' meeting at church (to which I didn't go because of the next item)
Nursing home performance with my community children's choir
Staff Christmas Party
Dress rehearsal for next weekend's children's choir concert
Evening concert at the high school I play for
Two daytime concerts and one evening concert at the the junior high I play for
Chamber orchestra practice for the Bach cantata that my church choir will be performing for midweek Advent service next week, plus an extended adult choir practice for Advent/Christmas
Yay, I think it's a normal Friday!
Full dress rehearsal for children's community choir concerts on Sunday
Daughter has Tae Kwon Do evaluation
Son has chess tournament
Sunday School Christmas program
Two performances with the community children's choir
I realize that Christmas is coming, and there are certain things, like Sunday School programs and staff parties and special church services, that are to be expected this time of year. I'm not complaining about those--they're part of the joy of the season! But I find myself wondering: all these secular school and community groups that I play for--groups that may sing Christmas songs here and there but are careful to balance them with other traditions and to point out that they are singing them for the sake of art and not faith--why do they all have their big winter concerts in December, right before Christmas? Why not in January, in the lull when people don't have so many things vying for their attention? Why now?
I suppose the choir directors would say they need to do it now because they would lose ground with their singers over the Christmas ("winter") holiday. But I'm not so sure. The school break is only two weeks. They could revisit the music for a couple of weeks when the students return and have a very fine performance. And having the winter concert in January rather than December would address all the nervousness that secular institutions feel about being seen as embracing Christmas too much.
And best of all, it would make my life a little less crazy and my Advent preparation a bit more peaceful and reflective. But seeing as how I'm not the one who designed the schedule, I should probably bid you all farewell until next week. In the meantime may you breathe deeply and slowly of the Christ Child's grace!
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Here's another--several stanzas of "On Jordan's Bank the Baptist's Cry" accompanied by piano, synthesizer and guitar. The sound quality is a little better here. The little voice you hear humming along is Evan. :-)
My husband says that next time I want to do a recording in church I should go to the other side of the sanctuary to get a more balanced, representative mix of the instruments and congregation. He's so smart. I guess that's why he's the Cantor and I'm not.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Why do I like the movie so much? Mostly because of what it has to say about vocation and being thankful in all circumstances. The message is one I can always benefit from hearing.
Here's an interesting analysis from Joe Carter of the First Things blog that compares and contrasts the main character of Life, George Bailey, with the main character of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead and concludes that the movie--its American icon status notwithstanding--is way more countercultural than the book in celebrating a character that chooses service over self-actualization:
"The Fountainhead of Bedford Falls"
(HT: Gene Veith)
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
We have been living in our current home for almost 10 years, so I have been driving this same route equally as long. And for all of that time, or as much of it as I can remember, this house has been lavishly decorated for Christmas. And the decorations are of the sort that I actually like--not those big plastic/inflatable monstrosities, just lots and lots of lights in many colors. It's unusual to see the back of a house decorated so extensively, but no doubt the owners realized that more people see the back of their house than the front. So for years they have provided those driving by with quite an impressive display.
That is, until last year. Last year Christmas came and went, but the lights never went up, and I assumed that the house had changed hands and that the new owners weren't continuing the tradition. Too bad, I thought. I will miss that daily dose of holiday cheer.
But lo and behold, last week the decorations were back! And they are identical to those we have seen on this house for years, so my assumption is that the house did not change owners after all (although I suppose it is possible the previous owner left the light display behind). Which leaves me to wonder:
What happened? Why were there no lights last year?
The possibilities are endless. Was there an extended illness? Cancer, maybe? Chemotherapy treatments? Was there a job loss? Was there a serious injury, a divorce or a death? Did someone deploy to Iraq?
Maybe there was a joyous event, like the birth of a new baby.
Or maybe they were just tired.
There is no way of knowing, but my gut tells me there is a story there. And as I look from that house to the next, and the next, and the next, and I think about how many houses I drive by every day, I can't begin to imagine the complicated stories playing out in each of them. It boggles my mind to think of how many people there are in this world and of the various trials they are facing. Really, it's a wonder any lights get hung at all! If we were outside decorators (we're not), you can bet our lights would not be going up this year.
But thanks be to God that there is a Light that doesn't need me to hang it up, plug it in, or turn it on. It is the Light of Christ, the Light that shoots like a laser through the darkest darkness, the Light that shines no matter the season, the Light that had no beginning and has no end. It is the Light we await this Advent, the Light that became flesh and entered our time-space continuum a little over two thousand years ago, the Light that suffered, died and rose, ascended into heaven, and promises to come again. It is the Star of Bethlehem, the radiant beams from the face of the Holy Child, the Light that shines from the throne of God and wraps itself with perfect love around His saints.
Whether or not you hang lights on your house this season, may you bask in the Light of Him who is Light, as that Light shines to you and through you for all to see.