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Showing posts from December, 2007

Pope Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Today is the sixth day of Christmas--halfway finished. I'm realizing this year that 10 presents or so, for each child, is quite a bit, even if many were inexpensive. We're going to have to retool this a bit--work out our celebration with fear and trembling (not just trembling at the amount of money spent).

Today's feast is brought to you by Pope Sylvester I. I didn't realize there was a Sylvester II, much less the first one. Supposedly he's the inspiration for "Father Time" (S 1st, that is). Anyway, whenever I hear the name Sylvester, beyond the association with the cartoon cat with a saliva problem, I think of William Steig's endearing book, the only one of his I ever read as a child, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.The story has nothing to do with popes or even Christmas. All I can think of is poor Sylvester transformed into a rock, causing his parent's unimaginable heartache, and Sylvester's loneliness through a year(?) sitting in a m…

Feast of the Holy Family

Well, not quite half-way finished with Christmas--presents still under the tree. Even one for me. The wife gave me The Simpsons Season 10 DVD yesterday. Christmas has been quiet, but good. And it is snowing right now. This is good too. What makes a good Christmas for you? Does anyone find it odd that soon after the feast of the Nativity we have a day commemorating all three members (in your best brogue)-- Jesus, Joseph, and Mary?

The Fourth Day

At the grocery store today the cashier asked me if I had a good Christmas. I replied, "Yes, but it isn't over. There are twelve days of Christmas."

"There are? Oh, are you Jewish?"
No dear, Hanukkah only has eight days. And Jews and Christmas (at least in its religious expressions) don't mix.

Happy feast day of Tommy B. of Canterbury martyred this day in 1170. Also, it's colly birds, i.e. coal black--not calling birds. Some suggest the four birds represent the four Gospels. And then some suggest that a bird is sometimes just a bird.

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me. . .

Here's a meditation, or something, I wrote last year to commemorate the third day of Christmas--a day to remember the slaughter of The Innocents. The babies of Bethlehem who were butchered for Herod's paranoia.

The Third Day . . .
Don’t strange things happen in threes? Work routine almost reestablished until the order comes in to ride to Bethlehem, swords at the ready. What will I use that Lowe’s gift certificate for? Bust down the doors, yelling "Merry Christmas!"—we live and die for tyrants—let’s hear it for the boys as we gut them, slash and smash them. Oops, did we just kill your daughter, Ma’am? Later, much later, the reports claimed 14,000 dead tonight (the Syrians said 60,000) but I think the number was closer to 20 dead Jew baby boys. And the least I can do is to unplug the tree lights and skip dessert for these, lully lullay, who died in thy stead. A baby boy now on his way to the land of dusty pharaohs.

And so this is Christmas. . .

Yes, it is still Christmas in the Martin household. Perhaps one of the few Protestant economies still practicing in its twelve-day splendor. Though, now, on the feast day of St. john there's only about 15 minutes left. The Martin offspring are equivocating--all presents now!--save some for later--all presents now!--save it for later (they aren't really familiar with the English Beat). Here is the inculcating of virtue in action. Can this newly minted four-year-old and fiver hold out for all their gifts through Epiphany Sunday? Only time, that strange, strange teacher will be able to report it to you.

Anyway, raise a glass with the Martins--I drink to you the love of good Saint John.

Christmas Eve

Today is the last day of Advent. But then tomorrow, after the feast of the Nativity is Christmas. 12 long days and nights of celebrating a most preposterous event. Creation is good! Molecules matter! We lose sight of the goodness of the stuff around us; no, not death and destruction and 24/7/365 marketing, but nature and people and even aspects of human culture. That God would put on the human dress, would condescend to us, lifts all of us, all of creation up. These insights are nothing new, but so many forget--especially Christians. Those who should so highly esteem the created order are quite often those who dismiss it or worse want to escape it at the soonest juncture of temporal passage. God is Good! Merry Christmas, dear readers (all two of you). Pax et caritas et gloria soli Deo in excelsis!

Addendum: I think I mangled the Latin syntax.

St. Wendell again

I'm currently reading Wendell Berry's collection of short stories, Fidelity, and I have to say is there anything this man can't write? Drama, perhaps? Anyway, I'm into the second story, but not enough to comment on it; so I'll talk briefly about the first one, "Pray Without Ceasing." As always the story is set in Berry's fictional Port William, Kentucky and we are introduced to many characters and families that Berry has developed further in his novels. The story revolves around a young man trying to understand his great-grandfather who was murdered before he was born. Ben Feltner was shot dead by his friend, Thad Coulter. His grandmother relates the story to the great-grandson and she says,
"People sometimes talk of God's love as if it's a pleasant thing. But it is terrible, in a way. Think of all it includes. It included Thad Coulter, drunk and mean and foolish, before he killed Mr. Feltner, and it included him afterwards.&quo…

"I Need a Snow Day!"

Wish granted. Except I really don't need a sabbath from the Sabbath. Church was cancelled today. So we went and did this:

My part of Michigan had "Thunder snow" last night and we awoke to 8 inches of the crystallized water and no church.

Yesterday, we cut down our Christmas tree:

No new snow while we were out, but man, that wind was as sharp as the saw I used to commit arborcide. Funny, I used to be against cutting down Christmas trees, but tree farms (Yes, I know about the pesticides) are sustainable unlike the Chinese plastic tree in some living rooms. Actual pines keep money in the agricultural community, they provide carbon exchange, mulch (after Epiphany), and habitat while the trees are growing. Aside from the bug/disease control tree farms are very beneficial. Additionally, Michigan is number three in Christmas tree production, behind Oregon and North Carolina as 1 and 2, respectively.

The co-owner of the farm was kind enough to give us credit for the tree a…

Punk Rawk Kid!

This is so pedia-indulgent. But I just had to post these.

P.S. St. Nicholas left me the Robert Plant and Alison Krauss album in my boot. I love Advent. I'm fasting tomorrow though, honest.

Ahhh, Advent

My background is low, low church. Assemblies of God, ya'll. Due to this deficit I am highly respondent to high church liturgical practices. Anyway, my family (that is my wife and I and now our children) have only been celebrating Advent for about eight years now. Every year I learn a bit more about the beginning of the Church calendar. For instance, our Orthodox brothers and sisters view this time much like they do Lent--a time of fasting and preparing for the Feast of the Nativity. I'm going to try my hand at fasting once a week for these four weeks, though it'll only cost me three lunches since Advent ends on Monday the 24th. I'm also trying to work my way through a devotional based on comments from the Church Fathers.

We've experimented with our children in our celebration of the season before the twelve days of feasting, and we've tried to scale back the cultural encroachment of Christmas. We do this by slowly adding decorations in the house. We u…