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Showing posts from December, 2013

The little Lord Jesus

They don't call me Carolling for nothing. I love a bit of choral exertion this time of year. Bring on the way-outside-of-my-register top notes, the determined-but-disastrous descants, the I-don't-remember-that-one-from-before intervals, the oh-dear-are-we-still-on-this-syllable-I'm-about-to-pass-out slurs...

But there's a handful of carols that I find challenging to sing for entirely different reasons -- and top of that list would have to be Away in a Manger: musically straightforward, theologically problematic. In fact, as far as my faltering understanding goes, I find it so debatable in places that I am driven to on-the-fly editing (for example, I'm not convinced about Jesus residing in "the sky", but I am pretty confident that he is "on high" -- which, conveniently, fits the rhyme and meter just as well), selective silence (I've read too much N.T. Wright to sing "fit us for heaven to live with Thee there" without worrying that …

xmas vortex

I can feel the pull as far away as mid-September, when the first mince pies appear upon the shelves at Sainsbury's. The inescapability appalls me. I grasp at structure -- work, routine, the gym -- and thrash against the glitter, gluttony, commercialism, social obligation, expectations unmet and resented. Dragged disorganised, disoriented, struggling to think straight or maintain composure, losing sight of the important things in life and failing to be loving or restrain my raging selfishness...The Season sucks me in and spins me round and spits me out in January full of self-reproach and melancholy.

Whilst Christmas has become, to me, a cause for annual dread, the Incarnation -- disentangled from the trappings -- draws me to increasing wonderment with every passing year. In the heart-stirringly good Housekeeping, my new-favourite-novelist Marilynne Robinson articulates it with compelling resonance...
Memory is the sense of loss, and loss pulls us after it. God Himself was pulled …