When you watch a movie that’s a re-make of an older movie (which was also probably adapted from a musical adaptation of a novel) – do you ever mope and wonder if anything out there is original anymore? Is there really nothing new under the sun? I like to be cynical and sleep bitterly in this camp from time to time, sure that our collective imaginations are being mercilessly wiped away by some Never Ending Story-esque of a Nothing. “This is all that’s left of Fantasia!?” But then I consider the very concept of originality and I start to chuckle…
It’s that time of year again! The time when you break out those old classic Christmas movies and watch them by the fireside while drinking hot cocoa and basking in the nostalgia of the season. And there’s perhaps no more quintessential Christmas movie than Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” – a must see.
Before seeing it recently (on the big screen, no less), I had always remembered it as a movie that gives you that warm assurance that life is worth living. George is a man at the end of his rope when he’s given a divine vision of…
This piece on empathy comes from our friend (the inimitable) Michael Bender:
Grace in the face of alcoholism is not a new theme on Mbird, but I thought I might add to the literature with a brief anecdote from Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. At the beginning of the novel, Huckleberry spends some time describing his father, and Pap’s tendencies towards whiskey and debauchery. Huckleberry describes his father’s typical life cycle:
Pap took [some money] and got drunk and went a-blowing around and cussing and whooping and carrying on; and he kept it up all over town, with a tin pan,…
Another Week Ends: Heresy vs. Apathy, Cartoon Boba Fett, Grown-Up Three-Year-Olds, Krampus, Winning the Lottery, More Deep Blue Sea, and Seeing God
1. Another fascinating piece by Tanya Luhrmann over at the New York Times argues that “Hark, the Herald Angels Didn’t Sing.” Amidst sobering reminders from strict biblical constructionists that many Christmas details are imagined or embellished, Luhrmann advocates a middle road for how to engage the Bible with imagination, ht SZ:
I am no theologian and I do not think that social science can weigh in on the question of who God is or whether God is real. But I think that anthropology offers some insight into why imaginatively enriching a text taken as literally true helps some Christians to hang on…
The legs of the elk punctured the snow’s crust
And wolves floated lightfooted on the land
Hunting Christmas elk living and frozen;
Inside snow melted in a basin, and a woman basted
A bird spread over coals by its wings and head.
Snow had sealed the windows; candles lit
The Christmas meal. The Christmas grace chilled
The cooked bird, being long-winded and the room cold.
During the words a boy thought, is it fitting
To eat this creature killed on the wing?
He had killed it himself, climbing out
Alone on snowshoes in the Christmas dawn,
The fallen snow swirling and the snowfall gone,
Heard its throat scream as the gunshot scattered,
‘Tis (almost) the season, Mbirders,
Dave has asked me to put up my annual Xmas mix again this year for your easy listening pleasure.
Per usual, it showcases this years’ particular pop obsessions (Roxy Music, the Bee Gees, the Manics [although I left out the Dead!]), outre cover versions (Cee Lo, J Tull, Jon Anderson), and selections from my Christmas vault that I propose for canonization (Ed Gerhard, John Prine, Byron Lee). Now – I submit to you this question: what makes the Glam and Power Pop sub-genres the ground most fertile for holiday originals.? Taste and see!
Giddie Up - The Dumbells (aka Roxy Music)
Three Ships - Jon Anderson
Please Come Home For Christmas - The Insight (featuring Johnny & Edgar Winter)
Christmas Time In Motor City - Was (Not Was)
Let’s Get It Together This Christmas - Harvey Averne Band
Winter Wonderland - Byron Lee & The Dragonaires
Mele Kalikimaka - Arthur Lyman
Merry Christmas Baby - Dr. John
Hey Santa Claus - The Moonglows
The Wildest Christmas - The Boys Next Door
Deck The Halls - Metal Mike, Alison & Julia
Merry Christmas Will Do - Material Issue
Please Leave Me Home For Christmas - Imperial Drag
Ghost of Christmas - Manic Street Preachers
Christmas, Bring Us - The Grip Weeds
Christmas Was Better In The 80s - The Futureheads
White Christmas - The Wedding Present
Christmas Spirit - The Wailers
Christmas in Prison (Live) - John Prine
Christmas '83 - Centro-matic
Silver Bells - Arlo Guthrie & Ed Gerhard
God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman - Jethro Tull
Christmas Must Be Tonight - The Band
Children Go Where I Send Thee - Odetta
River - Cee Lo Green
Thank You for Christmas - Bee Gees
If you’d like to hear more selections, please check out my treasure trove of Christmas goodness on A Rather Lovely Thing, the Fishwick family blog. Adeste Fideles!
Christmas is coming (ready or not!), and while Mockingbird can’t help trim your stockings or stuff your tree, we hope in all humility to be able to offer a little food for thought this season. In that vein, here’s a gospel bomb of a yuletide quote from Frederick Buechner:
Christmas itself is by grace. It could never have survived our own blindness and depredations otherwise. It could never have happened otherwise. Perhaps it is the very wildness and strangeness of the grace that has led us to try to tame it. We have tried to make it habitable. We have roofed it and…
From Andrea Zimmerman, who, with her husband Aaron, will lead one of our breakout sessions on Friday morning at the upcoming 2011 Mockingbird Conference.
“Am I allowed to come to Christmas services at your church with my boys?”
An unwed mother with two small children asked me this question a few days before Christmas. Her church did not allow her to participate in services because she had children out of wedlock. Even though she had already visited our church twice, she couldn’t believe that we would actually allow her to participate, much less at a “special” service. She is not alone….
Last week we were fortunate enough to have a visit from (Mockingbird favorite) Fitz Allison, the retired twelfth Episcopal bishop of South Carolina. He was invited to speak to the book club at my church about William Porcher Dubose (1836-1918), a man whose writings in large part enabled Fitz to think through the matters he discussed in the fantastic book The Cruelty of Heresy. He quoted a letter written by Dubose to his first wife Annie toward the end of the Civil War (in which he fought and served as a chaplain):
“I have just commenced today our reading of the…
Another Week Ends: Galli on Resolutions, Anger at God, Last Words, Sex & Marriage, Geek Culture, Jonny
1. The final word on the New Year from 2011 Mockingbird Conference speaker Mark Galli over at Christianity Today, in his column “Blessed Are the Poor in Virtue”:
At the risk of derailing someone’s hard fought New Year’s vows, let me suggest that some of us stop trying to become good Christians, or whatever noble thing we’re striving to be.
The more I strive to be a “good Christian”—more prayerful, patient, giving, sacrificial, whatever—the more I find myself anxious, irritated, guilty, resentful, and self-righteous. When I simply accept that I’m a sinner, really, I find that I pray more, am…
An imaginary (and increasingly hostile) series of letters to someone’s True Love. Hoping it will inspire you in your thank you notes this season.
Another Christmas Arrives: DFW on Federer, Pinsky on Donne, Gervais on Atheism, The National Bible Bee, Backfiring (!) Smoking Bans, and Troubled Childhoods
Just the links this time, for some holiday reading:
1. On Slate, if you have time for a mind-bender, The Philosophical Underpinnings of David Foster Wallace’s Fiction (hint: rhymes with Littgenstein). For some prime DFW himself, check out his renowned profile for the NY Times, “Roger Federer as Religious Experience.” For all of our posts on DFW, click here.
2. Also on Slate, in a column entitled “Nearer, my God, to Thee”, former poet laureate Robert Pinksy takes a look at man’s relationship to the divine via two Jeremiah 12-based sonnets, one from John Donne and one from Gerald…
The following is from Eliot’s “The Cultivation of Christmas Trees.” While less popular than Eliot’s other Christmas poems, it is his last- and probably his most insightful. There are several attitudes towards Christmas,Some of which we may disregard:The social, the torpid, the patently commercial,The rowdy (the pubs being open till midnight),And the childish—which is not that of the childFor whom the candle is a star, and the gilded angelSpreading its wings at the summit of the treeIs not only a decoration, but an angel.The child wonders at the Christmas Tree:Let him continue in the spirit of wonderAt the Feast…