Another great post from Michael Nicholson, looking at the far reaches of the stars and the farther reaches of God through the lens of sci-fi film. Enjoy!
You descended from the stars,
O king of heaven,
and came to a cave,
in the frosty cold.
~ Tu scendi dalle stelle, 18th cent. Italian Christmas carol
In the first golden age of science fiction film, in the 1950s, the standard, nearly universal paradigm for depicting alien visitors from the solar system and the stars was that they were implacably hostile to humanity. The classic film in this genre was the original War of the Worlds (1953),…
This is the second time in my life I have been pregnant during Christmas. With the first, I was only a few short weeks into the process and so mostly just doe-eyed, exhausted, and power-eating Chick-fil-a. This go-round though, I’m at 18 weeks and still running for the toilet every time I eat anything with sugar, change a diaper, or drink liquid with too much vigor.
Nausea aside, being pregnant during “The Season” sheds so much light on “The Reason.” The season leading up to Christmas, what we call Advent, is a season of waiting and anticipation. Easter is probably supposed…
I may not be the only one for whom an element of Law has infiltrated the yearly ritual of gift-giving. On the giver side, I spent an undue amount of time and energy trying to find things adequately utilitarian yet also personal, valuable but not profligate, suited to the taste of various people. And on the recipient side, I feel like I’m growing progressively more choosey: partly as a function of growing older, with ever-more specific tastes, and partly as a function of the Internet (numerous sub-forums are involved in my selection of even a minor thing for myself). The…
The Advent reading this morning in the Daily Office Lectionary is a zinger, the way it’s laid out. (Don’t get any ideas—this isn’t something I do with any regularity.) First off, we’re given the Old Testament reading, the Lord’s promise through the prophet Isaiah, that a child will come, and that through him the heavy burdens of the “people in darkness” will finally see light: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light…
A yearly Christmas pleasure is King’s College at Cambridge’s famous Festival of Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve, nine lessons and nine carols with a beautiful choir and traditional music. For those who just can’t wait, here’s a bit of the rationale of the King’s College service, followed by an Mbird-friendly, fresh and down-to-earth spinoff to tide you over:
The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was first held on Christmas Eve 1918. It was planned by Eric Milner-White, who, at the age of thirty-four, had just been appointed Dean of King’s after experience as an army chaplain which had convinced him that…
Growing up the son of a liturgical Episcopal priest, Christmas music was verboten in our house until after the 4th Sunday in Advent. So, it makes me nervous when Dave makes me post my Xmas mix right as December dawns… Anywho, Jing Jing A Ling! Let me know what rings your bell.
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,…
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,
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!
WHAT: Mockingbird seeks to connect the Christian faith with the realities of everyday life in fresh and down-to-earth ways.
WHY: Are we called Mockingbird? The name was inspired by the mockingbird’s peculiar gift for mimicking the cries of other birds. In a similar way, we seek to repeat the message we have heard - God’s word of grace and forgiveness.
HOW: Via every medium available! At present this includes (but is not limited to) a daily weblog, semi-annual conferences, and an ongoing publications initiative.
WHO: At present, we employ three full-time staff, David Zahl and Ethan Richardson and William McDavid. They are helped and supported by a large number of contributing volunteers and writers. Our board of directors is chaired by Mr. Thomas Becker.
WHERE: Our offices are located at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, VA.
WHEN: Mockingbird was incorporated in June 2007 and is currently in its seventh year of operation.
The work of Mockingbird is made possible by the gifts of private donors and churches. Our 2015 budget is roughly $225,000, and with virtually no overhead, your gifts translate directly into mission and ministry. Can you help? Please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or would like more information.
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