wreath of gab and links

It’s raining on ice in Western Michigan. Still dark. The late service last night seemed to go amazingly well. We performed excerpts from Saint-Saens’ Christmas Oratorio. I do like the instrumental prelude he wrote for this piece and we performed it last night with violin, viola, cello organ. Also, the Hallelujah chorus from the Messiah benefited from a slightly less pompous rendition than usual with violin, cello and harpsichord accompaniment. At communion we broke out the tone chimes and rang random consonant sounds during “Of the Father’s love begotten.” All in all, a solid service.

I broke down and purchased and downloaded a recording of Cantata 142  from www.baroquecds.com. 5.99 what a bargain. We sang this cantata years ago in Oscoda. Although it’s probably not by Bach, it is a fun little piece about Xmas.

I listened to Christmas music and made bread yesterday afternoon.

Unfortunately I forgot to put in the salt. So I found out what that does to bread. Removing it from the oven I thought it looked funny. The lovely shaped loaves had fallen a bit and the top of each loaf was rippled in an odd way. I cut a piece and immediately thought, “needs salt.” Oops.

Today we plan to drop by to say hi to my Mom. We had planned to have her over for breakfast but she just phoned and said she was going to skip going out due to the weather. Who can blame her?

We are driving up to Whitehall to see Eileen’s fam. Then late this evening we meet my daughter Elizabeth’s plane in Grand Rapids. So we will be on the roads.  Hope it’s not too messy out.

My boss preached on the value of the familiar last night. I kept having thoughts about that. I mentioned to her before we left that the familiar is evident in the way people’s minds retain certain things like hymns and poems they have memorized even when most of their personalty and mind has seeped away. Later I thought about how the familiar comes into play with music we love. The resonance and associations we have with certain musics (like Cantata 142) creates a depth of familiarity that is part of why we like it.

Here are a few links to stuff I have been browsing online:

Jeremy Denk is a concert pianist who writes a fascinating, eloquent, intelligent blog.

Recently he had an entry on Chopin:[link to blog].  It was his musings that got me thinking about why I like Chopin again and playing and purchasing  his music. Also I listened to chopin for one entire day this week while I made apple pies.

If you like classical piano music well played and are interested in free downloads, I recommend the Piano Society web site: [link to the Chopin page…. scroll down for free mp3s].


The Boys Choir of Harlem has been defunct for a while. I always admired this combination of good music and helping young people. Too bad. [link to NYT article].

Eunuchs now have the right to be considered a “distinct gender” in Pakistan. Now if we can just get the U.S. to follow the tolerance of this country (just kidding…. they are a bit too tolerant of the violent factions that flourish within their borders). [link to NYT article]

“Saying No, No, No, to Ho-Ho-Ho” by Hilary Stout in the NYT provokes some interesting reflection on how some people are choosing to avoid Christmas this year. [link to NYT article] They don’t go so far as to call it a Christmas fast, but that’s what they’re talking about. It led me to ponder my own evolving thinking about Christmas.

For some reason I am more comfortable than ever with this holiday. I think that I have solidly moved away from seeing my self in terms of religion or popular culture. Falsity is anathema to me right now. So that pretty much cancels out most of the Christian religious expressions about Christmas. Along with abandoning my rigidity and evangelism about the liturgical understandings of this season. And the so called cultural stuff I run up against in the media and popular societal expressions has less and less meaning for me. I just think that we get it wrong. People are not stupid. They’re just like you and me. They just see and experience life differently.

I hasten to add that I have not lapsed into a soft headed relativism. Quite the contrary. I now believe that some things cannot be rationalized away as misunderstandings. Specifically things like the hate that pervades the world.  Hate for the starving, the poor, the ugly, the outcast. Hate for those who are different.

So as my secretary at work kept repeating this season, “MFC.” She then would clarify that she meant: “Merry Fucking Christmas.” heh.

My daughter Elizabeth pointed me to a Lifehacker article on a service that claims it will keep your music in the cloud of the internets for you. Not sure about how this would work. Especially their claim that if the local country doesn’t permit sharing music with your friends they will search the internet for a free (presumably legal) copy. Hmmm. [link to Lifehacker article on Tunebag]

goingjesus.com [link to site] seems to have been collecting bizarre nativity sets for a while. Here’s one of the many I like:

I think it’s a gas how the writer of the site points out that the similarity between this Joseph

big boy?

and you know who:

big boy

Finally I do recommend the NYT annual year in ideas. Always fun to pick up on things you missed. Here’s a link to the G page from which you should be able to move around through the whole article. [link to NYT article]

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