Our church today celebrated the second Sunday of Advent 2019 in a traditional way, lighting the Candle of Peace. Though there are different practices and traditions attached to celebrating Advent, this observation draws us to reflect on what’s truly important about Christmas (the birth of Christ).
Angels were the first heralds to announce “Peace on Earth, Good will to Men.” (Luke 2:14) But peace often seems out of our grasp. I’m reminded of Longfellow’s 1863 poem “Christmas Bells.” Each stanza echoes the words peace on earth, good will to men while the sixth stanza derisively proclaims “there is no peace on earth.“
As in Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem, our “stockings were hung by the chimney with care” … save one minor detail – we don’t actually have a chimney, just a mantelpiece (where a gas insert is supposed to go). Twenty stockings in all were hung, one for each of our grown offspring, as well as the in-laws and grands, with an extra stocking included for my Beloved’s brother who lives nearby.
Given the number of people coming together, our Christmas gatherings usually have a boisterous and sometimes chaotic quality. Children are everywhere, running inside and out, upstairs and down, constantly asking when we eat next, or more importantly, is it time to open presents yet!
The pandemonium was short-lived this year. Because Christmas fell on a Monday, out-of-town family members were quick to depart. A ski slope beckoned. Others had work responsibilities. The adults didn’t even have time for a customary late-night poker match.
Once the house fell silent, I remembered a blog post I’d read before Christmas: Why Christmas Never Lives Up to the Buildup. Posted by Tony Reinke, a senior writer at DesiringGod.org, the post mainly addresses Christians living in what Reinke calls “the space between.” (With both Christmas and my birthday coming on the same day, I experience this “buildup” as a kind of double whammy.)
For people who are into fine dining, there’s big news in our locale. The news revolves around the Texas chain of hamburger joints, Whataburger, now introducing their brand to northwest Arkansas. (Yes, the fine dining reference is written with tongue-in-cheek.) I think I’ve eaten at a Whataburger maybe twice in my life.
All the buzz about this new chain coming to town reminded me of other local burger places I’ve enjoyed. Though fast food is mostly off my list nowadays, I’ve relented from time to time when I’m entertaining my grandson (actually, when he’s entertaining me). He likes kids’ meals … cheeseburger (no pickles), fries and a toy. Recently, his parents have stressed healthier choices, so Sonic and McDonalds are slightly verboten. Continue reading “Ten, Two and Four”→
So it begins. The successful demonizing of one object (the Confederate flag) is rapidly opening the door for additional suggestions of items that “deserve” similar removal from our sight and consciousness. A film critic at the New York Post has written a column suggesting “‘Gone With the Wind’ should go the way of the Confederate flag.“No doubt, images from the iconic movie (like the one above) are what motivates such thinking. This film critic, Lou Lumenick, asserts Gone With the Wind (GWTW) is “insidious” and goes “to great lengths to enshrine the myth that the Civil War wasn’t fought over slavery – an institution the film unabashedly romanticizes.” He characterizes author Margaret Mitchell as a “die-hard Southerner” and pooh-poohs Mitchell’s natural affinity and loyalty to the region where she was born. He calls the film an “undeniably racist artifact.” Really? Continue reading “Banners Gonna Ban”→
One of the singers from the 60s was a guy named James Darren. I first remember him from his role as a teen idol on The Donna Reed Show. He was more than a musician though as he enjoyed a varied career on television and in films. His biggest hit on the pop charts was a 1961 song called Goodbye Cruel World.
When our older son purchased his first vehicle, he was about sixteen years old. He wanted a pickup truck and found a 1984 Dodge that appeared to be a dependable vehicle. After he purchased it, he began making modifications. I recall he put lifts on it and he painted it a dull camouflage green. (There were other things as well that I’ve likely forgotten.) He loved that vehicle. The picture below isn’t his truck, but a similar version.We were glad he enjoyed spending time fixing up his truck and making it an expression of his personality. However, we put our foot down when it came to one specific attachment he’d planned – he wanted to hang a Confederate battle flag in the rear window. We told him we thought that was an especially bad idea. Continue reading “Purging History”→
Earlier this month, I posted a video of the most honest “commencement” speech young graduates of today should be required to hear. Almost every day this week, I’ve talked with at least one person (most of whom were educators) who expressed his or her deep concern about the current state of education and learning in our country.In my state, there’s been an ongoing discussion about Common Core and the state Board of Education has been re-evaluating. Earlier this week, it appeared they’d be adopting another curriculum. However, decision-makers have ruled against the recommendations of a review committee and the process is dividing educators and reviewers. Continue reading “Where Is Excellence?”→
Yesterday in this space, I saluted my brother and sister-in-law on the occasion of their 48th anniversary. They enjoyed an anniversary getaway in a town near us and because they were nearby, that allowed us to meet for lunch. Since they are both talented artists, we settled on the perfect meeting place, the spectacular Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
When I say this is the perfect lunch outing, I’m not kidding. Lunch at the museum was delightful and a splendid first course (if you will) before the entrée – feasting on world-class artwork in gallery after gallery. There’s never enough time to relish it all, but the atmosphere (and menu, if I may continue with the food metaphor) invites one back for follow-up visits. Continue reading “Poetic Artistry”→
The total number of poetic forms probably exceeds anyone’s ability to compile a complete list. Some of the forms are obscure while others are well known and are represented by numerous familiar examples.
When I first got serious about writing poetry half a lifetime ago, almost every time I ran across a new form, I challenged myself to write at least one poem with that form. I thought it would be a helpful exercise in learning the specific form as well as a means of exercising my poetic muscles through new challenges … though the sonnet will probably always be my favorite poetic form. Continue reading “Wrestling With The Devine”→
Back in the days when I was in eighth or ninth grade, my girlfriend and I decided we’d work out together. (In those days, we called it exercise.) It was summertime, we planned to sunbathe in our two-piece swimsuits, and a sudden interest in boys dictated we look our best.We were fourteen or fifteen, easily impressed by the silly advertisements in newspapers. No doubt, we were conscious of ads like the one above. How Do You Look In Your Bathing Suit? We wanted to look good.
So we did what people usually do … we took our measurements, height and weight, and recorded them on a chart. The chart was tacked to a wall in my friend’s basement where we exercised. Everyday, we recorded how many sit-ups and jumping jacks and other calisthenics we did as well as noting changes in our weight. We were consistent with the routine for several weeks. Continue reading “Refuse To Be A Victim”→