Tuesday, December 4, 2012

[unrelenting War on Advent] playlist

At the gym this morning, a trainer and her client were like, "Yay, Christmas music!" and my first response was "Unrelenting War on Advent!" and then I realized the song playing on the radio was "Let It Snow," which isn't actually a Christmas song. (In contrast, at Trader Joe's on Sunday I heard "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and cringed for multiple reasons.)

The trainer said that one year it was like the last day before Break and barely anyone was in and she had Christmas music on and someone asked her to turn it off and she did but she thought, "Grinch." I did not say, "Unrelenting War on Advent!"

She talked about some class she does where she plays holiday music and she really does try to be inclusive -- e.g., including the Chanukah song. (On reflection, I assume she means the Adam Sandler song -- which is trufax an amusing song, though, hi, I bet Jews have lots of songs they sing at Chanukah, because they're Jews and thus have lots of songs for every occasion.)

Somewhere in here the client commented that there aren't really a lot of "Advent-y" songs, and in my head I was like: THANK YOU for acknowledging that the season of Advent even exists! -- Advent songs aren't peppy upbeat radio songs (like "Let It Snow") because they're about expectant waiting, and also they're explicitly religious so they're not radio songs and ugh, we mostly don't play explicitly religious songs on the radio period for obvious reasons (though, okay, I have a Josh Groban album (no, I don't remember why -- possibly a gift from Singspiration) which has actualfax Jesus songs on it, so probably so does every other album, of which there are many since apparently everyone needs to make a Christmas/holiday album [Edit: And on that subject, on Thursday night, someone I know from high school posted to fb: "How was I completely unaware that Sufjan Stevens released another amazing 58 song, 5 album Christmas extravaganza? So ridiculously excited right now! http://www.npr.org/2012/11/19/165470944/first-listen-sufjan-stevens-silver-gold " /edit ] -- because people need 87 different renditions of the same few dozen songs for their parties? idek.), so when we talk about "Christmas music" we probably mostly mean either generic winter stuff (which varies in quality, and obviously elides the entire Southern Hemisphere) or songs about "Santa" -- which I want to burn in a fire because, ugh, lying to your children.

I am not trying to take away anyone's holiday joy* but seriously, if you want joyful music in the darkness, go for it. If you want it to explicitly reference the cold/snow/dark of the season, go for it. Please don't subject me to crappy music, and please respect my desire to observe my personal spiritual/religious practice of expectant waiting during the ~4 weeks of Advent and then celebration during the 12 Days of Christmas (see also: Lent and Eastertide); see also: my desire to not have "Christmas" cantatas or carol sings during Advent.

[Later today, someone on facebook linked to: The Daily Show with John Stewart: "The War on Christmas: Friendly Fire Edition" (it gets good about 4 minutes in -- "Christmas is so big now it's eating other holidays").]

* posts I have read recently include:

When I was thinking about secular radio not playing Advent songs I remembered that on Sunday, @OccupyAdvent shared their #adventplaylist:

and then today they Tweeted the YouTube playlist link.

I am debating including Ani DiFranco, "The Waiting Song" (or "Second Intermission" -- yes, I ran a lyrics search for "wait").

Edit: @OccupyAdvent added:

And friends of mine suggested:
  • Joni Mitchell, "River" (Coming on Christmas, waiting)
  • Avril Lavigne, "I'm with You" (I tend think of Avril Lavigne's "I'm with You" as describing my relationship with God in general, but it strikes me as pretty darn Advent-y)
Plus, obvs., given my joy sadhana this season: Bob Franke, "Say Yes"

And after Wednesday's concert, possibly: Jenna Lindbo, "Angels on the Subway"

Sunday, December 2, 2012

[Advent 1: Hope]

Last night I read the d'var Torah that Velveteen Rabbi offered that morning at her shul on this week's parsha, "Vayishlach."

She talks about Jacob wrestling with the angel and says:

Having received a new name, Jacob bestows a new name: he names that place, that bend in the river, Peni'el, literally "the face of God," saying, "For I have seen God face-to-face, yet my life has been spared."
(which is really interesting in and of itself, given the multi-vocality of Scripture on seeing the face of God -- e.g., God to Moses in Exodus 33:20 "you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.") and then talks about Jacob's encounter with Esau, where he says:
No, please, if I have truly found favor in your sight, take the offering from my hand; for to see your face is like seeing the face of God.
She closes with the bit from the Talmud about each individual human being being created in the image of God but each of us are unique -- unlike identical imperial coins each stamped with the mark of the secular leader.

This all seemed quite a lovely connection to Molly's "Light Gets In" Advent theme. But then she closes the post with her 70 Faces Torah poem on this parsha, which ends with such a downer:

For one impossible moment Jacob reached out.
To see your face, he said, is like seeing
the face of God: brother, it is so good!

But when Esau replied, let us journey together
from this day forward as we have never done
and I will proceed at your pace, Jacob demurred.

The children are frail, and the flocks:
you go on ahead, he said, and I will follow
but he did not follow.

Once Esau headed out toward Seir
Jacob went the other way, to Shechem, where
his sons would slaughter an entire village.

And again the possibility
of inhabiting a different kind of story
vanished into the unforgiving air.

The theme for this year’s Advent is Light Gets In. No matter what walls we throw up, what boxes we climb in or that circumstances put us in—Light gets in. Light will have its way.

This Sunday in worship, I’ll be preaching on the walls humans throw up that block out Christ’s light. We’ll begin building an actual wall in the sanctuary, that will grow each week up until Christmas Eve, when the Light will get in. Will you bring cardboard boxes to church anytime you show up, and leave them on the chancel, and help us duct-tape them together to build our Babel-wall up toward heaven and obscure the cross?

-Molly in This Week at First Church

To my mind, Advent is about the light slowly breaking in (we light first one candle and then a second, and so on), so I don't love this theme.


Pre-service lectio divina happened in the Parlor, and as a result we could hear the pre-service choir rehearsal. I heard "Emmanuel, Expected Jesus," and fell into Advent.


We did Luke 1:5-25, and I was struck by Gabriel's statement, "I stand in the presence of God."


Before service, I picked up a hardcopy of Molly's Advent calendar.

December 2
First Sunday in Advent: Put on your sparkle cream. Glow.
Unison Prayer of Confession


We offer you our repentance.
We replace holy days with holidays.
We hurry past opportunities to give the gifts of kindness and honesty.
We do not listen to angels in our dreams, forgive those dearest to us,
Or welcome into hearts and homes, the poor and the stranger.
If all sin is separation, forgive us for all the walls we throw up, and let your Light in.

-Maren Tirabassi, adapted


Jamie facilitated an Advent Devotional Workshop, which I attended.

I was starting to investigate the art supplies when the horde of kids who had been playing war or something all came in and decided to do art (well, Simon was like, "Guys, can't we go back to what we were doing before?" and got ignored by all the kids wrapped up in doing art, so he compromised by making pictures of e.g. ninjas) so I stepped back from the chaos and worked on poetry.

Sue D., to her husband, later: "I was looking for the kids, and I found a craft fair, so I sat down."

I think I definitely want to go back to Art Night.


I really liked the Call to Worship we used at CWM tonight:

[One] How shall we prepare God's house for the coming of the Promised One?
[Many] With fragrant branches of cedar, the tree of excellence and strength.
[One] How shall we prepare God's house for the Christ child?
[Many] With a stable and a manger where in the weeks to come, the mystery of the Advent story will be revealed and where the entire creation will welcome the Promised One.
[One] How shall we prepare God's house for Emmanuel, God with us?
[Many] With garlands of pine and fir, whose leaves are ever living, ever green -- symbols of our faith in the living God.
[One] How shall we prepare God's house for the prophet of Galilee?
[Many] With sprigs of holly and ivy, telling of Jesus' faithfulness, even unto death and resurrection.
[One] How shall we prepare our hearts for this revelation of God?
[Many] By hearing again the words of the prophets, the stories of the ancestors of Jesus, and the promises of God.
[One] For in the story of Jesus we see revealed the transforming power of God, and we are reminded anew of God's vision of wholeness, justice, and peace for all creation.
[Many] Thanks be to God!

Marla preached on Isaiah 11:1-9 and 1 Samuel 16:1-13. I was mostly meh, but she closed with talking about the fact that we ignore the parts of the Biblical stories that don't seem "proper" or "dignified" and inviting us to think about, if Jesus were to come as a baby a second time, what unexpected places that baby might show up in -- and her shocker suggestion was: born to a Wall Street executive (I thought of the Buddha).