Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why I Like Christmas Music

There is probably some version of "Why I Hate Christmas Music" back in my blog around this time last year. I have been saying that for a long time. I particularly hate listening to it during Advent, I've been prone to say. We never get to celebrate the Christmas season because they play all the music early and then stop playing it on December 26, which makes no sense.

But this year, something clicked for me differently. Perhaps it was the absolute absurdity of Bob Dylan's Christmas CD. (No, I'm not making that up. Go to Amazon if you don't believe me!) Yes, it's as bad as you could imagine it to be. Some genres--and I think Dylan is actually his own genre--were never meant to cross. Especially the current Dylan, whose voice is now so hoarse that it is almost unbearable even singing his own stuff. Just try to imagine the Little Drummer boy in your head.

Anyway, I digress. I think I finally get why people need Christmas music this early, and not just because the stores want you to buy stuff. I was in the dentist's chair right after Thanksgiving and noticed they were piping Christmas music in. I made a comment to the Hygenist about how awful it must be to know you would have to listen to this for a sold month. Her response? "Oh no, I love it. I could listen to it all year long."

She went on to talk about how excited she gets about Christmas, how much she loves shopping for family and friends, decorating the tree, etc. There are a whole lot of endorphines being cranked out by this season.

That's when it hit me. People need Christmas music early to help them get into the season. All of us bitching about playing Christmas music during Advent need to realize, that this is, in fact, a form of preparation too. Would you expect the choir to go out and sing the Christmas oratorio without rehearsing? This is just another form of rehearsing for the real thing.

That can be applied to all the shopping too, when you think about it. Personally, I want more time in Advent for stillness and calm, reflection and mindfulness. But I'm not everyone. Not everyone prepares the same way I do. We ease into the Christmas season, just as Lent carries us into Easter.

Now, I would happily have the Christmas music interspersed with regular music, increasingly taking over as we get closer to Christmas Day. Fortunately, thanks to the magic of certain unnamed electronics (you know, the fruit people), I can get my wish with just a couple of minutes work each day. And I can happily dispense with the barking dogs, chipmunks, reindeer assaulted grandmas, and I'm-sorry-I-won't-be-with-you songs, by playing what I own instead of turning on a radio, at least as long as I am not out there shopping. Which I almost never do this time of year. The Internet is so much more sane, frankly.

So, this year, I vow not to say the same old tired lines about music being played too early. It's not a case of giving in, but of learning that I can control my environment a lot more if I put my mind to it. Besides, we have war, economic collapse, hatred and other real things to worry about. To put even a small amount of energy into this is rather stupid, don't you think?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tell the Archbishop of Canterbury What You Think!

Well, good luck with that. If you go to his web page, it is not just that you cannot email ++Rowan. No one on his staff has a public email either.

I suppose I understand that. If those email addresses were public, they would need a whole staff to weed through them. Still, I notice that the White House page has a public response page that invites you to offer comments to the President, staff members, or the White House in general. Yes, I know he won't be reading them, but at least they are inviting you to share your thoughts. And you can bet someone is at least taking note of the subject matter.

Canterbury's public site goes out of the way to tell you that ++Rowan won't be reading the comments and that no one will be responding to them. If you want any hope of response, you have to use snail mail. No wonder the Church of England is dying. Obviously, they don't want to actually hear what the public thinks about anything.

But so what. I still bet that if that website starts getting flooded with emails about ++Rowan's failure to condemn Ugandan legislation authorizing the death penalty for gays or to repudiate publicly the Rt. Rev. Joseph Abura for supporting that legislation, eventually he will at least fell pushed to give a response.

So, if you want to register your complaint, I am officially starting a movement, "Say No to Ugandan Death Penalty for Gays". Yes, you can include your feelings about his public comments over Mary Glasspool's election, but the simplest message is to hit him for the moral failure to stand up for people whose lives are being threatened. He's had weeks to say something about Uganda and has failed to do so.

On this website, you will find the box where you can leave a comment:

If you want to write a snail mail letter or phone, here is the information:
Lambeth Palace

Tel: 020 7898 1200 (switchboard)
Fax: 020 7401 9886

Tell your friends. You do not have to be an Anglican to express your displeasure.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Here We Go Again

Well, the Anglicans among you already know what happened on Saturday. Or, if you just read a Newspaper. Or Twitter. Or breathe. The Diocese of Los Angeles has elected The Rev. Mary Douglas Glasspool to be its suffragen bishop. Mary is a partnered lesbian, in case you missed it.

I've only met her once and don't really have a position. Personally, I think they should have elected my friend Zelda Kennedy (she ran a distant third), but what do I know? I can say Mary ran ahead of her opponent, a Latino male, but it was a horse race. From what I can tell, Mary also speaks Spanish, though, as her name suggests, she is not herself a Latina.

I should also add that the diocese actually elected two people to fill two Episcopal positions. The Rev. Diane Jardine Bruce was elected bishop on Friday (She speaks Spanish and Cantonese). So if things go as planned, the diocese will have two female bishops. And just in case the language confuses you, a suffragen bishop is an assistant bishop who does not automatically become the diocesan (head) bishop of the diocese in the event of the death, resignation, or retirement of the current diocesan bishop. Last, you need to know that this election is only part of the process. Mother Glasspool must now be approved by a majority of the sitting diocesan bishops and of the Standing Committees of the 110 dioceses of the Episcopal Church. That will take a few months, and in this case, several will say no on the path to making that happen. She most likely will be approved, but it will take more time than is typical.

Whew! That's just the preliminaries. Officially, the Episcopal Church is under a moratorium from any more gay or lesbian bishop ordinations. However, at last summer's General Convention, we also said that we would not stop the ordination of someone who was duly elected through our exhaustive (my word) process, regardless of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, etc.

Well, ++Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was not pleased, and it did not take long for him to say so. "The election of Mary Glasspool by the Diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan bishop-elect raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole.... The bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold."

It would be easy to take him seriously if not for one little thing. As fast as he was able to get this to the press, that's how slow he has been in responding to the Rt. Rev. Joseph Abura of Karamoja Diocese, Province of the Anglican Church of Uganda, who wrote an op ed piece for Spero News to show his support for a new bill in Uganda to allow the death penalty for homosexuality.

Let me say that again, just in case you missed it: ++Rowan Williams has said not a word about a bishop advocating death for gay people, but has the time to comment on an election that he admits is not even finished. Is there something wrong here?

You bet there is. And right now, Anglicans all over the world are starting to say to hell with you ++. Throw us out. See if we care. But that's the only way you're getting rid of us, because you are in serious need of reform and repentance, not us. You've missed the big picture here.

Yes, this is something new. But so was worshiping in English. And abolishing slavery. And allowing remarriage. And ordaining women (Britain was slow to move on that one too). And maybe, just maybe, if you'd get quiet when we talk for a change, you could hear the Holy Spirit blowing through, upsetting a few money tables, and creating something new.

But, in the meantime, don't go looking for our money. Or Canada's. We'll just find local partners who have some sanity in their thinking to work through. We're not going away buddy, but we'll be damned if we're going to sit around and support such hypocrisy through non-action. Are we all of one mind on this? Of course not. But, as an African American, I am glad we did not wait until we were of one mind on that slavery issue.

And those ACNA people? They'll be gone soon too. There really are not that many of them, and one of you bishops who have accepted them will soon find out you do not have the stamina to keep supporting this group of dissidents. After all, if they cannot find a suitable home in the Episcopal Church--about the biggest tent out there--what makes you think they will be happy when you decide to issue an order or two and expect them to obey it?

The bottom line is this ++Rowan: if you have nothing to say to Joseph Abura, then you have nothing to say to us either. Go away and pray for awhile. Then try to come back and actually be a leader instead of a piss poor reactionary. For now, though, we don't trust you.