Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Christmas Poem

Jonothan Rogers posted a Chesterton Christmas poem which pointed me to this one that I enjoy slightly better. 

The Wise Men
By GK Chesterton

Step softly, under snow or rain,
To find the place where men can pray;
The way is all so very plain
That we may lose the way.

Oh, we have learnt to peer and pore
On tortured puzzles from our youth,
We know all the labyrinthine lore,
We are the three wise men of yore,
And we know all things but truth.

We have gone round and round the hill
And lost the wood among the trees,
And learnt long names for every ill,
And serve the made gods, naming still
The furies the Eumenides.

The gods of violence took the veil
Of vision and philosophy,
The Serpent that brought all men bale,
He bites his own accursed tail,
And calls himself Eternity.

Go humbly ... it has hailed and snowed...
With voices low and lanterns lit;
So very simple is the road,
That we may stray from it.

The world grows terrible and white,
And blinding white the breaking day;
We walk bewildered in the light,
For something is too large for sight,
And something much too plain to say.

The Child that was ere worlds begun
(... We need but walk a little way,
We need but see a latch undone...)
The Child that played with moon and sun
Is playing with a little hay.

The house from which the heavens are fed,
The old strange house that is our own,
Where trick of words are never said,
And Mercy is as plain as bread,
And Honour is as hard as stone.

Go humbly, humble are the skies,
And low and large and fierce the Star;
So very near the Manger lies
That we may travel far.

Hark! Laughter like a lion wakes
To roar to the resounding plain.
And the whole heaven shouts and shakes,
For God Himself is born again,
And we are little children walking
Through the snow and rain.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas music - humbug

I was enjoying a quick dinner with my wife at Taco Bell reflecting on having just put down a pet and the background music was bordering on making my ears bleed.  It was Christmas music.    The memorable section where the full annoyances settled in had....Joy to the World (some opera-ish lady), Frosty the Snowman, ...and some other standard which is escaping me right now (something about sleigh bells).  I felt like I was being tortured.

I'll try to maintain my focus on annoyance with Christmas music and not just style preferences.

I love Christmas...Jesus, birthday, presents, family friends.   What's not to love?
I love music; I have a sound style I prefer and love, I enjoy others from there, tolerate a pretty wide swath and there are a few extremes I just avoid. 

Somehow Christmas is moving into the "do not enjoy" column.

Right now there are 2 Christmas albums I enjoy - Behold the Lamb of God, and Christmas by Jill Phillips and Andy Gullahorn.

Behold the Lamb of God sets the mark pretty high with a story telling of mostly original songs that each one takes you a step on the Christmas story and the coming of Jesus.

Christmas is just exactly the style I like and they aren't all the same songs I've heard for 34 years.  Plus they're good songs, being a new song or a dug-out old song doesn't mean it was good.

It seems like there's a pattern within Christian music.  After 3-6 reasonably successful albums a performer must put out a Christmas album.  Generally this will have 8-10 standards and possibly 1-3 original songs. 

I like Steven Curtis Chapman and I think somewhere I own his Christmas album.  I can honestly say I have little interest in hearing him sing the standards.  I know the standards, I know he sings well with a good tone.  Yawn.

It could be that in prepping for the church Christmas Program I have heard the same album about 40x and I'm saturated.  I don't want to hear any more Christmas music.  So anything that has the feel of a song I've heard a bunch is feeling like a sliver on the back of the hand when you need 2 hands to take it out. 

Uncomfortable, pesky, and there.  An irritant you can't get rid of.

Here's the formula I have developed (and I'm working on empirically proving):

operatic/crooner + standard = uncontrolled vomiting
operatic/crooner + any song = terrible
bad sound + standard = tolerable for .04 minutes (2.4 seconds)
good sound + standard = tolerable for 4 minutes
bad sound + non-standard song(s) = tolerable for 4 songs
good sound + non-standard song(s) = tolerable for 4 hours

Basically the two I've enjoyed this season I can listen to in the background for a full day at work.  All else is falling off after 4 minutes or 4 songs depending on the radio station.

I may be alone on this and that's okay, it'll all be done in 9 more days.  I can just avoid the radio and have myself a merry little Christmas.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Empty Tool Boxes

We had an adoption training session this past weekend.  Something being "mandatory" to me usually inspires my rebellion nature.  So despite this training being mandated, I quelled my response and was looking forward to expanding my knowledge.  And it certainly did open our eyes.

Unfortunately these trainings often show the dark underbelly of the fallen world.  This was no different. 

Part of the training was an exercise with laminated cards with a behavior printed on it; and then to place the card into an age group where it might be seen.  This was eye opening because all of the behaviours were things that the agency has seen happen and wee not just random ideas.  Also shocking was that all of these behaviors can be at any age.  Many of these were things I was not ready to consider.  Some of the behaviour is out of not attachment to people/things, some were examples of testing disciplining and love limits, some were just examples of not knowing expectations or what is appropriate.

I mostly hung onto that last group of behaviors.  Mostly the kids may be missing a sense of what is appropriate.  They have been forced to grow up too soon (lost innocence) and not allowed to grow up at all (neglected).  A child can be 13 in age, 6 in development of play (never socialized) , and be 25 in responsibility (caring for siblings).

No matter why the kids are in the system they will have had at least one major attachment/bonding point that has been broken.  Child psych "attachment" is a sense of permanent or reliable safety and love.  If you don't have the tool of understanding (and expecting) proper attachment, you will struggle.  For these kids things have little value; if you had any "stuff" it may have been stolen & sold for drugs.  A child may have never had the "stuff" to begin with.  Most of these kids are just a possession and power ploy for the parents anyway.  The kids can develop a sense that all adults are friends and take on adult behaviors (language and activities).  Or a sense that they are objects (things) rather than a real person.  And then emotionally the kids don't understand a parent for security and love, it becomes tough to know you have a safe falling place.  It is a fallen world.  It is wrong  if a 4 y/o has no sense of appropriate and believes that playing with adults requires taking clothes off.  The fact that ~65% of the kids in the system have some sexual abuse is frightening. 

I think one of the major things I picked up is that adoption is starting from scratch and filling the toolbox.  Give them love that isn't conditional.  Give them respect.  Security.  Safety.  With some basic tools they can build identity.  They can construct trust and meaningful relationships.  Life, love & beauty can grow.

I came out of that training greatly feeling the paradox of life.  I don't want to bring this ugliness into my house, near my kids.  AND I can't ignore the ugliness of the fallen world, I can't just leave kids sitting in there.   While ugly and scary, it was also convicting that you gotta do something.