Friday, January 1, 2010

Catholic Christmas 2009: Christmas carols are yuck

All through Advent I was wondering why we weren't singing Christmas carols at mass. Turns out Christmas carols, kind of like GW Bush and mainstream conservatism, don't quite cut the Catholic mustard. They're just not special enough. Nevermind that their lyrics are theologically appropriate and consist of melodies that have stood the test of time -- the fact that these carols are played at hall in the dens of iniquity known as shopping malls makes them inappropriate for mass. So no, your kids won't learn these carols by singing them in church. Instead, said carols will be familiar only as tinny piped-in music at your local Target (should you be confused enough about the true "reason for the season" as to take your children to a big box store).

OK, so Advent is off limits .... I thought maybe when Christmas finally arrived we'd get to sing "O Come All Ye Faithful". But no -- my local Christmas mass (the "children's mass") was turned into a Suzuki violin recital. Four children violinists played all through a very lengthy Christmas communion with no congregational singing. And throughout the rest of mass the only kids allowed to sing were the ones who joined the "children's choir". Everyone else had to sit silently because they didn't pay obeisance to the music director gods by hauling their overscheduled kids to "choir practice" or violin lessons at the local Suzuki mill.

As a violin teacher myself, I was left to wonder a) why the particular violin students didn't sound, um, better, b) why the leader of the student violinists thought music from Suzuki Book One had anything to do with Christmas, and c) who decided that Christmas mass is a great opportunity for a violin recital. But the church and our musical/spiritual betters are always a step ahead. Glad someone is thinking about this stuff.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


You have to read the British press to get anything resembling common sense about Obama. In this scathing take-down, Toby Harndon gives the big guy a failing grade in counter-terrorism.

In his studied desire to be the unBush by responding coolly to events like this, Obama is dangerously close to failing as a leader. Yes, it is good not to shoot from the hip and make broad assertions without the facts. But Obama took three days before speaking to the American people, emerging on Monday in between golf and tennis games in Hawaii to deliver a rather tepid address that significantly underplayed what happened. He described Abdulmutallab as an “isolated extremist” who “allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device on his body” – phrases that indicate a legalistic, downplaying approach that alarms rather than reassures. Today’s words showed a lot more fire and desire to get on top of things – we’ll see whether Obama follows through with action. In the meantime, he went snorkelling.

Can you imagine the rage which would have been directed at Bush if he was goofing around while everyone was reeling from this wiener bomber's failed terrorism attempt, which wasn't stopped by the "system", but by passengers plus a bad case of projectile dysfunction?

I'm especially disappointed with Jan Nepalitano. I figured any chick that butch would be a little tougher at getting these guys, especially dudes obsessed with their phalli. It just goes to show you the danger of gay stereotypes.