Christmas eve with the Swedenborgians

The Church of the Holy City (Swedenborgian) is the church I attend most Sundays. They will hold Christmas Eve Lessons and Carols at 4:00 pm — this might be the earliest Christmas Eve service in the city! — at the corner of 16th and Corcoran Streets, NW.

If you need an early service intown Washington, this might be the place for you.

IKEA's pluralism and particularity lesson

Hubby and I went to the local IKEA for some meatballs and a little light shopping. Passing though the several sections, we were were greeted with signs wishing us a particular happy holiday, sometimes with a word of explanation of what the holiday was, or how it was celebrated. Every conceivable winter holiday was included, with exacting neutrality, Yule/Jul — perhaps the most Swedish of the offerings — standing in for the winter solstice.

After Hubby learned about Divali, he and I wondered if Christmas would ever roll around. It did, by the discount compact florescent bulbs. (Which we needed.)

But far from making Christmas a bland cultural festival, as usual, the sign described it as “the birth of Jesus Christ” and it was observed with “midnight mass or church services.” I was amazed at the, well, religiousness of the description. (Which was matched with the other religious holidays, like Eid.)

None of the “magic of Christmas is in your heart” (see Polar Express) tripe that we get when Christmas is treated as the default, and therefor civic and semi-secular, December holiday.

The IKEA promotion has it right: let each holiday be, and let it be itself. Let individuals decided which one he or she would identify with.

Pluralism at the cost of integrity and identity is no pluralism at all. Now, can Unitarian Universalists do the same?

Celebrating Buy Nothing Day

I know the culture-jam-istas are sometimes derided for making pointless drama in the face of our American culture of consumption (seen also in Europe, but when it comes to consumption, who can do a better job than Americans?) and today is the main day of observance.

Yes, I’m observing Buy Nothing Day (another site, for the UK); it isn’t hard to do when you have the day off and can clean up your apartment (some to repent to bad purchases and put them on the apartment building’s swap shelf) and plot out some long-overdue theology projects. We have plenty of food in the house; if I’m going to go outside today, it’ll be to get some sun.

But little of this attitude comes from the hip-n-edgy cultural left; it comes from a rather old fashioned frugality, and a resistance to be treated as a revenue stream by those merchants who use contrived family obligations to urge me to spend unwisely.

But if the reportage is accurate, Americans will spend unwisely, and that means using credit. Much has already been written on that on other blogs. But what to do?

If you haven’t already done so, call your family members and call a truce on future spending. Prioritize what experiences you want this Christmas, and if gift-giving and gift-receiving is high on the list, consider your values carefully.

Sure, this may not be news to many of my readers, but perhaps you’ve let your ideals be undercut by familiar and familially-safe practices. But what’s unwise for you and your family financially can still do a lot of damage. Play it safer and opt out of the pre-Christmas binge.

Later. I “celebrated” some more by putting a substantial additional payment on my credit card. The credit card I don’t use for purchases any more.

Memorial Sunday

For “Memorial Sunday” being “Any Sunday in October set apart to commemorate the death, during the previous year, of any member of the Sunday School or family. The room might appropriately be decorated with autumn leaves.” The vertical bars [ | ] are in the original, and are meant for pauses when the prayer is read in unison, “better to ensure reading in concert.”

O Lord, our heavenly Father, who livest and reignest forever, we thanks Thee | for the lives of those whom we have known | upon the earth, but whom we shall no more see | with bodily eyes. We thank Thee | for the pleasure their society has given us and for the hope, sure and steadfast, that Thou still hast them | in Thy holy care and keeping, in a world where there is no death, and where, in Thy good time, we shall meet them, to part no more forever. We thank Thee | that as Jesus, through Thy power, raised again to mortal life | the widow’s son and the ruler’s daughter, so Thou wilt raise to immortal life | all the sons and daughters of men.

And we would ever keep in mind, that Thou are the Home of our souls; that though we sorrow, in Thee are heavenly compassion, and abiding comfort; that all suffering | is to work out Thy glory in our hearts. Help our faith in Thy love. Give us Thy Holy Spirit. May we hold ourselves to be, not beings of this world only, but Thy children; heirs of all blessing and grace. May we now taste of the hopes | and of the joys | of true religion, and, looking forward to the glory yet to come, may we live righteously, soberly, and godly, in this present world, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

  • From “Memorial Sunday” in A Year of Worship for Sunday Schools and Homes by G. L. Demarest. (Universalist Publishing House, 1873), p. 90-91.