We made it!

Before I start with the content of today’s post, just a little AOB missing from yesterday’s offering.

One of the key take home messages from my viewing of The Force Awakens was the need to visit Skellig Michael: it seems to have very well maintained stairs and would, I suspect,be quite a bracing location.  I’ll have to see if I can tag it onto a work trip across the Irish Sea come the spring.

Continuing with my engagement with popular culture, I must admit that I’ve never watched Gogglebox.  Normally, I love recursion but this seems a little to meta even for me: though I have seen the play-within-a-play trope several times, so perhaps I’m just being a snob.  However, yesterday afternoon I did catch Francesca Stavrakopoulou live tweeting Raiders of the Lost Ark: which was very amusing.  She is professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion (so rather eclipses my own O Level in RS) and has some forthright views on the movie.  As I write this, she is giving the Temple of Doom the same treatment.  I think there could (and should) be a TV series where domain experts make fun of classic movies that intrude on their areas of expertise.  A Gogglebox for the Only Connect viewer, if you like.  And now, we can return you to your normal programme – though I’m afraid theology will raise its head once again…

Today is the winter solstice and so we have survived through to the shortest day (well, unless you are reading this from beyond the veil).  I have (somehow) resisted the urge to visit Stonehenge, despite its proximity. From tomorrow, we (in the currently fashionable northern hemisphere) should start to notice a real stretch in the evenings: according to the Met Office (and they are rarely wrong) we denizens of Southampton should have a whole additional minute of afternoon daylight in which to revel come the morrow.

With the exception of changing day-length, it is otherwise quite difficult to believe that we are well into the second half of December.  We rather seem to have given up the outmoded concept of seasons and replaced it with a constant, rather windy (if mild) monsoon.  I am forced to assume either that some very large, if unreported, fold mountains have developed nearby or that the weather is properly jiggered.  As a result, I have had to work rather harder than usual to engender some minor hints of Christmas spirit in my resolutely curmudgeonly frame.

At the weekend, I wandered over to Lewes to enjoy the Esterhazy Chamber Choir’s Christmas concert.  This was most enjoyable, but some of the more modern carols did wander into unexpected doctrinal areas.  I am familiar with the idea of Christ as the Lamb of God, presumably linked to his gambolling round the Holy Land a few years back.  However, on Saturday I discovered that he is also an apple tree (just plain weird, and no hint as to the variety: do we think of Jesus as an eater or a cooker?) and as linked to ‘springing’.  I do wonder if the idea of his ‘springing’ might help to explain the Easter Bunny – he did, after all, emerge from some sort of underground ‘burrow’ after three days.  Sadly, the carol itself did little to clarify the potential connection and made no mention of the ickle baby Jesus laying chocolate eggs: though that would certainly count as a miracle (on several counts) and perhaps even a mark of divinity.  Returning to the idea of Jesus springing, I am now wondering if he is some sort of messianic Zebedee?  Will the final trump by a loud ‘boing’ followed by our Redeemer telling all that it’s time for bed?

Anyway, that’s probably enough heresy for one post – though not my heresy, I acquired this unorthodoxy in a proper church.  I have also watched the Shaun the Sheep Christmas episode and completed my annual viewings of The Muppet Christmas Carol and Arthur Christmas.  I am as ready for winterval as I’m ever going to be (though I may yet squeeze in a listen to Tom Lehrer’s Hanukkah in Santa Monica to provide a little religious diversity).  Let’s hope I haven’t peaked too soon!

Actually, if I’m honest, the primary reason for this post is as a displacement activity to put off the fateful hour when I must start wrapping seasonal gifts.  I like to do my wrapping on the 22nd, because then the presents are interred for three days in their papery tombs before rising to general jubilation.  I like to feel that I am, in my modest way, prefiguring the Passion even as I celebrate the Pagan turning of the year (and, of course, a deity being born in a branch of Prêt-a-Manger: luckily, hygiene standards have improved since the first century and livestock is no loner welcome in sandwich emporia).

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