"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Thoughts with the passing of Christmas, 2016

Christmas has come and gone for 2016. The pace of life slowed more than it normally does. Christmas Eve Day was on Saturday and Christmas was on Sunday. A holiday that falls on Sunday doesn't really count because it's a day we'd get off anyway. Therefore, Monday takes over as the day off.
This logic applied to Christmas Eve Day as well, Saturday, which is normally a slow day for people. So that day didn't really count as a holiday either, causing the slowdown to spill back to Friday.
I tried visiting my tax preparation office at about 3:30 p.m. Friday, tugged on the door and found it was locked. Then I saw the sign informing that they closed at 3 p.m. Their official hours go until 4:30. I had gotten a letter from them just recently that included a reminder of their business hours. But they weren't about to abide by that on Friday, the day before Christmas Eve Day. You see, Christmas Eve Day was Saturday, a day they'd take off anyway.
The effect of having Christmas Eve and Christmas Day over a weekend, was to spread out the "slow" time for the holiday so much more. I wonder how much loss of productivity this caused. I complimented our Morris Public Library director on being open two hours on Saturday, Christmas Eve Day. Kudos to Anne Barber the librarian. But I do miss Melissa Yauk, now a long ways away in Idaho. It doesn't seem right for Melissa to be gone.
By the time we got done with Monday, I had had it with the disrupted routine.
The late Glen Helberg and I once discussed how holidays are hard on unemployed people. Everyone else relishes the "reprieve." For us it's just four more days: Friday through Monday. And I suppose the same scenario will present itself for New Year's weekend. The Eve on Saturday, New Year's Day on Sunday. Again, you can't treat Saturday and Sunday as real holiday days - that would be unfair - so they ''stretch" things to Friday and Monday again. More lost productivity I guess. More depressed times for us non-working people who sort of languish.
Mom and I have no relatives close by anymore. We try to go to church but our church has been in flux for a long time because of instability in the pastor position. We go to First Lutheran. I don't demand or expect some sort of award-winning pastor. We have had great difficulty even trying to tread water.
There was a time when I was still with the Morris newspaper, when I had Christmas CDs that I played at the shop at night, usually when I was the only one there. I might be there until 3 a.m. on a Tuesday night. Sometimes I'd ride my bike home. I'm sure a memo got shared around the police department about this weirdo at the paper who might be out and about keeping burglar's hours.
I played Christmas-themed CDs at the shop rather late. This might start right after Thanksgiving. It seemed I felt a genuine Christmas spirit right after Thanksgiving, which seemed natural and proper then. Some of these CDs were special compilations by Del Sarlette featuring music with trumpet players of note. I love Jack Sheldon with "A Jazz Musician's Christmas."
I photographed the Parade of Lights through the first few years. There was a time when I composed a "telegram from Santa" that appeared in the Morris paper, complete with the word "stop" for periods. I photographed Santa arriving in Donnelly.
These days I'm surprised by how little motivation I have to trot out the Christmas stuff. I try to resolve to do better the next year but it never seems to happen. I examined my own mindset about this. I was sure I had not developed an inclination to simply be bitter or skeptical about anything. That's not my nature.
But in a way, I have just developed a little bitterness based on what I would cite as outside forces. I have become disappointed in Christianity. The media constantly report about the "evangelicals" as if they define Christianity. I wish they'd give us a meaningful definition. Through the presidential primary campaign, we'd hear the drumbeat of the "evangelicals" who naturally are on the right wing of the political spectrum. Listen to Mike Huckabee and that fits the template.
I attend a church in a synod with the word "evangelical" in it. But the media aren't thinking at all of me when trotting out "evangelicals." They think of Huckabee. Now, why is this?
The people loosely described as "evangelicals" are confrontational. They have a chip on their shoulder regarding various issues. The media absolutely feed off confrontation and controversy. So we hear about the "evangelicals" and all their pitched battles. Makes good news copy.
Meanwhile my Evangelical Lutheran Church of America looks bland and boring. That is because we are gentle and inclusive people. We are temperate. The "evangelicals" with fire in their eyes look at us like we're misguided, like maybe we aren't even Christians. They can't possibly know what's in our minds or soul.
The ELCA approach is like how Christianity was broadly understood in the Norman Rockwell days. Those wonderful middle class Americans, bred by the GI Bill and having learned from true adversity, seemed passive as they headed up the church steps on Sunday. My generation of the boomers decided to mock them to a degree. Some of us mocked the ladies who prepared meals in the typical Lutheran church basement. We decided a lot of those people were hypocrites.
We began hearing about "born again" Christians who professed to be superior. And then along came the Moral Majority which really drew a line in the sand. The more hyper-motivated Christians got the most attention, created the most buzz. And, most significantly, according to many sociologists, the Moral Majority and their ilk slowly started alienating a lot of younger people. Those younger people didn't like the rigid, non-inclusive stance that Christianity began to take on, at least in the popular consciousness.
God would have looked on most disapprovingly. Church numbers have been heading down primarily because of this alienation. I stayed away for about 35 years because I was disappointed in the mainstream Christian denominations sitting on their hands when they could have used their considerable influence to get the boys out of Viet Nam. But I'm going again now in the year 2016, soon to be 2017. I'm a boring ELCA Lutheran.
We have a wonderful ELCA pastor in town in Dell Sanderson. I can't even tell you the name of our own interim pastor. The pastor's position at First Lutheran has been a revolving door.
Allow me to synthesize the main point I'm making in this post: the degree to which the so-called "evangelicals" have come to define Christianity, has slowly gotten me discouraged at Christmas. I figure that if Fox News and Donald Trump are going to be the leaders in saying "merry Christmas," sticking a thumb in the eye of non-Christians, I really don't want anything to do with Christmas and maybe not even with Christianity.
Maybe the tide will turn. Maybe the gentle Norman Rockwell template will return.
 
Addendum: Ever notice that photo of the late Willie Martin with his arms held up in exuberance on the Willie's Parade of Lights float? I took that photo. If I'm fortunate enough to go to heaven, Willie and Del Holdgrafer will be the first two people I look up. Willie was amazing. You might say he was "super astronomical."
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

1 comment:

  1. your interim pastors name is Gene Anderson. I heard him preach on Sun a.m. and met him at the Christmas dinner seems like a nice man.

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