From eucharistic hymn to Christmas carol

“Let all mortal flesh keep silence” is a hymn about Holy Communion.  But now it keeps showing up as a Christmas carol!  That’s how it’s presented in Christmas concerts, holiday recordings, and on many of the renditions on Youtube.  But it is “an ancient chant of Eucharistic devotion.”

I can see how it would shift over to the Christmas canon.  It has a beautiful, otherworldly melody of the same sort associated with Christmas music.  It talks about how “Christ our God to earth descendeth” and that He was “born of Mary.”  But the point is that “He will give to all the faithful/His own self for heavenly food,” “in the body and the blood.”

But this is quite fitting to associate Holy Communion with Christmas and vice versa.  What other Communion hymns could work as Christmas hymns?  What other Christmas songs could work as Communion songs?

[Read more…]

The language of totalitarianism

The “Dear Leader” of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, has executed his uncle, who had served as his advisor and mentor.   Max Fisher writes about the language the still-Communist North Koreans used to make this announcement and the worldview it reveals.  [Read more…]

Harold Camping dies

Radio evangelist Harold Camping has died at the age of 92.  Best known for predicting that on May 21, 2011, Jesus would come back, Camping’s most harmful teaching was that all church bodies were heretical and that people should just listen to his radio broadcasts instead of going to church.

Longtime readers of this blog might recall some good discussions we had about Mr. Camping’s predictions and his theology, including with one of his followers.  (See, for example,  here, here and here.)

[Read more…]

And now polygamy

A federal judge has ruled that Utah laws against polygamy are unconstitutional. [Read more…]

He will come like crying in the night

You will note that I have mostly resisted the temptation to conflate Advent with the Christmas season, but I will start with the Christmas posts now that we are in the week before the Nativity of Our Lord.  But to salute Advent, I offer you, after the jump, a fine poem on the subject by Rowan Williams, the previous Archbishop of Canterbury.

[Read more…]

Spycraft and Christmas presents

Target has hired former CIA operative Jonna Mendez as an online “Kid’s Gift Detective” to help parents shop for their children and hide the presents. She was the “chief of disguise” with the agency, working in the Office of Technical Service, which she describes as having something like the function of Q in the James Bond movies.  Her husband, Antonio, was the CIA agent in Iran played by Ben Affleck in the movie Argo.

I was not aware that children are particularly secretive when it comes to what they want for Christmas, to the point that parents need cloak and dagger tradecraft to get them to reveal that information.  I guess the common element in being a spy and shopping for Christmas presents is a lot of sneaking around.  See some of the tactics she recommends after the jump. [Read more…]