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December 25, 2010

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Thank you for this exquisite Christmas present. xoxoxo

Halleluia. :-) Merry Christmas, Jill.

I took my kids to a Christmas service last night -- Episcopalian, and chosen at random -- and I heard myself saying to my husband, in surprise, "You know what? I don't think I'm a Christian." His reply: "Well, duh!" But... ?

I was raised by one Catholic and one Lutheran parent. My Catholic dad rejected the church. My mom associated churchgoing with family (her grandfather'd been a minister in San Francisco). I grew up "Christian" the way the United States is a Christian country -- that is to say, it's my heritage but not my doctrine, and my own beliefs are a rather pathetically northern californian cocktail of swedenborg and sufism and kabbalah and tantra. Organized religion doesn't mean much to me. But mysticism does.

And as I sat through the service last night -- neither the best nor the worst I've experienced -- I contemplated what it was that got on my nerves about the homily. And I can report to you that for better or worse it was the Baby Jesus Factor that made me uncomfortable. The insistence on the worship of Jesus as a character, as a person, as a direct, human, continuing influence who intercedes for us, bugs me, even as I get it as a metaphor. As I understand the story, part of what got Jesus in big trouble with the establishment was that he broadcast the notion that people didn't NEED an intercessor, that they had, de facto, an intimate one on one relationship with the divine. Up until his appearance no one in the jewish faith would have dared to suggest that they could engage in direct conversation with god. It strikes me that faiths that make jesus a gatekeeper between the human and divine are reinstating the very structure he tried to dismantle. Though I understand that is far from the only interpretation, it always irks me.

So I'm enraptured to hear your take on it, as good and as sound an extrapolation as I've heard any time recently. You did something for me just there that the minister at Saint Paul's didn't have the chops to do. Your homily is the real deal.

May your days be merry and bright.

Hmm. I dunno how to take that, J.

Jill, I think there are people who fall in love not only with your poems but with the covers of your books.

Yeah prolly... :)

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Radio

I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark
                   

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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This Way Out

THE RULE OF THUMB
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Ringfinger was nervous
Pinky terrified
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.

 

 


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