It’s Advent, drawing nigh to Christmas, so religion writers turn in desperation for new angles, giving this fan of the old angles an occasional case of the heebie-jeebies.
For instance, there’s something weird and a little creepy about Evangelicals trying to turn the Theotokos into some kind of Che Guevara figure when they stumble onto the continuation of the Magnificat after the first lines they’ve known. Here and here are examples. I first encountered both within the last 24 hours.
Fifty years ago, that sort of thing was scorned by Evangelicals as Liberation Theology, so I guess Evangelicals are on roughly their usual time-lag for adopting fads, turning Mary into a revolutionary “vehicle for Jesus,” on a long Uber drive from Heaven to Bethlehem, with some zesty direct action planned (politics is what it’s all about, right?) after she drops off her fare.
Bah! Humbug! Have these people no capacity for mystery?
When Eve, in love with her own will,
Denied the will of Love and fell,
She turned the flesh Love knew so well
To knowledge of her love until
Both love and knowledge were of sin.
What her negation wounded, may
Your affirmation heal today;
Love’s will requires your own, that in
The flesh whose love you do not know,
Loves knowledge into flesh may grow.
My flesh in terror and fire
Rejoices that the Word
Who unites the world out of nothing,
As a pledge of His word to love her
Against her will, and to turn
Her desperate longing to love,
Should ask to wear me,
From now until their wedding day,
For an engagement ring.
Since Adam, being free to choose,
Chose to imagine he was free
To choose his own necessity,
Lost in his freedom, Man pursues
The shadow of his images:
To-day the Unknown seeks the known;
What I am willed to ask, your own
Will has to answer; child, it lies
Within your power of choosing to
Conceive the Child who chooses you.
W.H. Auden, For the Time Being.
Now that is truly radical.
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While we’re on a Christmas theme, let me praise this little benediction snippet, attributed to the Church of Ireland and set to glorious, sappy music by Philip W.J. Stopford:
May Christ, who by His incarnation gathered into one all things earthly, all things heavenly, … fill you with joy and peace.
We Tenors get to sing that, and it usually kind of chokes me up.
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