onsdag, december 13, 2006

Hamlet, By Any Other Name

I am stuffing the kids on the train from Malmö over to Copenhagen and up to Helsignor, where we will visit a castle with more names than Elizabeth fill in the blank Taylor. We call it Kronborg Slot, Shakespeare called it Elsinore. Hamlet called it Destiny. To encourage the kids to fall asleep faster, I told them it was haunted.

In searching for any haunted references on the internet, I came across a site that claimed San Diego as the most haunted place on Earth. Wikipedia has it fairly far down the list, except one entry gives it some credence. "The Whaley House in the "Old Town" section of San Diego, California, is a reportedly haunted house. The house was one of the region's first court houses as well as hanging grounds before being converted to a residence. The Whaley House is one of only a handful of homes recognized by the federal government as being undoubtedly haunted

The Whaley House does not consider itself officially haunted. Not sure why Wikipedia would allow that stuff to come in.

Sankta Lucia

It is a dangerous holiday. Saint Lucia honors light, and is therefore secularly envoked by Scandinavians during the darkest month of the year to work a break. The eldest daughter of every family enters a room with candles encircling her crown, bringing light, a bit of fire risk, and a tray of gingerbread cookies to the rest of the family. We do it in a safer way, with batteries and midget flashlights. It is also a moment of clear choir vocals and candle light in an otherwise dark and cold time of year. Last night, as I lay awake fighting jet lag, I heard them sneaking out of bed to steal the pepparkakor cookies. Ha, ha, ha, Mom will never know. Except for the lamp they broke, maybe.

Then, after the youngest visited Santa, she confided to me that it was not the real Santa. Santa would never wear a gold bracelet and have hair on his arms. A real Santa would have soft, smooth arms. A watch at most, and soft, smooth, hairless arms.

Here is to all the guys who don the Suit, hairy arms or not. Merry merry.

söndag, december 10, 2006

Do Re Mi

Overheard today coming from a daughter in the back seat of the car:

If Mom is mad at Dad
If Dad is mad at Mom
And Mom is really mad at the Sisters
Then come with me and switch
To the happy not horrible fam-i-ly.

I'm not always really mad at the girls.

måndag, december 04, 2006

When I Tremble in Awe and Fear

It's more apt to be in front of an incorruptible Federal Agent.

C.S. Lewis wrote a book titled The Problem of Pain. I picked it up from a used book table near my office. I walk by this table every day, check the titles, grab whatever is odd, historical, or funny, pay a dollar and add it to the office library.

The book, I soon discovered and should have anticipated given the whole Narnia thing, was not so much about herniated discs and glass slivers. It was more about religion, which, Lewis explains, requires these three things: numinous (a trembling, fearful type of awe), a sense of morality, and then the numinous-er standing in judgment over one's fealty to morality. With Christianity, there is a fourth element: an historic event, like, oh, I don't know, Jesus, I guess.

In getting the reader to an understanding of what is meant by numinous, Lewis starts us down the path that leads to shock and awe by explaining that when someone says there is a tiger in the next room, one feels danger and fear, but that is not the same fear one feels at hearing that there is a ghost in the next room. With a ghost, there is not the same sense of physical danger.

I beg to differ. If someone tells me there is a ghost in the next room, I am equally concerned for my physical well being and would high tail it out of that house in an equally snappy manner. If there is a ghost, my experience from every movie I saw in middle school tells me that I will be a ghost soon, too. If there is not a ghost, then the person telling me such is insane and about to get out some type of limb-separating device and turn it on me.

He says, "I used to be an atheist, but then I realized, that had to be a reason that the three elements of awe, morality, and reckoning have been around forever and cross-culturally."

Or else he realized that people don't buy as many books from atheists.

I would like to have some fun with this book, but right now I am mighty tired of religion. So, Mr. Lewis, for now, it's back on the shelf. I think I saw a used book on that table that promised 365 Ways to Be Ready for Christmas. Much more practical.