A fundie Christmas

Christmas is almost upon us and I think Elenwe (Turgon’s wife) has finished her single handed destruction of my bank balance and credit card limit. As fundamentalist Prods we are, however, supposed to regard Christmas as a primarily religious festival. Clearly some of our fellow fundies denounce the whole think (Ivan Foster is a leading critic) and whilst I can see where he is coming from, especially in view of the obscene expense involved, (the more so in a recession) we still enjoy Christmas. Apart from the cost (I am very mean) there is another part of it which always annoys my dour fundie tendencies.When I was a child Christmas carol services were always excellent. They were a bit formulaic. However, they involved a series of carols and lessons (preferably read from the King James Version obviously). In many ways they followed the pattern of the service from King’s College Cambridge which will begin shortly albeit with less technical musical ability. Most of us greatly enjoyed singing the carols and hearing the lessons (my favourite is always Once in Royal David’s City and John 1).

More recently, however, some of the services have become different with hymns from Easter and such like. I understand the argument: that since some nominal attenders will be there the prospect of evangelising is always attractive to evangelicals. The critics will suggest that the standard carol service simply gives people a warm glow and does not preach the gospel. However, I would submit that people are attracted by the tradition and that that is a better way to get people into the church.

On Sunday in the midst of the snow we set off for a tiny church in the middle of nowhere in North West Fermanagh which is only opened twice a year (a few of you will know where I mean) and there we had all the Christmas carols and lessons: the lessons read under the light of a Tilley lamp (there being no electricity). It was maybe a bit twee but surely at Christmas we are allowed to be a bit twee. The Virgin Mary even got an honourable mention (not a sermon, as I said before I await that). Then we all went back home. It was of course very traditional, maybe even ritualistic (that most dreaded of words in fundamentalist Prod circles). However, maybe at this time of year even we are allowed a bit of ritual.

  • joeCanuck

    carol service simply gives people a warm glow

    That is true, Turgon. Even I, an atheist, usually go to the Christmas Eve carol service with my wife at her church.

    Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year to you and your family.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Turgon, twee is often much more real than reality at this time of year, they are always the bits I love best.

    Happy Christmas,

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    So long as my God (if I had one) is better than everybody elses what does it matter really.

    Enjoy the mid-winter festival everyone 🙂

  • Driftwood

    The true meaning of Christmas….

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057115/

    Every time I hope Steve McQueen gets the motorbike over the wire.

    Happy Newton Day!

    ps I’ve a soft spot for your favourite carol Turgon.

  • Driftwood

    Ooops, meant to link

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/dec/06/christmas-films-on-tv

    Otherwise, years from now, with grandchildren on our turkey-fattened laps, we’ll all still be waiting for the Cooler King to make it over no man’s land, or for Shelley Winters to make that underwater swim, or for Butch and Sundance to get better at counting Bolivian soldiers.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Of course it should be remembered it was written in “Royal Derry City”, as was “there is a green hill far away” supposedly inspired by C F Alexander looking out at the Creggan, ok Bethlehem was never a city and Calvary is far from green, but its not a time to be pedantic, my personal favourite ATM is O Come O Come Immanuel, altohugh Joy to the World is catching up.
    I think it is great that there is a group of songs that are know in many languages, from different countries, and different eras and sung by choirs, opera singers, pop stars, children, pensioners, everyone. If you took the carols out I think the heart of the celebrations would disappear.

  • Fabianus

    Turgon,

    Your blogs are ever a delight to me. We belong to vastly different extremes of the Unionist “family” (I’m non-Church) yet I admire your ability to state and defend your points of view.

    My heartfelt Christmas wishes to you and Elenwe (beautiful name!) and a prosperous New Year.

  • Clanky

    Having spent the last 4 weeks on a ship, Christmas has pretty much sneaked up on me, and to be honest it has been all the better for it.

    I am usually very much in the bah, humbug camp as far as Christmas is concerned being an atheist (a good catholic atheist of course!), but being stuck at sea with a bunch of people who are away from their families it is nice to enjoy a celebration together and as the festivities have started onboard I am feeling more Christmassy this year than I have done for ages with all of the commercial hype at home.

  • Clanky

    Forgot to say, merry Christmas everyone.

  • Fabianus

    Clanky,

    “being stuck at sea with a bunch of people who are away from their families”

    Heaven help the cabin-boy I say.

    Just kidding. Merry Christmas to you too.

  • belfast greyhound

    As someone from a pretty fundamentalist Shankill Road background Protestant who eventually at the second attempt married a dusky Italian octoroon, rejected all notions of God and all his works, and now by dint of circumstance and many years passing, finds himself now regularly reading at church services for soldiers and ex-soldiers and their families, and have just found the Christmas Service of Nine Lessons and Carols, based on the Canterbury model I took part in, incredibly moving, especially as the unwelcome spectre at this particular Christmas feast was Afghanistan – may I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Good New Year ‘when it comes’ as we say in Scotland.

  • Rory Carr

    What, I wonder, is the fundamentalist (or indeed others’) opinion of the vicar who, according to recent news reports, advised that it was better for the needy to go shop-lifting rather than to resort to other degrading practices such as prostitution to meet their needs?

    Initially I was in full support but when I heard him elaborate during a radio interview that he thought that stealing “a tin of ravioli” the cost of which would be spread amongst us all was perfectly excusable and a lesser social transgression I thought, “A tin of ravioi?”. What a tight-arsed, mean spirited plonker. He’s immured in poverty thinking, he is, a most unchristian mode of negative spirituality.

    If anything we are taught the bounty of God’s world and the necessity and joy of sharing. Jesus at Canaa did not change the water into diluted orange juice (proving I suppose that he was no orange man at least) and he didn’t stint on the loaves and fishes. So, if you need to shoplift, do it big I say. Have yourself of the best vins and viandes and have yourself a merry little Christmas without shame or guilt. You coud also nick a copy of Hugo’s, Les Miserables for your Christmas reading for we must also nourish the intellect – ‘Man does not live by bread alone’. When the passage of the theft of the Bishop’s candlesticks by the convict, Valjean was read to us in primary school by De La Salle brothers they chose to use it to illustrate that it was not sinful to steal in order to satisfy one’s (and more especially, one’s children’s) needs when all other avenues were denied. WHen the hungry are denied bread then it is holy that it be taken.

    May I take this opportunity to offer a very happy new year to all of those who have contributed over this last year so adding to my knowledge, my delight, my frustration, my anger but most of all, my joy at the diversity of perversity of reasoning extant among my fellow men. May God’s will and each of yours be as one in the days to come.

  • joeCanuck

    Best wishes to you too, Rory and all other posters here.

    Perhaps that vicar was a devotee of Father Ted. By rigging the car raffle he was committing a small sin in order to prevent the much larger sin of Bishop Brennan killing him and Dougal.