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Sunday, November 27, 2011  

The War on Advent

My new column in The Daily is up. Liturgical seasons, consumerism, and W.H. Auden, check, check, and check:

The Bible lessons for Sundays in Advent focus on prophecy, both grave and joyous. We hear Jesus warn in the Gospel of Matthew that, in the days of Noah, people were eating and drinking and marrying until they were taken by surprise in the flood. The lesson is that trials will always come amid life’s pleasures and distractions.

While people display crèches as visible gestures of Christian identity, Isaiah laments to God, “Because you hid yourself, we transgressed” — reminding the faithful that God cannot be put on display for our own purposes.

While we ransack stores for the year’s must-have toys and games, Isaiah imagines children playing in a new world entirely: “The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp” — a poisonous snake — “and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den,” because “they will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain.”

The teachings seem meant to measure the smallness of our aspirations and the heedlessness in which we often live. Advent is not about gloom and doom, but its stories and songs give voice to the world’s radical incompleteness, its yearning, its anticipation.

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posted by Benjamin Dueholm | 9:40 PM
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