Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Ho ho ho (ha ha he he). It's that time of the year. A complex and curious time; Christmas, that is. Quite apart from any substantive spiritual significance, Christmas has become it's own cultural category. The separation of the "sacred" and the "secular", and it's sustainability aside, "Christmas" in our society offers a unique respite from the cultural chasm which is prevalent most everywhere else. I deal with this on a daily basis, as a musician working (among other places) with senior citizens and in the church. To touch on it briefly here ( more may come later), as I see it, when rock and roll came into it's own, everything changed. What occurred in the later 1950's and thereafter was not an evolution of styles or tastes, but a cultural shift. This shift is/was dramatic enough as to leave those on either side of the "divide" feeling unable (or at least challenged) to connect with that which seems far removed from their own understanding ("it's all repetitive..I can't understand the words...It's so lame...It's too loud...Clarinets are @!#$%*...I don't get it.....). This creates all sorts of issues with competing cultures and the inability (it seems) to effectively bring them together. This is a "hot button topic" with many in the church, and will be a growing issue in senior communities in years to come. I am right in the middle of this in both worlds (certainly not the only places this impacts), and in the church, am working to promote an effective solution (someday the book will get published). Back to my original point; the respite of Christmas. This is, curiously, the one place where people lower their barriers. "Young" people learn and enjoy songs which pre-date the automobile (like Jingle Bells), "old" people are amused when "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer". You may say, "yes, but these, and other, examples are removed from the cultural trappings". Yes, and that may be part of the answer, but I believe it's bigger than that, although (at this point) I don't claim to fully comprehend it (I'm not a sociologist). This is, I believe, an (in part) willful unity, that we all could profit from better understanding. Maybe it, by the unique circumstances in which it is found, can't translate beyond where it is, maybe it can. Interesting (for me, anyway) to think about.

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