Living with Armadillos

Armadillo Scales by Baq_stock

Photo: Armadillo Scales by Baq_stock

It had to be 98 degrees as I walked the perimeter of my cabin last summer, surveying the damage caused by armadillos. Wow, they had plowed up the entire hill where my cabin sat! They’d sent nearly all the topsoil down to the creek, exposing the underlayers to the heat and drought. No wonder a large crack had developed along the steepest side of the hill.

The Almost Theology of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

"MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D." by Disney | ABC Television Group / Flickr photo Christmas Eve 1928. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons

MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.”131252_GROUP_FINAL_01″  by Disney | ABC Television Group / Flickr photo. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons

“The only [religious story] that stuck with me was something Sister McKenna said, . . . ‘God is love.’ It’s simple, and a little sappy, but, that’s the version I like. God is love; the thing that holds us together. And if that’s true I don’t think he’d punish you for making a mistake. I think he’d forgive a mistake.”

      —Skye (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S1.E9)

Because I love a lot about the new Netflix series Jessica Jones, I was all the more disappointed when it resorted to cheap shots the first time Jessica encountered a religious person—a Catholic woman who seems to thank God that her son is home, now, albeit strapped to a machine because a villain stole his kidneys. Jessica doesn’t say anything specific to the woman, but it’s clear the show views her faith with derision.

From Ache to Amen

"Hallelujah score 1741" by George Frideric Handel 1685–1759 - Scanned from The Story of Handel's Messiah by Watkins Shaw, published by Novello & Co Ltd, London 1963. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

“Hallelujah score 1741” by George Frideric Handel 1685–1759 – Scanned from The Story of Handel’s Messiah by Watkins Shaw, published by Novello & Co Ltd, London 1963. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

A few Decembers ago, I saw Handel’s acclaimed Messiah oratorio in concert for the first time. From our side balcony seats at the Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto, my friends and I had an overhead view of the choir as well as the orchestra stage. We could only see the backs of the interchanging soloists, which worried me a little. Would the experience be lessened by this limited view? A few minutes into the show, however, I realized that we could see something that the coveted, pricier center section below could not: the face of the conductor.

Christmas Gifts

 "ChristmasEveOhio1928" by Father of dok1 / Don O'Brien - Flickr photo Christmas Eve 1928. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ChristmasEveOhio1928.jpg#/media/File:ChristmasEveOhio1928.jpg

“ChristmasEveOhio1928” by Father of dok1 / Don O’Brien – Flickr photo. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons

You have probably heard the over-used saw, “tis better to give than to receive.” Now aside from the advertisers who glibly employ it for entirely selfish reasons (may they be sent for a week to the 8th circle of Dante’s hell) here is my annoyance: a gift with a motive is no gift at all, unless it’s to make the receiver thrilled to their booties. Romantic friends with pure intentions know that warming glow felt deep in their hearts as the beloved opens up some carefully chosen little treasure. Parents also know a similar feeling – or so I am told, not yet partaking in parenthood – of watching a twinkly eyed tot ogling over their gifts. I rather doubt that the parents were secretly plotting in the corners of toy department how best to psychologically manipulate their children into being better behaved, or quicker memorise their classical education. If they did, the gift would cease being a gift.

The Case for Krampus

"Vintage Christmas Postcard Krampus" by Dave / Flickr photo Christmas Eve 1928. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons

“Vintage Christmas Postcard Krampus” by Dave / Flickr photo Christmas Eve 1928. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons

Good holiday stories need a villain. Ebenezer Scrooge, The Grinch, Hans Gruber. And of course, Krampus.

Krampus is having a moment—he’s acquired a Los Angeles fan club with a pretty spiffy web page, he’s been featured on the Colbert Report, and he’s even starring in a film. This half-goat-half-devil Austrian folk creature dates back, most believe, to Norse mythology. He’s St. Nicholas’ other half—he handles the kids who’ve been nicht so gut.