Friday, December 16, 2016

The Service of Nine Lessons and Carols, with Descants by Russian Spies - column

Mack Hall, HSG

The Service of Nine Lessons and Carols, with Descants by Russian Spies

The C.I.A. opines that Russian spies changed the results of the recent presidential election. Given the C.I.A.’s many, many accomplishments over the last fifty years, from the Bay of Pigs to Viet-Nam to that fellow holed up in the Peruvian embassy in London, well, who can doubt them?

I suppose I should have reported to somebody about Boris and Natasha hovering around me while I voted, offering me Rolls-Royce automobiles and villas in the south of France if only I would vote Vladimirista. As a loyalist I manfully refused to do so.

My next column will be posted from my private island in the Caribbean.

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The Oxford American, which is published in Conway, Arkansas, not in any Oxford anywhere, reports that Panama City, Florida is a center of ukulele music. Saint Andrews’ Church, for instance, is home to a ukulele orchestra of some 200 members.

One shudders at the horror. The ukulele might not be the Devil’s instrument, but I’m pretty sure that in Book 4 of John Milton’s Paradise Lost there is a mention (in iambic pentameter, the meter of the angels) of all ukuleles being cast down into (That Place).

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The Paris Review, which is published in New York, not in Paris, recently featured a first-person narrative which includes the sentence “Raul lives here in Tucson on an expired green card.”

That has to be a really big green card.

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Viola Desmond, a business woman, was jailed in 1946 for sitting in the whites-only section of a movie theatre. In Canada. The nation that jailed her is now honoring her by placing her picture on their ten-dollar bill.

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The Service of Nine Lessons and Carols dates to the nineteenth century and in its modern form owes much to an Anglican chaplain’s grim experiences in the First World War:

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Almost two hundred years ago Charles Dickens wrote in The Pickwick Papers, “Christmas was close at hand, in all his bluff and hearty honesty; it was the season of hospitality, merriment, and open-heartedness…”

Gaudete Sunday has passed, which means Christmas is close at hand for us too. May we indeed make it a season of open-heartedness.


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