Sunday, November 25, 2007

Offered without Comment


Stir Up Sunday

Yes indeedy, it is 'Stir Up Sunday', an affectionate and quite colloquial name for the last Sunday of the Christian year or the Sunday before Advent begins. The term comes from the collect (meaning communal prayer for those gathered, accent on the 'coll') in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer:
Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Thank you Thomas Cranmer! You can check out this and the OT and Gospel readings for today in the BCP on page 259-260.

What Exactly are we Stirring Up?

So now that you know what today is, you have to do the stirring up! Most families have their own tried and true recipes for plum pudding, but if you don't, you can find some suggested recipes and suggestions here: Actually, we try to avoid the gluttony of the holidays, so we no longer serve the plum pudding at Christmas dinner--usually later in the week or for New Year's. Coz we still love a bit of that terribly rich hard sauce!!! But if you really don't like the (in fact) plumless dessert, you can stir up your Christmas cake today. But you'll have to really douse it with booze to make the cut for Christmas. No matter what, do some stirring and keep that tradition going!

Christmas Windows

If you are trying to avoid that conspicuous consumption but still want a Christmas window outing, ck out this new competition: . Several stores in the downtown core have had their windows dressed by Ryerson students on a budget of $100! These will be judged on December 3rd, but in the meantime you can see them yourself (ck the website link for the pdf map) and/or vote online for your favourite. Excellent outing for the artsy fartsy type!

Carol Service

Next Sunday, December 2nd, is the first Sunday in Advent and the annual carol service at St. Clement's Anglican Church will take place at 4:30pm. Music will include Palestrina, Archer, Vann, McKie and Near. Freewill offering. 59 Briar Hill Ave, Toronto. Call 416 483 6664 ex 26 for more info or go to our website at

Buy Nothing Christmas

This may not be a new notion to those of us who have Buy Nothing Days most of the time, but I wholeheartedly promote the Buy Nothing Christmas movement. Not only because of its Christian sensibilities, but also because they invite people of all opinions to participate: you can go whole hog and really buy nothing, or you can use their varying degrees of suggestions to cut down on your Veblenian conspicuous consumption. It is a wonderful notion that is actually accessible, unlike a lot of the resolutions that will likely follow a week later. Ck out this great idea (which is not new) by going to their website at For each week of Advent, I will be highlighting one of their clever posters.

Opera at the Met

If you haven't jumped on the Metropolitan Opera Live broadcasts at your local cinema bandwagon, you should: you get top notch music, cast interviews at intermission, and other treats, all while munching down on your popcorn and smarties! We did this last year and got more tickets for this year. But caveat emptor--the lineups are long and start early. Just coz you have a ticket, doesn't mean you'll get a good seat, so go early to the movie theatre. Cineplex has added more venues due to the raging success of last year. Ck out this link to investigate what's on for 2007-2008:$Cineplex/1a0b9dfc-71bc-44f3-be62-4f42afd297f5/2007-09-20--Metropolitan_Opera_Live_in_High-Definition_Returns_to_the_Big_Screen--.pdf . [I believe the National Ballet is looking into this too, the ol' copycats.]

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Favourite Ad

Day by day
Day by day
Oh Dear Lord
Three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day

~Saint Richard of Chichester 1197-1253

Advent venit!

This week I will be attending the Toronto reception and book launch by one of my heroes, Kathleen Norris, author of The Cloister Walk and Amazing Grace. You can learn more about her contributions to a new book called God with Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas, which includes other authors such as Eugene Peterson (The Message). Her talk, Remembering, Waiting and Hoping: The Countercultural Pursuits of Christmas, will be right up my alley. I will feature products and thoughts in future posts based on the same ideology. This event, after the New York launch and before the Vancouver one, is sponsored in part by Imago ( You can check out the exposition of the book by clicking on this link:
Because Advent is just around the corner--yes, three Sundays from now!--a reminder to buy the Christian seasons calendar I recommended a few weeks ago. I received mine and it is a keeper. Go to to order; they also have some cool ideas about using it, which they send with your order.
And if Advent starts in 21 days, then two weeks from today is 'Stir Up Sunday', a fine Anglican tradition. Put the plum pudding ingredients on your grocery list soon!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Call for Sponsors

I am seeking a corporate or individual sponsor for the production of my donation to the 2008 Design Hope Toronto art auction and gala; this would involve a very modest investment, but is crucial to the professional developing and mounting of the photography by Toronto Image Works. The venue is moving this year to Modern Weave on King E. and the event is the evening of February 8th. I need confirmation of support by Christmas to make my production deadline. If you can support my contribution, please contact me via If you would like to view my previous entries and learn more about the 2006/2007 events, in which over $17,000 was raised for Dixon Hall's homeless, hostel and housing programming, please go to and FYI, corporate or individual sponsorship is eligible for publicity online, onsite and in the auction catalogue. Many thanks!

A Cool Photo by Jan

Memento Audere Semper 2, © Jan Neal, 2007. You can visit her Studio Journal here:

An Unfinished Life Premiere

I am a huge fan of Canadian 'classical' music and was looking forward to the premiere of Brian Cherney's oratorio, An Unfinished Life, last week at Metropolitan United. Unfortunately much seemed to conspire against this event: errors (e.g., labeling Dutch as German)
in the already poorly laid out concert programme, a cell phone ringing during the CBC recording of this (!!), a sense of underrehearsal (it was only composed this summer) or at least hesitancy or nonconfidence, and worst of all, the sound set up made hearing the narration by Marilyn Lightstone completely unintelligible. The audience was restless, several walked out before the midpoint, and it became something to sit through out of politeness. You might suggest that this modern classical piece was too challenging or deep for me to understand: after over 30 years of singing, I feel comfortable forming opinions about choral music. I'm not Jewish and didn't get the profundity of the piece? Just finished teaching an in-depth and emotional unit on the Holocaust: I don't think I am uneducated in this area. I just felt there was a disconnect between the music and the selected text, and it is hard to make a connection to cacophony. Aside from the redemption at the end of the borrowed Bach motif, I felt jarred and lost rather than moved and drawn into the life of Etty Hillesum. I would like to give this Soundstreams Canada commission another chance one day; maybe the gods were conspiring against this premiere. But I did find the evening unsatisfying: the advertised 'works by Jewish composers of the Renaissance' amounted to psalms set to music by Palestrina and Lassus (whom I understood to be very Christian) and the only Jewish composer represented was Solomon Rossi (1570-1630), of whom I had never heard, so I was interested to learn something there. So, alack, no raves here, but hope for a better experience next time.

For Kids up to 35

On Saturday November 17th, Sound Ministry hosts another night of DJs, electro and techno beats at the Sanctuary, 25 Charles St.E. just off Yonge St, south of Bloor. This time they have guest DJs from the British club scene! I believe these wild and crazy kids start at 8pm and go half the night. They request $5 cover to go towards expenses. If you go to their MySpace page, there's some YouTube footage you can check out (the ones in dark with the glo stix).
Also, please note there is a new internet Christian rock radio station on the permalist at left; the old one folded for regulation reasons. This one has rock, hard rock, hip hop and other listening options. Check it out.

The Sugary and the Hard to Take

Something made me watch Simon Birch (1998) recently, although I think it was just insomnia and it was on TV; I wished I had tried another soporific remedy. Yech: sacchrine and preachy, and worst of all, exploitative of Ian Michael Smith for the purposes of making us feel smug for our normalcy via lecturing us about being grateful. Towit: have we seen him in another movie? No. Anyhow, clearly not sucked into this vortex of the Feel Good genre. However, I do recognize the didactic worth of the movie for perhaps the Tween set if one is looking for an illustration of the importance of love, acceptance and true friendship. Hmmm
On the other hand, The Last King of Scotland (Kevin Macdonald, 2006) is good stuff and definitely not for the Tween set.