Monday, March 7, 2011

musings no.5 [the coming of Lent and other things]

"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" As Everything But A Children's Book

When I first had the idea, it seemed like it would be wonderful to write my senior project on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-glass and What Alice Found There. Now, I'm not so sure. Because of the very nature of the Alice books and the mystery surrounding their author, the criticism available is...extensive and entirely too varied, to say the least. And honestly, I don't enjoy much of the criticism, because I am a firm believer in not reading too deeply into a text. I suppose that you might argue that I should not be an English major, but I have learned much relating to literature in other ways during my college career. I simply do not appreciate every other critic I read implying that there was a romantic attachment/sexual relationship/what have you between the real Lewis Carroll and the real child-Alice. Charles Dodgson (Carroll's real name) and Alice Liddell (the "real" Alice) were friends, of course, but to be perfectly frank, not even history can tell us if their relationship was more than strictly proper between a child and a shy young man! Of course, the main problem I have with researching the character of Alice is that I rather despise feminist/gender criticism. Much (not all) of it is written by women who appear to have some severe issues with the male gender, and as I am most certainly not a feminist, this irks me exceedingly.

But I digress; I did choose to study the character of Alice in Carroll's books and how she has changed in adaptations throughout the last 150 years. And I have been reassured by a (small) number of critics who do not agree with the supposed relationship between Dodgson and Liddell. And having a legitimate excuse (reason!) to watch both Disney film versions a few times is quite nice.

The Coming of Lent: Ash Wednesday

Now that I have ranted about my senior seminar project, I turn to a more appealing topic to write on. The season of Lent is one of my favorite parts of the church year. Well, that is an unfair thing to say, since I love the whole church year and the solidarity I find in the repeating seasons and festivals. I wish more church denominations paid any attention at all to the church year; it bothers me greatly when people do not even know what Ash Wednesday is.

I love Lent for many reasons, some perhaps a bit superficial in the big picture. First, the altar cloths are purple; I like that, because it is a somber purple, but also symbolic of Jesus Christ's royalty. Second, I simply adore the Lenten hymns. I cannot describe the haunting and sorrowful melodies, the deep and rich lyrics of each one. And some of the hymns we still sing were being sung 1000 years ago! I do not want the empty "Christian" "praise and worship" songs of today; there are very few of them that truly proclaim our sinfulness and Christ's ultimate sacrifice! The point is not to try to give God our all, because the truth is that we cannot....

But I do not want to rant about contemporary Christian music right now. I will, however, leave you with a hymn that I can say is definitely a favorite, though I love the whole hymnal.

"Alleluia, Song of Gladness" (Lutheran Service Book 417)

Alleluia, song of gladness,
Voice of joy that cannot die;
Alleluia is the anthem
Ever raised by choirs on high;
In the house of God abiding
Thus they sing eternally.

Alleluia, thou resoundest,
True Jerusalem and free;
Alleluia, joyful mother,
All thy children sing with thee,
But by Babylon's sad waters
Mourning exiles now are we.

Alleluia cannot always
Be our song while here below;
Alleluia, our transgressions
Make us for a while forgo;
For the solemn time is coming
When our tears for sin must flow.

Therefore in our hymns we pray Thee,
Grant us, blessed Trinity,
At the last to keep Thine Easter
With Thy faithful saints on high;
There to Thee forever singing
Alleluia joyfully.