For a long time, I've thought my very first attempt at blogging was on the Tumblr version of Corybanter, a quick welcome post from February 13, 2009, entitled "Welcome to Corybanter!" However, I've just been digging through some other blogs that I had almost completely forgotten about, including a journal I used to keep on LiveJournal.com. As it turns out, my very first post (which I've copied below) is dated December 13, 2007, over a year before that first Tumblr post. I had forgotten this, but apparently I moved my blogging to Posterous sometime around 2010, and pretty much stopped using LiveJournal. Anyway, enjoy this very first blog post from over 13 years ago...
The Reason for the Season: a Plea for Sanity
13th December 2007
none, at the moment
On both sides of the seemingly eternal argument over Christmas, there are strident emotions that seem to get nastier every year. On the Christian side, we have the folks who talk continuously about how Jesus is "the reason for the season" (such a clever little rhyme), about how "they" are trying to "get rid of Christmas," and about how saying "Happy Holidays" is basically tantamount to accepting the Mark of the Beast. Over on the secular side, we have those who are constantly complaining about how they don't want to hear a "Merry Christmas" in any public place, about how those who celebrate Christmas are trying to shove their religion down others' throats, and about how manger scenes are an infringement on their constitutional rights.
Then there are those of us who live in the middle, in a place I like to call Normal. (Actually, I really used to live in a place called Normal, a small city in central Illinois, but I digress...) Yes, I frequently alternate between "Happy Holidays" and "Merry Christmas," while cheerfully maintaining my Christian status. I have never personally met anyone who is crusading to erase Christmas from the world, and I don't think it's possible to do so, considering the importance of Christmas to the economy of America. Having worked many years now in retail, I really question the thesis that Jesus is the reason for the season, having seen very little of that much-talked-about "Christmas Spirit" among the frantic shoppers who have yelled at me and even physically threatened me over the past decade and a half. Even the term "Christmas Spirit" isn't really that wrapped up in the Christian symbolism of Christmas, and anyone who knows their church history knows that Christmas is basically a pagan feast adapted and adopted by the ruling Christians some time after Constantine's conversion.
I think it's great for Christians to enjoy the religious aspects of Christmas, to find meaning in its symbolism that resonates with their faith, but the truth is, much of Christmas as we know it really doesn't have much to do with Christian faith, and never has. Santa, the Christmas Tree, gift giving, lighting of candles, the bloated commercialism of the fourth quarter of the retail year, none of it really has a thing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ. Heck, even the date doesn't have anything to do with the birth of Jesus!
So, like I said, I choose to live here in the middle of the controversy, where my celebration of Christmas is informed by my Christian faith, but where my Christian faith doesn't live or die based on how others choose to celebrate (or not celebrate) this holiday season...or Christmas season, if you prefer. Or Kwanzaa, or Chanukah, or....whatever. Have a Merry or Happy <insert name of preferred holiday here>!!!
As a church musician, Holy Week is always a bit of a logistical challenge: there's a lot more going on, more musicians to coordinate, and it all happens in a pretty compressed timeframe. Traditionally, at the church I serve, we do a Spring Cantata on Palm Sunday, we have a Tenebrae service on Good Friday (which incorporates music and drama), and Easter Sunday has more (and bigger) music than our average service. Last year, of course, was really unusual, as we were in full "lockdown" mode in our area, so we were trying to create meaningful musical and liturgical content with a team of about ten people. This year was a big step back towards "normal," but still an interesting challenge.
At our church, we have been offering in-person services (with social distancing protocols in place) and a pre-recorded YouTube service at the same time, for the past several months. This means that, for Holy Week, we had to put together and pre-record a bunch of special music for the three services I mentioned above, and work out how the live versions of those same services would work. As it turned out, we had some tremendously rewarding and inspiring services, both online and live. Easter was particularly interesting, as we decided to have an outdoor service, in order to accommodate the larger attendance numbers we expected. (It's a good thing we did so, as we had about 4 times the number of people we've been getting at our live services for the past many months!) The Easter service was a joyous event, as the weather ended up being lovely, not too cold and not too hot.
So now I take a breath, relax for just a moment, and then jump right back in, as we keep moving forward on this road out of the odd coronavirus landscape we've lived in for the past year. Each Sunday seems like another step forward on that road. Happy Easter to everyone reading! May you have a joyous season, living in the light of the Resurrection!
Even though I've spent a good amount of time over the past couple days refraining from physical activity as much as possible, it's still been kind of busy. For one thing, it's Holy Week and I work in church music. So, as usual for church staff, the time leading up to Easter (and leading up to Christmas) is a time of heightened activity. However, I also got my second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on Wednesday, and I did have some side effects that made me feel lousy for a short time. Oh, and I also twisted my ankle a week ago, so I've been trying to take things a little easier than usual, as far as physical activity goes.
Meanwhile, I've been using this forced physical inactivity as an opportunity for reviving my podcast, which used to be on Podbean, and has recently moved to Anchor.fm. (For more info on the podcast, see the home page of Corybanter.com.) I've recorded a couple episodes of the podcast, set up some advertising, set up the opportunity for my listeners to donate to the project, and created an accompanying Wordpress blog that coordinates with the podcast.
I've also been trying to simplify my blogging, something that has been a continuing challenge for several years. I suppose I would be a bit more successful as a blogger (and podcaster) if I simply chose one theme/subject and just covered that. But that's not me; my interests are a bit more diverse, and so I've chosen, for better or worse, to blog and podcast on various things that are interesting to me, whether that be Sherlock Holmes, Shakespeare, or dictionaries. Or something else... But I realize I can't maintain a different blog for every single thing I find interesting. I feel like I need to have the ability to blog about whatever occurs to me at any particular time, as well as maintaining a few blogs that have a particular focus.
So for now I've settled on a bit of a compromise: this blog, Corybanter.com, is what I'm thinking of as my main blog, my personal blog. It's where I can continue to share thoughts on whatever I have on my mind at any given time. I've chosen Weebly as the platform for this blog, as I find it the easiest to use effectively. At the same time, I'm maintaining (or trying to maintain) a few blogs that deal with a particular subject: Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes, the Bible. AND I'm blogging over on Medium.com, and attempting to make a few bucks with their Partner Program (thus far, not a particularly profitable exercise). I'm using my original Tumblr blog as just sort of a hub to link to the other blogs, as well as an Archives for some of my earliest attempts at blogging. If that sounds confusing...well, it is. At some point, I may have to streamline even more. I just may have to pick my favorite platform and move all of my blogging to that platform. But I haven't reached that point yet.
There's a little part of me that wishes I could make blogging and podcasting my main gig. But so far I haven't quite figured out how to do that. And since I enjoy writing and sharing my thoughts online, and I'm having fun sharing my spoken thoughts in podcast form, I'm sort of dipping my toe into what I know is a vast ocean of online content. Will I ever be able to be find even a modicum of success in the endeavor? I don't know. Stay tuned to find out!
(adj.) wild and frenzied; from Greek κορυβαντες (Korybantes)