A pleasant sort of music



Though we’re not in a hurry, it’s taking a while for my wife and me to get through the holiday season.  But I think—think—we may have ended our own Christmas season Jan. 5 with The Boar’s Head & Yule Log Festival at University Christian Church way over in Fort Worth.


So, then, what is The Boar’s Head & Yule Log Festival?  It is the culmination of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” with joyous celebration of the Nativity modeled after Medieval observances that started in the 1300s.  It is a curious thing: legend has it, a student of Oxford University was strolling through the forest reading a collection of Aristotle’s writings when a wild boar charged out of the woods, bent on his destruction.  Thinking quickly, the student used the volume as a weapon.  The rampaging boar had his mouth open, and somehow or other, the student jammed it in the creature’s throat!  The hog thought about this turn of events a few moments, and decided to die choking on Aristotle.

Well—I hope you will pardon me if I’m somewhat skeptical about this account.  I can easily enough imagine a hog being unable to swallow Nietzsche or Hume, but Aristotle?  Socrates, Plato and Aristotle are the forefathers of Western philosophy.  Anything the hog swallowed written by them would make him a better hog, but perhaps he was too far gone to rehabilitated.

Killing a hog with a book was worth bragging about, and the student told his friends.  They retrieved the still-fresh carcass, took it back to the dorm to barbeque, used the head for souse, and everybody except the boar had a good time at the feast.  This perhaps would have been enough for some of the Oxford students, but then, somebody realized more mileage could be gotten out of the boar killer’s adventure:

In that day, wild boars were reviled, feared, hated and regarded as the embodiment of evil by most people.  Aristotle, on the other hand, was regarded highly, a wise and moral philosopher whose writings not only educated, but also enlightened his readers.  Boars are evil; wisdom is good; therefore, destroy evil with good!—or something like that.  I do not know if this reasoning increased the sale of Aristotle’s books, and if it did, it didn’t make feeding them to rampaging boars any easier; but it did provide an excuse for adding a joyous, giddy celebration for Yuletide frolickers.  Considering how dreary the medieval age was, any opportunity to embrace merriment is excusable.

Merriment seems to be the key word, here.  I do not know to what extremes Yuletide (or “Christmastide”, if you prefer) went to in medieval times, but I do know the Boar’s Head & Yule Log Festival I attended was fun.  It was loaded with symbolic things, too, traditions hauled in from the 13th or 14th centuries: There were the Beefeaters, the King’s ceremonial guards; a Yule sprite comes and lights a candle which represents Christ, the Light of the World; the Boar’s head is brought in, and though it looked impressive, it was a counterfeit; there were sprites and faeries, maidens and barefoot shepherds, a surplus of worshipping kings, heralding angels that were not the wimpy variety found in some holiday programs, but the strong sort, the kind you’d want by you if you were confronting wild boars or other powers of darkness; children skipped and frolicked down the aisle, and one even did somersaults—friends, these people were outrageously happy that Jesus Christ the Savior was born!  True, these persons were performers.  Maybe they were not like that off-stage, but can’t we learn something from them?  Namely, that it’s all right to rejoice in any and all of the Father’s Blessings! 

But I need to get to the subject of this week’s column, “A Pleasant Sort of Music”.  When we parked for the event, I noticed as a couple unloaded a herd of children from their van.  There was nothing surprising about this.  My wife and I went inside the church, and to ensure our seating, we were an hour early.  Within a few minutes, the family we had seen in the parking lot sat in the pew right behind us, filling it up.  It was a large family—Mom and Dad, of course, and their nine children.      

Naturally, I wondered how this was going to go.  The children ranged in age from a year or so to 13 or 14, each one simply but nicely dressed, clean and well-behaved.  I overheard the father’s explanation to one of the ushers that he had been attending the Boar’s Head festival for years, and wanted to share the experience with his children.

The chattering of these children, their innocent questions and comments, their fascination with the costumed characters created the pleasant music that I will remember long after memories of the celebration have faded.  I caught some of their names: Henry, Sophie, George, Teddy, but that was it.  When everything was over, my wife and I told the parents how wonderful we thought their children were.  Unnecessarily, the parents apologized for the children’s noise and restlessness, but like I said: to us, it was music.

So, tell me: am I getting old, sentimental and senile?  Or has it merely taken me 60 years to begin to realize what real beauty is?  Your thoughts are welcome. Please comment below.

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Looking ahead




Regarding this Christmas season’s series regarding the birth of Christ as the Incarnation of God, I am humbled.  I greatly appreciate the comments and observations from readers who have responded (this is not a large group of people), as well as their constructive criticisms: “If you’d get glasses to see with, maybe you’d have fewer typographical errors.”; “If you’d wait a day to proofread your articles, maybe you’d catch your mistakes before publication.”; “Plagiarizing is wrong, but in your case, it might be a pretty good idea.”  To these sorts of criticisms, I admit the observers are right, and offer I no excuses.


Then there are those who were not keen about God being the only infinity, and His Holiness being the reason mortals fear Him and avoid Him, and some who maintain the ways to heaven are varied and numerous.  Quite frankly, some were offended by several of my comments.

Then again, some people said the presentation made them think.  It’s these people I’d like to address, for it may well be that God is talking to some of you.

One occasion when Jesus and His disciples had opportunity to be alone, He asked them, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

They said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  (This was a “Who’s Who” list of Biblical heroes.  They were all dead, but in popular opinion, one had returned to do what Christ was doing.)

Then Jesus asked, “But who do you say that I am?”

I do not know if there was a pause or if their answer was instantaneous, but Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!”

This statement was significant.  If Peter had said this in the presence of certain Jewish religious leaders, he could have been executed, most likely by stoning.  But Jesus answered him, and said, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”—and if Jesus had said this in front of certain Jewish leaders, He would have been subject to execution, too.

But what needs to be pointed out, here, is that God Himself revealed the significance of Jesus the Messiah to the disciples. Now note: If God is communicating with you, it is through some spiritual means greater than mere human interaction.  How this is done is between God and you; but how you respond is up to you alone. 

Further, the odd thing about the maturing Christian is, he or she does not follow Christ to get into heaven, or to avoid going to hell, or to get the riches “prosperity” evangelists promise.  The Christian accepts Christ because he wants God, and he wants God because God is God.  

But to some people, this is not that big of a deal.

It’s because of this “infinity” thing.  Some people can’t see beyond this limited world, and think God and heaven will be chained with the same restrictions.  I once heard a young man say heaven would be boring after a few million years.  But looking ahead, because God our Father is infinite, the eternal life of the Christian will only grow bigger and bigger, greater and greater, the Father’s perfect Love growing endlessly within us—God wants us to grow, and we do not stop when we get to heaven. 

But it is time to move on.  Thus ends the Briar Circle Christmas series for 2023.  So much more could be said, and could be said better, too.  I at least hope I gave you some things to think about.  As for me, I’m less cynical than I was when I started.  In fact, in 2024, I’m going to celebrate Christmas every day!

Again, I appreciate the input from readers, some who gave me things to consider in my own daily walk in the faith.  May God continue to bless us in the upcoming year.   

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The incarnation




For years, I thought of Christmas as the celebration of Christ Jesus’ birthday, but perhaps I’ve matured a bit in my understanding.  Now, I try to think of Christmas not only as the celebration of the birth of Christ, but as the celebration of the Incarnation of God. Continue reading “The incarnation”