Religious metaphor swan

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Image courtesy of epSos.de. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

 

I’ve spent a lot of the last few weeks listening to Sufjan Stevens’ “Seven Swans” album, thanks to Spotify premium and a friend who–after getting a tattoo of a swan–reminded me of the thing’s existence. It is a lovely album, spare and Christian-y in the way that Sufjan Steven’s things are. I’ve been listening in particular to “All the Trees of the Field Shall Clap Their Hands.”

The song title, like most on the album, is a Bible reference. Because I was raised a heathen and my Methodist schooling mostly served to teach me about Hindu holidays, I didn’t know the verse. Google helped me out–thanks, Google!–and provided Isaiah 55:12:

For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the fields shall clap their hands.”

Which is lovely. It is some Disney-level optimistic imagery. It is done justice by banjoes.

I’ve been thinking about the religious implications of the song this week, in part because I’m preparing to fly out of town for a cousin’s bat mitzvah this upcoming weekend. I’m excited to see the relatives, and pelt my cousin with marshmallows, and perhaps see what Nebraska has to offer.

Explaining my upcoming weekend plans has, however, led to multiple conversations about whether or not I am, in fact, Jewish. (Chapman is not, on the whole, a wildly common Jewish surname.)

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Chomp and Stomp

Oh yeah, I also performed in this year’s Emory Drag Show. So that was a thing.

So, I may still be playing Christmas music on loop in my (fixed!) car, but this weekend managed to cheer me up at least a little bit. This was due in no small part that I (hold on to your hats, here) went to a street festival over the weekend–Cabbagetown’s own chili cook off/excuse for bluegrass, the Chomp and Stomp.

Though I didn’t partake in any of the chili, I was in the minority. The way the festival was set up, interested folks paid $5, bought a spoon, and walked around to any of the kajillion chili booths to receive a cup of whatever they were serving. One street had restaurants serving up their versions, and another had individual competitors. It would have been impossible to try everyone’s without exploding, I think–there were easily 40 booths on each street.

Since I passed up the chili, I snagged some cheese tamales from my family’s favorite Mexican restaurant in town, Mi Barrio, allowing me to continue the weekend food theme of cheese ‘n carbs. Most of the Mexican food in Atlanta can’t hold a candle to what you can find literally anywhere in Oklahoma, but Mi Barrio is certainly a contender. Plus, it was $5 for two large tamales, which is pretty much the best thing. Continue reading

Christmas Carols in November

Today we’re going to talk about Christmas music. Specifically, we’re going to talk about why I have had the first CD of Sufjan Steven’s box set on loop in my car for the past week.

So, for those of you who don’t already know this, this will require a bit of backstory. My mother was raised Jewish. My father was raised as nothing in particular, but a nothing stemming from the Methodist and Baptist traditions. This means that I have a Hebrew name and, when I lived in Tulsa, my sister and I were the only two Jews at school. We got to explain Hanukkah to our classmates. This was made weirder by the fact that, in my family, Hanukkah was celebrated at the same time as Thanksgiving.

There is some longwinded family scheduling lore behind this, but the basic facts were this: Thanksgiving and Hanukkah happened at the same time for child-me, and they were followed by Christmas with my dad’s family. This worked pretty well.

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