ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
[personal profile] ecosophia
Merry Krampus by Corinne Barrios'Tis the season -- meaning, in this case, the season for 55-gallon barrels of fake sentiment and slithery Christmas music. Yes, I know there's a lot of really fine Christmas music out there, from haunting medieval carols to 19th-century classics such as "O Holy Night," but for some reason all of it's vanished without a trace here in southern New England. What we get instead is buckets of stickily sweet glurge about sleighs and snow and presents and Santa Claus, all sung in the kind of oleaginous voice that makes you long to stopper the mouth in question with a well-aimed fist. 

Maybe I'm just middle-aged and grumpy, but it seems to me that the last trace of meaning has trickled out of our public celebrations of Christmas. I hope the Christians, at least, still remember that the official excuse for all this hoopla used to be the birthday of their god, and choose their music accordingly. For the rest of us, along the lines of my earlier Cthulhu carol, I offer this charming image by Corinne Barrios of one of the classic icons of the old, dark Yuletide celebrations, and a carol you can use to drive away the glurge. You know the tune. 

KRAMPUS THE YULETIDE DEVIL

Krampus the Yuletide devil
Used to stalk the winter night,
And if you ever saw him,
You would wet your pants in fright.
All of the ill-bred children
Used to pester poor St. Nick;
They'd whine and scream and snivel
'Til they made the old elf sick!
Then one foggy Christmas eve,
Santa came to say,
"Krampus, with your birchen switches,
Won't you flog those ---- -- ------- !" 
Then how the children feared him,
And they shouted out in dread,
"Krampus the Yuletide devil,
We'll be good and go to bed!" 

Note 1: For best effect this should be sung in an oleaginous tone, with the kind of tinny orchestration that involves lots of sleigh bells being shaken with mindless mechanical regularity. 

Note 2: Yes, I know that corporal punishment is now considered child abuse by the soi-disant enlightened. I suspect we'll get over that in another decade or so, once the consequences of having a society full of shrieking spoiled brats of all ages become too obvious to ignore. As usual, the opposite of one bad idea has turned out to be another bad idea...
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Date: 2018-12-12 07:56 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] robertmathiesen
In their first years children are wholly impervious to reason, almost impervious to any form of words, have no sense of either guilt nor shame, and have only the rudiments of empathy. They sincerely believe, each one of them, that he or she is the absolute center of the universe, the sole reason why anyone and anything else exists. Fortunately, they eventually are learn better as their nervous systems develop enough to absorb the harder lessons of life.

Children are not, however, impervious to pain. Measured applications of pain, never in anger (since that leads to loss of self-control in the parent and physical damage to the child), but dispassionately, or even in love and sorrow, produces real changes in behavior. A parent follows that up with demonstrations, in one's own parental person, of tested means by which anyone--even a child--can learn to control one's own behavior, rein in one's own desire and overcome one's own fears (even the unspoken ones).

We spanked our very young children on occasion--rarely, never in anger, and always with an eye to teaching. To teach a very young child you first need to rivet his attention on the lesson. Pain does that even when the child is overcome with the strongest emotions and nothing else can reach him or her through those emotions.
Edited Date: 2018-12-12 07:57 pm (UTC)

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Bad ideas

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Date: 2018-12-12 07:56 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Don't forget the all-time greatest Christmas Carol:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIxMHCJ4I9Y

(Phil Knight)

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Date: 2018-12-12 09:03 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I was just commenting to my wife last night about my shift in relationship with the season. Christmas had always been my favorite holiday, bringing with it memories of family gatherings, wonderful aromas, goodwill, pleasant greetings with passersby in the street, and the like. I have always enjoyed the holiday scenes in traditional 19th-century Americana: the village covered in snow, the windows of the cottages lit brightly, the horse-drawn sleigh, the smoke curling up from the stone chimneys. (Of course, all of this was at odds with the modern version of the season, with its increasingly faux-everything and shallow commercialism.)

This year, however, I find myself rather disconnected from the whole thing. Not that I'm not looking forward to our family gathering (on the 29th) and our tradition of secret-Santa-by-name-drawing-at-Thanksgiving gift-giving (complete with antlered Santa hat to be worn by each gift-giver in turn), but I am finding myself unconnected with the season as a whole. The aura of Christmas is lacking; the "magic," if you will, feels as though it has slipped away. Perhaps this is due to where my spiritual journey has taken me, very much departing from the Christian tradition. Perhaps it is that I am, for the time being, on something of a solo path, without a physical community (the on-line community of Ecosophians of course being mightily appreciated). In any event, there is a palpable sense of loss. In time, perhaps, something new will fill that space that sits empty for the time being.

David, by the lake

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Date: 2018-12-12 11:12 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
..and of course there's Tom Lehrer's "A Christmas Carol". (Audio and lyrics available readily so I feel the need to post them here.)

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Date: 2018-12-12 11:14 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hm. Unfortunately, we live in a society which is already full of violence against everything and everybody which is weaker than oneself, including especially children. Violence which takes on a lot of different shapes. Physical violence certainly is a big issue, although I'd say it is only the tip of the iceberg. Considering the large part of non-physical violence (and partly also physical violence), I suspect the largest part of it has no intention, there is no obvious cruelty of a lack of civility involved, it's just a lack of capability. Many parents are simply incapable of handling their children in an empathic and compassionate way on a scale ranging from the very subtle to the very gross. Will those parents be able to handle "Krampus" in a way, which is beneficial for their children?

I do believe that for many, if not most, the plea for Krampus will amount to nothing more than trying to fix the parents by fixing the children first. Being a teacher for almost 10 years by now, I feel confident to say, that quite often (although certainly not always) it's the parents who would need the beating, not the children.

Society is increasingly failing at education on all levels. From family to school and beyond. (Re-)introducing education of the Krampus-kind will not save it. I have no better solution. All I can say is, that a growing number of teachers (and parents and children) does believe that the collapse of our educational system is inevitable. Which amounts to nothing less than the collapse of society itself. It's a weird situation for me and many other teachers. We see where we are heading. We are at least theoretically in a position of enormous influence and yet are overpowered by so many variables we can not influence. To invest oneself fully or withdraw completely seem to be the only reasonable options. Somehow, like most others, I am lurking somewhere in between and still have no real idea, which way to go...

Ok, that went a pathetic...little bit. Funny song by the way. Maybe I should pass it round in my school as a kind of subversive action...

Greetings,
Nachtgurke

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Date: 2018-12-13 12:27 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
https://www.tor.com/2017/12/24/i-cthulhu-neil-gaiman/

Not strictly Xmas, but he is sitting in front of a fireplace.😄

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Date: 2018-12-13 12:28 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
JMG, which starter book do you recommend to a Christian investigating modern Druidry?

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Date: 2018-12-13 03:02 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)

You might want to read "Spanking and child outcomes: Old controversies and new meta-analyses" by Elizabeth Gershoff and Andrew Grogan-Kaylor. They analyzed 50 years worth of data and found that spanking was linked to increased defiance, anti-social behaviour, aggression, mental health issues and cognitive difficulties.

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Date: 2018-12-13 03:05 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
If they played Christian Christmas music, why, that would offend non-Christians! So we get silly songs about generic happy holidays, from folks who forgot the etymology of holiday, and which make no one happy.

Perhaps we would be safer to ditch lyrics in music all together.

BoysMom

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Date: 2018-12-13 04:11 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Robert Mathiesen and Natchgurke already beat me to it - I can see spanking as possibly useful, provided that the parent is not taking out their own unprocessed anger on the child.

But emotional maturity and self-discipline seem to be highly endangered qualities these days, and so I remain leery of corporeal punishment.

(Also, it doesn't help that the one time I was spanked, I was trying to get my sister out of a wading pool which my parents had warned us not to get into without adults present. They came around the corner and saw us both in the pool, and assumed malfeasance. I know they meant well, but it's hard to argue your case when you're five.)

Tiny Tim

Date: 2018-12-13 01:14 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Love it. Tiny Tim's Christmas Album is the only Christmas album I really like.

This other one by Tiny Tim is really in the spirit though: Santa Claus has got the Aids this Year!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XU8IQqcq270

Ba humbug to all!

Justin Patrick Moore

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Date: 2018-12-13 01:20 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] booklover1973
That mention of Christmas led me to the question what the future of Christmas, or rather, the current wy of the Holiday season will be.

Regarding schools, my mother, who was a primary school teacher in a German village, complained at length how difficult it is to work with children and their parents and how children today are dysfunctional.

children and discipline

Date: 2018-12-14 08:22 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thanks for the Krampus carol. Funny. I'm a christian and have been working on ways of getting our celebrations focused around Jesus with our family and christian voluntary organizations.

Regarding the difficulties of getting children to behave well I'd like to highlight an book by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Matè which might be of general interest. Briefly, they identify a crisis in parenting around the weakened or non-existent bond of children with their parents and ways in which the industrial societies' habits of organizing childcare and education weaken that bond which is meant to help children learn and grow up.

The authors suggest ways to strengthen the bond with parents and the thesis is that these healthy bonds defend the vulnerability of children in a way which allows the child to keep learning and growing up. I think it's possible that the people who use corporal punishment in a way that works may be using it in a context in which it strengthens the attachment of the child to the parent. I wouldn't trust myself to spank as I know that when I am feeling very stressed I find it difficult to judge the force of physical actions so I am glad I have something else which seems to work somewhat.

I've been using their suggestions including some specific ones about gestures with which people in parental position can 'collect' the child to invite them to feel secure in the attachment relationship, and have been accused by other parents of having 'biddable children' so perhaps am succeeding. I suspect this weakening of normal social bonds factors identified by Neufeld and Matè may be a part of the widespread 'failure to grow up', although I think the cushioning effects of fossil-fueled lifestyles may play a role as well.

'Wonderland' in England.

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Grinchiest State

Date: 2018-12-13 05:07 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is a great map if you are looking for safe havens/places to avoid

https://www.getcenturylink.com/blog/how-much-does-your-state-love-christmas/

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Date: 2018-12-13 06:42 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] smwils1
There aren't too many traditions I keep: I do like to bake a Christmas cake, make Bourbon Balls, and send out cards to those I fondly remember. That's all...

Corporal Punishment

Date: 2018-12-13 08:10 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hilarious parody - thanks for the chuckle!

My two cents on corporal punishment (it's something I've thought about a lot as a father of a five year old and a two year old):

I like the concept in this case of "the opposite of one bad idea is usually another bad idea". I regularly see both bad ideas going on around me with my peers here in rural Appalachian Pennsylvania. On one hand, you've got the "enlightened" parents who read awful parenting advice all day long on Facebook and feel it's abusive to even raise their voice at their bratty children. On the other hand, you've got your parents who rebel against the current academic parenting advice and retain the old-school ways of discipline, but mostly apply it as a means of consistently lashing out in anger at their lack of control when their child does something they don't approve of, thus teaching their children that the proper reaction to anger and obstacles is violence. Both of these approaches seem to reliably produce brats and bullies, of which our communities seem to be teeming with these days.
It's very rare to meet a family that takes the nuanced approach outlined above by Robert, which is what I assume would be seen as somewhere close to the midpoint on the spectrum between the two bad ideas.
These are interesting and difficult times to be a parent of young children. (I suppose it's an appropriate time to mention a thank you here to JMG and other commenters on his blogs - I'm a serial lurker - for helping to intellectually and emotionally support the decision of my wife and I to homeschool our children. Our 5 year old (who wouldn't even be in Kindergarten yet in our district) is already reading well and learning material his peers won't approach until 1st grade.

Krampus is not a parent

Date: 2018-12-13 10:45 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] claire_58
Small children will not always behave well this is something parents need to teach and that they learn as they mature. However, it is possible to raise responsible well behaved children without corporal punishment. In the early 90's as part of my own search for alternatives I did a cross-cultural analysis of childrearing for my Anthropology honours paper. I found studies from several cultures that showed successful childrearing practices that didn't involve parents spanking their children. Generally young children were given lots of leeway and distraction and diversion were key elements of several of the examples.

Most memorable for me (and most relevant to the Krampus figure) was a study of the plains Sioux (Lakota) that involved stories of monsters who would take or hurt children who weren't good. The stories always featured punishment coming from outside the family or clan. The parent's role was as protectors. The subtext of the stories was typically 'if you are good I can protect you but if you don't listen to me I won't be able to save you'. The story of Krampus follows this pattern almost exactly.

My impression is that as 'beating the evil out of them' fell out of favour most parents gave up on any form of discipline at all. As you say the opposite of one bad idea. . .
Physical punishment teaches children that it's okay for the bigger and stronger people to enforce their will on the smaller weaker people. Fortunately the choice is not between physical violence and no discipline at all. There is lots of unexplored territory between those extremes. Personally I give kudos to parents who are willing to take on the challenge of raising their children in a non-violent way.

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Date: 2018-12-14 02:11 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Seconding the extreme dislike of Christmas music as heard in malls. Competing for "worst job ever" was a December job in a mall, about 100 feet from a display of mechanical bears that played "Frosty the Snowman", "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town", and "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" on rotation, whenever someone walked in front of the display. (Off key, of course.)

I like Christmas carols and hymns; my favorite is admittedly non-factual, but it captures the awe of the season for me. God made present is something to rejoice in, yes, but not to relax in.

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

'In the bleak midwinter' carol

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Dead Malls

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In the Bleak Midwinter on mountain dulcimer

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Date: 2018-12-14 02:41 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Something for the mind-your-own-business crusade:

I have to take a medicine that is a (ominous music chord) Controlled Substance. My dr and I have to fill out this form w/a bunch of silly requirements whenever he prescribes it. (One of my requirements is that I absolutely MUST always fill it at the same pharmacy; if someone else has a special, presumably the Lord in his wrath will lay waste to our town.

With silliness like this from the state on one hand, and with high-school-graduate employees of the insurance company deciding what they can and can’t prescribe, I’m surprised anyone wants to go to the trouble & expense of becoming a doctor anymore.

Down with busybodies!

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Date: 2018-12-14 03:26 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
It really seems like the past few years have seen the few redeeming aspects of Christmas disappear....

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Date: 2018-12-14 05:24 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I brought up my children without corporal punishment. They are polite, have been self reliant since finishing school where their teachers remarked positively on their behavior compared to many, even most other students. The main difference at home was that our kids were limited to one hour of tv per week, a rule we applied equally to ourselves. As far as I can tell the main trick to raising non-whiny non-brats is that they do not get their way by being whiny brats. I fail to see the difference between hitting a child and hitting any other powerless person.

Rob Rhodes

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Date: 2018-12-14 04:53 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] m_hodgson
I loathe modern Christmas music more than I can articulate. It generates in me a horribly uncomfortable aggressive anxiety and I simply have to remove myself from it by the shortest distance.

A couple of years ago me and my partner went to a concert given by the town's music society where a group of musicians, called Piva, were playing Renaissance Christmas music and it was delightful. The music was completely unlike anything we hear today - it was earthy, full of energy and joy. You couldn't help smiling and it made you want to dance and jig. The whole audience seemed transfixed and every face showed pleasure. I wish there were more of such things.

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Date: 2018-12-14 08:15 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] robertmathiesen
I find it very interesting that some commentators are equating violence against a child with anything that inflicts even a modest amount of physical pain on the child. I wonder whether their only experience of pain inflicted by another was while that other person was taking out his/her anger and frustration on them, or even his/her raw hatred. (There certainly are any number of children who have been relentlessly hated by one or both of their parents from the very moment of their birth onward. I have known a number of them, and a few of their parents. Parents like that seem not to be particularly rare on the ground, though most of them manage to hide their hatred for their children from outsiders.)

And I certainly agree that spanking a child to discharge one's own anger or frustration is as a rule harmful to the child.

But some things that inflict pain on a child are not done out of wrath or frustration. A medical injection is painful for the child, some dental work is inevitably painful even with novocaine, and so forth. And one can often get a very young child's attention only by deliberately causing the child to feel a carefully measured amount of either pain or fear. Distraction cannot always work, nor can attempts to redirect the child's attention. The Lakota, as described, use fear (mostly of external, even supernatural predators) successfully; our debunking, materialist, individualistic culture cannot hope to do the same and expect the same measure of success.

One commentator remarked that spanking teaches a child that is OK for the more powerful to enforce their will on the weaker. But is not all human society, everywhere and always, maintained by that society's ability to enforce its will on its members--even by violence, when no lesser measure works?

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Kate Rusby

Date: 2018-12-14 09:24 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Funny how you brought this up! I just remarked recently to my wife that "English" Christmas songs have different roots then American carols. Just listen to a Kate Rusby Christmas album and you will see how deeper the symbolism goes than the standard snowman pieces.

Enjoy the end of Samhuinn!

Burning Christmas Presents

Date: 2018-12-15 07:00 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Some years ago, I was visiting an older logger here on Canada's West Coast. He was complaining that he could not invite young friends over anymore because their children were so badly behaved.

He told us a story about disciplining his own two horrible brats one Christmas. His children were fighting and nothing could stop them in their favorite pastime so he took two of their wrapped presents from under the tree and pushed them into the wood stove.

His children stood transfixed looking at the beautiful presents going up in smoke. He told them that if they fought like that again, two more presents would go in the stove. His children were exceptionally good for weeks after that which he said was a blessing.

He never told them the boxes were beautifully wrapped but empty!
Maxine Rogers

Re: Burning Christmas Presents

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(no subject)

Date: 2018-12-15 08:09 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] booklover1973
in the German city, where I live, the kind of awful Christmas music that you mention is mostly absent. In the mall in the centre of the city there is a Christmas tree which blinks every full hour to Christmas music. But this music ist at least bearable. A few years ago, there was more kitschy Christmas music, but it has mostly gone out of fashion.
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