Sting's winter album "If on a Winter's Night"

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Kit
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2015 3:05 pm

Sting's winter album "If on a Winter's Night"

Post by Kit » Tue Dec 01, 2015 1:14 am

I've been a fan of Sting since I was a teenager; I love his poetical lyrics, historical allusions, and religious skepticism. The first time I listened to his winter album, I was surprised by some of his very Christian-sounding songs; so much so, that I pulled out the album's liner notes half scared that I would read about a sudden religious conversion.

His notes reminded me of his background as an English teacher. He appears to treat the Christian Christmas story not as literal truth, but as a piece of historical literature about humankind's attempt to comfort one another. I am a bit bothered by how much gentler this treatment is than the more cynical expressions found in some of his other lyrics; it just seems too convenient for a Christmas-time album. However, I nonetheless found it an interesting and oddly beautiful perspective coming from a self-described agnostic:

http://www.thepolice.com/news/sting-tal ... ight-72901

Excerpt:
The magical quality of the Christian story is not diminished by the knowledge that much of the myth of Christmas seems to have been superimposed upon an ancient matrix. If anything, those ancient echoes of the pagan solstice still reverberate in the stories of spirits and ghosts for which the season is famous.

Our ancestors celebrated the paradox of light at the heart of the darkness, and the consequent miracle of rebirth and the regeneration of the seasons. Ancient cultures not only observed these phenomena, but also took an active and imaginative role in their propagation. The winter solstice needed to be celebrated ritually so that a new cycle of the seasons could begin, crops could be sown, animals husbanded and life itself could proceed. It is this imaginative contract with nature that was at the heart of the winter rituals and at the heart of ancient myth.

For me it was important to draw parallels between the Christian story and the older traditions of the winter solstice. These myths and stories are our common cultural heritage, and as such need to be kept alive through reinterpretation within the context of contemporary thinking, even if that thinking is essentially agnostic. However, the mystery at the heart of the cosmos, and indeed of life itself, remains intact - perhaps insoluble to beings at our level of consciousness. In the meantime, all of us need our myths to live by.

greerl
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:28 am

Re: Sting's winter album "If on a Winter's Night"

Post by greerl » Sun Jan 03, 2016 3:29 pm

I'm not familiar with Sting so cannot really comment to the body of work but I do not agree that appreciating myths and attempting to translate them to something useful at all means that we need myths that continue as such.

Kit
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2015 3:05 pm

Re: Sting's winter album "If on a Winter's Night"

Post by Kit » Thu Jan 07, 2016 9:00 am

I think continuation of myths can be beneficial, including religious myths in limited instances. Granted, I'd rather that most people traded religious myths for reality, and I believe most are capable of it. However, there are some people who are either too simple or too lazy to consciously select their own principles; they need more direction. Several years ago, I was worried about a sweet and simple man I knew who was being discharged from the military, because he was especially dependent on both authority and group think to make his decisions. I feared he could end up in a dangerous cult or criminal enterprise. I was actually rather thankful when I found out the born again Christians found him first. If religious myths were all suddenly disproved to their followers tomorrow, I predict that the void in direction would have a subset of them jumping on the next available bandwagon. I'm not saying all religious people are mindless sheep; some people consciously use religious practice as a tool for building themselves into better men. While it's a shame for an individual to be wasting their time on prayer, their transformation can be more important to society than whether their myth matches reality.

Plus myths lend a magical aspect to childhood and inspire wonder and creativity. Recently my sister was upset at my niece's teacher for insisting my niece acknowledge that mermaids are fictional, saying, "She's only 6 years old; she SHOULD believe in mermaids, unicorns, and fairies."

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