A few days ago one of the news portals here in Latvia contacted me, and asked me to share some thoughts about a special song, book, object or poem that typified Christmas for me. Without even a minute’s thought, the wonderful Praetorius carol Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen (Es skaistu rozīt’ zinu) sprang into my mind. On Christmas Eve, when we have for my entire life gathered around the Christmas tree, firstly with my parents and family when a child, later with our own children, and now with their partners, we have always done the traditional (or possibly old-fashioned) Latvian thing. We sing a carol, someone recites a poem, we sing again and so on. It is, without doubt, the loveliest moment of the year, with its layer upon layer of memory and relationship built in. It always feels as though the centuries roll together, and all our ancestors and unborn children join with us; and for a moment or two it seems possible that Archbishop Tutu’s words are brought to life among us, as Christ rests in our midst and sings with us.
Goodness is stronger than evil;
Love is stronger than hate;
Light is stronger than darkness;
Life is stronger than death;
Victory is ours through Him who loves us.
So I wrote a pretty anodyne piece for delfi.lv; and had a quick look today when a friend shared it on Facebook. It’s here if you want to have a look.
Astonishingly, there are 34 comments on there – 33 of which range from dismissive through poisonous to positively hateful. Why on earth would my soft focus view on a beautiful carol turf up such awful stuff? Among the comments are ones on my appearance (apparently I look genderless), about the inability of women to be leaders, about St Saviour’s as a nest of depravity because of our inclusive nature, and a call for paedophiles to be castrated (no, I don’t know either). This is, basically, mysogyny – a deeply held dislike or contempt for women, irrational and degrading to the hater.
I guess that none of the commentators will read this blog; but I would love to ask them what it was that induced them to pour out anonymous poison in response to a message that was, basically, sentimental and kind. It won’t affect any future singings of Es skaistu rozīt’ zinu with my family, or in church; but I am truly saddened by the mysogynistic nature of the comments, and so sorry for the people who felt called to respond to something beautiful with hate and nastiness. So to get over that – here’s a wonderful recording of the carol, (please do watch – it’s simply lovely!) just to remind us that Good is, indeed, stronger than Evil; and faith is greater than a few twisted individuals.