2 Responses to A Very Special Star Wars Christmas

Top 5 Christmas Movies

Wednesday, December 22, AD 2010

There’s nothing quite like this wonderful time of year to gather round with the family and sit by the warming roar of a television set.  Christmas has inspired some of the finest cinematic classics – as well as things like Jingle All the Way. Most of these movies revolve around themes like peace, love, togetherness, and Santa.  Every now  and then you might even hear a mention of the birth of Christ as the reason for the season.  And doubtless right now some cable channel is showing one of the approximately 4,845 versions of A Christmas Carol – two of which are mentioned below.

So as my Christmas treat to you all, here’s my list of the five best Christmas movies of all-time.

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41 Responses to Top 5 Christmas Movies

  • A Christmas Story doesn’t have a heartfelt, endearing message? Come on, I get a lump in my throat every time when Dad brings out the BB gun and shows how much he actually cares about his son — and listens to him — despite seeming an ogre most of the time. Maybe I’m just a sucker for good father-son stories.

  • What? No Santa Claus Conquers the Martians with the beginning of the epic film career of Pia Zadora? For shame Paul!

  • Wonderful Life and Christmas Story (in that order) fill my top spots as well.

    “Every now and then you might even hear a mention of the birth of Christ as the reason for the season.” I do ponder the fact that neither of these movies (nor the Scrooge tales) demand that the viewer have any particular faith whatsoever. In other words, even the best Christmas movies/stories tend to have equal appeal to a secular audience as they do to a believing audience. This not a criticism, just an observation.

    [Charlie Brown must stand as the exception that proves the rule, although, as a thoroughly unbelieving child, it was my favorite.]

  • Every year my wife forces me to watch “White Christmas.” All I can remember is Danny Kaye prancing around in a black beret and leotards. I suppose two hours is the least I can suffer for the sake of domestic tranquility.

  • Pal, yo’re right about Sim being ‘the Scrooge’. Nobody comes close to equaling him in that role!

  • A scene from one of the Great Christmas movies, the Lemon Drop Kid:

  • Maybe it’s the wrong genre and belongs in a different category, but I always liked Jack Lemmon in “The Apartment,” which has a holiday feel to it. RIP, Jack, one of the greatest actors ever.

  • I do ponder the fact that neither of these movies (nor the Scrooge tales) demand that the viewer have any particular faith whatsoever.

    Yeah, when I was thinking about this list I pondered the fact that there really aren’t a lot of very good overtly religiously-themed Christmas movies. I’m not even talking about movies that deal specifically with Christ’s birth – there are very few that are even tangentially spiritual in nature. Of course maybe there are some older films that I haven’t seen would apply.

  • Actually, Paul, “Ben-Hur,” made in 1959, could qualify because it begins with the birth and ends with the death and resurrection of Jesus. One of my top 5 flicks of all time.

  • Best Scrooge ever is the musical with Albert Finney. It will make you laugh and make you cry, but that is Charles Dickens for you. We watch this one every year and progressively let the little ones see more and more of the scary parts until they are “young” enough to appreciate them, not make fun of it, and not have nightmares.

  • 1. It’s a Wonderful Life
    2. White Christmas
    3. One Magic Christmas (w/ Mary Steenburgen)
    4. Disney’s Christmas Carol (w/ Mickey and Uncle Scrooge, not Jim Carrey)
    5. Christmas Vacation

    I have to say that Jingle All the Way didn’t make the top 5, but it definitely makes the top 10 😉

  • I agree with Joe Green. I like all of the 5 mentioned, and although “The Apartment” isn’t religious or mention Christ, the mature love that Jack Lemmon exhibits toward Shirley MacLaine in the completely hard-boiled secular world at Christmas is wonderful. The classic office Christmas party. I watch it every Christmas season. “We’ll send him a fruitcake every Christmas”.

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  • I’m not much of a movie connaisseur and fairly unfamiliar with what is available. I recall hearing about a French film, Joyeux Noël, dealing the with 1914 Christmas truce but have not seen it.

  • Addendum to my previous post: “Ben-Hur” will be on Turner Classics Movie channel on Christmas Day at 1 p.m., EST. Tune in.

  • I didn’t realize that the video at the end of my note on It’s a Wonderful Life didn’t embed properly. Here it is – courtesy of Saturday Night Live.

  • Paul, that SNL alternate ending makes me cringe.

  • Joe,

    Yeah I can see it being a bit dark there at the end. Just be thankful I didn’t link to the SNL/TV Funhouse spoof of my number five movie.

  • Boo hoo, George. My dad never gave me a bank, and if he did I wouldn’t have run it into the ground. Ungrateful jerk. Clarence was lying to you – the world doesn’t revolve around you, George. Your wife could have done better.

    Sorry that slipped out.

  • The Bishop’s Wife is a must see for me each year along with It’s A Wonderful Life.

    Thanks for the reminder of The Apartment. Yes, that will go on my list.

    Only a thought. If you consider that what is not detailed in It’s A Wonderful Life is the Great Depression. Perhaps that taken into consideration might reveal that George’s temptation is out of love for his family. Remember, he was told that he was worth more dead than alive. As for the comment about George’s father leaving him a bank, I would recommend that person research the difference between what we know today as commercial banking and the community-building cooperative that was the legacy George received.

    Blessed Christmas!

  • How can this be? You’ve left out the two greatest Christmas movies of all time. Who can ever forget the original version of Miracle On 34th Street?
    And, then there’s the greatest Christmas love story of all time, Christmas In Connecticut. Not only are the acting and writing great and both, they both feature male lead characters are grown-up, tough, intelligent, charming, tender and either active duty military or veterans. Not much like most movies today.

    On the other hand, my next two on the list are Scrooged and the first Die Hard.

  • Does “The Godfather” (Part I) count as a Christmas movie? I think it does!

    Seriously, though, in addition to many films already listed, Christmas fare for us definitely includes “Little Women” (the 1990s version w/ Winona Ryder).

    I am definitely in the Alistair Sims camp.

    What did everyone think of the animated Zemeckis Christmas Carol from last year?

  • CrazyLikeKnoxes,

    I saw the film you mention, Joyeux Noel, and I’ve got to say that it is very good. It’s not without it’s problems, but nevertheless, I recommend it.

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  • “Yeah I can see it being a bit dark there at the end.”

    Actually I’ve always wanted the film to end with a sequence of Potter being arrested and wheeled into a jail cell as Hark the Herald Angels Sing plays in the background.

  • I always liked The Bells of St. Mary with Bing Crosby. I think there are Christmas scenes in it (I haven’t seen it in years) and I think it was usually on TV during the Christmas season.

  • I agree with David Ulmer on Albert Finney’s “Scrooge”, it’s my favorite version by far.

    My all time favorite is a “Wonderful Life” hands down. I never watched “Scrooged” so I have to put that on my list to watch. I watch “Groundhog Day” every Advent, it is a great story of redemption.

  • My favorite scene from Bells of Saint Mary, Bing singing O Sanctissima:

  • I’d like to mention a couple of overlooked TV movies from the 1970s that might be worth checking out on You Tube or other video rental/download outlets:

    — “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story,” the pilot/inspiration for “The Waltons,” with Patricia Neal as Olivia Walton and Edgar Bergen as Grandpa Walton. Most of the remaining cast members are the same actors that appeared in the TV series. Worth seeing just for Neal’s performance.

    — “It Happened One Christmas,” a gender-reversal remake of “Wonderful Life” done in the mid-70s before the original became a TV staple. In this version, it’s Mary (Marlo Thomas) who inherits the building and loan from her father and does most of the same stuff Jimmy Stewart does in the original. Wayne Rogers is her husband George (I think he is supposed to be a mechanic!) and Cloris Leachman is the guardian angel. Yeah, I know it sounds cheesy, and it is, but for those of a certain age who grew up on Movies of the Week, it’s kind of an interesting nostalgia trip. Certainly no worse than the Klingon Christmas Carol 🙂

  • Few things are worse than the Klingon Christmas Carol Elaine! 🙂

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  • We watched Polar Express last night, and I thought it was enchanting. The too realistic animation of the characters was a little creepy. They look too much like a video game, but the story is great. The message is the usual hidden spiritual message. Santa says something like, “I’m a symbol for the real meaning of Christmas. The real meaning lives in your heart.” Well…sort of, but I really liked it.

  • Warning: Don’t read this if you have not seen Its a Wonderful Life

    It’s A Wonderful Life tops my list.The movie starts off with people in the town praying for George Bailey – one of the prayers is to Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It is through prayer that God is going to transform George Bailey’ life and show George all the good he has done in the world. In fact, just before George is about to commit suicide, he makes a short prayer to God, saying, “SHOW ME THE WAY.” It’s hard to imagine a more powerful prayer. And God hears George’s prayer and begins to unveil to him (George Bailey) the rich tapestry of his life.

    Everything is accomplished through PRAYER.

    Coming in second on my list is The Bishop’s Wife. If you have not seen it you are in for a very special movie with a very special meaning. This is a great movie for a husband and wife to watch.

    Tom Mulcahy

  • “Warning: Don’t read this if you have not seen It’s a Wonderful Life.”

    Can you think of anyone above primary school age who hasn’t? 🙂

    Merry Christmas!!

  • The 1951 Scrooge with Alastair Sim is unsurpassed by any Christmas Carol rendition or other seasonal work – like “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Sim’s dropping of the spoon into his soup/gruel, the look over his shoulder in anticipation of something invading his room against his lock-up measures – all classic and true evidence of his theater training. His annual derogatory conversation with Cratchit over the taking of a holiday – the whole day – is so natural and fitting. The only acting part that comes close is Jimmy Stewart’s angst in the bar when he’s living the nightmare over the lost money before crashing the car. I watch Scrooge DAILY in the week before Christmas. THansk for a good article.

  • Ted Joy, I’m with you – I love the original “Miracle on 34th Street.” I am mystified as to why Hollywood felt a remake of “Miracle” (or a remake of any classic film) was or is necessary. Normally the remake is no great improvement. Do they think nobody will be interested in watching a film from the Stone Ages long before cell phones and Ipods existed? Or is it just that they have become so deeply uncreative that they can’t come up with new plots and characters any more?

    I haven’t seen it in a long time, but I’d like to second Elaine’s recommendation of “The Homecoming.” I was not a huge fan of “The Waltons” TV shows but their debut on the small screen was impressive.

  • Speaking of Hee Haw and Its A Wonderful Life:

  • A CHristmas Story has become a classic because it is realistic and everyone can relate to it. It’s a wonderful life is my absolute favorite movie ever! The ending is amazing, It gets me every time regardless what mood I am in. Scrooged/A Christmas Carol is awesome in film or book version.

  • Although thin and flaky, we’ve always loved Christmas in Connecticut, and I’m deeply shocked that White Christmas didn’t make the top five list! But all lists are subjective, especially those which end with A Christmas Story. 🙂

Of Christmas and Klingons

Wednesday, December 22, AD 2010

 

Hattip to Midwest Conservative Journal.  I enjoy Christmas traditions.  The Christmas Tree, singing Carols, wretched Illinois weather, hot coco, presents, watching several versions of A Christmas Carol, etc.  Perhaps the wildest version of a Christmas Carol is a Klingon adaptation of the timeless tale, presented, of course, in Klingonese.  The Wall Street Journal gives us the details:

CHICAGO—Across the country this week, productions of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” are warming hearts. In this city, one version poses this question: What if Charles Dickens were a Trekkie?

The answer runs an hour and 20 minutes and includes three fight scenes, 17 actors with latex ridges glued to their foreheads and a performance delivered entirely in Klingon—a language made up for a Star Trek movie.

“It’s like an opera,” says Christopher O. Kidder, the director and co-writer. “You know what’s happening because you already know the story.”

For those not fluent in Klingon, English translations are projected above the stage.

The arc of “A Klingon Christmas Carol” follows the familiar Dickens script: An old miser is visited on a hallowed night by three ghosts who shepherd him through a voyage of self-discovery. The narrative has been rejiggered to match the Klingon world view.

 

For starters, since there is neither a messiah nor a celebration of his birth on the Klingon planet of Kronos, the action is pegged to the Klingon Feast of the Long Night. Carols and trees are replaced with drinking, fighting and mating rituals. And because Klingons are more concerned with bravery than kindness, the main character’s quest is for courage.

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A Plea for a Cease Fire in the War on Christmas

Tuesday, December 21, AD 2010

Is it possible at this late date to call a cease-fire in the War on Christmas?

The kind of cease-fire I am talking about is not a surrender to aggressive secularists who want all mention of Christmas, or of the reason for its celebration, erased from the public square.

I am not talking about, for example, these federal bank examiners who, had they been assigned to Bedford Falls, probably would  have busted George Bailey for wishing them “Merry Christmas” instead of for losing $8,000 in deposits. That sort of insanity ought to be resisted, and (as evidenced by the apparent resolution of the Oklahoma bank kerfluffle) can successfully be resisted.

No, the kind of truce I am proposing is a plea to the group Mark Shea refers to as “Christmas Inquisitors” — those who see any use of the term “Happy Holidays” in preference to “Merry Christmas” as some kind of affront to their beliefs. This group also includes those who see something inherently wrong or sacreligious about any kind of Christmas or holiday celebration that fails to include explicit reference to the birth of Christ.

I celebrate Christmas in the religious sense as eagerly as anyone.  But I respectfully beg to differ with those who insist that it is the duty of private businesses or even of public facilities and institutions to “keep Christ in Christmas.” It isn’t.  Their job, such as it is, is to accommodate the desire of their customers, or of citizens, to fulfill whatever aspects of a multi-layered religious, cultural, and social occasion they wish to observe.

None other than C.S. Lewis recognized this truth decades ago. In this essay from “God in the Dock,” Lewis explains the different aspects of the modern Christmas:

“Three things go by the name of Christmas. One is a religious festival. This is important and obligatory for Christians; but as it can be of no interest to anyone else, I shall naturally say no more about it here. The second (it has complex historical connections with the first, but we needn’t go into them) is a popular holiday, an occasion for merry-making and hospitality. If it were my business to have a ‘view’ on this, I should say that I much approve of merry-making. But what I approve of much more is everybody minding his own business. I see no reason why I should volunteer views as to how other people should spend their own money in their own leisure among their own friends. It is highly probable that they want my advice on such matters as little as I want theirs.”

I will interrupt Lewis’ essay at this point to note what he says about the cultural aspect of Christmas — the “popular holiday.” He basically argues that people are free to celebrate it, or not, in any way they wish, as long as it does not interfere with anyone else’s celebration or non-celebration. He sees no reason to complain about “how other people should spend their own money in their own leisure among their own friends.”

That does not sound like someone who would get bent out of shape over store clerks who say “Happy Holidays”,  or people who choose to celebrate Kwanzaa, Festivus, or the Winter Solstice. I also don’t think he’d care whether or not the occasion for making merry was a “real” cultural holiday or a “fake” observance invented by one person (Kwanzaa) or even by a fictional character (Festivus), as long as no one was forcing him to participate or pay for it (which becomes an issue when public schools are involved).

He does go on to say, however, that “the third thing called Christmas is unfortunately everyone’s business. I mean of course the commercial racket.”

“The interchange of presents was a very small ingredient in the older English festivity. Mr. Pickwick took a cod with him to Dingley Dell; the reformed Scrooge ordered a turkey for his clerk; lovers sent love gifts; toys and fruit were given to children. But the idea that not only all friends but even all acquaintances should give one another presents, or at least send one another cards, is quite modern and has been forced upon us by the shopkeepers.”

Now there are other occasions besides Christmas that carry these three “layers” of meaning — for example, weddings of religiously observant couples are 1) an occasion for celebration of a sacrament, 2) an occasion for family and friends to gather and enjoy a good time, and 3) an occasion when social convention requires gifts to be given and for the couple to acknowledge each gift individually with a thank-you note. The same is true of occasions such as graduations, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays, etc.

Obviously, private businesses will use cultural and social occasions to market their products and services. Wedding planners, banquet halls, bakers, caterers, makers of academic robes and class rings, florists, greeting card merchants — all of them rely on cultural/social occasions for the greater part of their profit. The same is true of Christmas, when many merchants make most or even all of their yearly profit. (One explanation for the origin of the term “Black Friday” is the belief that many retailers finally earn enough money to get out of the red and into the “black” for the year on that day.)

However, we do not expect the merchant who sells products or services appropriate to any other social occasion, to instruct or remind people of its “real meaning”. We don’t expect, for example, the owner of a bridal shop or a catering service to provide pre-marital counseling, the florist who sells us flowers for Mother’s Day to offer us advice on how to get along with our mothers,  or a jeweler who sells class rings to counsel high school seniors on how to get into Harvard. So why do we expect merchants and advertisers to “keep Christ in Christmas”? Isn’t that our job, and the job of our families and churches?

Now I can hear some of you already saying “But there is far too much emphasis on the social and commercial aspect of Christmas in our society. It’s drowning out the religious significance completely. Surely you don’t think this is a good thing?”

Of course it is not a good thing. Even more than 50 years ago, in post-war England, Lewis saw that the relentless commercialization of Christmas “gives much more pain than pleasure” to the average person.

“You have only to stay over Christmas with a family who seriously try to ‘keep’ it (in its third, or commercial, aspect) in order to see that the thing is a nightmare. Long before December 25th everyone is worn out — physically worn out by weeks of daily struggle in overcrowded shops, mentally worn out by the effort to remember all the right recipients and to think out suitable gifts for them. They are in no trim for merry-making; much less (if they should want to) to take part in a religious act. They look far more as if there had been a long illness in the house.”

However Lewis did not propose any “solution” other than personally refusing to take part in the “racket”.

“We are told that the whole dreary business must go on because it is good for trade. It is in fact merely one annual symptom of that lunatic condition of our country, and indeed of the world, in which everyone lives by persuading everyone else to buy things. I don’t know the way out. But can it really be my duty to buy and receive masses of junk every winter just to help the shopkeepers? If the worst comes to the worst I’d sooner give them money for nothing and write if off as a charity. For nothing? Why, better for nothing than for a nuisance.”

So how do we resist the tidal wave of commercialism and/or political correctness that threatens to engulf us every holiday, er, Christmas season? We pray. We think about what is important to us and about the values we wish to uphold. And we make merry in whatever way is appropriate to our situation. If that means opting out of gift exchanges or sending cards, fine. If that means saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays,” fine. If it means saying “Happy Holidays” in an attempt to be more inclusive, that’s OK too. After all, there is more than one holiday in the holiday season… it encompasses Thanksgiving and New Year’s as well as Hannukkah and other religious, cultural and ethnic observances such as Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Lucy’s Day, St. Nicholas’ Day, Boxing Day, and Epiphany or “Old Christmas”.

And on that note… peace on earth, goodwill to all, Happy Holidays AND Merry Christmas!

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22 Responses to A Plea for a Cease Fire in the War on Christmas

  • With due respect, I never said anything about the duty of any institution.

    My post was about individuals who self-censor out of fear of retaliation or ridicule. If a business wants to say “happy holidays”, I don’t care.

    What I care about is when people change their behavior to accommodate a manifestly irrational and unreasonable demand. There is no reason in the world for anyone to be offended by the phrase “Merry Christmas.” If I were in Israel and someone wished me a Happy Hanukkah, I wouldn’t try to sue them or kill them. I would expect it, because I was in Israel. It wouldn’t offend me if it was assumed I was a Jew (and I have been mistaken for a Jew before), because that’s the society, that’s the dominant culture, and I don’t have a psychotic and irrational hatred for the existence of dominant cultures.

    This is a Christian country. Not because of the Constitution, which I am well aware does not mention God, but because the majority of its citizens identify as Christians. Psychotic leftists believe that dominant culture = oppression and is one step away from gas chambers. I don’t. Dominant cultures ought to be deferred to, and minorities ought to be respected in their own right.

  • I’m feeling magnanimous today (must be the spirit of the season).

    I agree with Joe (nobody should feel ashamed about wishing another a “Merry Christmas”) AND Elaine (I’m no necessarily offended by the term “Happy Holidays”, or do I think it is the duty of businesses and public institutions to “put Christ back in Christmas”).

    Oh, and a belated Happy Hannukah to all here, as we remember our Jewish brothers and sisters and their commemoration of the miracle of the lights and the Maccabean revolt against the pagans! =)

  • A good post Elaine, although the type of truce I am interested in with the Chistmas haters, and I certainly do not put people in that category who wish me “Happy Holidays”, was summed up well by King Theoden:

    “We will have peace,” said Theoden at last thickly and with an effort. Several of the Riders cried out gladly. Theoden held up his hand.”‘Yes, we will have peace” he said, now in a clear voice,”we will have peace, when you and all your works have perished — and the works of your dark master to whom you would deliver us. You are a liar, Saruman, and a corrupter of men’s hearts. You hold out your hand to me, and I perceive only a finger of the claw of Mordor, Cruel and cold! Even if your war on me was just — as it was not, for were you ten times as wise you would have no right to rule me and mine for your own profit as you desired — even so, what will you say of your torches in Westfold and the children that lie dead there? And they hewed Hama’s body before the gates of the Hornburg, after he was dead. When you hang from a gibbet at your window for the sport of your own crows, I will have peace with you and Orthanc. So much for the house of Eorl. A lesser son of great sires am I, but I do not need to lick your fingers. Turn elsewhither. But I fear your voice has lost its charm.”

    Oh, and I join Christopher in wishing Happy Hannukah to our Jewish brethren, something I do each year to my Jewish friends. The Maccabean revolt was an epic struggle for religious and national freedom and deserves to be cherished by Christian as well as Jew.

  • “I celebrate Christmas in the religious sense as eagerly as anyone. But I respectfully beg to differ with those who insist that it is the duty of private businesses or even of public facilities and institutions to “keep Christ in Christmas.”

    They don’t have to ‘keep Christ in Christmas’, but the holiday is called Christmas. Call the holiday what it is. What is so offensive about that?

    For you and Shea calling people “Christmas Inquisitors”, take your cheap smears somewhere else…

  • There is nothing offensive about “calling the holiday what it is,” but by the same token, I also see nothing wrong with acknowledging the fact that there is more than one holiday in the holiday season. That’s why it is called “the holidays,” plural.

    The point I am trying to make is that no one should be trying to force or pressure anyone to celebrate in a particular way, or be offended at how others choose to celebrate. Obviously that includes genuine secularist “Christmas haters” who file lawsuits against Nativity scenes, Christmas trees, etc. However, people who go off the deep end in the other direction and think the mere use of the term “Happy Holidays” represents anti-Christian censorship do exist.

  • Although no one should be forced to celebrate Christmas and it is true that their are other ‘holidays’ in December (I think there are are only two series of Holy Days – Chanuckah and Christmas), it is incumbent on Christians to witness, publicly, to the Birth of the Lord and Savior of ALL mankind (including those pesky secularists and lukewarm Catholics.)

    I take no religious offense to the phrase ‘Happy Holidays”; however, it is a banal and redundant phrase and it offends my intelligence. ALL Holy Days and holidays are happy, the phrase is practically meaningless. Why are you happy right now, we aren’t even in Christmastime yet? It is Advent, a penitential season. We are happy because we are given the grace and freedom to do penance and anticipate the Nativity of Christ.

    It may not be the duty of a business or other institution to Keep Christ in Christmas, but it is the duty of ALL faithful Christians to do so. Just as important it is our duty as Catholic Christians to Keep Mass in ChristMASS.

    Moreover, why are we expected to give deference to fabricated ‘holidays’ like Qwanza and Festivus when we are derided the rest of the year because we want people to stop killing babies and sodomizing each other?

    I suppose I will be accused of being an inquisitor, so be it, I’ll wear that as a badge of honor along with my shame for my failing this Advent (Pope Benedict XVI was Blsd. JPII’s inquisitor, right?). In keeping with the respect for our Hebrew brothers, Hallel Ya, Praise G*d this Advent and all during the ChristMASS Season. It is even more important for us to wish everyone a Merry Christmas between December 25 and January 9, 2011 or whenever we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord.

    For you fellow inquisitors, it is a pure joy to see the confusion on someone’s face when you wish them a Merry Christmas in January. They will always ask why you’re doing it and it is an opportunity to fulfill our duty to evangelize (in case some don’t know – this is NOT an optional duty and we will all be judged for it, especially those of us graced with being members of the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Catholic Church).

    If this love of Christ and Mass and Christmas offends anyone, Thanks be to God, In truth, the most offensive figure in the history of mankind is Jesus – we killed Him for His offense toward our worldly sensibilities. But, before He could lay down His life for us, Mary had to give God her fiat and give birth to Him.

    Merry Christmas to all and to all Happy. . .Christmas as well. 🙂

  • I work at a small family owned bank and our outdoor scrolling “message board” is frozen and reads: “HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS”!

    We’ve had a lot of positive feedback and I believe the majority likes Merry Christmas and catch themselves cringing at Happy Holidays.

  • Elaine:

    Merry Christmas! Very sensibly put!

    Jasper:

    Merry Christmas!

  • Moderation in all things except virtue . . .

    No justice, no peace. The all-encompassing secular progressive regime is mass brigandage.

    This day there is joy among the hell-laborers of Sodom, not so merry in Christendom. Thank you, obama-worshipping catholics!

    PS: If you are ashamed of Christ, He may be ashamed of you.

  • No, wait!

    Obligatory St. Augustine quote:

    “What is reprehensible is that, while leading good lives themselves and abhorring those of wicked men, some fearing to offend shut their eyes to evil deeds instead of condemning them and pointing out their malice. To be sure, the motive behind their tolerance is that they may suffer no hurt in the possession of those temporal goods which virtuous and blameless men may lawfully enjoy; still, there is more self-seeking here than becomes men who are mere sojourners in this world and who profess hope of a home in heaven.”

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  • Just to be clear here, I am NOT advising anyone to avoid saying “Merry Christmas,” nor am I encouraging anyone to deny or downplay their belief in Christ.

    I am simply urging people not to presume ill will on the part of those who prefer to use generic holiday greetings or symbolism, provided that those who use generic greetings make no attempt to force everyone else to conform to those expectations.

    Serious attempts by employers or government agencies to discourage or forbid any reference to Christmas or the use of Christian symbolism among their employees or local citizens are a different matter. I thought I made it clear that these are out of line and should be resisted.

    What I don’t like to see is for the VOLUNTARY use of either “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”, or the use of religious vs. secular Christmas symbols, to become mere shibboleths for determining who is on which side of the culture war. If anyone is forced to use, or not use, one or the other, that is a whole different story.

    Actually, I think the idea of wishing people “Merry Christmas” up until Ephiphany is a good one. I might just try it myself, and explain that there are, after all, 12 days of Christmas.

  • Elaine,

    Christmas doesn’t end at Epiphany, especially when we move it to the 2nd of January, we celebrate Christmas until the Baptism of the Lord, in 2011 that is January 9th (according to the N.O.).

    I hope my posts above were taken in a spirit of jest, I agree with you, no one should be forced to say or celebrate Christmas; however, as a Christian civilization we are to celebrate Christmas and do it publicly. Most Christians around the world don’t have that option and if we don’t exercise it, we won’t have it for long either.

    The issue is not if some one can or cannot say, “Merry Christmas”, rather, it is that we should NOT defer to the secular spirit by avoiding it. If one is a true Christian believer then we are obligated to proclaim Christ under pain of death, literally. This is especially true at the Easter and Christmas Seasons, when Holy Mother Church calls on us to be especially observant of the Incarnation, Nativity, Passion, Crucifixion, death and Resurrection of Our Lord.

    When we, Christians, say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, we are essentially saying that our relationship with Christ is private. it is not private, that is a lie. Our relationship with Christ is PERSONAL and it is PUBLIC, otherwise we are failing to proclaim the Gospel to all people and that is a sin. It isn’t so much a culture war as it is dour combat with the forces of evil. We are not permitted to be lukewarm. Jesus tells us that not all those who call Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom. We can’t pretend to be Christians, we can’t put Christ away so as not to offend other people. If someone finds Christ offensive, that person is in peril of eternal damnation, if we truly love them, and we are commanded to, then we want to be His imperfect instrument to spare them from the pit.

    Until we are in the valley of Josaphat, we may never know how many people came to Christ or went to the Devil because we did or did not say, Merry Christmas. We should all err on the side of caution and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and emphasize the Mass part of ChristMASS!

  • “PS: If you are ashamed of Christ, He may be ashamed of you.”

    If you aren’t ashamed of yourself, why don’t you sign your name to the things you write? At any rate, Merry Christmas, Greg Mockeridge!

  • At any rate, Merry Christmas, Greg Mockeridge!

    Guess again Mark (and no, it’s not me).

  • There is nothing offensive about “calling the holiday what it is,” but by the same token, I also see nothing wrong with acknowledging the fact that there is more than one holiday in the holiday season. That’s why it is called “the holidays,” plural. The point I am trying to make is that no one should be trying to force or pressure anyone to celebrate in a particular way, or be offended at how others choose to celebrate. Obviously that includes genuine secularist “Christmas haters” who file lawsuits against Nativity scenes, Christmas trees, etc. However, people who go off the deep end in the other direction and think the mere use of the term “Happy Holidays” represents anti-Christian censorship do exist.

  • My apologies, Paul. Greg is the only person I know who has been signing his posts with “Seymour Butts” and “Hugh Givesaschitt” in his attempt to prove his maturity and escape detection for his trenchant critiques of my alleged betrayals of the gospel. I naturally assumed that since he posts here elsewhere under his real name, he was indulging this charming adolescent habit again. Apparently though, you have more than one adolescent coward without a sense of irony among your readers. My condolences. I hope the New Year brings American Catholic a circle of readers who don’t reinforce this tendency toward being the Ladies Auxiliary Gossip Circle. That would be a sad fate for an otherwise good and readable blog. I hope the good influences of people like Blackadder, Tito, Elaine and Darwin will curb such cowardly and juvenile behavior–not to mention the sin of bearing false witness.

    And now, in the immortal words of Sam Wainwright: “Hee Haw and Merry Christmas!” The great thing about being a jackass like me is the hope that you might get front row seats in the stable if you’re lucky!

  • Thanks, Mark, for your kind words. I’m the same Elaine who commented on your original post (“It’s the Blog War on Christmas!”), by the way.

    I actually was working on a TAC post along these lines before the Mini Blog War Over Christmas broke out, but hurried it to completion and posted it when that occurred.

    Hee haw and Merry Christmas to all of you 🙂

  • See we’re talkin’ Hee Haw right now, I reckon it’s time to share Grandpa Jones’ (of Hee Haw fame) “A Christmas Guest.”

  • Hi Elaine:

    Thanks. Inspired by the example of T. Shaw, I feel I should apologize for my last post. I think it was out of line and not according to the Spirit of Christ. Please forgive me for my lovelessness and nasty words and have a Merry Christmas.

  • I’m not sure if it’s the result of “The Antiwar on Christmas” but this year I’ve been wished a Merry Christmas an incredible number of times, everywhere from the grocery store, waiting in lines at the movies and oddly enough, work. I work at a call center and take calls all day long. Last year only 1 caller wished me a Merry Christmas, and this year 5-10 per day did. I know that’s incidental evidence, however, for the numbers to change so much, I really feel a goodly number of people have had enough of political correctness, and are going to wish others what is in their hearts to wish one another. Most of us are Christian Americans, so why not be so openly?

    There’s no need to handle this as a war–just be ourselves and not be afraid to state heartfelt wishes that others have a Merry Christmas, doing so in the Spirit of kindness and love in which it is intended. People will see thru the rhetoric to the virtues every time!

  • Happy Kwanzaa everyone!

The Perfect Messiah

Tuesday, December 21, AD 2010

I have zero tolerance for people who attempt to turn Jesus into some sort of secular political leader in order to further their own political agenda.  It’s reprehensible when done by social justice types on the religious left, and equally reprehensible when done by social conservatives.  So it saddened me to see this blog journal on Red State written by presidential aspirant Herman Cain titled “The Perfect Conservative.”  I’ll give you three guesses as to who he is talking about, and the first two don’t count.  Here’s a taste of his post:

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22 Responses to The Perfect Messiah

  • Jesus was infinitely above our mundane political battles as he demonstrated by not saying a word about the Roman occupation of Judeae, the “hotbutton” issue of His day. Attempts to put Jesus in a political box are always wrong-headed if not blapshemous.

  • Agree, Paul, that the commentator’s narrow, secular view woefully misses the point of our Blessed Lord’s divinity, which no human can adequate capture in words.
    There is so much to take issue with, but why bother debating such points, consider the source — a politician simply trying to exploit “the greatest story ever told” for his own selfish purposes.

    Bishop Sheen, in his excellent “Life of Christ,” sums up what Christ means by True Freedom:
    1. Political freedom from Caesar was not primary.
    2. True Freedom was spiritual and meant liberation from sin.
    3. To acquire this Freedom for everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, He would submit Himself voluntarily as a ransom for sin.

    Jesus said no one took His life; rather He laid it down voluntarily.

    I also agree with Mr. McClarey’s salient point that “attempts to put Jesus into a political box” are doomed to failure, as are descriptions of His human and divine nature, which eternally remain a mystery. Which is one more books have been written about Christ than anyone in history.

    As Christmas nears, I hereby post a poem by Anderson M. Scruggs on its True Meaning:

    CHRISTMAS TODAY

    How can they honor Him — the humble lad
    Whose feet struck paths of beauty through the earth —
    With all the drunken revelry, the mad
    Barter of goods that marks His day of Birth?

    How can they honor Him with flame and din,
    Whose soul was peaceful as a moon-swept sea,
    Whose thoughts were someber with the world’s great sin
    Even while He trod the hill to Calvary?

    I think if Jesus should return and see
    This hollow blasphemy, this day of horror,
    The heart that languished in Gethsemane
    Would know again as great and deep a sorrow,
    And He who charmed the troubled waves to sleep
    With deathless words — would kneel and weep.

  • OTOH: One day conservatives/lebertarians may come to understand that “eating our children” is not a winning strategy. Maybe when we’re squatting over a trash fire trying to keep warm while we starve . . .

    The forces of evil do not “eat their children.” That’s how we came to have Obama wreck our country . . .

  • While Jesus is no liberal or conservative, he was, and is, certainly political. It is a mistake — a mistake that caused the disaster of secular humanism — to separate the body from the soul, the person from the community, and mercy from justice. Salvation does not occur to individuals, but to persons living in communion — a communion marked by not only love, but justice.

    Salvation, then, must include the political and social realms. And these realms were addressed with wisdom and force by Jesus in the Gospels. The most revolutionary of these teachings, what Pope Benedict called “the nucleus of the Christian revolution” is his teaching on the real nature of love — “Love your enemies”.

    By making love something private, spiritual, and merely devotional, by stripping love of its political force — a force that moves not merely mountains, but Empires and Civilizations — we turn Jesus into a figment of our own imaginations.

    Indeed, putting the Gospel into political action is a hard problem. Thank God for the Church and its Social Doctrine. I suggest every purchase and read (twice) a copy of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, as well as reading Pope Benedict’s Spe Salvi a few times.

    Peace and blessings to you all as we head into Christmas!

  • How is the restoration of the King’s rightful authority anything other but conservative? How is an ethic which leads naturally to people working with their hands to earn their daily bread anything but conservative? Large parts of our faith have been hijacked by people who would, if they were given their way, actually kill off the human species and bring an un-redeemed end to as many people as possible. Perhaps it was in poor taste for Cain to do this, but it wasn’t wrong in matters of fact.

  • Nate, where in this do you see the suggestion that we privatize the Gospels? Or the idea that we ought to “separate the body from the soul, the person from the community, and mercy from justice”?

  • What a silly post. I mean the original one being quoted here. “The liberal court”? Really?

    There’s a great deal of validity to the argument that a Christian society should have a minimal state, and that left-wing social engineering destroys the soul and the Christian faith. But that doesn’t make Christianity automatically “conservative” either. Conservatism is for us fallen and flawed humans. It’s not a divine institution.

  • Zach,

    When we say, as Paul did, that “our religious faith should inform our political choices,” then we’re going in the direction of eventually saying, as Donald did, that “Jesus was infinitely above our mundane political battles” — this is a narrowing of the Gospel to saving individuals rather than redeeming the person who can only exist in community.

    Pope Benedict in Spe Salvi describes this situation well:

    “16. How could the idea have developed that Jesus’s message is narrowly individualistic and aimed only at each person singly? How did we arrive at this interpretation of the “salvation of the soul” as a flight from responsibility for the whole, and how did we come to conceive the Christian project as a selfish search for salvation which rejects the idea of serving others?”

    On separating the body from the soul, it is an old gnostic tendency — to degrade creation itself as fatally flawed, as even the creation of an evil deity, and to propose liberation from the body as the key to salvation. In such a scenario, earthly politics is a diversion and red-herring, if not an outright obstacle to salvation. And so mercy becomes an individual route to salvation, rather than the key to justice on earth.

  • I don’t see how my comments even remotely come close to “narrowing the Gospel.” It’s a twisting of words to transform them into some abstract definition so that Nate can come in and say I’m contradicting the Pope, when clearly I am not. There is nothing “individualistic” in suggesting that our religious faith should inform our political choices – in fact it’s quite the opposite. If we are truly inspired by Christ’s ministry then we can make our polity conform to the heavenly ideal. All I’ve said in this post is that transforming Christ into some kind of ideological leftist or rightist, and especially using modern conceptions of the terms, is itself narrowing and, as has been suggested by others, fairly blasphemous.

  • Paul, I didn’t say that you contradicted the Pope, only that your words were “going in the direction” of narrowing the Gospel. For example, do you believe that forgiving “seventy times seven” has any place in a criminal justice system?

  • For example, do you believe that forgiving “seventy times seven” has any place in a criminal justice system?

    No.

  • The liberal court found Him guilty of false offences and sentenced Him to death

    I thought “liberal” courts were against the death penalty?

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  • Paul? I’m assuming that your response will be similar to Art’s, but I might be wrong, and if so, please take no offense.

    Forgiving seventy times seven has a place at the heart of any system of justice, for as the Church teaches, there is “no justice without forgiveness” and without forgiveness, justice “betrays itself” (see JPII’s ‘Rich in Mercy’ and his many World Day of Peace messages). The grave injustices inflicting our world will continue until Christ is put at the center of the social institutions that are responsible for addressing injustice.

    Restorative Justice, as a political proposal, comes closest (although with many secular problems) to the type of politics that flows from the Gospel:

    http://www.restorejustice.com/index.php
    http://web.usfca.edu/uploadedFiles/Destinations/Institutes_and_Centers/Lane/Publications/Denk2.29.08.pdf
    http://www.nccbuscc.org/sdwp/criminal.shtml

    If the mercy of Christ is excluded from governance, and limited to individual action rather than social relationships, then the Gospel has been narrowed.

  • Nate, have you considered that perhaps the way towards mercy and establishing the love of Christ in the world is at least partially through retributive justice?

  • Paul, I have given it a fair deal of thought. I’m interested in how you would define retributive justice, both in principle and in practice. Some thoughts:

    Cardinal Dulles wrote about the Death Penalty in First Things, and presented a good definition of retributive justice, I think: “Just retribution . . . seeks to establish the right order of things,” which is actually simply a restatement of the definition of justice itself — the right order of things. It seems to me that ‘retributive’ justice is not really a category of justice, but a proposed way of arriving at justice — through a tit-for-tat, an eye for an eye, a balancing of the scales.

    It is quite interesting, however, that Cardinal Dulles offers this explanation for retributive justice: “guilt calls for punishment . . . sin calls for the deprivation of some good.” What is strange, however, is that while St. Paul speaks of the death as the “wages” of sin — sin as being inherently itself a deprivation or disorder of good — retributive justice seems to assume that sin does not automatically or inherently cause a deprivation of good. Rather, an external act must ensure that an eye is taken for an eye, that death follows sin. And so Cardinal Dulles notes: “Retribution by the State can only be a symbolic anticipation of God’s perfect justice.”

    This is quite a statement! We live in a world where evil seems, contrary to our theology and contrary to our scripture, to flourish without consequence. The wages of sin is death, but murderers and mass-murderers live to a ripe old age while the innocent die in their cribs (if not wombs). So where is God’s justice? Surely sin deserves death! But where is death? And so men go one step further and say not only that sin causes death, but that sin ‘calls’ for death. And so in an effort to fulfill this ‘call’, humans ‘symbolically’ enact God’s justice through their laws, courts, prisons, and executions.

    And yet injustice continues, grows, and the scales do not balance, but become worse.

    Is it possible that sin does not ‘call’ for death, but that sin is death itself?

    My conclusion, and I believe it is the Church’s conclusion, is that the punishment for sin is sin itself, for sin does not exist — sin itself is a disorder, a deprivation. The punishment, for example, of homosexuality is . . . homosexuality itself. The punishment of murder is . . . being a murderer. With homosexuality and murder comes broken relationships, hatreds, psychosis, and all kinds of evils. Justice does not require more evils to be heaped upon homosexuals and murderers. Justice, if the form of Christ, does the opposite — it seeks out the lost, corrects them, forgives them, heals them, and lifts the burden of evil from their shoulders.

    So then, the modern Church teaches that punishment serves two purposes: defending society and correcting the sinner. It no longer mentions retribution, and if it does (as in Cardinal Dulles’ case), it only does so by mentioning its ‘symbolic’ nature.

  • Nate, a concrete example. Several years ago I was involved in a custody fight between a mother and a father regarding a little girl and an infant boy. The parents had never been married. After two years of court hearings the mother was awarded custody and the father was granted liberal visitation. Over Thanksgiving visitation in 2002, the father shot to death the little girl who was 6 and the little boy who was three. It was his way of reversing the custody decision. For good measure he also shot to death his live in girl friend. He dumped the bodies of the little children in a river. A nation-wide man hunt ensued. After he was apprehended he refused to say where the children were, other than that “they are in a better place.” The mother spent an agonizing three weeks suspended between hope and despair before the body of her son was recovered by a fisherman. The next day, after a massive search, her daughter’s body was also found in the river. The father was sentenced to life imprisonment. As you view Christ’s admonition to forgive seventy times seven, what impact, if any, should that statement have on the penalty assessed by the law for this triple murder?

  • That is quite horrific, Donald, and very evil. I don’t think I’m well qualified, or informed enough, to give concrete . . . what would it even be? Advice? Suggestions? But some thoughts?

    In this case, I think the man poses a clear danger to others, and society needs to be protected from him until he finds redemption and healing — a process that may not be finished on earth, especially considering that his time in the American criminal justice system may not be conducive to conversion and penance.

    The impact that Christ’s admonition would, or should, have, is in making the American criminal justice system conducive to conversion, penance, and mutual forgiveness — leading eventually to a ‘new man’ capable of living in community.

  • Forgiving seventy times seven has a place at the heart of any system of justice, for as the Church teaches, there is “no justice without forgiveness” and without forgiveness, justice “betrays itself” (see JPII’s ‘Rich in Mercy’ and his many World Day of Peace messages).

    Forgiving ‘seventy times seven’ has a place in human relations generally. However, when you are making public policy, you have to ask whether the procedure you follow is ‘scalable’. With regard to what is done to practice mercy – which is to say the refinement of justice to adapt to very particular circumstances – it is likely not. You add a great deal of discretionary authority to the practice of criminal justice and you will not get mercy, you will get California ca. 1977. Court systems are cleavers, not scalpels.

  • “The impact that Christ’s admonition would, or should, have, is in making the American criminal justice system conducive to conversion, penance, and mutual forgiveness — leading eventually to a ‘new man’ capable of living in community.”

    Rehabilitation is enshrined in most of the penal codes of most states Nate, along with punishment. Rehabilitation in my experience works rather well for people who commit misdemeanors. For most people a one time experience with the criminal justice system, not to mention paying the fee of their defense attorney, is all they need to be on the straight and narrow. The question is more difficult for people convicted of serious crimes, felonies. Often times these people are enmeshed in a life where criminal activity is fairly constant. Efforts are undertaken to rehabilitate them, however. The female prison in my village of Dwight has a wonderful program with the inmates training guide dogs that has had good results. The ministerial association here is active in helping the inmates in the prison and reminding them that they are not forgotten. However, my experience does indicate that with some criminals the best that be hoped for is that they are locked up securely so that they cannot hurt others. It is hard to strike a balance between justice and mercy but the law does try, usually with the type of mixed results that all efforts of fallen man tend to produce.

  • Everybody (except ignorant, knuckle-dragging neanderthals like Sarah Palin and me) knows the perfect messiah is Barracks Obama.

  • The ministerial association here is active in helping the inmates in the prison and reminding them that they are not forgotten.

    Appropriate for a charitable fellowship whose particular concern is straightening out convicts. Rather more problematic when conducted by state employees on salary. Also problematic is state employees (e.g. parole boards) offering benefits to convicts (e.g. early release) based on speculative judgments (about their inner life or about what they are likely to do in the future). Might suggest that the task of prison and jail wardens is to be one component of a chain of practices which render the relationship between acts and consequences as predictable as possible, and the task of the Church and the congregations to persuade convicts to behave better.

Get Over it Driehaus!

Tuesday, December 21, AD 2010

Faithful readers of TAC will recall that Steve Driehaus is the Democrat Congressman of Ohio 1.  (Soon to be former Congressman since he had his walking papers given to him by the voters of the District on election day. )  Prior to the election Driehaus sued the Susan B. Anthony list over this ad:

As I stated at the time this was a classically stupid move on the part of Driehaus:

“He doesn’t want you to see the ad above. He is desperate because he trails his opponent Steve Chabot by double digits according to a recent poll.  He is one of the incumbent Democrat Congressmen who have been cast adrift by the Democrat party because their re-election races appear hopeless.  He is also one of the “pro-life” Democrat Congressman who voted for ObamaCare.    The Susan B. Anthony List paid for a billboard to remind the constituents of Driehaus that ObamaCare allows for public funding of abortions.  Driehaus complained to the Ohio Election Commission, claiming that the ad is misleading.  A hearing is scheduled for the end of October.  The attorneys for Driehaus strong armed the owner of the billboard not to allow the ad until the Commission has issued a ruling.  The President of the Susan B. Anthony List Marjorie Dannenfelser has stated in regard to Driehaus and his lack of familiarity with the first amendment:

The Ohio Elections Commission has allowed Steve Driehaus to achieve his strategic objective of preventing constituents from learning the truth about his vote in favor of taxpayer funding of abortion in the health care reform bill. We are disappointed and surprised that the complaint was not immediately dismissed. The fact that the health care reform bill allows for taxpayer funding of abortion has been agreed upon by every major pro-life group in the country, including National Right to Life, Americans United for Life, Focus on the Family, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The larger problem here is a public official’s attempt to use a criminal statue to silence legitimate debate on his record. The proper place for public policy debate is in the public square, not in an Elections Commission or criminal court. The SBA List will see this process through to the end and vigorously defend our position that the health care reform bill, supported by Steve Driehaus, allows for taxpayer funding of abortion. Moreover, we will use every vehicle possible within our First Amendment rights to communicate this message to the people of Congressman Steve Driehaus’ district between now and the hearing.

Of course by attempting to suppress the billboard, Driehaus has ensured that it has been seen by far more people over the internet and in newspaper and television stories than would have ever seen the billboard.  Brilliant.  Desperate and stupid is a poor combination in politics.”

Well, the election is over, so one can assume that Driehaus is busy seeking honest employment?  Of course not!  As Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal, a blog I peruse every day, notes:

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4 Responses to Get Over it Driehaus!

Joe Biden’s War on Christmas

Tuesday, December 21, AD 2010

 

Reason TV has fun with recent statements by Veep and National Clown Joe Biden that the lame duck Democrat 111th  Congress should stay in session up to Christmas in order to pass legislation now that would not have  a prayer of passing after the 112th Congress is sworn in next month.  I think Reason TV is being unfair to Jolly Joe.  I think  he loves Christmas with all of its bright lights, colorful presents and good food, not to mention the day off.  Joe has always been up for a good party, and to say otherwise is simply not true.

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Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Monday, December 20, AD 2010

I am a big supporter of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). Unfortunately, the policy the Senate repealed on Saturday wasn’t the policy I wanted to see repealed.

To be sure, DADT as applied to gays in the military was eventually going to be repealed, even if it was a prudent attempt to prevent relationships within a unit that could endanger lives. I’ll let the military people decide about that. But we should understand what DADT really banned: it banned gays from openly discussing their homosexuality in the military.

So now that homosexuals have won the right to discuss their homosexuality, I wonder if they will be willing to repeal the social policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that is currently applied to Christians who want to discuss their Christianity.

How many times have Christians been told that their religion needs to be kept to themselves? I’m not merely talking about the political sphere here, though to be sure that applies. I’m also talking about every other area: social media, work, art, etc. Even in sermons, priests and preachers are criticized if the homily is too controversial or too Christians. Faith can only be discussed among small groups of like-minded believers in whispers as if the Church was an underground resistance movement. If the faith is to be brought to a broader audience, Christians have been reduced to trying to sneak their faith “through the gate” as CS Lewis described.

If religion is going to cease to be something people just do in the privacy of their homes & churches on Sunday and become a real and revitalizing part of American life, then the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy as applied to Christians has to be done away. After all, if homosexuals (as they argued) cannot truly be themselves unless they can openly discuss their sexuality, why do we have the idea that Christians can be (and indeed must be) Christians while not openly discussing their faith?

Sadly, I imagine the forces behind Saturday’s repeal are among the most avid advocates of the DADT policy as applied to Christians.

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7 Responses to Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

  • The liberal progressives who “aggressively” sought the repeal of DADT for military personnel now have the right to include those same liberated soldiers in their infamous rants and wailings on how inherently evil the armed protectors of our “freedoms” are. Some liberation, some progress, some “rights” victory for our troops who have volunteered to provide cover for malcontents and the right to be legally and verbally assaulted by their comrades with a different “lifestyle”. The slope gets slippery with each concession to political correctness.

  • It seems as if the regime does not approve the Church’s teachings on faith and morals.

    Thanks for voting in the tyrants.

  • Societies have their ethic and their manners and orthodoxies. I would seriously doubt that a society where free discussion of the moral codes of the Church or the (non-decadent) protestant congregations was undertaken would be one where free discussion of (one’s own) sexual perversion was undertaken, or would be one for very long. There are stable equilibria and inchoate situations or unstable equilibria.

    Consider the following hypothesis: the homosexual population forms a sort of dyad with various sectors: the helping professions and the eductional apparat and the newsroom and the chatterati, and the dyad has as its bond a mutual exchange of ego satisfactions. (See Thomas Sowell’s Vision of the Anointed on the function of ‘mascot groups’). This sort of exchange has nothing to do with comity or liberality.

    Now consider these remarks from Prof. Jeremy Waldron (in an essay titled, “Secularism and the Limits of Community”):

    I wonder, though, how typical this is. When I read the Catholic
    case against gay marriage, for example, I am not convinced by it; but I
    find there is very little Leviticus-quoting or invocation of papal
    authority. What I read are elaborate tissues of argument and reason,
    open to disputation and vulnerable in the usual way to quibble, rejoinder,
    and refutation. Certainly the arguments have an infuriating quality –
    they read, as Richard Posner once said of John Finnis’s writings, as
    though they had been translated out of medieval Latin. But actually
    what’s infuriating about people like Finnis is not any adamantine
    fundamentalism but their determination to actually argue on matters that
    many secular liberals think should be beyond argument, matters that we
    think should be determined by shared sentiment or conviction. My
    experience is that many who are convinced of the gay rights position are
    upset more by the fact that their argumentative religious opponents
    refuse to take the liberal position for granted than they are by the more
    peremptory tactics of the “bible-bashers.”

    Again, orthodoxies.

    Appended to this is the aggression of the gay press and gay lobby, which is fairly blatant and given a free pass by the liberal establishment.

    We can either deal with it or deal with dhimmi status.

  • Another step to normalize homosexual behavior. Such efforts contradict human nature and natural law. As a priest I knew once said, “God forgives everything, men some things and nature nothing.” We’ll see how nature ultimately reacts.

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  • Re “So now that homosexuals have won the right to discuss their homosexuality, I wonder if they will be willing to repeal the social policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that is currently applied to Christians who want to discuss their Christianity.”, the argument is murky: is the target the military? (if so, its disingenuous since Christians discuss their Christianity all the time in the military.)

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Homosexuals in the Military: O Brave New World!

Sunday, December 19, AD 2010

 

“You all remember,” said the Controller, in his strong deep voice, “you all remember, I suppose, that beautiful and inspired saying of Our Ford’s: History is bunk. History,” he repeated slowly, “is bunk.”

             
 He waved his hand; and it was as though, with an invisible feather wisk, he had brushed away a little dust, and the dust was Harappa, was Ur of the Chaldees; some spider-webs, and they were Thebes and Babylon and Cnossos and Mycenae. Whisk. Whisk–and where was Odysseus, where was Job, where were Jupiter and Gotama and Jesus? Whisk–and those specks of antique dirt called Athens and Rome, Jerusalem and the Middle Kingdom–all were gone. Whisk–the place where Italy had been was empty. Whisk, the cathedrals; whisk, whisk, King Lear and the Thoughts of Pascal. Whisk, Passion; whisk, Requiem; whisk, Symphony; whisk …
 

 
 
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

 

As a parting “gift” to the nation, the lame duck Democrat controlled 111th Congress passed legislation yesterday repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and now homosexuals may serve openly in the military.  The interesting secret about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is that it tended to be an escape mechanism out of the military for homosexuals, and those claiming to be homosexuals.  In recent years about 500 individuals have on average been discharged annually with about 80% announcing their homosexuality in order to be released from service.  I quote Melissa, a lesbian and a former medic, on how “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has worked in practice:

Many people used the “Im gay” tactic to get out of BCT (Basic Combat Training), or AIT (Advanced Individual Training) when I first enlisted. If the dont ask dont tell policy is repealed, this will help to stop “cowards” from enlisting. DADT was a cop out beyond recognition that people used to escape the military life, pre-deployment/assignment, and post-deployment.

 I assume that the number of homosexuals in the military is relatively small, probably as a fraction of the military less than the percentage of the adult population that is homosexual.  The impact of the change in policy is difficult to say since no militaries that actually fight wars, as opposed to the militaries of most European powers that are now largely ceremonial in nature, have long track records of homosexuals openly serving. 

I fear that the military will now come under pressure to make  the military a “welcoming environment” for homosexuals, and that troops who hold to a moral code that regards homosexual conduct as morally abhorent, the overwhelming consensus in Western culture from the triumph of Christianity until around 1970, will find themselves under increasing pressure to conform to the belief that, in Jerry Seinfeld’s phrase, “there is nothing wrong with that” in regard to homosexuality. 

 Of course that is the whole purpose for this farce, just as with “gay marriage”:  to put the imprimatur of the State on the idea that homosexuality and heterosexuality are morally equivalent and that only benighted bigots think otherwise.  This of course is directly contrary to the teaching of the Church as clearly pointed out by then Cardinal Ratzinger in 1986:

 

7. The Church, obedient to the Lord who founded her and gave to her the sacramental life, celebrates the divine plan of the loving and live-giving union of men and women in the sacrament of marriage. It is only in the marital relationship that the use of the sexual faculty can be morally good. A person engaging in homosexual behaviour therefore acts immorally.

To chose someone of the same sex for one’s sexual activity is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of the Creator’s sexual design. Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living. This does not mean that homosexual persons are not often generous and giving of themselves; but when they engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent.

As in every moral disorder, homosexual activity prevents one’s own fulfillment and happiness by acting contrary to the creative wisdom of God. The Church, in rejecting erroneous opinions regarding homosexuality, does not limit but rather defends personal freedom and dignity realistically and authentically understood.

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28 Responses to Homosexuals in the Military: O Brave New World!

  • I am glad to see DADT go. It was a typically cynical Clintonian compromise that never made a whole lot of sense. I don’t know of many other workplaces in the United States where a person can be fired for self-identifying as a homosexual, and I see very little upside in making life more difficult for people with petty restrictions on speech. More broadly, I am against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. If, in fact, it was primarily used as an easy out from the military, it makes the policy all that much more preposterous.

  • Just a thank you note to obama catholics:

    Thanks for ruining my country!

  • Just another win-win: it either weakens the military really obviously, or gives them another “victory” like the integration of women. (Which, I’m sorry to tell any folks who hold fond beliefs about it– didn’t work so very well.)

  • Even though I’m relatively ambivalent about the change, I find the comparison to the workplace to be inappropriate. In what other workplace are the “workers” expected to spends months and months in close quarters under extraordinarily stressful circumstances? Serving in the military ain’t exactly sitting in a cubicle everyday.

    I also agree with Donald that it’s slimy to do this in a lameduck session. Congress had two years to do this, and now they’re doing at the 11th hour when many members have been booted out of office.

  • Thank you for beating me to it Paul. Men in combat units are together in frequently appalling conditions for 24-7 in wartime for very lenthy periods. There are also precious few jobs in the civilian world where unit integrity and morale often means the difference between coming home alive and coming home in a body bag. The ironic thing is that most of the proponents of this change would never dream of spending a day in the military. The harm that this exercise in “let’s pretend” causes may be cushioned by that fact.

  • Any diversity hurts unit cohesion. But it seems to me that all the reasons opponents give for why the military is unlike other work environments (e.g., close quarters) are exactly the reasons why the negative effects will be less, not more.

  • Only if you assume that bunking men and women in the same room will decrease issues with unit cohesion and completion of duties.

  • This is a non-event. What exactly does being “openly gay” in the military mean, anyway? Looking fabulous while dying in immoral, costly and impossible-to-win wars? Putting a few more parades on the calendar?

    Fact is our armed service men (and, unfortunately, women) should be judged by their actions, not their inclinations. Frankly, I’m surprised this hasn’t come sooner in order to meet recruitment goals. Heck, aren’t felons even at times granted waivers to enter the armed services?

    This issue is the least of the problems surrounding how America sees and utilizes her military forces.

  • Thank you for beating me to it Paul. Men in combat units are together in frequently appalling conditions for 24-7 in wartime for very lenthy periods. There are also precious few jobs in the civilian world where unit integrity and morale often means the difference between coming home alive and coming home in a body bag. The ironic thing is that most of the proponents of this change would never dream of spending a day in the military.

    Even granting that 1) military employment is different than other employment; 2) that integrity and morale are important; and 3) that most proponents would never dream of spending a day in the military, does it follow that banning homosexuals from self-identifying is a good policy? Does that help morale or promote integrity (it seems to me it promotes the opposite)?

  • Frankly, I’m surprised this hasn’t come sooner in order to meet recruitment goals.

    Because anyone with nodding familiarity with the military knows it’ll work the opposite way?

    Military: overwhelmingly conservative, socially.
    Homosexuals who are not willing to serve without being “open”: tiny fraction.
    Yeah, let’s spit in the face of the overwhelming number of folks who are willing to fight and die for chicken feed so we can help recruitment….

    Face facts, we all know what’s going to happen. They’ll talk and talk about how any harassment by homosexuals will be stepped on hard, but those who are harassed and speak out about it will be the ones stepped on. I already lived that with lesbians in the service.

    Worked with some homosexual guys. The willingness to put in the tiny fraction of effort required not to “tell” made a big difference in everyone’s behavior.

    And yes, DADT was also a safety valve to get folks who are really desperate to get out a way to do so without throwing themselves down a stairwell. Better french-kissing a civilian in front of the entire chain of command at the squadron picnic, or getting “caught” making out halfway through bootcamp by the chief on his rounds than killing yourself or getting someone else hurt trying to save your tail. (Both examples that I know of first hand– female and male, respectively.)

  • I haven’t been in the military myself, but an acquaintance of mine is a Navy veteran from the late 1980s, before DADT. He did have some difficulties with a fellow sailor/officer who was later discharged for being gay and he has been firmly opposed to the notion of gays in the military ever since. At that time, I believe, sodomy was still a crime in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (and it may still be for all I know, although that is going to have to change under the new policy, of course).

    As for DADT being used as a cop out by cowards wanting out of their enlistment, well, what were these people doing enlisting in the first place? Trying to get educational and other veteran’s benefits, most likely, but it seems to me that anyone with an IQ above a houseplant realizes that it’s not exactly peacetime anymore, and enlisting in either active duty or Guard/Reserve service means you are more likely than not to end up in a combat zone sometime in the next 4 years. The days when enlisting in the National Guard was a virtual guarantee you would NEVER see combat ended with Desert Storm 20 years ago.

    I could perhaps see repeal of DADT being justified if there were a draft in effect and vast numbers of prospective draftees were claiming to be gay so they would be rejected. However, that is not the current situation.

    If the idea is to encourage more people to enlist, I fear it will end up having the opposite effect — especially among the more socially conservative and religiously observant young men (and women) who tend to see military service in a positive light and as an honorable calling. It will almost certainly make the already acute shortage of Catholic chaplains in the military even worse.

  • The folks whose motives for getting out I’m familiar with weren’t worried about combat. It was simply that the military was nothing like what they’d expected, and they couldn’t manage it. When you think of how few folks have been in (less than one in ten for the total US population) and consider that the movies are usually way off, the TV shows are bass-ackwards, their teachers, role models, public figures and relatives who served more recently than WWII are likely to be either quiet or anti-military activists, and each of the services has become a punchline for most folks, there’s going to be folks who join and have no idea what they’re getting into.

    Oh, and the Sodomy one is Article 125; defined as “unnatural carnal copulation.” The ‘solution’ is obvious, as it will be when some loon who married his dog is an officer.

  • More broadly, I am against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

    Just out of curiosity, why is that?

  • St. Augustine wrote that we should love sinnners with Christian charity for as long as they live, they may come to virtue, i.e., repent, confess, do penance, amend our lives, and through good works glorify Almighty God.

    How will sinners come to virtue if the Church fails to try to save them, and is that charitable?

    With this enactment, if a Chaplain that tries to save a gay’s soul, will he be court-martialed?

    What has the Church done to answer the secular sanctification of sodomy?

    One will not get into Heaven if ones commits sodomy or votes democrat.

  • “It was simply that the military was nothing like what they’d expected, and they couldn’t manage it.”

    Foxfier, back in the Seventies this “motivational speech” (extreme content advisory!) from Full Metal Jacket was fairly accurate as to the first difficult days of military service.

  • Remember the major plot point in that movie that comes of not handling it?

    Either way, in the kinder, gentler, integrated forces I’ve seen– nope. (Marine training is still different I hear, in part because they don’t integrate at that point.)

  • “Remember the major plot point in that movie that comes of not handling it?”

    Vividly, although the actor R. Lee Ermey was an actual Marine Drill Instructor who made it through his career without being shot by either enemies or “friendlies”.

  • Best commercial ever by a former Marine DI

  • He also, last time I checked, always ran his roles through the Marines before he’d accept them. (Which also let him wear a real uniform.)

  • As a Navy veteran, raised to believe that homosexuality is a sin and the type of behavior that is detrimental to unit cohesion and espirit de corps, I remain convinced that repeal of DADT is a major blunder.

    Homosexuality is not compatible with military discipline and order. This is not about civil rights but about not meeting reasonable well-established criteria in place for decades.

    Robert Reilly, in an article titled the “Culture of Vice,” stated it well:

    “Since only the act of sodomy differentiates an active homosexual from a heterosexual, homosexuals want “government and society” to affirm that sodomy is morally equivalent to the marital act. “Coming out of the closet” can only mean an assent on the level of moral principle to what would otherwise be considered morally disordered.

    “And so it must be. If you are going to center your public life on the private act of sodomy, you had better transform sodomy into a highly moral act. If sodomy is a moral disorder, it cannot be legitimately advanced on the legal or civil level. On the other hand, if it is a highly moral act, it should serve as the basis for marriage, family (adoption), and community. As a moral act, sodomy should be normative. If it is normative, it should be taught in our schools as a standard. In fact, homosexuality should be hieratic: active homosexuals should be ordained as priests. All of this is happening. It was predictable. The homosexual cause moved naturally from a plea for tolerance to cultural conquest. How successful that conquest has been can be seen in the poverty of the rhetoric of its opponents. In supporting the Defense of Marriage Act, the best one congressman could do was to say, “America is not yet ready for homosexual marriage,” as if we simply need a decent interval to adjust ourselves to its inevitable arrival.

    “The homosexual rationalization is so successful that even the campaign against AIDS is part of it, with its message that “everyone is at risk.” If everyone is at risk, the disease cannot be related to specific behavior. Yet homosexual acts are the single greatest risk factor in catching AIDS. This unpleasant fact invites unwelcome attention to the nature of homosexual acts, so it must be ignored.”

  • Does that help morale or promote integrity (it seems to me it promotes the opposite)?

    Since when does integrity require self-disclosure?

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  • I have no objection to a member of the armed services having either homosexual inclinations or desires, provided that person has the self-control to deal with that. If that was all stopping DADT would do, I doubt many people would object.

    However, what is objectionable is the forcing of the change in culture, values, standards, practices, and beliefs that will necessarily follow. Terrible social engineering will be the inevitable consequence in our present climate.

    For example, the unit’s dining out or dining in events (of whatever name) will now present the quandry of allowing everyone’s “date” or excluding everyone’s. So here you will have to acknowledge the validity of the relationship in a rather public way.

    Further, once open homosexuals are OK, this makes it rather difficult to hold a position against “spousel” benefits for these individuals.

    Then there is the housing/living issue. Do we force the homosexuals and heterosexuals to share quarters? Do you allow homosexuals to bunk together? How can you justify seperate gender facilities after this? It will be nearly impossible for rules regarding fraternization to be enforced when dealing with same-sex relations, so therefore all the rules on that will have to go eventually.

    This complete revolution in values will not happen instantly, it will take time. However, it will happen.

    The worst is, I am willing to predict it will end with needless death. Be it a lover spurned, or a homosexual that can’t abide the beliefs of his fellows, or a fundamentalist that condemns homosexuals, someone is going to wind up either fragging or simply allowing the death of someone over this. Needless to say if there is even slight suspicion involving a homosexual being unfarely put in danger by a heterosexual it will be investigate, but any other such scenario will just be ignored.

  • Anthony wrote: “What exactly does being “openly gay” in the military mean, anyway?”

    That’s the problem…defining terms. What does “openly” mean?

    In a sense it can even be related to the workplace. Men and women can’t walk around the workplace being “openly heterosexual” either in the sense that they are there to do a job, not discuss the details of or seek new relationships in their private lives.

    To the extent that they do the latter more than the former, they compromise their ability to do their job well…not something you need on a battlefield where lives are at stake.

  • Stacy…like a judge once said about pornography, can’t define it but I know it when I see it…same with gay behavior and demeanor…To the observant eye it’s detectable. There are obvious overt examples, which lend themselves to parodies in movies and TV (limp wrist, speech), as well as body language that are clear giveaways. Male homosexuality is easier to spot than lesbian behavior which is much more subtle. For the most telling examples, see gay parades vs. St. Patrick’s parade for stark contrasts in behavior. Sexuality is the major component of the former (depraved dress, kissing, hand-holding, etc.), while in the latter, the celebration has nothing to do with sexuality.

    Of course, now someone will play the homophobe card and accused me of stereotyping, which comes about because stereotypes and cliches survive because they are closer to the truth than fabrications and euphemisms.

  • I agree that we must love our neighbors but in loving our neighbors we need not embrase their sin. We must look at the effects of homosexuality and why Christianity condemns the practice. I think it is important to look as to why homosexuality is not just a “life style choice”. Below are some facts about homosexuality:
    – Domestic violence is 2x more likely in homosexual couples than hetrosexual couples;
    – Homosexuals are 100x more likely to be murders;
    – Homosexuals are 25x more likely to commit suicide;
    – Homosexuals have an “unhealthy” lifestyle: 78% have STD, etc.:
    – Male homosexuals live to an average age of 42 and female homosexuals 45; and
    – 25-33% of homosexuals are alcoholics.

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1502263/posts
    and
    http://www.conservapedia.com/Homosexuality_Statistics

    These effects translate into policy and taxation issues: need to overstaff to meet increase in sick days, increase in military and VA funding for increase in medical costs, etc.

  • The repeal of DADT means that homosexuals have been given the “civil right” of bunking with and showering with those they are sexually attracted to. I’m surprised they haven’t made it a “civil right” for heterosexual males to bunk with and shower with females.

  • “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition” (#2358)

    #2359, for example, the Catechism says that gays and lesbians who live chastely “can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”

    “The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God” (#1700)

One Response to Adeste Fideles

TAC Bowl Pick’em

Friday, December 17, AD 2010

There’s still time to get in your picks for the Bowl Pick’Em game here at TAC. To encourage you, Jay Anderson & I have provided you with our picks & our comments about each bowl. Dave Hartline as well as commenter Nicholas Jagneux have also sent in picks, which I’ll show at the end. Again, your picks are definitely appreciated and we’ll take them until 1 o’clock CST tomorrow (when the New Mexico Bowl starts).

But first, another reminder to repeat “Leaders” and “Legends” to the nearest Big 10 fan you know.  Whatever dignity the Big 10 had is gone…ouch.

So let’s talk about the bowls!

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9 Responses to TAC Bowl Pick’em

  • There are signs the Big-10 is coming to its senses on the idiotic division names.

    http://www.freep.com/article/20101217/SPORTS07/101217025/1319/Big-Ten-may-rethink–football-division-names

    90%+ disapproval will cause some soul-searching. Even when you’re as clueless as the solons of the Big-10 administration.

  • ” since I’m not being paid to shill for these companies, I have eliminated the sponsors “

    When I submitted my picks, that was one of the two thoughts in my head as I typed them out.

    The other was: The names are long; it’s late; and I’m lazy.

  • @ Ohio vs Troy, Fla. Int vs Toledo, and Miami (OH) vs Midd. Tenn: I’ll take the MAC over the Sunbelt, too. With the Ragin’ Cajuns just 45 miles from home, I’m used to seeing Sun Belt teams stink things up.

    @ Army v SMU: Considering I had Navy and Air Force losing earlier, I felt that Army would try to uphold the military’s honor — in the Armed Forces bowl, no less.

    @ Pitt vs Kentucky: Although I took the Volunteers because they’re SEC, there was no way I could pick the Wildcats.

    @ Stanford vs Va. Tech, Air Force vs. Ga. Tech, Miami vs Notre Dame: I took Va. Tech, Ga. Tech, and Miami against better judgment to “set my picks apart”, as Jay says.

    Thanks to TAC, I’ll actually pay attention to the bowl game scores this year.

    Good luck, everyone; especially to me. 🙂

  • Dale:

    That’s good. Even if the geography isn’t accurate, who cares? Geographical division names is the way to go. The Saints have been in the NFC West, the Colts are in the AFC South, and the Cowboys are in the NFC East. I know the geography doesn’t make it perfect for the Big 10, but just give it a geography name and people will be ok with it.

    However, as an SEC fan who thinks the Big 10 is a little trumped up on its own legacy, I will always use these names. 😉

  • Here’s a list of some bygone bowls for some kicks: http://blogs.forbes.com/monteburke/2010/12/06/college-bowl-game-names-the-weirdest-and-wackiest/

    Like one of the comments pointed out, the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl shoulda been there.

  • BYU to beat UTEP
    Fresno State to beat Northern Illinois
    Ohio to beat Troy
    Southern Miss to beat Louisville
    Boise State to beat Utah
    Navy to beat San Diego State
    Hawaii to beat Tulsa
    Toledo to beat Florida Intl.
    Air Force to beat Georgia Tech
    West Virginia to beat North Carolina St.
    Iowa to beat Missouri
    East Carolina to beat Maryland
    Illinois to beat Baylor
    Oklahoma State to beat Arizona
    SMU to beat Army
    Kansas State to beat Syracuse
    North Carolina to beat Tennessee
    Nebraska to beat Washington
    Clemson to beat South Florida
    Notre Dame to beat Miami (FL)
    Georgia to beat UCF
    South Carolina to beat Florida State
    Northwestern to beat Texas Tech
    Alabama to beat Michigan State
    Florida to beat Penn State
    Mississippi State to beat Michigan
    Wisconsin to beat TCU
    Oklahoma to beat UConn
    Stanford to beat Virginia Tech
    Ohio State to beat Arkansas
    Middle Tenn St. to beat Miami-Ohio
    LSU to beat Texas A&M
    Kentucky to beat Pittsburgh
    Nevada to beat Boston College
    Auburn to beat Oregon

  • Wisconsin will cream TCU, but then what would you expect from a transplanted cheesehead? Auburn? Give the points. As for the rest, who cares?

  • We’re halfway done, and I’m failing badly: 8-10, so far.

    Hopefully, there’s some redemption today heading into the the New Year.

  • (Hit “Submit Comment” too soon above.)

    I meant to add that I owe the Sunbelt Conference an apology. Congratulations to Troy and Florida International. Can Middle Tennessee pull off the trifecta?

Divided Thoughts over the Tax Deal

Friday, December 17, AD 2010

I find myself with oddly divided feelings about this whole tax deal making its way through congress. On the one hand, while extending the tax cuts which we’re already experiencing seems prudent, especially in a recession, piling additional tax cuts on top of those (especially the across the board 2% reduction in social security withholding) seems seriously unwise when our deficit is already the size that it is.

On the other hand, I could certainly use the extra $150+ per month in take-home income. As I look at moving bills and such, I keep thinking, “Well, if this passes my paychecks will go up soon.”

We routinely scorn politicians for being easily bought, but I’m feeling rather hungry for my pot of lentils myself about now.

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9 Responses to Divided Thoughts over the Tax Deal

  • The reduction of the SS tax is insane and incredibly irresponsible. SS is in trouble as it is due to demographic and economic changes coupled with politicians doing things with it they shouldn’t. If the objective is to reduce taxes by two percent it should be done with income tax. If anything I’d like to see the the cap on SS tax removed in order to increase the sustainability of the system. I’d also like to see some creative ways of easing the SS burden like those Bush advocated. I’m not sure his suggestions were quite right, but I’d like to see something done in that regard.

  • There really is no actual difference in the nature of income taxes and payroll (FICA) taxes. FICA taxes are NOT segregated in order to provide Social(ist) Security benefits so they are really just general taxes given the impression of being retirement savings managed by the general government. Does anyone with any intelligence think that the feds have behaved as proper stewards of the American people’s retirement accounts? If an insurance company were to run its general account in this manner it would have gone bankrupt a long time ago and its principals and directors would be in prison.

    Any tax cut is a good thing because people get to keep the fruits of their own labor; however, basic accounting dictates that if revenue’s go down, expenses must be reduced by an equal or greater amount. You should never spend more than you bring in. The problem with debts, deficits and unfunded liabilities (promises impossible to keep) is the spending. Only God’s grace stopped another 1.2 trillion from being tacked onto to the already impossible debt, which has been created by the power-hungry politicians and the easy money of the bankers. Of course, we the people with our unending appetite for free stuff have to accept the blame as well. We get the leadership we deserve.

    The mere fact that government thinks that our wealth belongs to them and they allow us to keep almost half of it and consider it a ‘cost’ is ridiculous. Government is supposed to serve at the pleasure of the people, within proper moral constraints, not the other way around.

    Isn’t it odd that God only asks us to return 10% to Him and the government demands more than half? Something is terribly wrong here. We are being treated as slaves and now we are given the impression that master has given us a gift of one third of our payroll tax. Whose buying this?

    It is time for government to be reduced to pre-WWI levels and for us to tighten our belts, write off the fabricated debt owed to the Fed and make good on the actual loans (bonds) we have sold to legitimate investors. Unleash the power of innovation by becoming a business-friendly country and stop the corporate welfare.

    The solutions are pretty simple, the price to pay is high, but we have to pay for that which we have already collected if we are ever going to get out of this mess. Otherwise we will collapse and very, very soon.

    This so-called tax deal is bad. Tax rates should be set by Congress and made permanent until changed by a future Congress within the confines of the Constitution, which should be amended to limit how much Congress can spend as a function of how much real wealth we produce.

    This ‘deal’ is designed to put the responsibility on Republicans and following a short spring-time, the economy is going to crash and crash hard (your equity mutual fund 401(k) will lose half its value in 2011). Then Obama can say, see we tried the failed ideas of the Republicans, they forced me to compromise in order to extend unemployment benefits and we are now worse off. it is time to reject free-markets and opt for a command-economy, we have no choice. Socialism works if you have the right people running it, we’ve just never had the right people before and we are the people that we’ve been waiting for.

    Bye-bye Republic, welcome to the New World Order, one world, one government with no Western Superpower and that pesky remnant of Christendom. Now where is that Pope who is a thorn in our sides?

    Dramatic! Yes, sadly, that is were we are, but it is not too late to fix it, but time is short.

    BTW – with inflation (devaluation of the money unit) running higher than 20%, the ‘savings’ in the payroll tax and ‘extension of tax-cuts’ is illusory. We will all be less wealthy in 2011, in real terms.

  • A 4 point reduction (2 employer, 2 employee) is larger than an equal income tax reduction because there are NO deductions against FICA and there are deductions against income tax.

    This does not hurt the OASDI Ponzi scheme, it was broke as soon as it began. Let the people have their money now before it becomes worthless.

  • I agree with AK: it is simply criminal and outrageous that the government considers tax cuts as an “expense”, and wags the finger at those who want lower taxes as if they’re adding a burden to the budget. That is sociopathic madness.

  • I have a more favorable view of the payroll tax cut. Given that unemployment is hovering around 10%, anything you can do to decrease labor costs is worth it. I would have preferred a reduction in employer-side payroll taxes to the employee-side reduction contained in the bill, but even that is likely to have a positive effect.

  • I wouldn’t classify this tax deal as “bad” but less than ideal. Been thinking – Can idealism get in the way of compromise and politicians doing what is good for the American people? Or can politicians strive for their ideals while compromising at the same time, without compromising their principles? Maybe, the GOP should have waited until the beginning of the new year to undertake the issue of taxes with the new congress? I believe that if the GOP had waited they would have been in a much better position to make the Bush tax cuts permanent and that they could have stopped the increase in the estate tax, which was increased from 0 to 35% because of this tax deal. That in itself is mindboggling to me how anyone could think that it was okay to tax a person’s property twice. PLus, this is another case of penalizing and discouraging wealth.

  • Obama promised to give us 5 days to look over any bill before he signed it. Another broken promise from the Prevaricator-in-Chief.

Gates v. Washington

Friday, December 17, AD 2010

I think most Americans today fail to realize how close this country came to dying right after its birth.  After the disastrous New York campaign, the Continental Army was reduced to a few thousand ill-fed, ill-trained and ill-uniformed men under Washington.  As the year of 1776 was coming to an end, many Americans thought the cause of American independence was also coming to an end, but not George Washington.  He realized that for the war to continue he had to come up with some masterstroke that would rouse American morale and convince his troops that they stood a chance to win this lop-sided conflict.

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3 Responses to Gates v. Washington

  • Truth. Read David McCulloch’s 1776 and Barnet Schechter’s The Battle of New York. God Almighty and Washington held it together in face of serial, disastrous defeats at the hands of a numerically and professionally far superior army of British regulars and Hessian mercenaries.

    The United States of America came into existence only through Divine Assistance and George Washington: the father of his country. “First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

  • Washington agreed with you T.Shaw that divine assistance was essential to American victory:

    “A contemplation of the compleat attainment (at a period earlier than could have been expected) of the object for which we contended against so formidable a power cannot but inspire us with astonishment and gratitude. The disadvantageous circumstances on our part, under which the war was undertaken, can never be forgotten. The singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were such, as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving; while the unparalleled perseverance of the Armies of the U States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement for the space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle.”

    George Washington

  • I receive (I have been in on his tours of Brooklyn’s Greenwood Cemetery – Washington’s MLR during the Battle of Brooklyn Hts) emails from author Barnet Shecter. Latest:

    “My new book, George Washington’s America: A Biography Through His Maps, is a top seller on Amazon in several categories, including #1 in cartography. Below are some links to reviews and other articles. You can also hear a 15-minute NPR interview by Robin Young on “Here and Now,” WBUR-FM, Boston: http://www.hereandnow.org/2010/11/30/george-washington-maps

2 Responses to Saint Augustine and Linus

Signs of despair (and hope) in Christian-Muslim relations

Wednesday, December 15, AD 2010

In his book-length interview Light of the World, Pope Benedict emphasized that, with respect to Muslims:

“The important thing here is to remain in close contact with all the current within Islam that are open to, and capable of dialogue, so as to give a change of mentality a chance to happen even where Islamism still couples a claim to truth with violence.”

Earlier in November, he renewed his call for religious freedom in Muslim countries

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5 Responses to Signs of despair (and hope) in Christian-Muslim relations

  • I guess Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad is living in an alternate universe from the rest of his co-religionists.

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  • “Why do they hate us?”

  • I guess it would be a little more believable if some actual prosecutions of these perpetrators was occurring. I don’t recall hearing about a Muslim government executing some Muslim who carried out attacks against Christians. Heck, I don’t even recall arrests.

  • I’m afraid we’ll have to give it up as a bad job – Christians simply cannot live in peace and freedom under Moslem rule. Of course, they never really did – even in Islam’s most tolerant times, Christians were subjected to persecution to a lesser or greater degree, depending on the rulers and the circumstances; in modern times, it is has become nothing but a horror. For goodness sake, there is a Christian woman in Pakistan under sentence of death because of an accusation of blasphemy against Islam. This is not a society we can live amongst.

    We can, on the other hand, co-exist – even, at times, work together. But only after Christians in Moslem lands are given, at the minimum, autonomy (though I’d prefer setting up entirely independent Christian States…Assyria, part of Egypt, southern Lebanon, that sort of thing). Only when Christians can rule their own affairs – and defend themselves with arms – will Moslems first learn a bit of respect, and then perhaps some tolerance down the road.