Something for the weekend. Auld Lang Syne sung by the incomparable Arethra Franklin. Written by the immortal Scots poet Bobby Burns in 1788, his poem captured perfectly the grandeur of human memory as it ponders the cherished past. It is very appropriate that it has become an essential part of New Year’s Eve celebrations. Here is his original version:
That Ron Paul is a conspiracy believing nutcase as the video above indicates should not be controversial. This is the man who was the keynote speaker at the John Birch Society fiftieth anniversary dinner in 2008, an organization that has embraced such bizarre conspiracy theories as Eisenhower being a Communist and water fluoridation being a Communist plot. Throughout his career he has given a wink and a nod to most paranoid conspiracy groups on the right. We see this most clearly in the newsletters that came out for over a decade in his name. Ron Paul claims now not to know what was in those newsletters which I find passing strange since he earned a million bucks on them in one year alone (1993). However, Ron Paul the crank and coddler of cranks is not the focus of this post. This post is concerned with Ron Paul the isolationist. That he is an isolationist, and not simply a non-interventionist as he claims, was amply demonstrated in a recent column by Eric Dondero who worked for Paul for 12 years:
Ron Paul is most assuredly an isolationist. He denies this charge vociferously. But I can tell you straight out, I had countless arguments/discussions with him over his personal views. For example, he strenuously does not believe the United States had any business getting involved in fighting Hitler in WWII. He expressed to me countless times, that “saving the Jews,” was absolutely none of our business. When pressed, he often times brings up conspiracy theories like FDR knew about the attacks of Pearl Harbor weeks before hand, or that WWII was just “blowback,” for Woodrow Wilson’s foreign policy errors, and such.
Time for my annual predictions for the coming year, once again boldly going where angels, although not fools, fear to tread:
1. The GOP will retain the House in the 2012 elections. Both parties in the House assume that is going to happen, as nine Democrats, most of them veteran members, are retiring, to zip for the GOP.
2. The GOP will gain the Senate. 21 Democrats, 10 Republican and 2 Independent seats are up, and the GOP only needs to flip 4, or 3 if they win the White House. I see the GOP flipping Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Nebraska and North Dakota, with possibles in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia. I see the Democrats flipping Massachusetts with a possible in Nevada.
3. Despite a lacklustre group of candidates I do believe that the GOP will gain the White House. The economy is simply too dismal for this election to be anything except a referendum on Obama’s stewardship of the economy, and I do not think that all the campaign money and friendly media in the world can transform this particular pig’s ear into a silk purse. Jay Cost, one of the best political analysts extant, has a good article here detailing the odds against Obama. Heaven knows that missteps by the GOP could help Obama a great deal, but at the end I think there are just too many people who believe the country is on the wrong track for Obama to win.
4. A repeat from last year: either North Korea or Iran will go through a violent revolution that will topple one of the regimes in 2012.
5. A major terrorist incident will occur in the United States during the coming year as the jihadists attempt some payback for Osama, and as the factions among the terrorists jockey for power.
Back in the Sixties the old Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies were replayed endlessly on TV, and as a boy I loved them. Completely inaccurate as to Africa, and with plots as skimpy as some of the costumes worn by Maureen O’Sullivan as Jane, they were always good, and, not infrequently, hilarious entertainment. I have always treasured Tarzan’s commentary on the legal system in Tarzan’s New York Adventure (1942) where an evil circus owner is attempting to use the courts to win custody of Boy:
So much for the “patriotic millionaires” trotted out by the Democrats calling for higher taxes. The dirty little secret of course is that the truly mega rich have elaborate tax planning to avoid paying one thin dime more than they have to in regard to taxes. An increase in rates would have little impact on them. If they were truly patriotic they would be calling for some variant of a flat tax on all income with the elimination of all tax shelters. The poster child for this call by the very wealthy for higher taxes is Warren Buffet. Gee Warren, maybe you could start by having your company pay the billion the Feds say it owes.
Well, as the end of the year looms, it is time for me to review the predictions for the year 2011 that I made at the end of 2010. Predictions for 2012 will be forthcoming after I eat some crow here:
1. The global warming scam/sham will continue to unravel. I only hope we recall this episode the next time elites around the globe use junk science as an excuse in order to attempt to remake civilization.
True. We had the second release of e-mails on climate gate. Canada withdrew from the Kyoto accords and almost all other nations appear to be ignoring them. The UN Climate Conference which recently concluded put off doing anything to reduce carbon levels until 2020.
2. The Republicans in the House will put a halt to Obama’s legislative agenda, and Obama will veto most bills originating in the House that make it to his desk.
Yes and No. The House Republicans have put a stop to Obama’s legislative agenda, but they have not been able to get any of their own agenda through the Senate.
3. There will be considerable friction between the GOP in the House and the Republican Rinos in the Senate.
Yes, and you can triple underline that prediction!
4. The economy will begin to improve with unemployment ending the year around 7.5%.
Perhaps a very slight improvement, but unemployment is still at a ghastly 8.6%.
5. Either the North Korean or the Iranian government will be toppled in a violent overthrow.
Not yet, but the signs are not good for either regime. In the spring Iraq weathered a bout of huge protest marches and riots. Now, Iran is undergoing constant huge explosions and sabotage. Who is behind this? Israel, the US, internal opposition, all of the above? No one knows, but the inability of the Iranian regime to put a stop to it is a hot topic of conversation throughout Iran.
In regard to North Korea the latest Fearless Leader has bitten the dust, and his son, Fearless Leader III, is apparently not completely in control yet. North Korea could blow at any time, or it could remain a Stalin museum peace for decades. One safe prediction is that when it falls, it will be swift and bloody: think Ceaucescu in Romania in 1989. The problem for us with that analogy is that Ceaucescu, unlike the Stalinists in charge in North Korea, did not have nuclear weapons at his beck and call. I hope the South Koreans have been attempting to bribe the relevant North Korean generals to act to keep the powers that be in North Korea from taking Seoul with them when they go.
6. Republican controlled legislative chambers around the country will pass pro-life bills, continuing the process of chipping away at Roe.
True. Go here for a rundown on some of the legislation.
Having church on Christmas Day when it falls on a Sunday seems as if it would be as much of a given as having Thanksgiving on a Thursday, but this has been an issue of discussion and contention in recent years. Also, just because an overwhelming majority of pastors think that way doesn’t mean those in their congregations necessarily share their perspective.
The data are worth contemplating:
6% of Protestant churches planned to have a Christmas Eve service, but no service on Christmas Day. 28% planned to have service on Christmas Day, but no service on Christmas Eve. 63% planned to hold services on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Compared to other regions of the nation, Protestant pastors in the South are the least likely (62%) to hold Christmas Eve services.
Full-time (71%) and part-time (74%) pastors are more likely to be planning a Christmas Eve service than bivocational or volunteer (53%) pastors. Pastors identifying themselves as “mainline” (87%) are more likely to have a service on Christmas Eve compared to those identifying themselves as Evangelical (70%).
Nearly as many Protestant pastors plan to host services on New Year’s Day (88%) as Christmas Day (91%). 26% are planning for their church to hold services on New Year’s Eve.
74% of Americans agree (strongly or somewhat) that “Christmas is primarily a day for religious celebration and observance.” But, 67% agree that, “Many of the things I enjoy during the Christmas season have nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ.”
Is this snapshot in time an anomaly or does it portend what will become a trend? What may be going on here?
The Motley Monk offers two interpretations:
Secularism: “Christmas” has become “Giftmas.” Electronic devices, snacks, and food provide the glue binding families together Having everything we want, who needs the Incarnation?
Me and My God – We’re fine with each other: Like it or not, the liturgies planned for the “domestic church” are far more meaningful to many people today. Celebrating the Christmas and Easter liturgies as well as Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving Day liturgies at home builds up the domestic church. And don’t forget the mega-liturgy of Super Bowl Sunday! Requiring attendance at church on a family day is nothing but a man-made legalism, forcing people to focus upon an institution and contributing big collections than it is about authentic worship of God.
Where these two ideas hold sway, it makes sense that pastors would limit the number of worship services. After all, many have families of their own!
But, as this idea takes root in a congregation, it is likely to become engrained as an attitude in young people. In a generation or two, public worship on Christmas Day (and Easter Sunday) becomes an artifact of a quaint but bygone era.
Golfing is a form of worship as is community service
These results reveal nothing new to The Motley Monk. It’s an attitude held by many of his European friends who identify themselves as Christian. For them, celebrating Christmas and Easter are important family liturgies that do not require attending church services. These friends assert that “spirituality” is a very important part of their lives but is entirely unrelated to belonging to or practicing any institutional form of religion.
The Motley Monk respectfully disagrees. This attitude slowly erodes families and society of the important moral values that religion and religious practices inculcate.
How long will it before Festivus replaces Christmas so that no one will be offended?
To hear most recordings of “Jingle Bells”, you wouldn’t know that the song dates back to 1850, when it was published under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh”. However, this (sadly out of print) recording by the Robert DeCormier Singers and Ensemble back in 1984 does a wonderful job of putting the history back into this classic. Seeing as it’s difficult to get hold of copies of the original album these days, I’ve ventured to put it up on YouTube.
While in general I’m a stickler for sacred Christmas Music, this is just so charming it’s hard to pass up. A merry Christmas to all our readers!
I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.
Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.
He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself…
While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.
I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.
I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.
His epitaph is Athanasius contra mundum, “Athanasius against the world.” We are proud that our own country has more than once stood against the world. Athanasius did the same. He stood for the Trinitarian doctrine, “whole and undefiled,” when it looked as if all the civilised world was slipping back from Christianity into the religion of Arius—into one of those “sensible” synthetic religions which are so strongly recommended today and which, then as now, included among their devotees many highly cultivated clergymen. It is his glory that he did not move with the times; it is his reward that he now remains when those times, as all times do, have moved away.
Something for the weekend. O Holy Night sung by Celtic Woman. I can think of nothing more appropriate for Christmas Eve than this passage from On the Incarnation by Saint Athanasius:
For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God entered our world. In one sense, indeed, He was not far from it before, for no part of creation had ever been without Him Who, while ever abiding in union with the Father, yet fills all things that are. But now He entered the world in a new way, stooping to our level in His love and Self-revealing to us. He saw the reasonable race, the race of men that, like Himself, expressed the Father’s Mind, wasting out of existence, and death reigning over all in corruption. He saw that corruption held us all the closer, because it was the penalty for the Transgression; He saw, too, how unthinkable it would be for the law to be repealed before it was fulfilled. He saw how unseemly it was that the very things of which He Himself was the Artificer should be disappearing. He saw how the surpassing wickedness of men was mounting up against them; He saw also their universal liability to death. All this He saw and, pitying our race, moved with compassion for our limitation, unable to endure that death should have the mastery, rather than that His creatures should perish and the work of His Father for us men come to nought, He took to Himself a body, a human body even as our own. Nor did He will merely to become embodied or merely to appear; had that been so, He could have revealed His divine majesty in some other and better way. No, He took our body, and not only so, but He took it directly from a spotless, stainless virgin, without the agency of human father—a pure body, untainted by intercourse with man. He, the Mighty One, the Artificer of all, Himself prepared this body in the virgin as a temple for Himself, and took it for His very own, as the instrument through which He was known and in which He dwelt. Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death instead of all, and offered it to the Father. This He did out of sheer love for us, so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, having fulfilled in His body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men. This He did that He might turn again to incorruption men who had turned back to corruption, and make them alive through death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of His resurrection. Thus He would make death to disappear from them as utterly as straw from fire.
Looking at that title, I really wish I could make a post worthy of it!
That said, this will have to do, I suppose.
There are enough geeks on this blog that I can hope someone else read the old defense of The Empire from Star Wars, written long before the new movies came out; it can be summed up as “great, they killed the Emperor. Hello, power vacuum– who’s going to pay the police now? Who’s going to be in charge, the Hutts?”
Either way, such actions are not really going to do much to improve the human condition. I contend that Scrooge, before he became “enlightened,” was already doing more to help his fellow man than any of the other main characters we meet in A Christmas Carol. Moreover, by giving away a substantial portion of his accumulated fortune, he drastically reduced his ability to do even more good in the world.
The other day Pat Archbold wrote a post lamenting that Condoleeza Rice may be positioning herself for a run at the Vice Presidential nomination. Though I agree with Patrick that she would be an unacceptable choice, it’s probably nothing to worry about. Frankly it just seemed as though the Washington Times was attempting to make a story out of nothing.
It did prompt me to think about the attention that gets paid to Vice Presidential selections. What I concluded was that this decision is generally inconsequential, and it’s foolish to determine one’s vote based on this selection.