OBJECTING TO THE TRADITIONAL GREETING
IS SELF-CENTERED AND UNGRACIOUS
It’s that wonderful time of year once more when sugarplum fairies are dancing, and angry secularists are out looking for a fight. Indeed, it just wouldn’t seem like our annual feast of love and joy if somebody didn’t have his nose out of joint over the traditional yuletide greeting, “Merry Christmas!”
Yes, you’ll hear that the “War on Christmas” is only a gimmick ginned up by conservative think tanks and activist groups — a mere headline on all those yearend fund-raising letters…
How can there be a “war” on something that dominates our lives between Halloween and New Years, and accounts for the bulk of fourth-quarter corporate earnings? That idea is nothing but a straw man, a piece of phony baloney, you rightwing nutcase!
WE’VE ALL SINNED AGAINST GRATITUDE
LET’S TRY TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT
It’s the kind of thing one hears from people who went to Catholic school back in the 1950s — how the good nuns taught them that a complete and well balanced prayer is based on the acronym, ACTS, and includes four key elements…
Being a convert, I didn’t go to parochial school, but I would imagine that the prayers of Catholic schoolchildren back then probably contained plenty of supplication, especially at report card time. (Probably still do.)
Adoration was likely well covered also, given the pious practices in which Catholic kids of the ’50s were steeped. Just how much true contrition there was would’ve been anybody’s guess. But it’s the element of thanksgiving which I’d assume was least present.
Were we ’50s youngsters (Catholic or otherwise) grateful for the blessings we enjoyed? Our parents were always telling us we didn’t appreciate how much we had — at least in comparison with the deprivations they endured. After all, they’d struggled through the Great Depression, and had to walk ten miles to school everyday.
In the snow.
(That last part I used to tell my kids too, and they didn’t believe it any more than I did.)
JACK KENNEDY PROJECTED AN IMAGE THAT
HAS STOOD FOR OUR IDENTITY AS A PEOPLE
Where were you on November 22?
No need to ask which year. Everybody old enough to remember the Kennedy Assassination remembers where they were when they heard the news. I was home from school, sick in bed.
Both my parents worked, but at 16, I wasn’t entirely without adult oversight. Aunt Betty, my mother’s sister, lived next door. Her phone call stirred me from a haze — not quite sleep, but something less than alertness. I can hear her voice 50 years later…
“Billy, turn on the TV. They shot the President.”
I dialed around in search of what information could be obtained in those early minutes, eventually settling on CBS. And so I witnessed Walter Cronkite’s tearful, voice-cracking announcement of the President’s death, which today is one of a string of vivid images in our collective memory: Jackie’s pink Chanel suit, Lee Harvey Oswald being shot in the Dallas police garage, the rider-less horse, little John-John saluting, and all the rest.
OBAMACARE IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION
BUT COULD IT HAVE BEEN OTHERWISE?
• A million Californians are losing the health insurance policies they were promised they could keep — 66,000 in Tennessee — eventually as many as half of all individual policies nationwide.
• Democrat congressmen and senators who voted for Obamacare are threatening to support Republican-sponsored legislation intended to restore cancelled policies.
• They’re also getting more candid in their criticism of the President. Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon has said that Obama was “grossly misleading” in his promises. This is a Democrat, don’t forget.
• Even major mainstream news outlets — not just conservative pundits — are now suggesting that the President is a liar.
• Bill Clinton has said, “Even if it takes a change to the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made.” This advice from Bill Clinton, mind you, that ethical giant best remembered for his analysis of “…what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is” (not to mention his other famous line: “Gee, you look nice in that blue dress.”)
• And by the way, it turns out we may not be able to keep our doctors or chose the hospitals in which we want to have treatment. Funny thing about that.
• Meanwhile, new ads just released are encouraging young people to sign up by stressing how Obamacare covers condoms. As Rush Limbaugh put it, “If you like your promiscuous lifestyle, you can keep it.”
• This on top of a recent drive to recruit “sex workers” into signing up for coverage. Well, members of the “world’s oldest profession” do have certain very specific health concerns, and very few have employer-provided insurance plans.
• One of the so-called navigators who are supposed to help Obamacare applicants get signed up has been fired in Texas, and three others suspended, for telling people to lie about their assets. And these honest folks are employed by a contractor connected to a 501(c)(3) associated with the Democratic National Committee. Such petty corruption seems hardly worth mentioning, but it is suggestive. Anyone remember the expression, “tip of the iceberg”?
• Jay Leno is having a great time skewering Obamacare as “ObamaCrash.” Incidentally, while doing a guest spot on Leno’s Tonight Show, Sen. Ted Cruz received cheers — cheers — from the studio audience when he called Obamacare the “biggest job killer” the country faces.
As they say in the medical world: CODE BLUE — heart not beating, patient not breathing — bring the crash cart, stat!
BENGHAZI 2012 VS. BEIRUT 1983 —
DID THE PRESS BLAME REAGAN?
Life offers us all kinds of little lessons to be learned, and I learned one recently: Don’t go thrusting yourself into online discussions half-cocked and ill informed.
It all happened when I saw a post on the Facebook page of my friend, Jim — a sweet guy of leftish sympathies who comments on this blog from time to time, usually objecting vehemently to some point I’ve made. He had posted a Twitter “tweet” noting the 30th anniversary of the suicide bomb attack on a building that housed a U.S. Marine peacekeeping contingent in Beirut, Lebanon.
The tweeter — who identified himself as “JRehling” — compared the heat President Obama has taken from Republicans over the Benghazi attack to what he saw as a lack of criticism directed at Ronald Reagan over the 1983 incident. He wrote…
“If you look in a mirror and say ‘Benghazi’ three times, the 241 Marines who died in Beirut ask why there was no Republican outrage in 1983.”
Immediately taking umbrage — which is something one should always be careful about taking — I fired off a comment…
TWO YEARS AFTER THE CHANGES IN THE MASS
THERE ARE STILL REASONS FOR DISAGREEMENT
All good, churchgoing Catholics know that, since the beginning of Advent 2011, Masses in English-speaking parishes have been conducted according to the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal. This work provides revised translations of prayers spoken by the priest and responses by the people, departing in numerous places — some slightly, some substantially — from language which had been used since the 1970s.
Introduction of the new missal was greeted with jubilance in many quarters and discomfort in others. A lot of people welcomed it as a step toward greater sanctity and prayerfulness in Catholic worship (an understandable hope, given some of the liturgical abuses we’ve witnessed in recent decades). At the same time, numerous objections were raised about the altered English phraseology which was intended to hew more closely to the international Latin standard and was therefore less colloquial.
To mark the second anniversary of this shift in liturgical direction, New Oxford Review has published a pair of articles, one taking an affirmative stance on the new missal, the other expressing reservations. Rosemary Lunardini writes in support of the revisions. I am honored to take part as the skeptic.
WITH FACEBOOK AND PHOTOSHOP
EVERY MAN IS HIS OWN GOEBBELS
This is surely the golden age of propaganda.
One wonders if Joseph Goebbels would be proud to see his techniques of mass persuasion so broadly democratized by Facebook and Photoshop. Now everybody can express their biases, skewer their chosen sacred cows, beat the drum for some favorite ideological theory.
I love the little commentary panels people post in the Facebook news feed. Some folks pick up images distributed by political sites such as the leftwing Being Liberal or the rightwing Flyover Culture. Others craft their own original messages using stock photos or drawings available from online design services like SomeEcards.
And of course, some are so slickly executed that you know they come from a roomful of aging hippy artists toiling away, bearded and barefoot, in a backroom at the White House — or, conversely, a bunch of bow-tied Young Americans for Freedom-types hidden in the basement of the Heritage Foundation.
But I have to say that, every now and then, I come across a panel whose ideological skew is so blatant and its rhetoric so heavy-handed that it comes off as just plain stupid.
THE HOLIDAY HAS GAINED IN PARTICIPATION
EVEN AS IT BECOMES MORE CONTROVERSIAL
Encountering Halloween for the first time, their two little girls, Cecile and Laure, were much taken with the American custom of Trick-or-Treat. They decided, in collusion with our daughter, Judy, that they would all go door-to-door dressed as fairy princesses. Naturally, this yielded several adorable (slightly fuzzy) photos which now reside in family albums on both sides of the Atlantic.
Halloween has always had a special — if rather quirky — significance in our family. My wife and I were married on Halloween (I told you it was quirky). This makes it easy to remember our anniversary, though over the years it’s limited our options for celebrating the occasion to giving out candy at the front door.
As a kid, I was rather ambivalent about Halloween. I enjoyed the costume aspect, but I was always a little uneasy about going up to the houses of people I didn’t know and begging for treats which I had strict instructions not to eat until they could be inspected by my mother when I got home. These inspections were, of course, prompted by the lurid tales of poisoned candy bars and apples with embedded razorblades that circulated in those days.
Neither I nor my mother actually knew anybody who had received poisoned candy or razor-embedded apples. But you couldn’t be too careful.
THE PROPOSED “GIRLY” HAT DESIGN TOPS
A SERIES OF ASSAULTS ON THE MILITARY
The President can’t say I didn’t warn him. He’s teetering very close to the brink of full-scale military revolt.
As I wrote in my post of October 14…
“President Obama has never been popular with the military. If you wanna talk plots and conspiracies, how ’bout all those overseas military ballots that never showed up to be counted in the last election?
“Which is just one reason for his unpopularity — along with what are perceived as specific affronts to the uniformed services, such as the end of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell and the increasing secularist pressure being brought to bear on chaplaincy programs that are deeply woven into military culture. (Doing nothing to save our people in Benghazi didn’t help much either.)”
Okay. All of that was bad enough. But this…this…
POPE FRANCIS STIRS STRONG FEELINGS
ON BOTH THE LEFT AND THE RIGHT
I was working for the Ave Maria Foundation at the time of the papal conclave following the death of Pope John Paul II. When it was reported that the announcement of a new pope was expected at any minute, a group of us gathered in the Ave Maria Radio studios where there was a TV with cable feed.
Word that the choice was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, brought a second or two of stunned silenced.
John Paul’s hit man?
The guy charged with taking a cattle prod to all who deviated from the Vatican line?
He was the new pope?