Christmas Prayers

A TWIST ON A CLASSIC HOLIDAY SONG
OFFERS A HEARTFELT PLEA FOR PEACE

CompanySome years ago, when I was working with the Catholic music group, Company (to which I’ve alluded in this blog on several occasions), I came up with a nifty little arrangement of “Silent Night.”

We would sing the first verse of Franz Gruber’s Christmas classic, then break off into a two-stanza variation, then come back to the familiar song with the audience singing along for a big finish.

This treatment made “Silent Night” into a prayer for peace. It was a high point of the annual concerts we gave for the benefit of a charity called Christmas Unlimited, and always seemed to move the crowd. (This was back in the 1980s when the Cold War was still an ongoing reality.) Years later, I would use this arrangement in the Christmas specials I produced for Ave Maria Radio.

The lyrics are simple. And at this particular Christmas, when the ideal of Peace on Earth seems once more to elude our grasp, the sentiments are worth pondering…

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In the Year of Our Lord

A GREAT PIECE OF HOLIDAY EDITORIAL WRITING
HELPS US TO APPRECIATE THE VALUE OF FREEDOM

Sony LogoSony’s collapse under Korean hacking and threats illustrates the fragility of American liberty at this moment in our somewhat uncertain national progress.

The media’s focus during this weird episode has been on the embarrassing emails of Hollywood heavyweights, the condescension with which President Obama is viewed by some Tinseltown liberals he assumed were in his back pocket, and what studio bosses really think about certain glamor-puss actresses. Just the sort of dishy nonsense the public eats up.

But, of course, what this incident really shows is how easily great American companies can be brought to their knees by clever nerds with computers, backed by crackpot dictators with unlimited resources.

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The Spirit of Generosity

WE’RE CALLED TO BE DISCERNING
AND ALSO TO BE CHARITABLE

Bell & KettleSalvation Army bell ringers in front of Kroger remind me that Yuletide highlights the spirit of generosity. As I observed in my post of December 5, gift giving, the signature element of Christmas…

“was inspired by God’s gift to us of his human incarnation, the Christ Child, as well as by the gifts brought to the stable in Bethlehem by the Wise Men.”

In our society we’ve gone a little nuts with gift giving, as evidenced by the madness of “Black Friday” — which now begins on Thanksgiving and runs through the entire weekend, culminating in a flood of online “cyber” sales Monday night. And that’s only the start of our annual shopping binge.

With Christmas having become such a complete religious/commercial mash-up, one can readily picture Mary and Joseph checking for sales at the Bethlehem Walmart before settling down in that cave behind the inn.

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Holiday Sentiments

DUELING CHRISTMAS MESSAGES
PLUMB THE CULTURAL DIVIDE

If disagreement over use of the greeting, “Merry Christmas!” shows there’s a cultural divide (per my last post), two current holiday-themed messages plumb its depth.

Catholic League BillboardThe Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has unveiled a new billboard campaign in one of the Left’s most concentrated centers of pop-culture influence: Hollywood.

Bill Donahue, the League’s ever-feisty president and spokesman, noted in a press statement that a large, illuminated sign is being posted in Los Angeles on Pico Boulevard, one of the city’s most heavily traveled arteries, targeting traffic between Century City and Downtown. Clearly intended for the eyes of entertainment industry movers and shakers, the board bears a provocative message…

“Not all Christian haters are equal: Abroad we’re beheaded, at home we’re bashed. The differences are profound; so are the similarities. Have a peaceful and joyous Christmas.

Wishes for peace and joy notwithstanding, the juxtaposition of ISIS barbarism and home-grown religious contempt is pretty pointed.

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Merry Christmas! (Once More)

OBJECTING TO THE TRADITIONAL GREETING
IS SELF-CENTERED AND UNGRACIOUS

Merry Christmas Cross StitchSigns, websites and assorted messages encouraging use of the phrase, “Merry Christmas,” have appeared once again, demonstrating that sensitivity over the traditional greeting still prevails. Here’s a piece I ran last year on the topic. It would seem that my thoughts are still relevant and perhaps worthy of a second go-round…

____________

 

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!

Is it?

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Thankfulness (Revisited)

WE’VE ALL SINNED AGAINST GRATITUDE
LET’S TRY TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT

(The reflection below appeared last Thanksgiving. I thought it was still relevant and might be worth posting again.)

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…

1. AdorationFirst Communion
2. Contrition
3. Thanksgiving
4. Supplication

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.

Uphill.

Both ways.

(That last part I used to tell my kids too, and they didn’t believe it any more than I did.)

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Cosby’s Last Act

MONSTROUS ALLEGATIONS ABOUT A GREAT COMIC
SUGGEST EXPLOITATION IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE

Cosby Show LogoThe online journal, American Thinker, is running an essay of mine in which I reflect on the terrible allegations that comedian Bill Cosby has been a serial sexual predator.

Cosby had a significant presence for me during my college days, since we both attended Temple University (albeit years apart) and worked at the university’s radio station, WRTI. Also, like most people, I’ve been a big fan of this remarkable performer who has always radiated such great personal warmth and kind, intelligent humor.

I’m as shocked as anyone at the monstrous charges, though I’ll grant that everything being said against him surely could be true, human frailty being what it is and there being so many accusers.

However, I also see the distinct possibility that there’s something at work in this current media frenzy other than a search for justice.

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What Comes Next? (Again)

American Thinker LogoMY RECENT ESSAY ON AMERICAN THINKER
TAPPED INTO SOME POST-ELECTION ANGST

In my latest contribution to the online journal, American Thinker, I asked if our victorious Republicans were prepared to honor the reformist mandate given them in the last election and do what’s necessary to turn this country around. I ended the piece on a restrained but positive note…

“This past Tuesday might have been a turning point. Might have been. Now we shall see.

“But, hey! Call me an optimist. I’ve always enjoyed Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

“For now, I’m holding onto a little bit of hope.”

Boy, was my attitude out of sync with the AT audience! — at least with most of those readers motivated to offer their thoughts in the com box. I was swamped by a virtual deluge of pessimism about GOP inclinations and capabilities.

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What Comes Next?

Daily News CoverTHE GOP TRIUMPH WAS DAZZLING
BUT WILL IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

The Republican rampage through both houses of congress clearly represents a broad public rejection of the Obama agenda.

But now, will the Grand Old Party finally get its act together and do something constructive with the majorities it achieved on Tuesday?

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Election Day Hope

TUESDAY COULD BE A TURNING POINT
IF DIRTY TRICKS DON’T STEAL IT

Donkey & ElephantPolls indicate that election day 2014 will be a Republican sweep.

The polls could be wrong, of course. They could be infected with over-optimism or distorted by preoccupation with ebola, Ferguson, online beheadings, Michele’s school lunch menu, or the current over-arching Barack Obama fatigue.

Numbers pointing toward either Republicans or Democrats might be wildly off the mark (we’ve seen that before). Close races are still unsettled. And anyway, like the man said, “All politics is local.” People may hate Washington yet still appreciate how their own incumbent brings home the bacon.

On top of that, voter fraud and manipulation are showing up all over the country.

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