Thursday, December 23, 2004

Loy's Noel

The crunch of snow under foot,
The cold creak of the wooden steps:
Iron handrails cleaned of ice,
And steps of snow: dad with traverse slow.
Blue glow of streetlight on new white snow --
Softly falling snow in streetlight glow…
Snowballs of joy: ‘Stop that, Loy!’

The scent of spruce and pine
Green tree trimmed and topped with star:
White candle in the window,
And wreath on porch: mom with planned art --
Destined decoration, Christmas call to heart --
A holy tradition for family set apart…
A call to help: ‘Come on, Loy!’

A book of Tolkien by the tree,
And Lewis, Grey, L’Amour:
Smell of cookies in the kitchen,
Tangerines and eggnog: sister’s confection,
Stereo tuned for Bethlehem reflection --
Undisputed Eve of holy affection…
Magical radiance: “Merry Christmas, Loy!”

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Kierkegaard: whatever comes of God


Father in heaven!
Let us consider that whatever happens to us,
this comes from Thee,
and that of whatever comes from Thee,
nothing is able to harm us;
no, no, it can only be to our benefit.


We would receive all at Thy hand.
If it should be honor and glory,
we would receive them at Thy hand;
if it should be ridicule and insults,
we would receive them at Thy hand.
Oh, let us be able to receive either the one or the other
of these things
with equal joy and gratitude;
there is little difference between them,
and for us there would be no difference
if we only thought of the one decisive thing:
that it comes from Thee.


From: The Prayers of Kierkegaard: Edited with a New Interpretation of His Life and Thought, by Perry D. LeFevre (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1956), 67.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Why I say Merry Christmas!

I used to say, "Happy Holidays" to store clerks and other harried store personnel. My thinking was that I didn't want to offend if they said, "Happy Holidays" or some other generic description, that is what I would return to them.

But now... with more learning and more life, I smile sweetly and take the initiative: "Merry Christmas!" And, more often than not, the immediate response is shock... or awe... and then often a kind of relief, and a return smile: "Merry Christmas to you too," and today, "God bless you!"

My 'Merry Christmas' greetings have become, for me, a blessing of my postmodern world. My world, my culture, my land is forgetting the power in the Name, forgetting that the Name was spoken into the night long ago for healing. And as we have forgotten this Name, we have lost that healing...

So now I bless people with 'Merry Christmas!'

Some are shocked, but I usually see the echo of the Name in their eyes before I leave their presence.

James Lileks writes of this 'shock' phenomenon [hat tip, Instapundit]:

Maybe it's just me. Perhaps I'm overly sensitive. But when I wish a store clerk "Merry Christmas!" they often appear stunned and flummoxed for a moment, as if I've just blabbed the plans for the underground's sabotage of the train tracks in front of the secret police. I've said something highly inappropriate for the public square, and I almost expect a security guard to take me aside on the way out. . . .

I don't get it. There's this peculiar fear of Christmas that seems to get stronger every year, as if it's the season that dare not speak its name. Check out the U.S. Postal Service Web site: two different stamps for Kwanzaa. One for Eid, two for Hanukkah. Two for non-sectarian "Holiday," with pictures of Santa, reindeer, ornaments, that sort of thing. One for the Chinese New Year. One for those religiously inclined -- it features a Madonna and Child. But the Web site calls it "Holiday Traditional." The word "Christmas" doesn't appear on the site's description of the stamps. Eid, yes. Hanukkah, yes. Kwanzaa, yes. Christmas? No. It's Holiday Traditional.

Indeed. As I've seen more of that, my resolve has steeled: I say the Name.

It's Christmas. I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus Christ. I am celebrating Him.

Those who do not know Him, or hate to hear His name -- even in a title for a Day -- are the ones who most need to hear that Name. In a culture long since post-Christian, it is the quiet and subtle, lived protests that will make a difference.

So I will say, "Merry Christmas" with a smile from my soul, praying for the purity of Christ. And I will live Merry Christmas, so that these words will not be a contradiction...but a pure invitation to a parallel culture, a Kingdom community that lives every day in the Hope of Advent.

So, Merry Christmas, dear reader!

May you know this Christ, and come to celebrate His healing Name...


UPDATE: Thanks to Christopher at Against the Grain for the link. And a very Merry Christmas to you, too, Christopher!

UPDATE: A Jew says, "Merry Christmas" and "Keep it real." Jeff Jacoby money quote:

I enjoy Christmas decorations -- and Christmas music, and the upbeat Christmastime mood -- and I say that as a practicing Jew for whom Dec. 25 has no theological significance at all. I have never celebrated Christmas, but I like seeing my Christian neighbors celebrate it. I like living in a society that makes a big deal out of religious holidays. Far from feeling threatened when the sights and sounds of Christmas surround me each December, I find them reassuring. They reaffirm the importance of the Judeo-Christian culture that has made America so exceptional -- and such a safe and tolerant haven for a religious minority like mine.

Indeed. Eminently logical. Thanks for the support, Jeff!

God bless you...and...Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Passion of Christ miracles documented

Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ" has increased the faith of millions of viewers...but perhaps that is not all! If this new documentary is correct, many physical miracles have also resulted from its viewing.

"Changed Lives: Miracles of The Passion" is a 1-hour program that captures, in their own words, people's inspiring and documented accounts of relationships restored, diseases healed, the dead resurrected, atheists coming to faith and even a confession to murder.

"It is truly unprecedented the way God has used 'The Passion' to bring healing, reconciliation and peace to people across the nation and around the globe," says Executive Producer Jody Eldred.

An Emmy-winning cameraman, director and writer, Eldred has directed and shot hundreds of documentaries and news reports for ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and BBC, as well as segments for "20/20," "Primetime Live," "Good Morning America," "Dateline NBC," "48 Hours" and others, and works closely with Diane Sawyer and Peter Jennings.

Eldred took a personal leap of faith when he decided to produce a documentary about "The Passion of the Christ's" true impact on the hearts of viewers. Since it was completed, "Changed Lives: Miracles of the Passion" has received high acclaim wherever it has been shown.

"Here's powerful and poignant evidence of how God has used Mel Gibson's movie to change lives in remarkable ways," said Lee Strobel, author of "The Case for Christ" and "The Case for a Creator."

Read the article here.

Note: Definitely a must see! I talked to one lady who had a hearing/ear problem cured during her viewing of the Passion -- someone I've known for several years. Worth a viewing...

UPDATE: I bought this DVD and watched it over Christmas, and in my opinion it doesn't live up to its hype. It's not worth the money, imo. Not well researched, or well shot...second-rate storyline and interviews...there were a lot more people they could have interviewed, with more compelling stories. Frankly, I think this DVD was made for the money, to make a buck off of the Passion success...

UPDATE II: After reading the comments of the executive producer and writer of this DVD, I feel badly about saying this was made "to make a buck off of the Passion success." That was impugning motives of which I had no objective knowledge, drawing wrong inferences from advertising and production. Please read the producer's comments below, and take those into account!

Dutch exodus from anarchy

The Islamo-fascist murder of Van Gogh highlights the fatal problem which Dutch society cannot get around: their Muslim immigration-fueled, 'multi-cultural experiment' has created killing fields in the streets. Powerline excerpted this sobering piece by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph:

Escaping the stress of clogged roads, street violence and loss of faith in Holland's once celebrated way of life, the Dutch middle classes are leaving the country in droves for the first time in living memory.

The new wave of educated migrants are quietly voting with their feet against a multicultural experiment long touted as a model for the world, but increasingly a warning of how good intentions can go wrong.

More people left the Netherlands in 2003 than arrived, ending a half-century cycle of surging immigration that has turned a tight-knit Nordic tribe into a multi-ethnic mosaic with three million people of foreign roots out of 16 million.

Ellen Bles, 43, a lawyer and banker who votes for the free-market Liberals, said the code of behaviour regulating daily life in the Netherlands was breaking down.

People no longer know what to expect from each other. There are so many rules, but nobody sticks to them. They just do as they want. They just execute people on the streets, it's shocking when you see this for the first time," she said. "We've become so tolerant that everybody thinks they can fight their own wars here. Van Gogh is killed, and then people throw bombs at mosques and churches. It's escalating because the police and the state aren't doing anything about it.

There's a feeling of injustice that if you do things right, if you work hard and pay your taxes, you're punished, and those who don't are rewarded. People can come and live here illegally and get payments. How is that possible?

Indeed. This highlights the growing problem of a multicultural experiment, where a minority of those in the experiment are willing to kill to conform the majority to their religious views.

In other words, this is the deadly underbelly of the Muslim problem: Create an immigration niche for Muslims, and upwards of 10-20 percent of that growth segment will be willing to embrace terror until their *ways* are met. Look around the world at current conflicts and genocides and terrorist movements: what percentage of them are Islamic in nature? Wow.

Van Gogh dared to critize this Muslim mindset, and was snuffed out [specifically, he was killed for defending women from Islamic dehumanization]. He is just one. And now many Dutch see the handwriting on the wall...all religions are not created equal.

Perhaps Europe will learn from this. Perhaps not.

I pray that America will.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

What if it's not Israel they loathe?

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan on this piece by Amir Taheri: What if it's not Israel they loathe?
Right now there are 22 active conflicts across the globe in which Muslims are involved. Most Muslims have not even heard of most of them because those conflicts do not provide excuses for fomenting hatred against the United States. Next time you hear someone say the US was in trouble in the Muslim world because of Israel, remember that things may not be that simple.

There are a lot of hard questions that the American media refuses to ask. We dare not be so blind.

Must read.

Monday, December 06, 2004

One act of courage and obedience

A friend forwarded this, and it was too good to pass up! Enjoy!

His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer.

One day, while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog. There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.

The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman's sparse surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved.

"I want to repay you," said the nobleman. "You saved my son's life."

"No, I can't accept payment for what I did," the Scottish farmer replied, waving off the offer.

At that moment, the farmer's own son came to the door of the home.

"Is that your son?" the nobleman asked.
"Yes," the farmer replied proudly.

"I'll make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of education my own son will enjoy. If the lad is anything like his father, he'll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of."

And that he did. Farmer Fleming's son attended the very best schools and in time, graduated from St. Mary's Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin.

Years afterward, the same nobleman's son who was saved from the bog was stricken with pneumonia.

What saved his life this time? Penicillin.

The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill. His son's name?

Sir Winston Churchill.

You never know! You just never know what one act of courageous obedience can bring!

This Advent, do the small acts of courage, obedience and prayer...