Sunday, December 28, 2008


Speculation has been rampant that MSNBC host Chris Matthews will seek Republican Sen. Arlen Specter’s seat in Pennsylvania in 2010. But if he runs, he’ll likely face serious heat from liberals over his on-air comments.

The left-wing group Media Matters for America fired an early volley against the “Hardball” host with a lengthy diatribe castigating Matthews for, among other things, expressing admiration for President George W. Bush and ridiculing Democrats.

“Few politicians are as aggressive as Chris Matthews in purporting to speak for average voters — or as quick to declare [liberal] politicians to be out of touch with those voters,” the group’s Web site states. “But there is no real accountability in cable news . . . Should he run for the Senate, however, Matthews might finally have to answer for his dubious track record.”

Included in that “track record” are a number of comments cited by Media Matters:

In 2005, Matthews said of Bush: “I like him. Everybody sort of likes the president, except for the real whack-jobs, maybe on the left.”

The following year, Matthews referred to Bush as “a wise man.”

When Bush gave his “Mission Accomplished” speech in 2003, Matthews lauded his “amazing display of leadership” and said, “He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics.”

Later that same day Matthews gushed, “We’re proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who’s physical.”

When Bush discussed his “strategy for victory in Iraq” in late 2005, Matthews praised the move and derided Democrats as “carpers and complainers.”

While Matthews has praised Barack Obama at times, he told viewers during the campaign that the candidate’s bowling form was insufficiently “macho,” and asserted that his lack of bowling skill “tells you something about the Democratic Party.”

When Matthews interviewed conservative pundit Ann Coulter and she called former Vice President Al Gore a “total fag,” Matthews said of Coulter, “We’d love to have her back.”

Matthews has also been criticized for his treatment of women. He said the reason Hillary Clinton was a senator and candidate for president "is that her husband messed around." He also said point-black, “I hate her,” and called her “uppity” and a “she-devil.”

He described House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as “scary” and said she would “castrate” House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer.

Media Matters opined, “If Matthews does run for the Senate, he may soon discover that Pennsylvania Democratic primary voters share neither his hatred of Hillary Clinton nor his view that Barack Obama is insufficiently ‘macho.’”

The group’s Web site added that Matthews may also find those voters to be “less indulgent of his cheerleading for Bush, his near-constant ridicule of Democrats, and his frequently offensive treatment of women.”

Barack Obama's campaign pledge to "rebuild the middle class" by giving tax breaks to 95 percent of workers and their families surely won him votes.

But an analysis by Investor’s Business Daily found that the middle class already got a large tax break under President George W. Bush.

Citing data from the Congressional Budget Office, IBD disclosed that the effective tax rate on the middle fifth of households fell from an average of about 17.1 percent under President Bill Clinton to 14.4 percent under Bush. That's a 16 percent tax cut for the middle class.

As for the oft-heard claim from the left that middle-class incomes are stagnant or shrinking, a study last year by the Minneapolis Fed concluded that "incomes of most types of middle American households have increased substantially over the past three decades."

Real household income did grow just 18 percent over the past 30 years. But after correcting for distortions in the data, Terry Fitzgerald, a Fed senior economist, found that "median household income for most household types . . . increased by 44 percent to 62 percent from 1976 to 2006." And per-person income surged 80 percent.

IBD observes, “Yes, many Americans are suffering in this recession, including the middle class. But the last thing we need is another general in a phony class war telling people how bad they have it.”
By CHRISTINA HOAG
Associated Press
December 22, 2008

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) -- Under fire for opposing gay marriage, influential evangelical pastor Rick Warren said Saturday that he loves Muslims, people of other religions, Republicans and Democrats, and he also loves "gays and straights."

The 54-year-old pastor and founder of Saddleback Church in Southern California told the crowd of 500 that it's unrealistic to expect everyone to agree on everything all the time.

"You don't have to see eye to eye to walk hand in hand," said Warren.

Warren also defended President-elect Barack Obama's invitation that he give the invocation at the Jan. 20 inauguration in the keynote speech he delivered at the Muslim Public Affairs Council's annual convention in Long Beach.

Obama's choice of Warren earlier this week sparked outcry from gay rights and other liberal groups, who said choosing such an outspoken opponent of gay marriage was tantamount to endorsing bigotry.

"Three years ago I took enormous heat for inviting Barack Obama to my church because some of his views don't agree (with mine)," he said. "Now he's invited me."

Warren said he prays for the same things for Obama that he prays for himself: integrity, humility and generosity.

Obama defended his choice on Thursday, saying that he has also invited Joseph Lowery, a Methodist minister and civil rights leader who supports same-sex marriage and gay rights, to deliver the benediction.

"During the course of the entire inaugural festivities, there are going to be a wide range of viewpoints that are presented. And that's how it should be, because that's what America's about. That's part of the magic of this country ... we are diverse and noisy and opinionated," Obama said.

Toward the end of his speech on Saturday, Warren also talked about singer Melissa Etheridge, who performed earlier in the evening. Warren said the two had a "wonderful conversation" and that he is a huge fan who has all her albums.

The openly lesbian gay rights activist even agreed to sign her Christmas album for him, he said.

Warren gained a prominent role in the presidential election in August when he hosted the Civil Forum on the Presidency, a two-hour televised show in which he interviewed Obama and his Republican opponent John McCain for an hour each on faith and moral issues.

Warren has won kudos from some liberal quarters by focusing less on traditional conservative issues such as abortion and gay rights, and instead calling on evangelical leaders to devote more attention to eradicating poverty, fighting AIDS in Africa, expanding educational opportunity for the marginalized, and global warming.

But the preacher ignited the ire of many liberals when he publicly supported California's Proposition 8, which amended the state Constitution to ban gay marriage.

Although Warren has said that he has nothing personally against gays, he has condemned same-sex marriage.

"I have many gay friends. I've eaten dinner in gay homes. No church has probably done more for people with AIDS than Saddleback Church," he said in a recent interview with BeliefNet. But later in the interview, he compared the "redefinition of marriage" to include gay marriage to legitimizing incest, child abuse, and polygamy.

Warren founded Saddleback Church in 1980 in Lake Forest, about 65 miles southeast of Los Angeles. He is the author of numerous Christian books, including "The Purpose Driven Church" and "The Purpose Driven Life," which has sold more than 20 million copies.
Lawmaker says 'no' to Rev. Warren at inauguration
By AP STAFF
Associated Press
December 22, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The longest-serving openly gay member of Congress said Sunday it was a mistake for President-elect Barack Obama to invite the Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration.

"Mr. Warren compared same-sex couples to incest. I found that deeply offensive and unfair," Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., said in a broadcast interview.

"If he was inviting the Rev. Warren to participate in a forum and to make a speech, that would be a good thing," Frank said. "But being singled out to give the prayer at the inauguration is a high honor. It has traditionally given as a mark of great respect. And, yes, I think it was wrong to single him out for this mark of respect."

Warren, a best-selling author and leader of a Southern California megachurch, is a popular evangelical who stresses the need for action on social issues such as reducing poverty and protecting the environment, alongside traditional theological themes.

But gay rights advocates, who strongly supported Obama during the election, are angry over Warren's backing of a California ballot initiative banning gay marriage. That measure was approved by voters last month.

Although Warren has said that he has nothing personally against gays, he has condemned same-sex marriage.

"I have many gay friends. I've eaten dinner in gay homes. No church has probably done more for people with AIDS than Saddleback Church," he said in a recent interview with BeliefNet. But later in the interview, he compared the "redefinition of marriage" to include gay marriage to legitimizing incest, child abuse, and polygamy.

Warren, in a speech on Saturday, said he took "enormous heat" three years ago for inviting Obama to speak at his church, even though the two men disagree on some issues. "Now he's invited me," Warren said.

Obama defended the selection of Warren last week, telling reporters that America needs to "come together," even when there's disagreement on social issues. "That dialogue is part of what my campaign is all about," he said.

Frank appeared on "Late Edition" on CNN.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


It was Barney Frank....need I say more?

Friday, December 26, 2008

'Merry Christmas' and Other Offenses
by A.W.R. Hawkins (more by this author)
Posted 12/24/2008 ET

It’s Christmas time but Christmas cheer isn’t abounding as it did when we were kids.

The lack of cheer is not due to the recession (which the mainstream media can’t quit talking about) but because of the myriad atheistic “Grinches” who have made it their life’s goal to steal Christmas.

The way in which Europeans have long referred to Christmas as “holiday” as always bothered me. I’ve understood it for what it is: an example of their cultural secularization. But when I see the same tendency here in the United States, a nation founded in large part by Puritans who sought to “build a shining city on a hill [to] glorify God,” I am not only bothered but surprised, for I never dreamed that citizens of “one nation under God” would allow Leftists and a bunch of two-bit fringe groups to intimidate them into trading the Christmas message for secular, Euro-talk.

Maybe we should have seen it coming. Atheists and other secularists in this country have been quite successful in using the court system to turn once valued rights and privileges into outright, legally banned offenses since the early 1960s. One of their first successes was the Supreme Court’s 1963 decision that school prayer was unconstitutional. From that point, the secularists were so aggressive that by the time 1980 rolled around the court had ruled that reading from the Bible over a school intercom was unconstitutional (Abington School District v. Schempp), that states could not ban the teaching of evolution (Epperson vs. Arkansas), and that the posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools was unconstitutional (Stone v.Graham).

In 2006, atheist Michael Newdow sought to use the courts to ban the printing of “In God We Trust” on our money and, in 2008, “Edwin Kagin, a Boone County lawyer and the national legal director of American Atheists,” filed suit against the state of Kentucky over a plaque at the state’s Homeland Security Office which acknowledged Kentuckian’s “dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth.”

But all this notwithstanding, the utter lunacy of the lawsuits this Christmas has taken the fruitcake. Some lady in North Carolina is suing to ban the singing of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer in her public school system because (she claims) “‘Rudolph’ and ‘Santa Claus’ are overtly Christian.” I don’t know about you, but I have often bypassed reading Paul’s letters to the Romans in order to flip further back in my Bible and read Kris Kringle’s letters to his elves.

Perhaps the most surreal aspects of these “atheists gone wild” activities took place this year in Green Bay, Wisconsin and Washington State. In Green Bay, the display of no less a Christmas distinctive than the nativity scene was opposed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which argued that the display of the nativity scene on public property constituted a violation of the separation of church and state. Of course they claimed a broad, grass-roots interest in their suit, which garnered the huge and widespread support of “14 Green Bay residents.”

You may have come across the Freedom From Religion Foundation via their continued opposition to prayer in schools and the current pledge of allegiance, both of which they see as examples of state-sponsored religion. Their opposition to prayer in school rests in part on their contention that “our founders wisely adopted a secular, godless constitution.” Have these folks ever read our Constitution? And their opposition to the current pledge of allegiance rests largely on the fact that “one nation under God” was not added until 1954.

I hate to be picky, but if antiquity’s the measure then someone needs to remind these kooks that the so-called separation of church and state was not found in the Constitution until 1947.

Fortunately, the lawsuit against the nativity scene in Green Bay was tossed out because Freedom From Religion Foundation had no case. According to Federal Judge William Griesbach, the group lacked the “standing to bring the claims, which he described as ‘so fleeting and slight that they do not warrant pursuing in federal court.’”

In Washington State, the same Freedom From Religion Foundation, applied and secured permission to post an atheist plaque next to the nativity scene at the state capital. The crux of the message on the plaque is: “There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

What’s amazing about this is that many of the groups that file anti-Christmas lawsuits claim to be the innocent, offended parties. But if you have the time (or the stomach) to read around on Leftist websites like democraticunderground.com you’ll soon see who the truly offensive (and vicious) people are.

In response to the lost lawsuit in Green Bay, one blogger on democraticunderground.com wrote about how the emphasis on America’s Christian heritage is “a lie but [the proponents of nativity scenes] don't care about truth, just power and the manger on public property [as] another power move.” Another blogger referred to nativity scene supporters as “bastards” and “a bunch of nut-jobs who plan on changing our constitution to align with their crazy views.”

These people are hateful and embarrassingly out of touch with reality. But sadly, it’s not just the diehard atheist activists who see “Christmas” as offensive. This Christmas season Outback Steakhouse, champion of “no rules, just right” seems to have come up with at least one rule in their television ads: they never mention Christmas but they gladly promote their “holiday gift cards.” Also, grocery shelves are stocked with Coco-Cola’s “holiday” can and Washington State’s atheist plaque is complimented by “a holiday tree” near the capital.

I can almost hear Rod Serling narrating a Twilight Zone segment somewhere in the background.

Like Don Henley and Axel Rose, “I will not go quietly.” I will not be a secularist or a European, nor will I empty Christmas of its meaning by wishing you a happy holiday. If that offends a blogger or two on some kook website, I’m sure they’ll get over it in time, but that’s their problem not mine.

“Merry Christmas” to every reader of HUMAN EVENTS. May this truly be “the most wonderful time of the year.”
By Star Parker
December 22, 2008

But this year it's going to be a challenge for many Americans. A Washington Post survey this week reported two thirds saying they were being impacted by the current recession. In another poll, 57 percent said they'd be cutting back on their Christmas spending.

Nothing unsettles the human heart and mind more than the unknown. I think our general discomfort is compounded by a feeling of not knowing exactly what is causing this economic tsunami and how and when we will recover.

Maybe as we consider all this, and particularly at a time of the year when we think about the blessings we do have to count, we might ponder what produced all the prosperity we have to begin with. What's behind this great economic miracle -- the greatest of all time -- the United States of America?

If we listen to the news and our politicians, you would conclude it's all kind of a big machine. Like with a stalled car, they're all under the hood trying to figure out what went wrong. A busted hose? Distributor? Spark plugs? What needs to get fixed or installed to get the thing running again?

Or, alternatively, you'd think that we're like a bunch of white laboratory mice running around in a cage. The policy makers stand over us in white coats trying to figure out, "Well, do we need to give them a food pellet or an electric shock to get them to do what we want?"

Are we so lost today that we have forgotten that our great miracle has been produced by free people living in a free country?

Yet, now we hear from politicians that the problem is we're too free. We need more government, more regulations, more bureaucrats planning our lives and telling us what to do. Who is asking, given what made us great to begin with, if the problem is not exactly the opposite?

Consider that on the other side of the world the Chinese are now celebrating the 30th anniversary of the economic reforms that introduced private ownership and free markets into their communist country. Sure, China is still run by their communist party. But 30 years ago one hundred percent of their companies were government run. Today half have been privatized.

China has been growing at double-digit rates since they opened the door to economic freedom. Income per person is ten times higher today than thirty years ago. And 250 million Chinese have been lifted out of poverty.

Now I read that another miracle is occurring in China alongside of the new prosperity which freedom has enabled.

The Economist magazine recently reported about what it called "China's fastest growing non-governmental organization." Christianity.

According to the report, there may be now 130 million Chinese Christians - some 10 percent of the population. It is estimated that maybe one percent of the Chinese population was Christian when communist China was founded in 1949.

It's particularly compelling to consider that this explosive growth of Chinese Christianity is occurring in a country that is still officially atheist and where the government remains hostile and opposed to religion. And that, according to this estimate, the number of Chinese Christians is now almost double the number of Chinese members of the Communist Party.

So why, when the Chinese are discovering both freedom and faith, is America abandoning both?

Why do we now think we need to turn to commissars in Washington to plan our economy and our lives to save our country? Is this really where we should be turning to be saved?

Let's remember, particularly now, that freedom is what made America great and that for that freedom, in the words of our first president George Washington, "religion and morality are indispensable."

This Christmas, let's remember who we really are and that the formula for American success is freedom, faith, family, and friends.

Merry Christmas to all.
Boxing Day

The day after Christmas Day is known as Boxing Day, after the tradition of opening the alms boxes placed in churches over the Christmas season. The contents were distributed amongst the poor of the parish. December 26 is also known as the Feast of St. Stephen. It is often a day of outdoor sports and horse racing and hunting. Only in the last century, however, has it become a holiday. By having Christmas Day and Boxing Day as holidays this allowed many people to take trips but also rejoin family members, which may have encouraged the tradition of families getting together at Christmas time.

From Snopes.com

Few Americans have any inkling that there even is such a thing as Boxing Day, let alone what the reason might be for a holiday so named. However, before one concludes we're about to rag on Americentric attitudes towards other cultures, we should quickly point out that even though Boxing Day is celebrated in Australia, Britain, New Zealand, and Canada, not all that many in those countries have much of a notion as to why they get the 26th of December off. Boxing Day might well be a statutory holiday in some of those lands, but it's not a well understood one.

Despite the lively images suggested by the name, it has nothing to do with pugilistic expositions between tanked-up family members who have dearly been looking forward to taking a round out of each other for the past year. Likewise, it does not gain its name from the overpowering need to rid the house of an excess of wrappings and mountains of now useless cardboard boxes the day after St. Nick arrived to turn a perfectly charming and orderly home into a maelstrom of discarded tissue paper.

The name also has nothing to do with returning unwanted gifts to the stores they came from, hence its common association with hauling about boxes on the day after Christmas.

The holiday's roots can be traced to Britain, where Boxing Day is also known as St. Stephen's Day. Reduced to the simplest essence, its origins are found in a long-ago practice of giving cash or durable goods to those of the lower classes. Gifts among equals were exchanged on or before Christmas Day, but beneficences to those less fortunate were bestowed the day after.

And that's about as much as anyone can definitively say about its origin because once you step beyond that point, it's straight into the quagmire of debated claims and dueling folklorists. Which, by the way, is what we're about to muddy our boots with.

Although there is general agreement that the holiday is of British origin and it has to do with giving presents to the less fortunate, there is still dispute as to how the name came about or precisely what unequal relationship is being recognized.

At various times, the following "origins" have been loudly asserted as the correct one:

Centuries ago, ordinary members of the merchant class gave boxes of food and fruit to tradespeople and servants the day after Christmas in an ancient form of Yuletide tip. These gifts were an expression of gratitude to those who worked for them, in much the same way that one now tips the paperboy an extra $20 at Christmastime or slips the building's superintendent a bottle of fine whisky. Those long-ago gifts were done up in boxes, hence the day coming to be known as "Boxing Day."

Christmas celebrations in the old days entailed bringing everyone together from all over a large estate, thus creating one of the rare instances when everyone could be found in one place at one time. This gathering of his extended family, so to speak, presented the lord of the manor with a ready-made opportunity to easily hand out that year's stipend of necessities. Thus, the day after Christmas, after all the partying was over and it was almost time to go back to far-flung homesteads, serfs were presented with their annual allotment of practical goods. Who got what was determined by the status of the worker and his relative family size, with spun cloth, leather goods, durable food supplies, tools, and whatnot being handed out. Under this explanation, there was nothing voluntary about this transaction; the lord of the manor was obligated to supply these goods. The items were chucked into boxes, one box for each family, to make carrying away the results of this annual restocking easier; thus, the day came to be known as "Boxing Day."

Many years ago, on the day after Christmas, servants in Britain carried boxes to their masters when they arrived for the day's work. It was a tradition that on this day all employers would put coins in the boxes as a special end-of-the-year gift. In a closely-related version of this explanation, apprentices and servants would on that day get to smash open small earthenware boxes left for them by their masters. These boxes would house small sums of money specifically left for them.

This dual-versioned theory melds the two previous ones together into a new form — namely, the employer who was obligated to hand out something on Boxing Day, but this time to recipients who were not working the land for him and thus were not dependent on him for all they wore and ate. The "box" thus becomes something beyond ordinary compensation (in a way goods to landed serfs was not), yet it's also not a gift in that there's nothing voluntary about it. Under this theory, the boxes are an early form of Christmas bonus, something employees see as their entitlement.

*Boxes in churches for seasonal donations to the needy were opened on Christmas Day, and the contents distributed by the clergy the following day. The contents of this alms box originated with the ordinary folks in the parish who were under no direct obligation to provide anything at all and were certainly not tied to the recipients by a employer/employee relationship. In this case, the "box" in "Boxing Day" comes from that one gigantic lockbox the donations were left in.

More elaborate versions of this origin involve boxes kept on sailing ships:

-The title has been derived by some, from the box which was kept on board of every vessel that sailed upon a distant voyage, for the reception of donations to the priest — who, in return, was expected to offer masses for the safety of the expedition, to the particular saint having charge of the ship — and above all, of the box. The box was not to be opened until the return of the vessel; and we can conceive that, in cases where the mariners had had a perilous time of it, this casket would be found to enclose a tolerable offering.

The mass was at that time called Christmass, and the boxes kept to pay for it were, of course, called Christmass-boxes. The poor, amongst those who had an interest in the fate of these ships, or of those who sailed in them, were in the habit of begging money from the rich, that they might contribute to the mass boxes; and hence the title which has descended to our day, giving to the anniversary of St Stephen's martyrdom the title of Christmas-boxing day, and, by corruption, its present popular one of Boxing Day.

Whichever theory one chooses to back, the one thread common to all is the theme of one-way provision to those not inhabiting the same social level. As mentioned previously, equals exchanged gifts on Christmas Day or before, but lessers (be they tradespeople, employees, servants, serfs, or the generic "poor") received their "boxes" on the day after. It is to be noted that the social superiors did not receive anything back from those they played Lord Bountiful to: a gift in return would have been seen as a presumptuous act of laying claim to equality, the very thing Boxing Day was an entrenched bastion against. Boxing Day was, after all, about preserving class lines.

Despite its name, Boxing Day, which is celebrated on December 26 in Great Britain, has nothing to do with pugilistic competition. Nor is it a day for people to return unwanted Christmas presents. While the exact origins of the holiday are obscure, it is likely that Boxing Day began in England during the Middle Ages. Some historians say the holiday developed because servants were required to work on Christmas Day, but took the following day off. As servants prepared to leave to visit their families, their employers would present them with gift boxes.

Church Alms Boxes

Another theory is that the boxes placed in churches where parishioners deposited coins for the poor were opened and the contents distributed on December 26, which is also the Feast of St. Stephen . As time went by, Boxing Day gift giving expanded to include those who had rendered a service during the previous year. This tradition survives today as people give presents to tradesmen, mail carriers, doormen, porters, and others who have helped them.

First Weekday after Christmas

Boxing Day is celebrated in Great Britain and in most areas settled by the English (the U.S. is the major exception), including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. However, Boxing Day is generally considered to be the first weekday following Christmas. If Christmas falls on a Friday or a weekend then Boxing Day is the following Monday.

Bank Holidays

Boxing Day is just one of the British bank holidays recognized since 1871 that are observed by banks, government offices, and the post office. The others include Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Whitmonday (the day after Pentecost, and the banking holiday on the first Monday in August.

St. Stephen's Martyrdom

The Feast of St. Stephen also takes place on December 26. St. Stephen was one of the seven original deacons of the Christian Church who were ordained by the Apostles to care for widows and the poor. For the success of his preaching and his devotion to Christ, St. Stephen was stoned to death by a mob. As he died, he begged God not to punish his killers.

And finally, from ehow.com , how to celebrate Boxing Day:

While stories of the origins of Boxing Day sometimes conflict, the holiday (which falls on the first weekday after Christmas - usually December 26 - and coincides with the Feast of Saint Stephen) is celebrated in Britain, Canada and several other countries. Take a moment to observe the holiday.

1. Attend a sporting event. In England, horse racing, regattas, football games and the Brighton Swimming Club's annual dip into the icy English Channel are just some of the events that take place on Boxing Day.

2. Remember those who have provided a service to you during the year. The postal delivery person, the newspaper delivery person, and employees of your household or business should be remembered with a tip, bonus or gift basket.

3. Remember those in need. Tradition has it that on Boxing Day in Victorian England, the poor went from house to house bearing boxes that were filled by compassionate home owners with food, clothing and gifts. Give canned goods, clothing or your time to organizations that help the needy.

4. Go shopping. Shopping is a popular Boxing Day activity, and the malls are usually filled with people taking advantage of after-Christmas bargains.

5. Celebrate with friends. Provide food and drink, or organize a potluck get-together for friends and family. Make it low-key, as Boxing Day should be less hectic and more relaxing than Christmas Day.

Other traditions hold that Boxing Day came about because the churches' alms boxes were opened that day, and the funds were used to provide food for the poor.

Boxing Day is not an American holiday, so don't expect to find too many celebrations going on in the United States.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

To my politically correct friends and family:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2009, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country, nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere.

Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the recipient.

To everyone else: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!
Where's Santa??

Are your little ones wondering where Santa is? Well, you can show them his exact location by going to this site.

Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Meaning Behind the Twelve Days of Christmas

There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me. What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality, which the children could remember.

The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

Two turtledoves were the Old and New Testaments

Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit: Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.

The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in The Apostles' Creed.

So there is your Biblical/Christmas/history lesson for today. This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol . . .
O Holy Night

O holy night!
The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night
of the dear Saviour's birth.

Long lay the world
in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared
and the Spirit felt its worth.

A thrill of hope
the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks
a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees!
Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine,
O night when Christ was born;
O night divine,
O night
O night divine!


THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
by Clement Clarke Moore
or Henry Livingston

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Puppy's 12 Days of Christmas
By Elise Lewis

On the first day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
The Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the second day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the third day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the fourth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Six yards of soggy ribbon
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Seven scraps of wrapping paper
Six yards of soggy ribbon
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the eighth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Eight tiny reindeer fragments
Seven scraps of wrapping paper
Six yards of soggy ribbon
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the ninth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
My wreath in nine pieces
Eight tiny reindeer fragments
Seven scraps of wrapping paper
Six yards of soggy ribbon
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the tenth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Ten Christmas cards I shoulda mailed
My wreath in nine pieces
Eight tiny reindeer fragments
Seven scraps of wrapping paper
Six yards of soggy ribbon
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Eleven unwrapped presents
Ten Christmas cards I shoulda mailed
My wreath in nine pieces
Eight tiny reindeer fragments
Seven scraps of wrapping paper
Six yards of soggy ribbon
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me,
A dozen puppy kisses
And I forgot all about the other eleven days.

Monday, December 22, 2008

No Santa? Ridiculous!

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus?" she snorted.... "Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let's go."

"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my Second World-famous cinnamon bun. "Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything.

As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. "Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class.

Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he didn't have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat! I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.

"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down. "Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby." The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a goodwinter coat. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it. Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going." I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were, ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.

May you always have Love to share, Health to spare, and Friends that care.
And may you always believe in the magic of Santa Claus!

~~~~~~~~~~~~

A new Christmas email favorite....destined to return like the Christmas snow
A Christmas Story

The man slowly looked up. This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat was new. She looked like she had never missed a meal in her life. His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before.

"Leave me alone," he growled.

To his amazement, the woman continued standing. She was smiling -- her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows.

"Are you hungry?" she asked.

"No," he answered sarcastically. "I've just come from dining with the president. Now go away." The woman's smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm.

"What are you doing, lady?" the man asked angrily. "I said to leave me alone.

Just then a policeman came up. "Is there any problem, ma'am?" he asked.

"No problem here, officer," the woman answered. "I'm just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?"

The officer scratched his head. "That's old Jack. He's been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?"

"See that cafeteria over there?" she asked. "I'm going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile."

"Are you crazy, lady?" the homeless man resisted. "I don't want to go in there!" Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up.

"Let me go, officer. I didn't do anything."

"This is a good deal for you, Jack," the officer answered. "Don't blow it."

Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived. The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by his table.

"What's going on here, officer?" he asked. "What is all this. Is this man in trouble?"

"This lady brought this man in here to be fed," the policeman answered.

"Not in here!" the manager replied angrily. "Having a person like that here is bad for business."

Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. "See, lady. I told you so. Now if you'll let me go. I didn't want to come here in the first place."

The woman turned to the cafeteria manage
r and smiled. "Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?"

"Of course I am," the manager answered impatiently. "They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms."

"And do you make a goodly amount of money providing food at these weekly meetings?"

"What business is that of yours?"

"I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of the company."

"Oh."

The woman smiled again. "I thought that might make a difference." She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle. "Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?"

"No thanks, ma'am," the officer replied. "I'm on duty."

"Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?"

"Yes, ma'am. That would be very nice."

The cafeteria manager turned on his heel "I'll get your coffee for you right away, officer."

The officer watched him walk away. "You certainly put him in his place," he said.

"That was not my intent. Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this." She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest She stared at him intently. "Jack, do you remember me?"

Old Jack searched her face with his old , rheumy eyes "I think so -- I mean you do look familiar."

"I'm a little older perhaps," she said. "Maybe I've even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry."

"Ma'am?" the officer said questioningly. He couldn't believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.

"I was just out of college," the woman began. "I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn't find anything. Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat."

Jack lit up with a smile. "Now I remember," he said. "I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy."

"I know," the woman continued. "Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble. Then, when I looked over, I saw you put the price of my food in the cash register I knew then that everything would be all right."

"So you started your own business?" Old Jack said.

"I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business, that, with the help of God, prospered." She opened her purse and pulled out a business card. "When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons. He's the personnel director of my company. I'll go talk to him now and I'm certain he'll find something for you to do around the office." She smiled. "I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet. If you ever need anything, my door is always opened to you."

There were tears in the old man's eyes. "How can I ever thank you? " he said.

"Don't thank me," the woman answered. "To God goes the glory. Thank Jesus. He led me to you."

Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at the entrance before going their separate ways. "Thank you for all your help, officer," she said.

"On the contrary, Ms. Eddy," he answered. "Thank you. I saw a miracle today, something that I will never forget. And...And thank you for the coffee."

If you have missed knowing me, you have missed nothing. If you have missed some of my emails, you might have missed a laugh. But, if you have missed knowing my LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, you have missed everything in the world.

Have a Wonderful Day And May God Bless You Always!
By Doug Patton
December 22, 2008

I love Christmas movies. Two of my favorites are "It's a Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Story" (I, too, always wanted a Red Rider BB gun as a kid). But two years ago a new "classic" was added to my must-see list at Christmastime.

I remember when my wife and I first saw "The Nativity Story," a simple, true-to-the-gospels retelling of the most familiar story in Christianity. As we walked into our local multiplex, past the throngs of moviegoers in line for the opening of the latest fantasy action flick of the week, I couldn't help but smile. As we made our way into the half-empty theater, showing the film that tells the story every human being desperately needs to see and hear, I thought to myself, "Isn't this the way it has always been?"

I thought of the week Princess Diana and Mother Theresa died. It was as though the media was annoyed that in the middle of the most important story of the decade, the quiet passing of the gentle nun of Calcutta was an afterthought they had to cover. The attention paid to the violent death of the beautiful young princess in a Paris tunnel contrasted so stunningly with the coverage paid to the passing of one of the 20th Century's towering spiritual role models that I remember thinking, "This is just like God to take her at this time."

"The Nativity Story" reminds us again of the irony inherent in the fact that God chose the humblest of settings to bring the Savior of all humanity into this world. Even King Herod's men did not think to look in a stable for the king of the world, and for two thousand years we have looked for something more. Something flashier. Something more glorious. Something greater. For those of us who passionately believe in the truth of this story, it was a clear reminder of why our faith is more than just a belief to be followed by the letter of the law. It is a life to be lived in the Spirit of the living God. What could be greater than that?

Therein is the difference between Christianity and every other religion in the world. Virtually every other faith speaks of Jesus Christ as a wise prophet, a great teacher, a good man. But scripture tells us that Christ is "the way, the truth and the life." Other religions are willing to acknowledge that following Jesus is one of the ways to heaven. Christ says he is the only way to heaven. No wonder he was crucified.

Christianity also is unique in that it proclaims that its central figure is still alive. Hindus think their leaders have been reincarnated. Buddha and his followers are thought to be part of some vast cosmos of energy. Mohammed, fiercely and violently defended though he may be, is still dead. Even the body of Moses has long ago turned to dust. Jesus Christ alone is believed by his followers to be physically alive -- even after having faced the worst death imaginable.

Far too many in our society reject the simple gospel presented by Christ and his disciples in favor of alternative religions that teach vague notions of piety through good works. Discontented seekers of new age solutions to age-old problems need only look to the truth of the nativity story.

This week as we celebrate the miracle of a baby whose life was given as a gift of sacrifice for all humanity, we also should remember that he is still with us. Like Christmas itself, the reality of Christ persists and grows stronger. He was born, lived, died, rose again, ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of his Father to make intercession for us, and sent his Holy Spirit to live within us. What a story. To hundreds of millions of us, it is still the only one that makes sense.