A Cautious Man
December 23, 2007
Sunday Night Springsteen
It's Christmas. Has everybody been good out there, or what?

We've been bad. The DSL has been acting up all week, so the internet has been hit or miss. And we've been fighting the Christmas wars in the shopping malls.

This is a "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" from about a week ago. The show is in Paris, and people start throwing Santa hats onto the stage, to get the band to do that song.

Merry Christmas!!!

December 16, 2007
Sunday Night (Not) Springsteen
New Jersey repealed the death penalty this week.

I join with those who applaud this.

On "BlueJersey.net", Thurman Hart, the Xpatriated Texan, thought that a link to a Steve Earle song would be appropriate for the occasion.

I heartily agree. As Mr. Earle has put it - "I object to the damage it does to my spirit for my government to kill people, because my government is supposed to be me, and I object to ME killing people. It’s very simple."

Yo, Jersey, we rock!!!

December 10, 2007
Nothing But A Child
Once upon a time
In a far off land
Wise men saw a sign
And set out aross the sand
Songs of praise to sing,
They travelled day and night
Precious gifts to bring,
Guided by the light

They chased a brand new star,
Ever towards the west
Across the mountains far
But when it came to rest
They scarce believed their eyes,
They'd come so many miles
And the miracle they prized
Was nothing but a child

- Steve Earle, Nothing But a Child
It's a little early for Christmas posts, perhaps, but since it's the middle of Advent, maybe not too early. As I've mentioned here before, my favorite Christmas special is, and has for years been, "A Charlie Brown Christmas". One of the reasons is that scene which takes place, after Charlie Brown has been barraged by Christmas commercialization, and has been made fun of for bringing a forlorn little (real) Christmas tree for the Christmas "pageant" the kids are putting on. He can't take it any more, and simply shouts: "Doesn't anybody know what Christmas is all about?" Linus calmly replies, "I know what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." Then he walks to the center of the stage, and recites a description of (what some consider) an improbable event from the second chapter of Luke:
Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,
"Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger."
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
"Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
And today, via The Ironic Catholic, from over in my reading list, comes a link to a Garrison Keillor essay about discussing the Nativity story with some teenagers. It takes the same story, and teases out some new way to look at it -

We sat in a sort of triangle, two couches at a right angle, a line of chairs, a window looking out at the snow on Amsterdam Avenue, and talked about the rather improbable notion that God sent Himself to Earth in human form, impregnating a virgin who, along with her confused fiancé, journeyed to Bethlehem where no rooms were available at the inn (it was the holidays, after all), and so God was born in a stable, wrapped in cloths and laid in a feed trough and worshipped by shepherds summoned by angels and by Eastern dignitaries who had followed a star.

This magical story is a cornerstone of the Christian faith and I am sorry if it's a big hurdle for the skeptical young. It is to the Church what his Kryptonian heritage was to Clark Kent -- it enables us to stop speeding locomotives and leap tall buildings at a single bound, and also to love our neighbors as ourselves. Without the Nativity, we become a sort of lecture series and coffee club, with not very good coffee and sort of aimless lectures.

On Christmas Eve, the snow on the ground, the stars in the sky, the spruce tree glittering with beloved ornaments, we stand in the dimness and sing about the silent holy night and tears come to our eyes and the vast invisible forces of Christmas stir in the world. Skeptics, stand back. Hush. Hark. There is much in this world that doubt cannot explain.

However you view the meaning of the event as described, in song, or story, or essay, I hope you enjoy the season.

Nothing but a child
Could wash these tears away
Or guide a weary world
Into the light of day

And nothing but a child
Could help erase these miles
So once again we all
Can be children for awhile

December 09, 2007
Sunday Night Springsteen
I learned today that Mr. Springsteen and the Band will be performing this summer at Giants Stadium - the scene of many performances I attended, too far from the stage and/or while sitting in the rain.

Then there was the time we took the kids, and used them to wrangle floor seats, but that's a story for another day.

In any event, to mark this auspicious announcement, here's a video from what I believe is the last time I saw those folks at the stadium (and the last time they were there), on my birthday in 2003 -

December 08, 2007
Poor Man Wanna Be Rich, Rich Man Wanna Be King . . .
Tbogg apparently felt that he was too "small time", with his own quirky blog, and has gone all "big time blogger" now.

So now I have to go fix the links in my reading list. I hate going under the hood and messing with stuff, but looks like I have to.

(Now, if only I could get myself some of that big time attention. I might actually post on a regular basis if that happened.)

December 06, 2007
This is a simple post, with a simple comment about Mitt Romney's speech on religion and politics, delivered today. Here are some excerpts, which I think show that his argument had little to do with genuine "religious liberty" -
There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us. If so, they are at odds with the nation's founders, for they, when our nation faced its greatest peril, sought the blessings of the Creator. And further, they discovered the essential connection between the survival of a free land and the protection of religious freedom. In John Adams' words: 'We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion... Our constitution was made for a moral and religious people.'
. . .

There is one fundamental question about which I often am asked. What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. My church's beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths. Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These are not bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.
. . .

As I travel across the country and see our towns and cities, I am always moved by the many houses of worship with their steeples, all pointing to heaven, reminding us of the source of life's blessings.

It is important to recognize that while differences in theology exist between the churches in America, we share a common creed of moral convictions.
. . .

We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism. They are wrong.
. . .

We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders – in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places.
. . .

And you can be certain of this: Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me. And so it is for hundreds of millions of our countrymen: we do not insist on a single strain of religion – rather, we welcome our nation's symphony of faith.

This was supposed to be a "no religious test for office" speech. You could have fooled me.

In fact, Romney’s speech boils down to this -

1. There most certainly is a religious test for public office.

2. I pass that test. Other people don’t, but we won’t get into that now.

3. Don’t ask me any questions about my religious beliefs - trust me, I do pass the test.


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