Re-Imagining Christmas

by Brad Nelson12/7/18

Christmas is too commercial. Check. It’s been all but outlawed in our atheistic “sensitive” culture. Check. And many who do try to celebrate at least the forms of it (if they are honest) see Jesus more as a health guru, the ticket to longer (perhaps eternal) life. Check.

We can doubt the stories in the Bible. We can say they are just more of the kinds of stories that people have always written for themselves to explain reality and to give themselves hope. That’s all fair enough. But let’s assume there is a Creator (a logical necessity given what we know) and that this Creator would want to maintain some kind of connection, particularly to try to uplift us out of our squalor (an idea completely consistent with the New and Old Testaments).

And what if, when that happened, we actually, as a race, abused and killed this Hand that was held out to us?

I think it’s easy to see Jesus as “The Redeemer” and perhaps forget that this wallpapers over the situation: God reached out to us and we killed Him.

Do you then suppose that God would be in a good mood?

The reality of this is usually obscured by calling it a “sacrifice,” is if God knew what would happen beforehand to his Son (a logical deduction, in my opinion, given human nature — or what it has become). And thus Jesus was never to be taken seriously in the first place as a loving reformer. His “savior” status is tacked on to bypass humankind’s central role in this tragedy.

But there was no sacrifice to be made if we had just said, “Gee, you’re right” and then welcomed Him with open arms and changed our ways.

I make no claim that Jesus isn’t the Redeemer. It’s certainly true that the human race is thoroughly corrupt and needs one. Its institutions that purport to be His instrument are in particularly bad shape right now, either having given themselves over to idolatry and self-importance or having turned religion into but a marketing plan aimed toward the self-esteem crowd.

But how many recognize these aspects? “Jesus” frequently becomes little more than another version of Deepak Chopra, there to sooth all our misgivings about ourselves — or a fancy healthcare plan for long life.

Instead, we need to face up to this. As a race, we have the blood of God on our hands. It is said that He kicked us out of His garden and later, having had enough, drowned all but a few of us like rats in order to start over. Perhaps if we wonder why God is so silent, we might think back to what we did last time He talked.

Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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68 Responses to Re-Imagining Christmas

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    A friend (who is losing, or who has totally lost) his faith sent me a couple Neil deGrasse Tyson videos to watch the other day. (I know now, without a doubt, that atheism is about anger toward God for not fulfilling one’s wishes.) I watched a bit of each clip but I’ve seen this all before. It’s infantile stuff. I don’t know of a Christian anywhere whose view of the universe is shattered because they find out that the cause of twinkling stars is atmospheric disturbance.

    This saddens me more than angers me. But I do get angry seeing atheists spread their bigotry and misinformation. Whatever one thinks of Christian theology, nowhere does it depend upon the idea of the created physical universe behaving as in old with magical fairies and gods animating every nook and cranny. Christian theology is a marked break from this pagan worldview.

    This is why I continue to say that there are no honest atheists….at least I’ve never run into one. And people of faith, having long ago either caved to the pressure of atheistic deconstruction or who simply expect their beliefs to be as simple as what can be written on a bubble gum wrapper, have no defense in the face of this slander.

    Consider that the Pope is a fraud and that so many Protestant churches are little more than places to go to have your self esteem massaged or promises made to you that God will soon make you materially wealthy. There is little organized defense against this constantly dripping acid slander.

    Why my friend would gain comfort from watching this stuff is known to me. He’s got a religious kook of a wife who is constantly hitting him over the head with the Bible. She’s arguable mentally ill as well. The situation isn’t good.

    But it does sadden me to see people so easily fall for this snake oil of Neil deGrasse. His is a sinister motive and this should be noted.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    One book I read on the subject noted that Jesus had one basic message: the kingdom of God is at hand, so you’d better be ready for it at any moment. Obviously, his timing was a bit off, because 2000 years later the kingdom of God still hasn’t come.

    There is one interesting possible proof of the divinity of Jesus Christ. After his death, a growing movement of worshippers formed. Obviously, many at least had known about Jesus, so the movement can be considered proof that Jesus at least existed and preached.

    But even more, we know that many of his closest disciples were martyred because of their preaching. Here is the interesting question: Were they given the choice to recant and abjure Jesus, and thus go free? Given that the alternative was the hideous torture of crucifixion, only a totally deranged person would choose crucifixion over recanting — if Jesus weren’t really who he said he was. And those closest to him almost certainly knew, one way or another, whether or not he was.

    I don’t know what evidence there is that they ever really faced that choice. But if they did, especially if many of them did, then it would be strong evidence that Jesus was the real deal.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      the kingdom of God is at hand, so you’d better be ready for it at any moment.

      In the unofficial Gospel of Thomas (some of the “Gnostic” gospels) you get this idea that the kingdom of heaven isn’t necessarily a separate place but can be found (or joined to, or intuited, or felt, or experienced) in the here and now — especially by purging oneself of sin, selfishness, and ego.

      This is a very dangerous idea to the Church because it cuts them out of the loop. But it can (as it surely did then) lead people to making temples of themselves as we see them doing today.

      Thank God we can live without the restrictions on thought of the Catholic Church (although modern Catholics, in practice, are anything but free in this regard). But in their better days or moments, they could help guide people away from superficial navel gazing (and instead turn their eyes toward Karl Marx as a replacement, as is being done today).

      But it is an entirely orthodox idea that we can come to know God or become closer to God. And I don’t believe Jesus ever mentioned heaven as a specific geographic place. And it’s my belief that eternity is here to be experienced (not fully lived out…it is eternity, after all) in the now. Again, the saints wrote in language just like this. As long as they ended their chapters with obedience to Mother Church and her Sacraments, there was (is) wide latitude in different approaches to Jesus.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        The gnostics were basically intellectual elitists, convinced that only the superior few knew the hidden truth. You can see why this would be very popular today.

        The Catholics arguably adopted a similar mode of operation in practice — preaching in Latin to people who didn’t know the language. This is why they disliked vernacular Bibles (even martyring those who made or read them) — it enabled ordinary people to find out what the Bible actually said, instead of what the Church claimed that it said. (This is at the heart of Jonathan Swift’s weird A Tale of Tub.)

      • pst4usa says:

        Brad, I happen to be one of those that think that the Kingdom is now, and that we can choose to live in it or not. But I have a completely different view of eternity. Eternity in my view is out side of time, we will see the past present and future in the same way God does. In eternity, now is always.

        Merry Christmas to one and all.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          That’s a good distinction, Pat. Merry Christmas.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          Even as a teenager, I had a gut feeling/belief that everything that has happened, is happening and will happen is taking place now. I did not thick about the theological ramifications involved until much later in life.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Were they given the choice to recant and abjure Jesus, and thus go free? Given that the alternative was the hideous torture of crucifixion, only a totally deranged person would choose crucifixion over recanting — if Jesus weren’t really who he said he was.

      Things like this are certainly central to Christian apologetics. The reasoning is that they must have seen something real in order to endure what they endured.

      That said, is Allah real because thousands of Jihadists willingly go to their death? If zealousness is proof, then there are a lot of things proved real. But zealousness doesn’t disprove things either.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        No one today knows from his own observation the truth of Jesus Christ or Mohammed. Their followers may have faith, but the original apostles had observational evidence. They actually knew the truth. The same would probably be true of some of Mohammed’s earliest followers, but there’s no indication that any of them were martyrs, much less that they faced the choice of recant or die a horrible death.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          but the original apostles had observational evidence. They actually knew the truth

          I think that’s a reasonable statement. And that depends upon if what they saw was written down accurately. I’m reading a book right now titled Into Thin Air. It’s an account of a spate of tragic misadventures on attempting to scale Mt. Everest.

          What makes the book notable is that the author was there at the time. Upon his safe return to America (he’s generally based in Seattle), he had written an extensive article for the magazine that he worked for. But he felt compelled to flesh out the entire story, particularly because the original story was so riddled with mistakes.

          And he said one reason for the mistakes is the lack of oxygen at 20,000 feet. He said it turns the mind into that of an adolescent. He notes one incident as an example. He says he was one of four people to witness an event and yet not one of them agreed on who was there or exactly what happened.

          So he went back. With help of the radio transmissions back-and-forth from the base station (and interviews with those not suffering from oxygen depletion), he was able to piece together much more of the story.

          And that’s sort of how I think about these stories from the apostles. It’s not that anyone is lying. But religious fervor can act very much like oxygen depletion. I’m not so sure how reliable the stories are.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            A very good point, but not necessarily applicable to the original apostles. Don’t forget that their reaction to the seizure of Jesus Christ was to panic, with Peter denying Jesus 3 times. Although they did replace Judas as an apostle, there’s no assurance the mission would have continued for long — until Mary Magdalene showed up to inform them of the amazing news she had.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          There is a big difference between Christ and Mohammed. Christ is said to be the son of God, so the claims made about him are much larger than those made about Mohammed.

          Mohammed’s followers could claim to believe Mo spoke to Gabriel (as I recall) but they could not say they saw Gabriel speaking to Mo. So the measure of belief was different. If Mo had been willing to die for his belief, maybe it would have been more meaningful.

          It should probably also be noted that Mohammed questioned his own sanity at one time and Allah’s message changed drastically over the period that Mohammed claims he was seeing Gabriel.

          If zealousness is proof, then there are a lot of things proved real. But zealousness doesn’t disprove things either.

          It should be noted that Christianity rewarded those who were willing to die for their belief. Islam was more noted for rewarding those who were willing to kill for their belief. If they died while killing a kafir, so much the better.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            There is a big difference between Christ and Mohammed.

            Sort of like the difference between Mother Theresa and Genghis Khan.

            Christ is said to be the son of God

            One of The Big Three (Father/Son/Holy Ghost). God incarnate. Philippians 2:6-8.

            This is an impossible notion because we are our own gods particularly because “The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.”

            These are notions distinct from the completely physical and logical (as is love, consciousness, and more). Interestingly, right here, right now, we have the freedom to explore these topics. We bring our doubt, our hope, and are reason to this subject.

            This is not something atheists can do. They have walled themselves into their little Scroogle-like boxes of “reason” and “rationality,” quite certain that they are their own gods (to the extent that anything can be a god). I like that we can think and write about this openly and with depth. That’s just not possible with fundamentalist atheists.

            And a great distinction regarding Islam.

  3. pst4usa says:

    An observation. (not so much about this post but on the subject). I was coming out of our local wallyworld and there was a young high school girl ringing the Salvation Army’s bell and as I dropped in a few bucks she said in a very pleasant voice, Happy Holidays! So I replied you mean Merry Christmas don’t you? She said no, we are only allowed to say that if some one says Merry Christmas first. So I had to ask her, what holiday are we celebrating when you say Happy Holidays, and who is going to provide the salvation that this Salvation Army is representing? She said I know, I am a Christian, but we have rules.
    So I guess this is the link to re-imaging Christmas. If a group that was clearly Christian cannot say Merry Christmas? How are we to recover?

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      If a group that was clearly Christian cannot say Merry Christmas? How are we to recover?

      I will have to check around here if this is a national policy or just for the snowflakes in the Pacific Northwest.

      But the answer to your question is likely, “we are not, but we need to go down fighting.”

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      That’s great man-on-the-street reporting, Pat. I’m glad you took the time to instruct this girl. I’m sure you gave her something worthwhile and useful to think about.

      And you’ve hit the very essence of my post: “So I guess this is the link to re-imaging Christmas.” For either large believers, small believers, or wanna-believers, the only way “forward” (if you’ll excuse the term) to Christmas is to separate* oneself from popular culture. That mass mind has gone plumb crazy.

      [*Large doses of Bing Crosby are recommended.]

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    A very good point, but not necessarily applicable to the original apostles. Don’t forget that their reaction to the seizure of Jesus Christ was to panic, with Peter denying Jesus 3 times.

    Central to this story is the credibility of the apostles and the subsequent accuracy of what has been handed down to us. One thing I agree with in regards to an atheistic creed is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It’s a shame, really, that we must drift along on the fumes of things purported to have happened 2000 years ago. The upside is that this event occurred, if it occurred, before today’s fake news was predominant.

    Let me frame my thoughts, 1 Timothy StubbornThings, by presenting two articles, neither of which you need to read because I’m sure you already agree with them: Christian Mega-Star Singers: Tell the Truth on Homosexuality [Lesson: authentic Christianity is offensive] and Father Jenkins Doesn’t Seem to See the Problem [Lesson: the Catholic Church is thoroughly corrupt — Neumayr’s article would serve as well]

    Heaven knows the Gnostics had their faults. But their main problem in regards to “orthodoxy” is the idea that a person could know God without benefit of an institution. Well, you can’t run a gigantic and lucrative organization if people can just think what they want to think.

    Here we can (at the moment) think what we want. I think it’s reasonable to doubt the Apostle’s stories. But at the same time, if what happened really happened, their stories would always sound unreasonable. And there is no easy way to make them sound reasonable today so distant from those events.

    I suppose no wonder then that many substitute environmentalism, Leftism, the Prosperity Gospel, and a whole lot of other things. It’s because authentic Christianity (if we take the Gospel as gospel) is not only offensive, it puts duties and restrictions on a person. Perhaps this is the most offensive aspect of the entire project in the context of today’s “me me me” self-obsessed self-esteem credo.

    I was talking to my newly-unborn atheist friend just yesterday. He’s the one that sent me that (to my ears) dishonest Neil deGrasse video. My friend was (now) totally offended by the notion that there is a God with moral laws who makes judgments. Okay, I know the fuller story. He’s got a kook wife who can’t go 5 minutes without breaking the 4th Commandment. She’s judgmental and the near perfect stereotype of a closed-minded Christian fundamentalist.

    Both are chasing emotional needs. I understand that. This isn’t about logic, reason, or even theology. And that’s why when talking to my friend, I was aware that he wasn’t listening when I told him that whatever you now think of Christianity, the atheists are only ever giving a dishonest straw-man argument. Nothing, for instance, in the Jewish or Christian belief system is in opposition to the idea that stars twinkle because of atmospheric disturbance. deGrasse, too, is chasing chimera because of some inner emotional beast that he is trying to quench. But my friend believed — was wholly enthusiastic to believe — the atheistic lie that all ideas of God and religion are based upon “god of the gaps” arguments. That is, all theology stems from purporting a god for what otherwise can eventually be explained by science as a “natural cause.”

    He was not listening when I unmasked this slander. Although I admitted that plenty of Christians were ignorant and believed comic-book versions of their own faith, nothing in Christian or Jewish theology is centered on the “god of the gaps.” Theirs is a logical theology that nature is not god, that God created nature and stands outside of nature. This, I told him, is also almost surely why science itself took off. It ushered in a mindset whereby we could look at nature and try to find the Creator’s hand and genius in how things worked. There is nothing to solve, no logic or reason to uncover, if fairies make the stars twinkle on pure whim. But knowing the regularity of how things worked was a separate matter. Knowing that lightning comes not from Thor but from an electrical discharge disproves pagan Gods but is not in the least contrary to Christian or Jewish theology whereby an intelligent God sets up this entire system.

    But emotional needs are different from intellectual content. And this aspect is highly relevant. People will believe anything (whether atheists or theists) if it suits them. But that doesn’t make it true. (No does it necessarily make it untrue.) Sorting through all this logically and reasonably is almost assuredly a fool’s task. But I often am a fool, so there.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      As someone pointed out here a little while back (speaking of the Bible as a whole), the Gospels are hardly boastful about the people who wrote them (or supplied the material that the writers put down). This makes them a bit more believable. We know that some such Christian beliefs appeared early enough that various Roman historians mentioned their existence. So does the Talmud, I gather.

      Note that Christian lore has Thomas the Doubter being martyred in India. How accurate this is we can’t say, but someone brought the gospel there.

      And it’s very important to realize that Judaism and Christianity, by having God create a universe with rules and operating as much as possible within them even when performing miracles, opened the door for theoretical science. Pagans and Muslims both had God or gods doing everything as the choose (hence the routine Muslim reference to “the will of Allah”), which left no room for figuring out the rules by which the universe operates.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        The Judeo/Christian God is not a god of caprice. The rest are.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          That also is reflected in his personal morality. Jesus was a far better exemplar than Mohammed. Yahweh, though he could be a vengeful God, was still a better example than Zeus with his many girlfriends (and at least one boyfriend).

          This came up in I, Claudius when Livia Augusta (having read the “Succession of the Hairy Men”, she knew who the next 2 emperors would be after Tiberius), got Claudius to promise to name her a god. (Caligula also made the same promise, but she didn’t trust him — rightly.) He admitted that none of the Olympian gods made a good moral example, but didn’t end up in Tartarus despite that. Livia knew where she would end up without deification.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Yahweh, though he could be a vengeful God

            He certainly didn’t like it when the Sodomites tried to have his angels in Sodom. And you can’t really blame God for being angry about that. In fact, I think that’s what you learn about God in the Old Testament. He isn’t capricious, as Mr. Kung noted. But he’s not the fuzzy-wuzzy God portrayed today who is tolerant of everything and makes non-judgmentalism the highest virtue.

            The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not the bloodthirsty Allah of Islam, but he can get royally pissed off when human beings sin. He is the God of judgment as well as love. The idiot Left takes one extreme. (Love is a value-neutral concept….should we love murderers?) And Islam takes the bloodthirsty other extreme.

            I mean, goodness gracious. We’ll never know the full complexity of God in our lifetimes. But he is being reduced to comic-book proportions by all sides. And as much as I hammer on the Catholics, they actually have much good theology and thought on the subject of balancing all this. They should use it once in a while as should we all.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        We can take a leap of faith and just enjoy Christmas because it’s a hell of a lot better than putting on a suicide vest and screaming allahu akbar. If we are to err, let’s err on the side of decency, charity, love, patience, humility….you know, that whole Paul thing. He didn’t mention Bing but nobody’s perfect.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Well, all times are one to God, so he certainly knew about Bing. But Paul was merely human, so he didn’t. I suppose Jesus did, but he wasn’t telling the apostles much about the future.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Dennis Prager has his usual “Say Merry Christmas” column. Prager writes:

    It was a Jewish-American, Irving Berlin, who wrote “White Christmas,” one of America’s most popular Christmas songs. In fact, according to a Jewish musician writing in The New York Times, “almost all the most popular Christmas songs were written by Jews.”

    National Review has Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s 1983 Templeton Address. I won’t put this on the must-read list. I think he’s a little narrow-minded. But given what he’s seen, he has a right to be. We could sum this up for our reconstituted Christmas as: If you’re an atheist, you’re aiding and abetting the Communists, no matter how “enlightened” you think you are, little ideological Snowflake.

    I struggle with my mustard-seed-size faith. But I’m absolutely aware that if you’re an atheist, you’re aiding and abetting Darkness. You’ll find some good nuggets in the article here and there. But I wonder if Mother Russia ever was the kind-and-gentle Christian Orthodox country that he makes it out to be in the past. And although I think religious observance is important, I don’t think we all need to live in a monastery.

    He’s not overtly saying that. But I think there is a narrow-mindedness sometimes from the very religious, especially when they turn their nose down on our free markets (“capitalism”) as some kind of root of evil. If I were in his position, I would call for a balance. I like my commercial goods. I just try to not make idols of them or find the meaning of life in them.

    Merry Christmas, by the way.

  6. pst4usa says:

    This is where we are today. I know he is no Dean Martin, but I cracked up. For you listening pleasrure, a PC vertion of Baby it’s cold out side.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Yes, I’ve seen this. Note that if she really didn’t want to stay, she would’ve left early in the song. She’s trying to pretend to be reluctant and hoping for him to seduce her. Which, of course, is also the point of the original song. If it weren’t for “What’s in this drink?” (which can have an innocuous meaning, but today to femocrats suggests date-rape drinks), there might be no problem.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Oh, Pat, that wins the award for Song of the Year. What an absolute hoot. Thanks for bringing that to our attention. That is a first-rate parody of today’s feminine fascism. Bravo. Wonderful. Full marks.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        And note that in the end the results are probably unchanged. This reflects the actual reality of the original song, in which the man is seducing a woman who wants it but knows she shouldn’t.

        Incidentally, the Cleveland station that ostentatiously took it out of their song rotation has now reportedly added it back. This may have been a publicity stunt on their part. I wonder if it worked, but their quick restoration of the song suggests otherwise.

  7. Timothy Lane says:

    Well, reimagining Christmas or not, all I have to say at this point is: Merry Christmas to all, and peace on Earth to everyone of good will.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Same to you, Timothy.

      In a sort of sardonic way, Kevin Williamson has a Christmas message: Christmas Truths & Choices. It starts with:

      If you have never learned to hate the human race but would really like to get started on that, try volunteer work. There is nothing quite like trying to help your fellow man to convince you that your fellow man is hot garbage piled high.

      I once did some work with prisoners, which involves more or less the challenges you would expect. I am not an especially patient or naturally sympathetic man, and our prisons are full of conniving and dishonest lowlifes with a talent for trying what patience one has in the first two minutes of any encounter. I was not very helpful helping there. A friend who has worked with female prisoners found the women about as sympathetic as I found the men.

      But food banks are the worst. Give me the murderers and burglars eight days a week over the people you meet at food banks. Nobody actually said, “Hurry up and give me that Christmas turkey — I’ve got heroin to procure and children to ruin!” but that’s pretty much what you hear all day, if you have ears to hear.

      You have not seen the look of despair until you’ve looked a Salvation Army worker (not just a bell-ringer but a full-timer) in the eyes.

      This is a wake-up call for me in the form of “Count you blessings.” The *norm* is for people to be silly, superficial, shallow, dishonest, pretentious, and petty. Bless those here at StubbornThings — including yourself — for being examples of the opposite.

      This is why the left “loves humanity” but hates people while the right loves people, and if they don’t actually hate humanity, they have some appreciation for man’s endemic nature. Why this nature should be so is more than a scientific question. It’s more than a “survival of the fittest” question, for reality proves time and again that, by and large, honest and compassionate people regularly make a success of their lives. Who do people regularly turn to evil when it is so destructive and counter-productive?

      It’s a religious question why Kevin Williamson’s description is accurate. It’s a social and political question why this is something that few talk about. Our culture has no shortage in its ability to hand out material gifts but cares not what it is feeding or what is being starved that should be fed.

      It’s a meandering article by Kevin. I’m not sure what his ultimate point is. But it’s Christmas. That’s good enough for me.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Back in the 1970s, a couple of friends worked as tellers (sometimes maybe even overlapping) at the First National Bank branch in Algonquin Manor in the west end (i.e., the poor black ghetto area) of Louisviile.

        One was disgusted by welfare recipients who came in and their attitude, such as referring to welfare checks they hadn’t cashed yet as “back pay”. The other developed a racial hostility to blacks (at the time, he supporting racial busing on the basis that if he had to put up with blacks, everyone else should). Oddly, he had friends among the black tellers there, and we once went bowling with them at the nearby bowling alley.

        I have no idea what those black tellers thought of their fellow black welfare recipients.

        Another friend worked at a downtown welfare office, and once gave up a “Nigger Employment Application” (this is about the only place I think I could actual mention the name) that I could never figure out if it was actually racist or a parody of racists. I suspect the latter, but I’ve never been sure. Somewhere around that time I also got a fake ad for a restaurant called “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” that was definitely an anti-racist parody akin to MAD‘s ad narrated by George Wallace in the 1960s for All White detergent.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I was reading a non-fiction book on octopuses that I found by chance at the online library in the non-fiction section. I couldn’t stay with the book for reasons that would make for an interesting discussion. I acknowledge that neither a human supramacist nor an anthropomorphic lens presents a good view of other creatures. In this, I agree with the author. But neither does making emotional pets of them as the author and other “scientists” do behind the scenes as revealed in this book. It’s half interesting in just how octopuses will interact and half just a sign of the emotional neediness of today’s vacuous yutes.

          But the octopus is quite intelligent. I think the author said the octopus has 400 million synopses which is more than a parrot and perhaps more than a rat as well, but less than the 100 trillion synapses of humans. But the point would be that as sophisticated as the behavior of an octopus can be, I don’t think we see in humans a factor of 10 or even a hundred better. We seem utterly stupid and simplistic.

          Let me stretch my own network of brains cells by trying to make this plain: Welfare rots the soul. We should be careful regarding our methods of “helping” people. Welfare is at least half about politics. “Other people’s money” will always be popular with the masses. The masses can justify in various dishonest ways why “other people’s money” really belongs to them.

          Man is already walking the tightrope of corruption just by waking up in the morning. Throwing money into the mix just makes it worse.

          I think it more likely that an octopus, with his mere 400 million synopses, could be made to understand the above. But humans seem to use the vastness of their “intelligence” for deceit and self-deceit. We are made both more ravenous and dumber by our intelligence. This is the reason “intellectuals” have tended to be the bane of humankind.

      • Rosalys says:

        A guest preacher at our chapel once told of how a “friend” asked for some money from him. He really was in great debt and in need, and Ed was not unsympathetic to his plight. But he also knew how this guy got into such trouble, and it was through irresponsibility. He also knew that there weren’t thuggish loan sharks stalking him, waiting in the shadows for an opportunity to break his legs or do worse. Therefore he prayed about it, and came to the conclusion that this guy would not learn a thing, and would not be helped (in the long run) by being bailed out. He therefore didn’t give him any money. (I may add that Ed is someone, that if it could have helped, he would have given him the money or as much as he were able.)

        This is something that the “compassionate” left can’t (or won’t) understand. They just throw money (usually someone else’s) at problems because it makes them feel good. The motivations are selfish and the act (theft) is criminal.

        Discernment people. Discernment! It’s more thoughtful and difficult than mindless “generosity.”

        • Timothy Lane says:

          One way of helping would have been to hire him for some job that needed doing (and preferably involved a good bit of hard work). That gets him money, but not as a gift. I’ve heard of people suggesting exactly this to panhandlers (most of whom have no interest in the hard labor).

          Coming home from a New Year’s party in Bloomington, IN, we encountered a guy at a rest stop who for some reason needed money for breakfast. I would have been willing to help if I could be sure his problem wasn’t just a clever lie to get money out of sympathy. But we had the remains of a tub of doughnuts we had taken to the party. I let him have some of them, which he gratefully accepted.

          An Internet joke we received from Elizabeth’s sister involved someone meeting the child of some leftist neighbors. The child wanted to help the panhandlers, so they suggested mowing their lawn and donating the money. The response was surprisingly sensible for the child of leftists: maybe the prospective donatees should do the mowing. To which they said, “Welcome to the Republican Party.”

          • Rosalys says:

            My Grammy used to take the local downtown panhandlers to the nearest diner and buy them breakfast or lunch – when what they really wanted was some money to buy some cheap booze.

            “Welcome to the Republican Party.”


  8. Timothy Lane says:

    Well, this seems as good a place as any to say it: Happy New Year to everyone! After all, it’s still Christmas season until Epiphany (January 6) aka Three Kings Day.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      You too Tim. Let’s hope and pray that 2019 turns out to be a good year for everyone at ST.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Happy New Year in return. And with the National Championship College Bowl Game on January 7, there’s a parallel entity stretching out the holiday season.

      I’ve never celebrated Epiphany. I’m not sure how to. According to Wiki, two Christmas carolss associated with Epiphany are As with Gladness Men of Old and, of course, We Three Kings of Orient Are. I consider the latter to be in my top-five of Christmas songs.

      Of course, it depends who sings it.

      Any New Years Resolutions? I don’t usually do those although God knows there is alway need of reform. I just can’t decide whether to embrace illegal aliens are global warming? Any thoughts on this?

      • Timothy Lane says:

        In Spain and Latin America, gifts are handed out on Epiphany. It’s also a Catholic holy day, though I have no idea what particular form their celebration of it takes.

        I do have a couple of novelty songs for New Year’s. One simply notes that New Year’s resolutions are “another form of lie”. The other is by Spike Jones and involves various humorous New Year’s resolutions by himself and his City Slickers. I have them on Dr. Demento’s collection Holidays in Dementia, and plan to play them today.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Any New Years Resolutions?

        Smoke more food. I received an electric smoker for Christmas which makes smoking meat much easier. I have already smoked a bunch of German sausages from Kuby’s (a German butcher/store and restaurant in Dallas) and a Prime Rib Roast. Both were delicious.

        I intend to continue perfecting my technique and adding to global warming while doing so. A twofer!

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Smoke more food.

          Can’t you just VAPE it? 😀

          I hope you’ll share your experiences. I think those things are becoming very popular.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            One day soon, I will probably give ST readers the benefit of my culinary expertise. But I can already give away the secret of my success. My wife seasons and prepares the meats before I even warm up the smoker.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I suppose you could also smoke salmon with it. Lox and bagels (with cream cheese) can be a very tasty light meal.

  9. Timothy Lane says:

    This being New Year’s Day, I want to mention a Jerry Bowyer article on Town Hall that discusses the matter of AD dating. He doesn’t go into the egregiousness of BC/AD vs. BCE/CE, but rather the significance of an increasingly universal system of dating. Most societies until then had their own local dating, often based on royal reigns (“in the tenth year of King Nobody”) or local matters (“in the 3rd year of the 87th Olympiad”). With the BC/AD system, a universal system was developed.”

    Bowyer brings up the point that if you’re tracing it back to the beginning of a reign, then it’s no surprise that our system traces back (theoretically) to the birth of the King of Kings aka the Prince of Peace.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Most societies until then had their own local dating, often based on royal reigns (“in the tenth year of King Nobody”)

      The Japanese and Thais still do this to some degree. It was rumored that one of the reasons they kept Emperor Hirohito alive so long was to let him die around the new year in order that the beginning of the new emperor’s era would coincide with the calendar year.

      For those of you who have a taste for the classical, PBS will be broadcasting the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Day Concert at 8:00pm Central time. It is one of my favorite programs, and I look forward to it each year. Prosit!

  10. Steve Lancaster says:

    Not that it really matters, but New Years was over three months ago. The Jewish calendar has it at 5779, for the Chinese it is 3400 (+-) the significance of this should be obvious.

    For over 2000 years we Jews did our own laundry.

    Never the less, Happy New Year to all.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      The Sons of the Yellow Emperor would have you know that the Chinese calendar started about 4,700 years ago, so it only took about 1,000 years for you to hear those immortal words, “No tickie, no washie.”

      • Steve Lancaster says:

        My apologies to the Sons of the Yellow Emperor. BTW that joke got me in facebook jail for 3 days. I’m thinking your response would also. Try to restrain your horror. Have a great year and fasten your seatbelt the ride is going to be wild.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          BTW that joke got me in facebook jail for 3 days

          I see I have reaped certain advantages by never having been on Facebook. But just to make sure I maintain the correct mindset, I will ask my wife to cook a Chinese meal for me, the eating of which will be penance for my bad Chinese joke.

          You should perform a similar penance for your sin. Maybe Lox with cream cheese on a bagel.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      The Jewish calendar has it at 5779

      My new Apple Watch must have stopped or something. I think it’s still under warranty.

      That’s a great Jewish laundry joke.

      I watched the first half of a detective mystery yesterday (What Remains . . . more about that in the BritBox forum section). A decomposed body is found in an attic. All indications are of a natural death. The newly-retired detective, Len Harper, is not satisfied.

      Anyway, the identity of the person becomes known and they search her room. There is no indication that she had any contact with the outside world (thus her disappearance went unnoticed). No computer. No cell phone (but there was a router in her room).

      While talking about this aspect, the detective postulated that surely she had friends. She must have a Facebook account. And one of the younger women there says something like “No one makes friends on Facebook. It’s just a place to show them off.”

      Well, you know my cynical attitude. Facebook (which is becoming uncool to the yutes who previously inhabited the temple) is a place of “competitive happiness.” It’s where you try to show others what a marvelous life you are living. I think this idea is along the same lines of the statement of that girl in this 4-episode series on BritBox.

      So how in Hades do I tie together a bad Jewish joke, a British murder mystery, and (what I view as) anti-social media? Only a fool would suppose the people he or she meets online — and only online — are “friends” in any real sense. What is online is more ephemeral than the wind. Unless it’s grandma sharing photos of her children, the deepest roots of online life tends to be shared grievance or competitive happiness. Facebook (and other places) tends to be a sort of freak show, a library of momentarily-distracting pseudo-reality.

      And yet associations of shared interest are a fundamental part of America. Ironically, we are becoming more and more isolated in our supposed “social” media. And yet we probably shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. There’s nothing inherently good or bad about the speed of electronics. There’s nothing wrong with using Dick Tracy technology, no more than there was taking advantage of the postal system to write letters instead of traveling hundreds of miles for a personal visit.

      It takes discipline to be real online. At least I think it does. And there’s no reason to be real, of course, nor should any human being bare all to anyone but their spouse…and even then. But the anonymity of online, and the ease of interacting with anyone anywhere, inherently follows the law of economics: If something is abundant and easy to acquire, it will not be held in high regard. No one (other than some Starbucks environmental religionist) thinks twice about the plastic straw that they throw away.

      That said, I do think we have had some success here turning this into an online equivalent of some kind of Diogenes Club. May the New Year bring you all contentment and peace. And I thank you all for adding to the cigar-smoked-filled erudite air and having more than just grievance to share.

      And for the bad Jewish jokes.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Well, if you want some Jewish jokes, Isaac Asimov (whose birthday is today) had a whole chapter of them in his Treasury of Humor.

        If Facebook is for showing off your wonderful life, it’s just as well that I never considering going on it. Especially now that I’m living in a nursing home. A good one, but still a nursing home.

        The problem with social media friends is that most of the content of the messages is trivial and short. You don’t know anything at all about them. And today there is no interest in ever meeting them. It will probably never happen, but I would be happy to meet any of our regulars here, just as I did many of our FOSFAX recipients (one of whom was chairman of Windycon one year, which is why Elizabeth and I were Fan Guests of Honor).

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I think there are aspects of Facebook which warrant a Twilight Zone episode.

        1. It is a virtual reality with virtual friends.
        2. It limits one’s reality as it cuts one off from actual interaction with others.
        3. It gives one a distorted sense of reality as, on the one hand, people say all kinds of things they would never say in person, and on the other hand, they don’t say things which they would face to face. This is a major reason social media are so dangerous. They lead people to believe a lot of nonsense. The truth rarely raises its lonely head.

        I believe spending a lot of time on Facebook must be something like self-flagellation. It feels so good when one stops.

      • Steve Lancaster says:

        Out in the real world, where real people talk to each other, but especially for men and women in and out of combat. Race, ethnicity and religion are largely not relevant. Jokes of any variety are not only tolerated but serve to take the tension off times when life and death are on the line.

        I have said, and have said to me language that would take the patina off of Thor’s hammer often in several different national languages. And push the average snowflake into total meltdown. The progressive culture has become so perverted that any conversation is a de facto assault on someone’s feelings.

        I recall my father, the original “old gunny” once being so mad at me that he swore at me in several languages for the better part of 10 minuets and never repeated. I was amazed and astounded, as was my daughter when I accomplished the same task years later. I don’t remember the details and I suspect neither does she but the effect was remarkable.

        Perhaps, the world would be a better place if we could just blow off steam with some good old fashioned cursing.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Perhaps, the world would be a better place if we could just blow off steam with some good old fashioned cursing.

          Dennis Prager makes the observation: Why do we bathe? We do it for other people. He also makes a distinction between public and private speech in regards to profanity.

          I agree with Prager in at least the fundamental idea that there ought to be distinctions. I have a radical-free-speech friend, for instance, who says elementary school shelves ought to be stocked with pornography or else that is just censorship.

          I recognize that we ought to make distinctions between what is appropriate in Kindergarten and what is appropriate in boot camp. But in any and all cases, Prager’s rule that “we bathe for other people” is a good idea to keep in mind regarding language.

          I had a reformed (or at least reforming) black guy (he told me he was still seeing his parole officer) and his wigger friend in my office the other day. Initial telephone contact included (from their end) a lot of habitual profanity — just to discuss a flyer getting printed. (“How much the fuck would it cost for 100 flyers?” That sort of thing, and a lot of it.)

          If language is an aftershave, these two people stunk. I couldn’t get rid of them. They eventually showed up on my door, toning down the language a little. I did the flyers. They seemed like nice enough guys (but still kind of scary). But the language they used was an assault upon my person, It was a type of violence, if only verbal. But what comes out of the mouth can be a very good indication of what’s inside.

          So I recommend in all places, at all times, that we take a bath. We might feel that we’re “fitting in” when we drop f-bombs at the drop of a hat, but we’re just being part of the great, brutish unwashed.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            My mother once mentioned some relative of ours who would comment on the day with something like, “God damn, it’s a hell of a pretty day.” For that matter, my grandfather once showed me an indictment for indecent exposure that had been rewritten after the judge rejected it as insufficiently specific. Among other things, it said that the perp “pulled out one penis, peter, dick, tail whacker, or gut wrench.” And that was in an official document.

            Bathing certainly is done to please others (especially someone like me who doesn’t have a sense of smell), but it’s also practical. My leg wounds have gotten a lot better since they started washing them in soap and water once a week (as wound care has been calling for all along).

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              At the end of the day, Timothy, there’s no one-size-fits-all regarding profanity or free speech. Unless we make the distinction between what we can do and what we ought to do, vulgarians will rule the day as they justify dropping f-bombs as some kind of honorable defense of free speech. This will lead to further vulgarizing (and dumbing-down) of our culture, as it most certainly has.

              Theodore Dalrymple writes fluently about how the middle and even upper classes in Britain are aping the vulgar styles, methods, and language of the lower classes. I saw a black guy in the grocery store the other day with his pants halfway down his butt. You can see white people aping the same fashion. Speaking of clothing yourself in good language, many can’t even actually clothe themselves.

              I think it will be difficult to maintain a civilization worth living in if the lowest common denominator of the more brutish classes if held as the norm.

              Cleansing wounds has long now been the basis of medical care. I’m not sure why your health regimen had apparently been excluding this rather obvious and common-sense procedure. But I’m glad your leg is better.

  11. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    One of the interesting aspects of observing The Daily Drama is that it is the calculus of The Kungian View. The Kungian View of life and human nature stand firm as we add little bits to it in the fine details. Our approximation of that View gets closer and closer to reality. Every little news article and event adds to it.

    I remember very little from my beginner’s calculus class (because I really didn’t understand it), but I grasped that one of the functions of calculus (at least as a conceptual model) was of measuring the area defined by a curve “by approximating a collection of inscribed or circumscribed rectangles” as an online source puts it.

    I don’t blame Mr. Kung for my increasing cynicism no more than I would blame a tall tree for being able to see beyond the normal horizon. And I realize the media is not necessarily reality (quite beyond the issue of fake news). In a theoretical land with a murder rate of one per 30 million people (and other crime rates suitably low), the media would still always feature the bad that was happening. Thus whatever the actual state of one’s nation or community, the media is always a lie to a large extent.

    Taking that into account, it’s still easy to see that we are cracking up as a nation. Every headline added together creates an impression of social insanity. Steve cautions “fasten your seatbelt the ride is going to be wild.” That is my view as well. There are whole fields of mad chickens out there and entire beltways of roosts for them to come home to.

    What I’ve come to realize is that madness is the norm in human affairs and that only good institutions and ideas can save us from ourselves. America is one such idea and its institutions (public and private) have helped to mold this nation into something good (compared to all the other imperfect places).

    One of the questions I face is: Can one have faith in God if one has lost faith in human beings (as a race, not particular places and people)? I don’t have faith in people. I see better than I ever have just how corrupt, ignorant, and self-destructive human nature is. “Narrow is the gate, wide and broad is the way that leads to destruction.” A pretty observant Jew understood this a while back.

    There are two responses (and both can coexists): Cynicism and reverence for The Sacred. We can admit to the corruption but also see the Holy in those acts and ideas that are good. The real tragedy of Leftism is that it blurs or reverses those aspects. (“Those who call evil good and good evil.”)

    I’m not a bible-thumper myself. But as TR commented in “The River of Doubt” during his ordeals in the Amazon jungle, “The very pathetic myth of ‘beneficent nature’ could not deceive even the least wise being if he once saw for himself the iron cruelty of life in the tropics.”

    Human nature itself seems like a jungle. But there are flowers and good foods even in the jungle. When we find something good, we know it is fragile for the forces of nature and of mankind are ready and set to degrade it. But this only raises the importance and sacredness of that which is true, good, and/or beautiful. The Kungian View stands fast. The area under the curve continues to fill. But hopefully we can find a way to walk right out of that curve and past it.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Differential calculus computes the slope of a line or curve. Integral calculus measures the area under the line or curve.

      The traditional definition of news is that it’s about the unusual — “man bites dog” gets reported, not “dog bites man”. Thus, even when it’s truthful, it gives a very inaccurate view of society. If you want an accurate view, consult an almanac or a yearbook and you have at least a chance.

      Actually, “nature red in tooth and claw” is true everywhere in the wild. Jungles are simply more intense at it. But lions, for all that they’re called “the king of the jungle”, are savannah creatures. Polar bears occupy tundras.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        The traditional definition of news is that it’s about the unusual — “man bites dog” gets reported, not “dog bites man”. Thus, even when it’s truthful, it gives a very inaccurate view of society. If you want accurate view, consult an almanac or a yearbook and you have at least a chance.

        Daniel Boorstin wrote a very nice piece touching on “The News” titled, “A Flood of Pseudo-Events.” Interestingly, this was originally published in 1962.

  12. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    One of the questions I face is: Can one have faith in God if one has lost faith in human beings (as a race, not particular places and people)? I don’t have faith in people. I see better than I ever have just how corrupt, ignorant, and self-destructive human nature is. “Narrow is the gate, wide and broad is the way that leads to destruction.” A pretty observant Jew understood this a while back.

    There are two responses (and both can coexists): Cynicism and reverence for The Sacred. We can admit to the corruption but also see the Holy in those acts and ideas that are good. The real tragedy of Leftism is that it blurs or reverses those aspects. (“Those who call evil good and good evil.”)

    This is a very big question and one which many Enlightenment philosophers and writers sought to answer when they faced a loss of faith. Your second paragraph crystalizes things pretty well.

    All but the rogues of the Enlightenment felt the loss of God. In their need for completion, the seekers sought fulfillment through other channels. Hegelians sought this through the Spirit of the Age, i.e. history. Marxists through the proletariat.

    Others, great artists like Friedrich Schiller, who I believe are much closer to the sublime than cranks like Marx, sought another way. As I was recently reminded, Schiller and his type thought it might be possible to lift the moral character of a people by touching them with beauty.

    And for all the hopes and dreams, even beauty cannot lift the moral character of many people, much less humanity. It still takes belief in eternal truth, i.e. God to do that.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      As I was recently reminded, Schiller and his type thought it might be possible to lift the moral character of a people by touching them with beauty.

      As much as you or I might portray ourselves as cynical, it’s not really the case. Deep cynicism is the rejection of the idea that there can even be truth, beauty, or goodness.

      Dennis Prager has commented often on how the Left has made ugliness the center of much of modern art. They reject the idea of truth, beauty, and goodness and make idols of the reverse. One can never fail at achieving the lower values so they can be trusted without reserve.

      Man has been told he is nothing, can mean nothing, and that any search for meaning outside of himself is “mysticism” or what the modern atheists dismiss as the belief in a “flying spaghetti monster.”

      The ultimate cynic is the atheist. He believes in nothing but his own smug sense of superiority. Prager does an excellent job in explaining in “The Rational Bible: Exodus” why “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” It’s worth a read.

      The way I would interpret it for modern readers is that it’s the opposite of believing that your own shit doesn’t stink. It’s the belief that one has something to learn — a lot to learn, really. It’s a belief that there are things way bigger than oneself that have nothing to do with human foolishness such as dismissing all our metaphysical wonderment as a belief in “flying spaghetti monsters.”

      Our popular culture each day presents us with a thousand points of foolishness. I don’t believe the people here have all that much trouble resisting it, mistaking a preponderance of something with the quality of something. But I think many do. And simply being surrounded by so many foolish (or downright evil) people is a difficult thing for any person of good will. And that is our situation. We may try to rise above it. We should try to rise above it. But there will always be legions trying to pull truth, beauty, and goodness into the muck so that they convince themselves that their own shit doesn’t stink.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Cynicism has two meanings, really. There is the cynicism that springs from embittered idealism. That’s what most of us are, and it reflects the original idea — Diogenes the Cynic looking for an honest man. (And presumably never finding one.)

        The other meaning is best represented by the tale of a prison guard reporting a prisoner as “poisoned while trying to escape”. This is the meaning Shirer used in referring to the cynicism of Hitler and Stalin. Needless to say, this is the cynicism you refer to when you consider atheists to be cynics.

        There was a TV series (very short) called Probe many years ago that featured, in one episode, a blind sculptor who deliberately created ugly art for the businesses he despised. It’s interesting that the art in state capitols tends to be good and nicely symbolic, as Elizabeth and I have found in our tours of such places (though we never visited our own state capitol). But those were bought by politicians trying to impress their voters.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          That’s an interesting distinction between the two kinds of cynicism. I’m not sure which form I meant in regards to atheists. Maybe “pessimism” (or cynical pessimism) would have been the apt term. Or a cynical form of pessimism.

          Often atheists are just arrogant people who are angry at something or other. No other explanation is required. The metaphysical beliefs are just a cynical (second type) add-on. And a pessimistic one as well. They reveal in their own sense of meaninglessness.

          My cynicism (I hope) is more measured. It’s not (I hope) an outgrowth of depression or a personal sense of unhappiness. I try to be happy despite the fact that I see the social fabric cracking up in our nation. And I try to be at least partially objective and self-aware so that I don’t just project myself onto the world at large.

          It’s a very special thing in this world when you meet an honest man or woman of integrity, good will, and wisdom. And although many people possess such traits in quantities enough to run a family or to make a living, for far too many these things are but a practical advantage and not deeply lived or felt (despite the number of ribbons they were, causes they boost, or parades they take part in to try to convince themselves otherwise).

          One thing we do here is read about great men and share their wisdom. It’s not the only thing we do. But that we do it at all in a world that glorifies the Vulgarian is itself remarkable.

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