Friday, December 19, 2008

Holy Hijinx!

Last month, US Border Agents seized a large shipment of Ketamine (or Special K, a "date-rape drug") that the perp claimed were Holy Water bottles.

(Hey...Canadian churches are so empty, who would know the difference. Right?)

Well...that explains some of those Marian apparitions!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

False Gods and False Devils - The War on Christmas

G. K. Chesterton said "Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but by setting up false devils; by making men afraid of war or alcohol or economic law, when they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice." Building upon Chesterton’s epigram, there are two forms of moral blindness, blindness to actual evil and seeing evil where none exists.

The bias in the mainstream media about Islamic Supremacist terror (calling it "unrest" or "freedom fighters") is an example of moral blindness to an existing evil. The statement by Nelson Mandela that America wants a world holocaust is an example of false devils - seeing an evil where none exists. A young leftist on TV claimed that the CIA destroyed the twin towers in New York. Conspiracy theorists of this sort have a double moral blindness - blindness to an actual evil combined with delusional perceptions of false devils.

One false devil that needs to be slain is the whole "war on Christmas." I'm sure you've heard about it, so I needn't go into any great lengths describing it. Don't get me wrong: I love the traditions we've received in this country that are used to hallow the Feast of our Saviour's Birth. Christmas trees from Germany (through Victorian England), Caroling from the French (again, through England), Santa Claus from the Dutch, etc. These have become such a part of the fabric of our national life that it seems impossible to remove them.

However, if people call them "holiday trees" and play "holiday music," what is it to me? They were pre-existing cultural expressions that were taken up in the service of the culture's interest. From the Middle Ages to the late Modern Era, the culture's interest was tied to Christianity (in the West, at least). That is no longer the case. So these cultural artifacts go back to doing what they've always done: reflect the culture. (And serving the crumbling gods of this age: Mammon.)

But Christians (or at least churchy-folk) get so tied up in who's not displaying a nativity scene, or who is giving equal time to other religious winter-time traditions, that we have no time to deal with the real evil: the war on Christ's Mass. We demand that the stores have ol' Saint Nick (though we do not even recognize him as the sainted Bishop of Myra), play Christmas Carols (preferably in muzak so we needn't be haunted by the words), and say "Merry Christmas!"

But most of these Christmas Commandos (in America, at least) neglect the holy preparation of Advent. Many churches aren't even open on Christmas Day for services! Remember what happened in 2005, when Christmas was actually on a Sunday? ("It'd be such a burden when we have all the family in." Wait, didn't Jesus say something about family values?)

And then the season of Christmas is abruptly over on 12/26 (National Return-the-crap-you-got-for-that-XBoxGame/Sweater-you-really-wanted Day). Where is Holy Innocents (c'mon, Prolifers!!!)? Where is Holy Family? Where is Epiphany? Where is Candlemas?

If anybody has been waging a war on Christmas, it's the Christians...the people who cram so much secular stuff into our commemoration of Christ's Nativity that we fail to leave room to prepare our hearts, our families, and - dare I say it - our churches and communities to welcome the birth of the King who comes in humility. And the atheists know it.

Which brings me to my second point. Plato said that courage is a combination of knowing what not to fear, combined with perseverance in opposition to that which is harmful and evil. This is where our insistence on playing the game of the Christmas War has really cost the church a great deal. In November, video game sales increased 10% (nearly $3 BILLION dollars, adding to the previous $19BILLION spent in the preceding months).

Let's put that in perspective. While we're swilling away our eggnog and CokeZero, over 1.1 billion people on the planet (17% of the earth's human inhabitants) can't even drink the water they have locally. Every 8 seconds a child dies from a water-borne disease. Did you know that for less than $10 billion dollars, the entire world could be given safe, clean drinking water? Thank God some people still know what to do with our national largess.

You've still got a week. Make this Christmas count.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

O Rahm, O Rahm, Emmanuel

Though I really haven't the time, I'm suspecting that by next Advent this won't be as funny. Necessity is the mother of ADvention

(C' know the tune.)

Oh Rahm, Oh Rahm E-mman-u-el
I hope you have a senate seat to sell!
Chicago politics written large,
Now that Obama has been put in charge.


Rejoice, pro-choice! Emmanuel
has cabinet and judges seats to sell.

O come, desire of nations, blind
Us with your soaring rhetoric, sublime.
Bid rising waters hasty retreat,
And be the presidential Prince of Peace.


Rejoice, pro-choice! Emmanuel
has cabinet and judges seats to sell.

Worship Wednesday - Psalmody

In case it isn't clear from my blog, I'm made from a blend of Christian traditions. I was baptized as a Methodist (twice!), raised (razed?) a Pentecostal, then (after a stint in neo-Paganism / Panentheism / Agnosticism) became a Presbyterian. It was in the Presbyterian / Reformed tradition that I gained a sense of who I was in Christ, so I owe a depth of gratitude that I'll never be able to pay.

However, now - by immutable decree of Almighty God in His good providence (and, I suspect, humor) - I am an Anglican. And we pray through up to three Psalms in each of our daily offices. This has rejuvenated a portion of my Presbyterian posterior - psalmody. I'm trying to find (or arrange) our Sunday Psalm readings into singable formats. Luckily, there are some really great Psalters out there - mostly from the Scots-Presbyterian tradition. CGMusic hosts three of them online, with playable MIDI formats! It's become one of my favorite tools.

But it let me down slightly for this Sunday's BCP reading (which - while allowing the whole psalm, focuses on David's establishment of a house of worship - and the LORD's establishment of David's house). So I came up with a new one - somewhat eclecticly chosen from what was there, and some of it the work of my own fevered imagination.

8 Arise, O Lord, inhabit now
your constant place of rest.
You and the ark of your great strength,
with us your presence bless.
9 Let all your priests be cloth-├Ęd, Lord,
with truth and righteousness.
Make all your saints with songs of praise
Shout loud for joyfulness!

10 And for your servant David’s sake,
suffer not, Lord, I pray.
The face of your Anointed one
to ever turn away.
11 The Lord to David did make oath,
sworn on His name alone:
12 “A son from your own body shall
I seat upon your throne.”

13 And if your sons my cov’nant keep,
and to my laws submit,
Their children too, forevermore
Upon your throne shall sit.”
14 The Lord himself has Zion chose,
there He desires to dwell.
15 “This is my ever-bless’d abode,
for I do love her well.”

16 “And I will bless with great increase!
Her food stores everywhere.
With living bread I'll satisfy
The poor and needy there.
17 With salvation I’ll robe her priests!
From saints, my praises flow.
18 There David’s son shall ever reign,
the Lamp ordained to glow.

I'm thinking this goes nice with Ellacome ("I Sing the Mighty Power of God!") which is very familiar. However, Forest Green would also be lovely (though less familiar).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Not Pro-Life but Pro-Lifestyle

This is what is happening all around us.

Don't listen to any Democrat who says they're for bailouts because they want to help "the little guy." Likewise, don't listen to any Republican who says they're for the bailout because of the economy. (Free markets just don't work that way, gang!)