What is it about women?

My dearest Alys sent me a clip from a favorite movie – I haven’t even seen the movie yet but I cried at the clip’s ending. She said it’s one of her favorites and always makes her cry. Ask just about any woman her favorite movies and dollars to a donut, it’s the ones that made her cry. Men think it’s because we’re tender-headed, lol, but we know it’s because we’re tender-hearted. Emotional things don’t scare us because – well – once the hormones set in at puberty, we pretty much have soft spongy hearts. Little things make us cry. Big things make us cry. The stuff in the middle makes us cry. Folks living in Florida will remember Publix (supermarket) ads for Thanksgiving – they would make me cry! You know I had to get the Snowman and Wife salt and pepper shakers. Mrs. Snowman arrived a little cracked but that just seems appropriate…

This song is true, too.

Every ‘hen party’ turns into a discussion about husbands/boyfriends. Not a bashing, really, more like comparing notes on the level of craziness he displays; it’s no surprise to any adult that men and women react differently to the same event and that’s the sort of conversations we have amongst ourselves. We laugh; we try to outdo each other ( “If you think THAT’S bad, this is what he did when …. ” ). Here’s a little hint, gents – look at their eyes when they’re sharing this stuff; unmistakable love shining through. We love your lunacy even when it drives us nuts. Because you’re ours, our one and only.

Yes; it is.

This has been here since shortly before Christmas, it didn’t get published – not because it not a really good article – but because we simply ran out of slots. Anyway, it’s just as valid today as it was then so enjoy. Neo.

As there are twelve days of Christmas, I’m going to push your patience a bit and have a little discussion of the old movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. I saw that! – you just rolled your eyes, didn’t you? Don’t deny it – I caught you dead to rights. Anyway …

A couple of weeks ago, I was enjoying the yearly series “A Carol A Day”, written by Margaret Ashworth, a staff writer for The Conservative Woman UK. Along with the ‘backstory’ of the carol writer, and often times the words of the carols, she selects the most delightful samples of YouTube videos that relate to the carols. I highly recommend you go to that site – you can go back to December 1st and catch up or just enjoy the carol of the day. One of the carols she posted caused some interesting comments (below the line, as they say) and some of those comments got me going. Not in a good way.

Some of the TCW commenters hate It’s a Wonderful Life and proceed to share their mean-spirited appraisal of the movie. While some make valid – though obvious – points about the unrealistic portrayal of the characters and insist that if it were honest, the way the movie should go is ‘insert your objections here’. I just sort of bristled a minute or two and then moved on – as you do (a delightful English expression I may have to adopt).

Then, my very dear English friend, my Alys, sent me the link to an article in The Critic https://thecritic.co.uk/its-a-wonderful-life-the-perfect-christmas-film/

It’s meant to be supportive but it doesn’t quite reach its goal. To me, anyway. There’s just something missing from the article. It may warmth; it may be heart. I suspect what’s missing is heart.

First of all – in case you haven’t figured it out yet – IAWL is a work of fiction. Fiction means it is not true. But because something is not true, we are not prevented from taking a lesson from it. There is a great message in this film and especially important – I would think – in this time of me-ism. It is, after all, all about me, isn’t it? Hmmm – one wonders. In any event, we learn what we do has an effect in the world – like the thrown stone causes concentric ripples on the water. Truly no man is an island unto himself. Cast your bread upon the water and it will come back a hundred fold*

The big part of the movie that the Critic’s writer misses is the biggest part of what makes the movie. In his article, the writer says that the angel, Clarence, gives George Bailey the ability to see what life would be like without him; that’s wrong. The scene that matters is the one that shows the night sky with twinkling stars and the audience hears a discussion between God and St. Peter. God hears the prayers of the family and friends of George Bailey and sets about making things right. God and St. Peter choose Clarence, a not very effectual angel who needs help to get his wings, to accompany George on the journey he’s about to take. Clarence is there as a sort of haphazard “Behold, I bring you great tidings”. It is Clarence’s job to help George see what is most important in his life. Unless people understand that it is God ordained for this to happen to George, it’s very easy to pick apart the rest of the film’s premise.

I know you’ll be grateful that I’m not going to go through the whole movie – I’ve already spoken about what’s most important. But I do want you to consider your own life. Simple things we’ve done for others, without their knowing or without them having to ask. These are the things that make our lives wonderful. We didn’t think long and hard about them, we just did them, sort of spur of the moment or an opportunity presented itself. Or perhaps – just maybe – you answered a prayer. I call them ‘Holy Spirit moments’; seemingly coincidental moments when you did something good for someone without even thinking about it. Answered prayer.

My prayer is that your life is sprinkled with these lovely acts and that you acknowledge that you’ve done good in the world. Not to take pride in them but to be grateful that at that moment, you did a good and wonderful thing. For someone else.

*Ecclesiastes 11:1

Joy to the World

The Star of Bethlehem?

It has been illuminating, I think, to let our lady authors, both Anglican, one American and one Welsh, living in England, do our Christmas series this year, Jessica’s in particular, will continue, both Rowan and the Harlot, but probably not till after the first of the year. This week will be a look back and a look forward. That is normally how we spend this week that is almost a nonweek, back when I was working for myself, I rarely scheduled anything between Christmas and New Year’s, nobody, including me, wants to deal with much of anything.

One thing I really want to do is thank R.S. McCain (The Other McCain), who has started linking to many or most of the articles here. I won’t say we aren’t worthy, because I think we are, but we are grateful and it makes a difference. If you’re not familiar with him, follow the link above and read one of the best of bloggers, and as he would tell you, “Hit his freaking tip jar”. He deserves it.

If you’ve been around the internet for a few years, you know that Dave Barry’s recap of the year is must reading, and the worse the year, the more essential it is. Well, it’s out and pretty much what you would expect, but far better.

Our dear friend Margaret Ashworth published a Christmas article on The Conservative Woman yesterday that is very nearly as good as the Candlelight services of my youth in my memory all these years later. Do read it. I’m pretty sure it can’t be improved, but I did see this, and I think you’ll love it as I do.

Such a powerful rendition of a traditional carol reminds me that, as the horizon darkens for Christianity as it is doing now, we believers will tend to congregate around those of us who have kept the traditions sacred for everyone, everywhere, and always. This is happening, Even here in the United States, still far more Christian (and Jewish) than Europe these days, we are seeing the trendy, do it yourself theology of the megachurches and the churches who follow every secular fad starting to fade. What will remain? The hard core of Christianity, Conservative Anglicans, Conservative Lutherans, Traditionalist Catholics, the great triumvirate of “Bells and Smells”. all claiming the Catholic Heritage. And the conservative Reformed churches. Along with us, there will remain the Orthodox, in their various stubborn flavors, who survived in the belly of the beast of the Soviet Union, such that today, there are only two arguably Christian world powers, Russia and the United States.

I’ll have some thoughts on the political situation, but that will come perhaps next week. For now, let us have a poem, from Rudyard Kipling, which at first glance appears to have little to do with Christianity or Christmas, but keep reading.

“Gold is for the mistress — silver for the maid —
Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade.”

“Good!” said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
“But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of them all.”

So he made rebellion ‘gainst the King his liege,
Camped before his citadel and summoned it to siege.
“Nay!” said the cannoneer on the castle wall,
“But Iron — Cold Iron — shall be master of you all!”

 

 

Woe for the Baron and his knights so strong,
When the cruel cannon-balls laid ’em all along;
He was taken prisoner, he was cast in thrall,
And Iron — Cold Iron — was master of it all!

Yet his King spake kindly (ah, how kind a Lord!)
“What if I release thee now and give thee back thy sword?”
“Nay!” said the Baron, “mock not at my fall,
For Iron — Cold Iron — is master of men all.”

“Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown —
Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown.”

“As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small,
For Iron — Cold Iron — must be master of men all!”

Yet his King made answer (few such Kings there be!)
“Here is Bread and here is Wine — sit and sup with me.
Eat and drink in Mary’s Name, the whiles I do recall
How Iron — Cold Iron — can be master of men all!”

He took the Wine and blessed it. He blessed and brake the Bread.
With His own Hands He served Them, and presently He said:
“See! These Hands they pierced with nails, outside My city wall,
Show Iron — Cold Iron — to be master of men all.”

“Wounds are for the desperate, blows are for the strong.
Balm and oil for weary hearts all cut and bruised with wrong.
I forgive thy treason — I redeem thy fall —
For Iron — Cold Iron — must be master of men all!”

“Crowns are for the valiant — sceptres for the bold!
Thrones and powers for mighty men who dare to take and hold!”

“Nay!” said the Baron, kneeling in his hall,
“But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of men all!
Iron out of Calvary is master of men all!”

And this

— Original Message —

From: Me

To: You

Sent: today

Subject: Your birthday!


I wanted to be the first one to wish you happy birthday! That is, of course, ridiculous. It’s impossible for me to be the first. But my wish for you is no less fervent for that.

Your birthday is, as you know well, twelve days before mine. Mine falls on another day that is special – but not as special as yours, of course. Your birthday changed the world; three wise men arrived to visit you, when you were about two years old, and brought you wonderful gifts – that’s the day my birthday falls on.

What a life you’ve lead. You ARE the life – and the great LIGHT that brightens the world. I am so grateful your Father inspired the Book about you. You are always as close to me as the pages of the Book – and the whisper of my prayers. I can read how, when your mom and dad presented you at the Temple, that old man said, “Lord, now let thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”* You are. And you have.

You know how we are. We’re all so busy now, getting ready for the day and it tends to drive out – for most of the time – the WHO we’re celebrating. I know; we’re crazy people. We are very much prone to getting things backward. But you know we love you and think about you. Often. For some, it’s an occasional thing but for others, it’s daily. And for still others, hourly. But you are never far from our hearts. As a matter of fact, we carry you around with us in our hearts.

What a long email this has turned into; no surprise to you, you hear my prayers each night so you’re used to it. But I just wanted to end with this, “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”** The angel was right. Good tidings of great joy.

Happy Birthday!

*St. Luke 2:28-32; **St. Luke 2:10-14

Now What, America?

One of the things that feels strange lately to me is that I’m only really writing one post a week. Mind, it’s a good thing, I was burning out till first Audrtre and then Jessica (God love ’em) rescued me. In truth, I don’t read quite as much either, and my viewpoint tends to be a little longer, which is where I’m at my best. But not writing a book every week does feel strange. But you all benefit from it.

One of the things that were written about this week, from all over the right is essentially “Now what??? Where is America going?” It’s a fraught question, so let’s look at some options.

In American Thinker, Frank Friday thinks we and Canada ought to trade some territory.

Let’s take the blue parts of America along the East and West Coast and put them in Canada. I mean, it’s so obvious, so simple — Canada already is what American liberals have always wanted. Complete government-run health care; gun control; a make-believe military; high taxes; and impossibly snooty, elitist politicians. Even Barack Obama, when he sees the effortless way Justin Trudeau can lift an eyebrow, or stick his nose in the air, just melts with envy. We’ll call this new country Canada-America to start with, Can-America for short.

Then, for red America, we will add the Prairie Provinces of Canada, the Yukon, and all of British Columbia except the southwest corner. This is the part of Canada that talks like Sarah Palin; owns all the guns, such as there are; and has no problem with great big machines strip-mining the earth to get all the good stuff, like the Alberta Tar Sands or Tony Beets’s gold-mining dredge. We’ll call this amalgamation Big America.

That’s far more elegant than simple secession and likely would make a lot of people on both sides of the present border happy. New England threatened this once before of course, during the War of 1812. In short, I like this idea, but since it would reduce the coasts to depending on a foreign power – Red State America, for their very sustenance (as in fact, they do now) It’s probably not very likely.

But Robert Lopez, writing in American Greatness seems to think America will split, as well. His scenario is more history-based, which can be useful but should never be carried too far into the details.

The Supreme Court seems to have made peace with its own irrelevance vis-à-vis the irremediable schism between two halves of the country. The Texas-led half is not, despite some people’s surface reading, a resurrection of the confederacy. Territorially the states that joined Texas’s case form a column reaching from the Mexican to the Canadian border, including the northernmost state, Alaska, and Indiana. Georgia and North Carolina, obviously, are not aligned with Texas anymore, while several northern states like Ohio are moving toward alignment with the red camp.

In cultural terms, the California-led states have reversed their historic position on civil rights and now oppose the fundamental purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment and equal protection under the law (which I review in some detail here.) In their successful pleading to the Supreme Court, they rejected the notion that outside forces can intervene in a state’s voting or judicial process, thereby resurrecting the arguments from former confederate states about their right to block African Americans from suffrage through practices like a poll tax, literacy test, or KKK-style voter intimidation.

“But the courts said so!” is a cold argument to raise given the history of Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, and Korematsu v. United States.

So much of the way we look at ourselves has been formed by the history of the Roman Republic, maybe he has a point when he says that the US will split much as the Roman Empire did, with the blue states playing Rome with its multiple sackings while the red states (including the leadership of Texas) continue for maybe a thousand years as Constantinople did. It’s an interesting thesis, in any case.

Then there is Steven Hayward at PowerLine who posits that Trump is (whatever happens now) the most consequential one-term president since Lincoln. He makes the point that Trump has led a realignment that may be as great as that led by FDR who took four terms to accomplish what Trump has in one. I agree with him.

In two posts, The Adaptive Curmudgeon summarizes his (and my) view from the trenches, in the first, published just before SCOTUS ran and hid in their bunker, he said this:

[…] Resignation has not been the feel of the world. The press is screaming at me until every intellectual circuit is muttering “we’re doomed” but my soul senses otherwise. I know “doomed”. This ‘aint it. Doomed is a gutless leader facing a wise and implacable foe doing incremental measured misdeeds. We have a guy who’s never backed down from a fight facing a stupid, overconfident, and power drunk group that just plain isn’t up to the task of coup. Yeah, I said it. It’s a coup. They’re chumps for initiating it. Sloppy, uncontrolled, incapable of recognizing a time to retreat, domestic (and foreign?) enemies have acted like toddlers with a machine gun. Our would be oppressors are dangerous, but they’re losers and idiots.

Yup, that’s what I saw as well, and to a point still do. In the second just a day or so ago he says this:

Texas offered an “all in” argument but the SCOTUS took a powder. Fuck them. Texas wasn’t the only game in town. Ironically, it was the argument least likely to publicize the cheat. Meanwhile, each “contested State” has one or more independent legal actions. They’re still ongoing.

I like this movie. I’m not a “sprint to the finish” kind of guy. I like to win with grinding certainty. Slow and steady, hard to refute, documenting every step of the way. Legal action in every State is doing what I want; carefully establishing facts.

So do I, the legal equivalent of Grant’s Overland Campaign. grind them up till they’re destroyed, and about that time Sherman will come along and kick them in the ass. It’s a decisive war-winning strategy.

At The American Spectator, Lou Aguilar reminds us of something else: Real Men voted for Trump. He writes:

A new poll from the Survey Center on American Life found that self-reported “masculine men” overwhelmingly supported President Trump in the last election, 55 percent to 35 percent (“less masculine” men went for Biden 58 percent to 40 percent). Yet even without the alpha dog in the White House, these masculine men will battle the Swamp. That’s because tough guys will do what they always do: usurp tyranny and unreality, beginning with the liberal dream of a Rainbow Coalition. The greatest obstacle to a permanent majority of minorities is male bonding, which partly explains the record high non-white turnout for Trump. In the same poll, 71 percent of black men and 70 percent of Hispanic men (a group that includes me) identify as “completely masculine.” Pitiably, only 54 percent of white men do — too many having buckled under their racial and gender shaming by liberals.

And that is what makes red states red, in my experience, the men (and women too) here are people who actually do things, make things, fix things, and above all live in the real world. We simply know that anyone who says there’s an easy way is full of bullshit, and not fit to lead a horse to water. He also reminds us of the cycle that Spencer Klavan summarized for us.

Weak men make bad times.

Bad times make strong men.

Strong men make good times.

Good times make weak men.

He says we are someplace between the first and second cycles, I think he’s right.

That’s the major takeaway today, the corollary is from our history.

Hold the Line and keep your powder dry.

Tis the Season

I’m like a big, overgrown kid. I look forward to Christmas every year; not anticipating gifts as a child might, but as the season of remembering the most astounding event in the history of mankind – the birth of the Christ Child. But I also look forward to the Christmas lights – on trees and houses and the occasional automobile. I look forward to the Carols, though I have to admit a preference for the religious ones.

It started in July this year. That’s a first for me. Generally, like most Americans, I think that Halloween is the springboard to Thanksgiving which is the springboard to Christmas. Halloween whispers, “It’s coming”, Thanksgiving shouts, “It’s almost here!” This year, this 2020 year, this most unprecedented year, my need for Christmas reared it’s head and kept poking my heart. My gosh, it’s been a brutal year: an impeachment, a virus, no Memorial Day or 4th of July to speak of, the awful debates, and then the Never-ending Election. Brutal! I swung from depression to sadness to anger back to depression. I had to go to the best ‘feel good’ time of the year to get through it all.

I think it worth noting that the words of this Carol were what replayed in my head; the words, “God is not dead nor doth he sleep”. 

I had to keep reminding myself that He is, indeed, alive and He never sleeps and sees and hears all. That’s a comfort. A great comfort. So July-Christmas started there.

The months slowly moved through their days until, finally, December first. Oh, what a relief! I can completely submerge myself in the beauty and wonder of Christmas. People complain that Christmas has become (or has been for years) too commercial. I rather think of it this way – the Three Wise Men brought special gifts to the Child, meaningful, important gifts; isn’t that what we’re doing? The Magi didn’t have nine billion stores to choose from – that we do is both a blessing and curse but our thought is the same as theirs; to find the best, the most meaningful gift, for the loved ones in our lives. We, in our own ways, repeat the Magi’s gift-giving.

The evergreen tree – or whatever facsimile thereof – represents the never-ending life of Jesus. The angel ornament (or the star) at the top of the tree represents the herald angel that announced to the shepherds, (St. Luke, chapter two, verse 10) “And the angel of the Lord said unto them, Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Linus tells it beautifully 

 And of course, the gifts at the foot of the tree are the reminder of the Magi.

There is a wonderful innocence to this time of year. Each Christmas is new and shiny and unsullied from the world. Each new Christmas is the reminder of Immanuel – God with us. We see our family and friends in the light of the newness of Christ Child. We find peace, joy, and contentment. That, my very dear friends, is the joy of Christmas.

 

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