Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Future Ain’t What it Used to Be: Happy End of the Old Year and a Better New Year

Happy New Year (Art by Judy) 

“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”  Abraham Lincoln

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Uo0JAUWijM 

Well finally we come to the end of the year 2011.  That being said we can say that it was definitely a year. It was a year filled with days which were filled with hours which were filled with minutes, seconds and nanoseconds.  It was a year of triumph and tragedy that filled the hearts of many with fear and unease.  At the same time it is now in the past. It cannot be relieved or changed but we can take the time to learn from it and hopefully build a better future.

2011 like all of the past will be remembered and written about by historians, theologians journalists and philosophers and most will place their own interpretation on it and then go on to surmise the future.  I do not presume to be that smart until someone starts paying me to make such learned prognostications.  However the future is unknown and even Jesus warned us “that we do not know what tomorrow brings.”

I am a historian and I study history.  I think that we have to learn from the past in order to be ready for the future. But the future is unknown and often uncharted.  Thus we should as George Patton said  “Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.” That really is the reason I study history, not so we have a laundry list of facts events and dates that I can use to prove my point but rather to see how people and nations dealt with things that they either could not or did not foresee. Human nature doesn’t change and while circumstances and technology may change the way people deal with unforeseeable events can help us navigate future difficulties. It is not a guarantee but it is a help.

Dallas Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban wrote today that “None of us are born into the world we live in.”  That is so true because we are all born at a moment in time and the world is always changing and changing is ways that will always surprise us. Maybe not some of the events themselves, but the players that make things happen, the places that they happen and the speed of which they happen.  Time stands still for no person.

Though the future is yet to be written though people of faith place the future in the hands of God we cannot erase the past and go back to some point in time where our interpretation of history says that things were better. Such thinking is pure fantasy and is  quite delusional.  Golda Meir said “One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.” Unfortunately most politicians and pundits do not understand this as George Orwell so poignantly noted “All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.”

For me 2011 was a year of growth and learning.  I made plenty of mistakes but hopefully have learned from them. I though about resolutions for 2012. The ones that came to my mind in my first draft of this post were so sickeningly altruistic that I had to delete them. I thought that there was no way that I could make it through New Year’s Day if without totally screwing them up. So my resolution this year is to go out every day, do my best and try not to screw things up too badly.  It is the same attitude that I have playing baseball or softball.  Why not apply it to the rest of my life.

All this being said I think that the wisest thing ever said about the future was by Yogi Berra who wisely remarked “The future ain’t what it used to be.” But then was it ever what it used to be?

Blessings my friends, Happy end of the Old Year and all the best for the New Year!

Peace

Padre Steve+

About these ads

1 Comment

Filed under faith, History, Loose thoughts and musings

Padre Steve’s World Top 12 of 2011: A Big Thank you to my Readers

Well my friends it is time for my annual look at what were the most popular articles on Padre Steve’s World.

This year I went over 3 million views since the site began in February 2009 and over a million since the last new year.  People from over 200 countries and territories that pretty much act like countries have visited my little cyber space world.

I do find it interesting to see what people are reading on this site, what search terms they are using and what search engines they are using to get to the site. The folks at WordPress.com which hosts this site have a great statistic page for a baseball stat person like me is like a blog statistic version of Saber Metrics.  Now if they can only find a way to calculate my site states like the OBP and Slugging percentage…but I digress.

In 2009 I published my top 10 list and in 2010 I did my top 25 list so this year I am doing my top 12 of 2011. All of the articles on this list had over 4000 views each in the last 12 months.  Since I have now published almost 1000 articles on this site these are just a taste of what a reader can find here.

The number one article of the year is “Revisionist” History and the Rape of Nanking 1937 .  This was something that interested me for a long time and it is rather academic in its focus but has been at the top of my stats most of the year. The article is about those that seek to cover up or minimize the atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army in city of Nanking in 1937.  I do expect the article to remain at or near the top of the list in 2012 with the release of The Flowers of War http://www.theflowersofwarthemovie.comstaring Christian Bale in 2012.

Number two on the list is Why Johnny Can’t Read Maps: NCAA Tournament Geography for Dummies and a Solution which I wrote back in 2010 during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.  It is a humorous look at how the NCAA decides what cities represent the various regions of the country.  I for one do now see how anything in the Pacific Northwest is part of the Southeast Regional bracket.  No wonder people have no clue about the geographic regions of the United States.  At least they could do a GPS search.

Number three on the list is an oldie but goodie I Miss the Music of the 70’s and 80’s. The article itself is a musical look at the history of of 1970s and 1980s. Since I grew up with this music it is really a part of who I am. Unfortunately many of the links to the music videos are no longer operative but the article is interesting and anyone with half a brain can find the songs on You Tube or any number of various sources.  Since then I have published a number of other articles on the music of this time period which are filed in the Padre Steve’s Music page.

Number four on this site is an article about the death of the noted evangelist David Wilkerson who I had and still have a great deal of respect for; The Unexplained and Tragic Death of David Wilkerson.  I wrote the article because of the circumstances of his death.  I suggested after looking at the evidence including his writings and the actual accident report and suggested that it was possible that his death was a case of “suicide by car.”  I did not expect the reaction that I received. Some people were quite offended that I suggested that Wilkerson suffered from depression and that the circumstances of the accident pointed to either suicide or negligent driving on his part.  In fact some of the comments were so abusive and irrational that I finally for the first time and only in the history of this site closed the comments section.  I just got tired of the abuse and tired of answering the same abusive comments time and time again.  The article and a couple of follow up articles do point out the pressure that many ministers are under and how depression and crisis’s of faith can afflict people of great faith who have helped many people and were not in any way disparaging of Reverend Wilkerson. However I found that even suggesting such is tantamount to smashing idols.  Oh well…it is a good article and I do stand by it.

Fifth place goes to an article that I wrote about the nearly psychotic accusations hurled by Iran at the United States for our Navy’s official name for what they call the Persian Gulf, the Northern Arabian Gulf, it is a somewhat humorous look at a rather serious subject.  Why don’t we just call it the Gulf of Whatever we want to call it? Padre Steve Says the Iranians Whine too Much

Number six on the hit parade is a rather academic military history article about the Battle of Stalingrad The Anniversary of Disaster: Stalingrad 67 Years Later that I wrote in January 2010.  I find that Stalingrad and other campaigns are instructive even today.

Seventh place belongs to a short article about D-Day entitled D-Day: Omaha Beach which is a nice starting point for those interested in the Normandy campaign.

Coming in at number eight is an article about one of my favorite subjects Baseball and civil rights Jackie Robinson and Dr. Martin Luther King they Changed America.

The ninth most popular article on this site is a follow up to the number three article again involving the music of the 1970s and 1980s More about Why I Miss the Music of the 70’s and 80’s .

Number ten is my 2009 top ten article Padre Steve’s World: Top 10 articles of 2009.

Another academic military history article Wacht am Rhein: The Battle of the Bulge came in at number eleven on the list.

Slipping in at number twelve is an article about military recruiting slogans Memorable Recruiting Slogans and the All Volunteer Force.

There are other articles not in the top 12 for this year but that still get a lot of views and are worth reading. A good number are on military or naval history one of the best of which is The Ideological War: How Hitler’s Racial Theories Influenced German Operations in Poland and Russia while two other military theory article is Learning to Apply the Principles of Counterinsurgency Part One: Introduction to the Soviet-Afghan War and The Effects of Counter-Insurgency Operations on U.S. and French Forces in Vietnam and Algeria and Implications for Afghanistan.

Among the music articles I recommend Laughing to the Music: The Musical Genius of Mel Brooks and just for fun there is an article about a little church that gets pretty crazy, almost Iran Mullah crazy without the killing dissenters, Halloween Book Burning Update: Bring the Marshmallows Please!. One of my favorite faith and life articles Star Trek, God and Me 1966 to 2009. There are also a lot of articles on baseball, faith, religion, history and politics on the site.

Anyway, if you are new to the site and haven’t dug around too much just yet those are good starting points.  Hopefully anyone that stops by will find something to interest them, thought provoking or funny, academic or asinine, historical or hysterical.  Feel free to browse comment and if you like the site subscribe or join me on Facebook or Twitter.

Blessings on you and thanks to all of my readers as well as Cheru Jackson at Alpha Inventions and the folks at Kadency who help publicize this site. I do recommend both, especially Alpha Inventions to bloggers that seek a wider audience for their writings.

Hopefully 2012 will be a good year for all of us and somehow despite all problems that beset our world that 2012 will be better than 2011.

Peace

Padre Steve+

5 Comments

Filed under Loose thoughts and musings

Tension in the Gulf: Don’t Miscalculate; Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

“War is the unfolding of miscalculations.” Barbara Tuchman

Iran’s navy chief Habibollah Sayyari briefs media on the naval exercise 

The greatest danger in the current war of words between Iran and the United States is the danger that the Iranians one side or the other will miscalculate the will, resolve and strength of the other.  Teddy Roosevelt made the comment “speak softly and carry a big stick.” The Iranians have been shouting loudly and brandishing a small stick and if they are not careful they will bluster their way into a naval war that they cannot win and that will cause significant economic and physical disruption in the region.

The Iranian Navy and Revolutionary Guards Naval Forces are about halfway into a 10 day series of exercises in the Gulf of Oman, the Strait of Hormuz and the Northern Arabian Gulf, or what they call the Persian Gulf. Iranian leaders have increased their rhetoric in regard to closing the Strait of Hormuz if more sanctions are leveled against them for their nuclear program.

The bellicosity of the Iranians comes at a time when they are feeling internal political pressure from Iranian young people, as well as external diplomatic and most likely espionage campaigns.  The latter are designed to slow down or halt their nuclear program which most analysts now believe to be designed to produce nuclear weapons.

For what it is the Iranian Navy can threaten the strait and maybe even close it for a limited time. It is possible if they ever launched a surprise attack on an isolated US or Western warship using their “swarm” tactics close inshore to Iran in the constricted waters of the strait or in a narrow part of the NAG that they could sink or cause severe damage to it.  They would probably mine the straits if they could do so before hostilities began or before sufficient forces could be deployed to stop them. Likewise their missile forces and special operations forces could cause some damage and chaos in the Gulf but the repercussions would isolate and devastate Iran.  However closing the strait or attacking a US or Western warship would be the end of Iran’s naval forces and cause more damage to the country than its leaders are willing to accept at least right now. The Iranians would find that they were fighting far more than the United States Navy should this happen and their Russian and Chinese supporters would more than likely do everything possible to dissuade them from trying this.  Since China imports the bulk of its oil from the Gulf it is unlikely that they would support the Iranians.

While such a direct attack is unlikely the possibility of an accidental war caused by miscalculation on the part of one side or the other is always real and should the Israelis strike Iran’s nuclear facilities Iran would certainly retaliate against Israel but also US Forces and installations in the Gulf and probably against the Gulf States and even Iraq.

USS John C Stennis (US Navy Photo)

Regarding how such a campaign would be fought the United States would stand off a safe distance and pound Iranian naval, air and coastal defenses and not allow Iranian surface ships to get close enough to make a swarm attack.  This is a big reason that the USS John C. Stennis transited the straits and entered the Gulf of Oman (GOO).  Operating in the open seas gives the blue water US Navy the edge. The Iranian navy’s ships lack the range and endurance for sustained operations at sea and could not sustain a blockade. US attack submarines would hunt down the Iranian Kilo class subs before they could become a threat and US Naval Aviation assets would sweep the surface assets of the Iranian Navy and Revolutionary Guard Naval Forces from the sea while destroying Iranian coastal defenses on the islands in and the Iranian side of the strait.  Once the strait was cleared tanker traffic would resume and Iran would be the biggest loser.  History shows time and time again that light coastal naval forces are no match for a professional seagoing navy even if they score an occasional victory.

Much has been made about Iranian claims to have tracked the USS John C Stennis as she transited the straits.  That is nothing new, the Iranians have air, sea and land surveillance of the narrow straits. The fact is that US ships transit the strait and its approaches on high alert and have done so since the Tanker Wars of the 1980s.  Every Iranian move is watched by the US Navy.  Likewise while transiting the strait the ships of both sides communicate with each other regarding navigation.  It is standard practice.

Since I believe that the Iranians despite their rhetoric are far more prudent than some believe and that they will not launch an unprovoked attack. Even if they succeeded in temporarily closing the straits and even scoring some kind of naval victory by sinking a US ship the victory would be extremely short lived. US and other forces would stream to the region and devastate all that is Iran. The costs for the Iranians and their long term goal of regional hegemony would be too great for them to intentionally start a naval confrontation in the Gulf.  However the chances of either side miscalculating and stumbling into war should not be underestimated.

The biggest danger now is the potential for miscalculation but Iran’s long term goal of dominating the Gulf and acquiring nuclear weapons will probably keep them from attempting anything of this sort. That said there are factions in Iran that could try to use the threat of new sanctions to force a confrontation in the straits and for that we must be ready to meet the threat.  Iranian threats should not be disparaged nor their political and military will underestimated. To underestimate an Iran’s capabilities and will are extremely dangerous. At the same time we should not overestimate their capabilities and yield to their threats when they threaten to cut off the flow of oil from the Gulf.

The United States needs to follow Theodore Roosevelt’s advice and remember history as we follow the situation and ensure that whatever Iran does that we will not be surprised or unprepared.

Peace

Padre Steve+

Leave a comment

Filed under Foreign Policy, History, middle east, national security, US Navy

The Miracles of Kim Jong Il and the Rise of the Kim Jong Un, the Un-Kim: North Korea in Transition

 

Kim Jong-Un leads the procession for his Father Kim Jong Il (AP Photo)

North Korean Dictator until Death Kim Jung Il was able to join his friends Adolf, Joe, Muammar, Osama and Saddam just in time for the annual Christmastime in Hell celebration.  Of course Kim Jong Il was much more of a man than his buddies. According to North Korean State media Kim was the greatest golfer who ever lived and that miraculous signs appeared in the heavens when he was born.  He could walk by three weeks of age and talk by the time he was 8 weeks old and never had to worry about potty-training.  As an adult he is said to have written 1500 books in 3 years and written the greatest operas ever written. That is right North Korean state media at one time reported why the miracle child never had to be potty-trained. According to them Kim never had to take a piss or a crap thus meaning that he didn’t have to be potty trained. That my friends undoubtably puts him at the top of the world’s shit list.

He was incredibly talented man so much so that he is said to have written 1500 books in 3 years and written the greatest operas ever written.  He is also one of the very few people that gained weight in North Korea during his reign miraculously surviving famine by eating only the best fresh lobster flown in daily, prepared by his personal chef and washed down with the best French wines, champagne and Hennessy cognac.  He was also a style icon who influenced countless people to wear sunglasses all over the world.

Fashion Icon…

He was treated as if he were a deity by North Korean state media, which is pretty ironic considering that North Korea is officially an atheist state.  But for a near deity Kim seemed a bit afraid of death, or at least flying.  It seems that if he had the choice he would always travel by train.  There are rumors that the reason he feared flying was due to the book Fear of Flying written by his distant American relative Erica Jong.  Evidently he believed that as Ms Jong wrote “There are no atheists on turbulent airplanes.” Thus as an atheist that believed himself to be a deity he was not able to get on an airplane.

His funeral was today and had all the hallmarks of the great fun had by North Koreans during his 17 year reign.  The thrilling sounds of the Gulags were reproduced as thousands of mourners wailed and even gnashed their teeth along the route travelled by his funeral motorcade.  The 1975 Lincoln Continental that was used as a hearse was a nice touch although Kim violated funeral decorum by riding atop rather than in the armored Lincoln.  It kind of reminded me of Aunt Edna riding atop the Wagon Queen Family Truckster in the original National Lampoon’s Vacation, but I digress….

His successor Kim Jung-Un who is affectionately known as the Un-Kim was prominent at the funeral looking all spiffy in a black overcoat and saluting as smartly any recently appointed 4 Star General would the Un-Kim led the delegation followed by North Korean military officers all planning to see who might undo the Un-Kim in the near future.  Interestingly the Un-Kim’s brothers were not at the funeral of their father, or were at least not shown on the media, perhaps because they were in the process of either fleeing the country or going to a gulag for a vacation.  Evidently the original heir apparent Kim Jong-nam blew his chance of getting the job when he got arrested at Tokyo airport traveling on a Dominican passport under a fake Chinese name with two women in tow.  The other son that had a chance at the job Kim Jong-chul was not considered because according to Fujimori Kim Jong-chul was too “nansy pansy” for the job, too much like a “little girl.”

We don’t know much about the Un-Kim except that he appears to be Asian and apparently speaks fluent Korean. He reportedly went to an English school in Switzerland under a fake name which means that he may also speak English. Fellow students say that he told them while watching Team America that Kim Jong Il was his father, to which a classmate responded “yeah, like Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s dad.”  Evidently the Un-Kim loves NBA basketball and during the player’s lockout was quite disappointed that his hero Michael Jordan didn’t execute a few players to make a point and end the strike sooner.

We don’t know if he is quite the prolific writer and connoisseur of food and film as his father but he has been described by Kenji Fujimori, his father’s personal chef as having “superb physical gifts, is a big drinker and never admits defeat.” If this is true the Un-Kim is an physically fit obnoxious drunk which is exactly the kind of leader that a paranoid and starving country armed with nuclear weapons needs.

So anyway with that said let us all raise a glass to the new Dictator Until Death Kim Jong Un and pray that somehow just maybe that his love of the NBA will cause him not to start any wars.  We’ll see how long this lasts…

Peace

Padre Steve+

Leave a comment

Filed under Just for fun, Korean Conflicts, News and current events, purely humorous

Padre Steve’s Year in Review and Predictions for 2012: The Best Jibber-Jabber on the Web

Once again it is that time of the year when I look back at the events of the last 12 months and say “that was some year.” And what a year it was.  So many things happened at home and around the world that it makes one’s head do the Linda Blair 360.  Yes the year was crammed full of events too numerous to mention and full of the jibber-jabber of “expert” analysis of news commentators, pundits, politicians and preachers.

Every major news agency and many writers publish what they believe to be the major stories of the year about this time and sometimes prognosticate about the coming year. Mostly these articles are so much jibber jabber and I don’t claim this to be inclusive of everything that happened but these are what I think are some of the highlights of the events that occurred in 2011.  Call it my end of year jibber-jabber.

The Environment: Yes there is an environment and whether one wants to assign credit or blame to God, the Devil, Mother Nature or the theory that “shit happens” it has been a year full of natural disasters.  We begin with the 9.1 earthquake and Tsunami in Japan which triggered a nuclear disaster when the Fukishima nuclear plant melted down. There was Hurricane Irene which though only a category one storm was so big and slow moving that it that caused massive damage to the East Coast, especially North Carolina. I got to experience Irene.  Even more frightening was the massive F5 Tornado that pretty much wiped the city of Joplin Missouri off the map. There was a series of wildfires in Texas that burned nearly 4 million acres of land and one fire around Bastrop Texas that destroyed over 1600 homes.  Over in Asia there was flooding that put Bangkok underwater for an extended period of time.

Prediction for 2012: Cable News networks will continue to rake in the bucks covering human misery in all parts of the nation and the world as natural disasters occur.  I predict that there will be major earthquakes, fires, famine and flood, hurricanes  and that many will be really bad.  Sure that’s rather generic but I can be surge that I am not wrong in making this prediction.

World Events: Overseas there was the Arab Spring revolts that brought about the fall of dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and quite probably Yemen. Syria appears to be on the brink of civil war and Bahrain with the help of Saudi Arabia put down its own Arab Spring revolt.  Jordan and other Arab states are quite nervous and the situation in Egypt which began with so much hope has deteriorated as the military faces off against demonstrators as Islamic parties make headway in elections.

Who would have thought that in 2011 that Moammar Ghadaffi would be overthrow and killed by his own people, that Osama Bin Laden would meet his end at the hands of US Navy SEALS and that Kim Jong Il, the nutty leader of North Korea would die.  The European Union looks like its days could well be numbered as the contagion of economic crisis which began in Greece has spread to much of the EU.  The United States withdrew its forces from Iraq just in time for the Iraqis to start to undo everything that their soldiers and ours had fought to achieve since 2005, Iran continues to build nukes and attempt to provoke the United States, Western Europe and Israel while the Israelis prepare to whack Iran. The war in Afghanistan grinds on and Pakistan is more of a pain in the ass than it ever has been.

Padre Steve’s Prediction: You thought things were bad in 2011… they will really be sporty in 2012.

United States Domestic Politics: The United States has had its own political and economic problems as the government seems pretty much to have become a parody of itself.  The President has had an approval rating below 50% for almost the whole year and the Congress God bless them has an approval rating of just 11% a new record which will undoubtedly be broken in 2012.  President Obama is unchallenged in the Democratic primaries and the Republican candidates seem to be doing all that they can to ensure that whoever wins the nomination will lose the general election next year as each takes his or her turn to give their followers hope and then implode.  I mean really, despite all of our economic problems the United States would, if our politicians could get their collective shit together have a bright future compared to the EU and the “new” economies in China, India and Brazil which despite all their success are dependent on us to buy their stuff.

Meanwhile the Tea Party movement has become the kingmaker in conservative politics and the Occupy Wall Street movement gathered steam before going into winter hibernation.

Padre Steve’s Predictions: Expect that both the Tea Party and OWS movements despite being on opposite sides of the political spectrum to continue to influence both major political parties. In 2012 the Congress will sink to even lower lows and for President, Congress and Presidential candidates to do even more stupid things to get just enough of the vote to be elected in November. You thought that 2011 was bad…well it was just the warm up for 2012.

Sports: The sporting world produced its share of excitement and agony as great team and individual accomplishments were overshadowed by scandals. Baseball had a most amazing end to its season in which the St Louis Cardinals defied all odds in winning the World Series after being written off as dead in late August. The Red Sox went from the sure thing to win the World Series to greatest regular season collapse ever seen which resulted in manager Terry Francona and GM Theo Epstein leaving the team.  A potential scandal has come up with the alleged positive test for some kind of performance enhancing drug by National League MVP Ryan Braun. The Los Angeles Dodgers filed for Bankruptcy amid the McCourt family feud and Albert Pujols collected his halo as well as about 260 million dollars for the next 10 years from the Angels.

The NFL endured a strike and player lockout by the owners which threatened the beginning of the season but the NFL’s stupidity was totally blown away by the actions of NBA players and owners in their strike and lockout. There were scandals in college sports outside the SEC the most notable being the sexual abuse scandal that shook the nation at Penn State University which brought about the inglorious end to the career of the legendary coach Joe Paterno. The BCS Bowl system appears to have gone from controversial to nearly pathetic in the selection of teams for the BCS bowls.

Padre Steve’s Prediction: The Chicago Cubs will not win the World Series and thereby prove that those that believe that the world will end in 2012 wrong. So as bad as everything seems it could be worse.

So with all that said there was so much more that I could mention but I have to stop somewhere.  I won’t go into the lives and scandals of celebrities because frankly though sometimes titillating they really don’t matter a hill of beans, unless it is your hill and they are your beans.  Likewise the year isn’t over yet and who knows maybe something will happen that will cause me to have to revise this article.

Until then and until tomorrow…

Peace

Padre Steve+

Leave a comment

Filed under News and current events

Merry Christmas to All!

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas- Frank Sinatra

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpPdl0StUVs

It is Christmas morning and thankfully it is a day of rest for most people. Of course there are those in the military, police, fire, emergency services and healthcare that are on duty  and those that work in jobs that allow people to eat and travel during the holidays.  But for most the day is one of rest, most stores are closed as are many restaurants.  Movie theaters tend to open up as people emerge from their homes and since it is Sunday many will find themselves in Church if they did not attend a Christmas Eve service or Mass.

I’ll be Home for Christmas- Bing Crosby

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFGfCn5rKIM&feature=related

The NBA will be busy will a bevy of games as it tries to open its season and begins to attempt to recover from the effects of the strike and lockout.  The NFL played most of its games yesterday save the game tonight between the Bears and the Packers in Green Bay.

As for us we opened presents last night, Judy gave me all things Orioles including a really nice watch, Orioles floor mats for my car and the new Orioles cartoon bird hat.  I was out much of the day yesterday as none of what I ordered online arrived and I can’t say what those things are here because it would ruin the surprise so she got a few books to tide her over until they arrive.

The Christmas Song- Nat King Cole

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpPdl0StUVs

For us the highlight was watching Molly unwrap her Christmas presents. Molly figured out this Christmas thing as a puppy and the first time we wrapped presents for her she tore open the paper and began to play with her toys. Last night was no different and like any “kid” she was abuzz when the presents started to come out.  She played for hours last night interspersing the play to give us attention and then to have me take her for walks in order that she might both do her business and hunt for the deer which populate our neighborhood.  She didn’t get any deer last night which I ascribe to Santa having borrowed them for the evening.

Today for us will be quiet. Judy is trying to fight off whatever bug is going around and continuing to recover from her Achilles tendon surgery. There will be the usual calls home and I will celebrate a Eucharist here at home since she is in no shape to go out. Later we will have a small Christmas dinner here at the house.  Molly of course is resting with Judy right now.

The First Noël by Celtic Women

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDtvtJxsbuc&feature=related

Today I wish all of my readers and anyone else that stops by a Merry Christmas, and Happy continued Hanukkah to my Jewish friends.  I do pray that you and your families enjoy the day and each other.  I feel honored that people actually subscribe to my articles and I hear back from so many of you in the comments section.

If you have the time feel free to hang around this site or look at some of the links to some of the sites that I like.  My friend Joel Watts has a particularly good site called Unsettled Christianity. I highly recommend it.

With that I bid you a Merry Christmas and a blessed day that hopefully is filled with joy and peace.  Please pray for those in harm’s way or any danger or distress.

Blessings

Padre Steve+

5 Comments

Filed under faith, Loose thoughts and musings, music

Advent and Incarnation: Merry Christmas!

“It might be easy to run away to a monastery, away from the commercialization, the hectic hustle, the demanding family responsibilities of Christmas-time. Then we would have a holy Christmas. But we would forget the lesson of the Incarnation, of the enfleshing of God—the lesson that we who are followers of Jesus do not run from the secular; rather we try to transform it. It is our mission to make holy the secular aspects of Christmas just as the early Christians baptized the Christmas tree. And we do this by being holy people—kind, patient, generous, loving, laughing people—no matter how maddening is the Christmas rush…” Andrew Greeley

I really do love the seasons of Advent and Christmas.  This year it has been so busy that Advent has gone by way too fast. Advent which begins four Sundays before Christmas is the season of preparation, it is the season for the Christian of the promise of Christ, his coming in the flesh or “Incarnation” being born of Mary and also his coming at the consummation when as the Creed says “He shall come again….”

Advent is a time which has pretty much been stomped all over by the religion of commercialism and its high holy day of Black Friday which falls the Friday before Advent begins.  However it is really important if one wants to comprehend the full religious significance of Christmas.  It helps the Christian place Christmas in its appropriate context, not as “Jesus’ Birthday party” where we wear a little button that says “Happy Birthday Jesus” but that day where God became human as Paul wrote so eloquently:

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.” (Gal. 4:4-7) 

In the fullness of time…Advent helps point us to that time when God humbled himself to become a human being.  It is the time where in an ideal world we would slow down just a bit and begin to prepare ourselves for his coming. However our culture often with the blessing of Christians and the Church has eliminated that time of reflection.  It is a time where God not only makes us his children but his brothers and sisters and I think even more importantly friends.

Advent as a season is a period of patient expectation, a season of hope in the midst of despair. It is the message that God still cares and that what we wait for is not far off, the nativity of Emmanuel, God with us which is expressed so well in my favorite hymn of the season O Come O Come Emmanuel 

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

The Irish singer Enya has a wonderful version of this song which I have placed the link here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPHh3nMMu-I&feature=share

German pastor, theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from prison in 1943

that “A prison cell like this is a good analogy for Advent: one waits, hopes, does this or that—ultimately negligible things—the door is locked and can only be opened from the outside.”

This year has been like brutal prison for many people and nations in the world. Wars, natural disasters, economic problems and political instability have caused much suffering.  Man’s inhumanity to man has been demonstrated time and time again by terrorists, criminals and repressive governments.  Our lack of control over nature as was shown in Fukishima Japan when a massive Earthquake and Tsunami destroyed cities and a nuclear power plant killing thousands.  At the same time we have seen the best people rising to meet disaster and persecution, poverty and unrest with courage, faith and mercy motivated by love in the face of death.  In spite of all, love still triumphs.

The Advent season which is now drawing to an end leads us to the hope of the God who chooses to be with us.  Tomorrow evening we celebrate when “the Word was made flesh and we beheld his glory.” It is a time when the world is reminded even in the most secular ways that God choses to be with us in the babe born in a dingy stable in a town that few cared about.  In that humble beginning God draws near to us and his creation.

It is a time to rejoice for Jesus the Christ is born.

Merry Christmas,

Padre Steve+

1 Comment

Filed under christian life, faith, Religion