Monthly Archives: December 2012

Happy New Year: The Song and My Wish

ABBA 78 SWEET

Happy new year

Happy new year

May we all have a vision now and then

Of a world where every neighbour is a friend

Happy new year

Happy new year

May we all have our hopes, our will to try

If we don’t we might as well lay down and die

You and I

 

New Year’s Eve and in some parts of the world it is already 2013. After the year that was 2012 with its seeming unending cycle of violence, hate, war and destruction I hope that 2013 is different. It probably won’t be, but I can always hope.

Many people will see in the New Year singing Auld Lang Syne. I suppose that as Judy and I pop the Champagne and toast tonight when we watch the Ball descend in Times Square on our television, safe from all the drunk drivers that we may as well. Not that we will be isolated, we will go out earlier and see our friends at Gordon Biersch around dinner time and get out before the crowds get going and the place gets too loud and crazy for our tastes.

But my favorite song for the new year is Abba’s Happy New Year.  Like Auld Lang Syne it is a melancholy song of the end of one year’s hopes, dreams and expectations and hopes and dreams for the new year.

Here is wishing you the best New Year possible. Enjoy Abba’s Happy New Year.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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

 Happy New Year

No more champagne

And the fireworks are through

Here we are, me and you

Feeling lost and feeling blue

It’s the end of the party

And the morning seems so grey

So unlike yesterday

Now’s the time for us to say…

 

Happy new year

Happy new year

May we all have a vision now and then

Of a world where every neighbour is a friend

Happy new year

Happy new year

May we all have our hopes, our will to try

If we don’t we might as well lay down and die

You and I

 

Sometimes I see

How the brave new world arrives

And I see how it thrives

In the ashes of our lives

Oh yes, man is a fool

And he thinks he’ll be okay

Dragging on, feet of clay

Never knowing he’s astray

Keeps on going anyway…

 

Happy new year

Happy new year

May we all have a vision now and then

Of a world where every neighbour is a friend

Happy new year

Happy new year

May we all have our hopes, our will to try

If we don’t we might as well lay down and die

You and I

 

Seems to me now

That the dreams we had before

Are all dead, nothing more

Than confetti on the floor

It’s the end of a decade

In another ten years time

Who can say what we’ll find

What lies waiting down the line

In the end of eighty-nine…

 

Happy new year

Happy new year

May we all have a vision now and then

Of a world where every neighbour is a friend

Happy new year

Happy new year

May we all have our hopes, our will to try

If we don’t we might as well lay down and die

You and I

About these ads

3 Comments

Filed under Loose thoughts and musings

All that We Are and Can Be: Where Past, Present and Future Meet

68136_10151386881662059_2126249630_n

“The past always seems better when you look back on it than it did at the time. And the present never looks as good as it will in the future.” Peter Benchley “Jaws”

St Augustine of Hippo once asked “How can the past and future be, when the past no longer is, and the future is not yet?”

It is an interesting question but I think that the question is flawed. I think that the past lives in the present much more than we would like to think and that our future, though unwritten can unfold in a multitude of ways and possibilities.

Many of us live in the past as if it were today. We, individually and collectively, as individuals and nations live in the past and look to it much more fondly than when it was our present. I think that historian Will Durant possibly said it the best: “The past is not dead. Indeed, it is often not even past.”

As a historian myself I value the past and seek answers and wisdom from it to use in the present because what we do in the present does, for better or worse defines our future. Confucius said “study the past if you would define the future.” He did not say to live in the past.

That is something that I have been learning for close to 20 years now when my Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor, using a Star Trek Next Generation metaphor from the episode A Matter of Time.  In the episode a shadowy visitor claiming to be from the future refuses to help claiming that if he were to help that his “history – would unfold in a way other than it already has.”

Finally Picard is forced to make a decision and confronts the visitor, who turns out to be a thief from the past using time travel to collect technology to enrich himself. Picard responds:

“A person’s life, their future, hinges on each of a thousand choices. Living is making choices! Now, you ask me to believe that if I make a choice other than the one that appears in your history books, then your past will be irrevocably altered. Well… you know, Professor, perhaps I don’t give a damn about your past, because your past is my future, and as far as I’m concerned, it hasn’t been written yet!”

It was in telling me that my future did not have to be my past that opened a door of life and faith that I had never experienced before and which showed me that life was to be boldly lived in the present. While it meant a lot then, it means more now for the past according to William Shakespeare “is prologue.”

We cannot help being influenced by the past. We should indeed learn from it, but we cannot remain in it or try to return to it. Kierkegaard said that  “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” 

Since I am a Christian my faith in that future is in the God who is eternal, the God of love. Victor Hugo in Les Miserables said “Love is the only future God offers.” That is the future that I want to envision.

Living is making choices and the future hinges on thousands of them. Many of these choices we make automatically without thought simply because we have always done them that way, or because that is how it was done in the past. However, if we want to break the cycle, if we want to live in and envision that future of the God of love then we have to live in the present though the past lives in us.

T.S. Elliot penned this verse:

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.

Peace

Padre Steve+

2 Comments

Filed under faith, philosophy

Padre Steve’s Look Back at 2012: The Year that Was and Still Can Be if You Have Access to Time Travel

vlcsnap-2010-08-07-18h16m59s232

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
~T.S. Eliot~

Well my friends it is my time to look back at 2012, the year that should have been the end of the world had the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. However the Mayans couldn’t see that possibility and life goes on. With that in mind I decided to look back at the more that 300 articles that I have written since the the babe wrapped in Champagne soaked clothes and lying in Times Square gutter belched out his first words… “Is this live?” 

If we lived in the Star Trek World things could be different. We could find an alternate universe, find a time portal at the City on the Edge of Forever or if need be whip the Enterprise around the Sun to throw us back in time.

However we don’t have that ability yet and the year of our discontent began in January. It was a year filled with political carnage, war, man made and natural disasters including the BCS Championship, the athletic drama of human competition, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

Much of the year was consumed by the American 2012 General Elections and Presidential primaries and campaigns. It was a year where we thought things might be different but sages like me looking back on the wisdom inscribed in my Bloom County Comic Strip Collection knew was not.

bloom-county-liberal-label

Back to the Future in Iowa: A Bloom County Redux

It was not just politics as usual it was also media as usual something again that I predicted was the case by looking back at history.

14989_1187_8_lg

Doing the Sidestep: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and American Politics and Media

But as the campaign season snaked its eerie course through the hills, dales, bayous and valleys of our fair fruited plains the rest of the world experienced joy and pain, triumph and tragedy.

It began in this country as all things do when the University of Alabama, a fully accredited school of higher learning won the BCS College Football Championship game, something that the University of Phoenix will never do.

2012-01-10t043131z_1463610433_lm2e81a0ckj01_rtrmadp_3_fbc-news-1

Alabama wins the Boring Pseudo-National Championship Game…aka the BCS BS Championship Game

Not to be outdone the Italian Merchant Marine got into the act when Captain Francesco Schettino while joy riding in hie massive 115,000 ton Cruise Ship, the Costa Concordia  managed to hit a rock and sink the ship.

cruise-accident

Sinking the Costa Concordia: A Lesson in Hubris and Cowardice

1592439-madonna-super-bowl-10-617-409

In February we saw the renewal of of love affair with television commercials as the Super Bowl XLVI: Commercials, Madonna and a Football Game as Madonna lip synced between the halves as the New York Football Giants defeated the New England non-Tea Party Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, pronounced “Exlivy” in the original Latin.

Politics continued in March with the indecisive “Super Tuesday” Primaries:

Super Tuesday Agony: Indecisive, Inconclusive and a Portent of Things to Come

46864_463040812058_671902058_6549553_4068144_n

But thankfully for all baseball returned in April bringing some sense of normalcy back to a world gone mad. Opening day brought me back to an even keel and the fact that it coincided with Holy Week made it more special to me. Opening Day and Holy Week and being able to attend a home opener was nice. A Home Opener and thoughts on Rick, Ozzie and George

But even in the midst of this there was perfection, in fact perfection done several times in Major League Baseball one of those being when Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants pitched a perfect game on June 13th.

Houston Astros v San Francisco Giants

The Mark of Cain: Matt Cain Pitches 22nd Perfect Game in MLB Historyand Johann Santana did the same for the otherwise hapless New York Mets 8020 Games and Finally….a Miracle for the Mets: Johan Santana Pitches First No-No in Mets Historyand “King Felix” pitched his first perfect game for the Mariners The Perfect King: Felix Hernandez Pitches Third Perfect Game of 2012while Phil Humber of the Tigers threw a perfect game against the Mariners Perfect! Phillip Humber Joins Legends as He Pitches Perfect Game against Mariners

201210052315837457117-p2

Baseball produced other surprises this year but probably none bigger than that of the Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles, underdog and underfunded teams that surprised everyone with their playoff runs and playoff appearances. September Surprises: O’s and A’s Shake up the American League

201210282308832808607-p2

The Major League Baseball playoffs were filled with amazing comeback stories but none more than that of the San Francisco Giants who played on the brink of elimination in both the NLDS ( Giants Sweep Red’s in the River City: On to NLCS ) and NLCS ( Raining on a Parade: Giants Make Giant Comeback to Win National League Pennant ) before sweeping the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. SWEEP! GIANTS WIN SERIES!

r-north-korea-rocket-huge-1

But around the world and away from the rich green baseball diamonds there were other events. In April Kim Jong Un #1 the new dictator for life in North Korea shot a rocket in the air, and where it landed he knew not where Missile Impotence: Kim Jong Un’s Rocket Launch goes Splat even as an American preacher turned fake historian became the star of the Religious Right Faux Fact Factory: The Twisted World of Fake “Historian” and “Hero of the Faith” David Barton  Not to be outdone a Roman Catholic Bishop made his own bad history comparisons Bishop Jenky’s Obama and Hitler, Stalin, Bismarck and Clemenceau Comparison: Bad History, Bad Theology and Bad Politics

628x471

Meanwhile in the background Europe and the European Union faced their own problems. Economic and political crisis engulfed the continent. Europe on the Edge: France and Greece Point to Dangerous Times Ahead

syria1

The Middle East was not to be left behind in the the political tumult. Syria continued its post-Arab Spring plunge into the abyss of full out civil war. Fear and Loathing in Damascus eventually bringing the deployment of NATO Patriot Missiles in Turkey. NATO Patriots to Turkey as Syria Teeters on the AbyssIn the broader Middle East War threatened on almost every front The Gathering Storm: Shades of 1914 as War Threatens in the Middle East and the Arab Spring heated up again Arab Spring Fever: The Revolution Begins Anew in Egypt as Syria Begins to Melt Down

In June the United States saw something akin to what our European cousins were going through when my home town, Stockton California declared Bankruptcy. When City Dreams Become Nightmares: Stockton California to Declare Bankruptcy

U48P5029T2D473047F28DT20120604080116

But Britain was able to celebrate as Queen Elizabeth marked her 75th year on the throne in June  The Diamond Jubilee: All Glory is Fleeting and hosting the XXX Olympic Summer Games in London in July and August

mr-bean-olympics_1

British Humor: Bond, Bean, Poppins and The Queen Kick Off XXX Games , Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” Goodbye London: XXX Olympics End on Musical Note

RomneyObamaElectoralMap

After a bitterly contested primary campaign Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney lost the General Election to President Obama. Obama Wins….Now the Real Work of Healing the Wounds Must Begin However that healing didn’t begin and as of today the nation stands at the brink of political and economic crisis that could harm everyone in this country and sink the world economy. Fiscal Cliff Notes: There are Always Results

Then there was the senseless violence of massed murders, some obviously motivated by some kind of insanity while others simply due to hatred of people different.

2019903298

The Hatred of “the Other”: White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis, Politics and the Oak Creek Massacre

Man of Murderous Mystery: James Egan Holmes and the Aurora Dark Knight Massacre

The worst of these was just a couple of weeks ago in Newtown Connecticut A Cry in Newtown: Anguish after a Massacre

The War in Afghanistan dragged on while no politicians really addressed the subject even though the toll in American lives passed the 2000 mark and casualties at the hands of our Afghan allies rose to unthinkable levels. Likewise the crisis in the rise of suicides among active duty and reserve troops as well as Veterans continued unabated.

Johnathan B. McCain

The Afghanistan Quagmire and the Escalation of “Green on Blue” Attacks

Why Aren’t Any Politicians Talking About the War and Why don’t Voters Care?

Padre Steve Remembers 9-11 and the Forgotten War

slide_260308_1703239_free

Natural disasters were not absent from the news this year, the biggest as far as the news went was Hurricane Sandy which struck the week before the US Presidential Election and devastated large parts of New Jersey, New York, the Mid-Atlantic and New England. A Massive and Deadly “Freak” Storm: Sandy Hits the USA while in the forgotten country of Bangladesh a fire at a clothing factory claimed over 100 lives A Juxtaposition of Contradictions: Thanksgiving, Black Friday and the Bangladesh Clothing Factory Fire

There were deaths of noted people this year:

Disgraced former Penn State College Football Coach and legend Joe Paterno died in January barely 2 months after his final game.

joe-paterno-psu1-1

The Death of a Tarnished Legend: Joe Paterno dead at 85

houston_superbowl

Singing great Whitney Houston died of what appeared to be an accidental overdose One Moment in Time: Rest in Peace Whitney Houston 1963-2012 

603440_10151023694361130_358425339_n

Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon passed away in August One Giant Loss for Mankind: Neil Armstrong Dead at 82

George_McGovern_bioguide

1972 Democratic Presidential nominee, war hero and Senator George McGovern died in October A Loss for the Country and the World: A War Hero and Prophet of Peace George McGovern Dead at 90

Norman+Schwarzkopf+

Iconic General H Norman Schwarzkopf, victor of the First Gulf War died just this week The Loss of an Icon: General Norman Schwarzkopf dies at 79 

051012mayan-2092646502_6f0c53d04b_b

Of course much more happened over the course of 2012 including the end of the world that didn’t happen The Failed Mayan End of the World Prediction and the Chicago Cubs 

There are other things that I might have or should have written about but looking back over the past year if I was a full time writer. However I don’t think that I did too bad for being just one person who has a day job and who is maintaining two residences in different states. Besides as much as I want I still don’t have access to Warp Drive, transporter beams or time travel.

So I write today hoping for a good end to 2012, a better 2013 and peace on earth.

Peace

Padre Steve+

1 Comment

Filed under News and current events

The Loss of an Icon: General Norman Schwarzkopf dies at 79

201212281047938734_20

Schwarzkopf and Powell, the Eisenhower and Marshall of their Era

“Do what is right, not what you think the high headquarters wants or what you think will make you look good.” 

Americans lost a military hero and an icon yesterday. General Norman Schwarzkopf died in Tampa at the age of 79 due to complications of pneumonia.

Schwarzkopf was one of the most brilliant commanders of his era, a multi-dimensional character who was to many of us bigger than life.

Schwarzkopf was the quintessential Army Brat, growing up on military bases in the United States as well as in diplomatic posts overseas. The son of General he graduated from West Point, was commissioned as an infantry officer, became a paratrooper at Fort Campbell Kentucky before being assigned to the Berlin Brigade, a post he left just prior to the erection of the Berlin Wall by the Soviets and the East Germans. He completed a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering from USC and was assigned as an instructor at West Point.

sch0-008a

Schwarzkopf helping to carry a wounded South Vietnamese Paratrooper 

During that tour he volunteered to serve as an advisor with South Vietnamese paratroopers.  After that tour and the completion of his tour at West Point he was promote to Lieutenant Colonel and commanded the 1st Battalion 6th Infantry, 198th Brigade and was wounded while with his troops and who in the crisis kept his head and helped lead his troops, though seriously wounded out of the trap. He was known with affection by many soldiers as “the Bear,” a moniker that he appreciated much more than Desert Storm media nickname of “Stormin’ Norman.”

sch0-017

Schwarzkopf with ARVN Paratroops

It was during his time in Vietnam that Schwarzkopf came to a realization about men at war and his own personality. “I prided myself on being unflappable even in the most chaotic of circumstances,…That guise lasted until Vietnam, where I realized that I was dealing with human lives and if one were lost, it could never be replaced. I quickly learned that there was nothing wrong with being emotional.”

sch0-007a

Following his time in Vietnam he remained in the Army to help be a part of its rebuilding as an All Volunteer force. By the late 1970s he had served as a Brigade commander in the 9th Infantry Division and Assistant Division Commander in the 8th Infantry Division before taking command of the 24th Infantry Division in late 1982. He was appointed the Deputy Commander for the Joint Task Force that invaded Grenada in 1983 and in 1988 was appointed Commander for the US Central Command.

1general122812

It was in this capacity that he took command of US and coalition troops gathering to respond to Saddam Hussain’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1981. His leaders and planning cells helped engineer a military campaign in conjunction with the admirable skill of President George H.W. Bush and his diplomats the successful expulsion and destruction of Saddam’s forces. While some criticize the decision not to continue the war and go on to Baghdad Schwarzkopf made a comment that those that invaded Iraq in 2003 might well have better heeded: had “we taken all of Iraq, we would have been like a dinosaur in the tar pit — we would still be there, and we, not the United Nations, would be bearing the costs of that occupation.”

20436634_BG1

Schwarzkopf’s Briefings

After his retirement he was active in supporting cancer research programs, efforts to save the Grizzly Bear and was a military commentator and analyst for NBC. Although he supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003 he asked questions that few were asking. In early 2003 he told the Washington Post: “What is postwar Iraq going to look like, with the Kurds and the Sunnis and the Shiites? That’s a huge question, to my mind. It really should be part of the overall campaign plan.”  Following the invasion and the beginning of the insurgency he became a critic of the operation. He was particularly critical of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for not anticipating the consequences of the invasion and for Rumsfeld’s criticism of the Army and the deployment of reserve component troops into urban combat who did not have the correct training or equipment for the job. He also made another observation that few noted about Rumsfeld and much of the Pentagon staff and the Bush Administration appointees in Iraq, in that they “showed a total lack of understanding of the culture that we were dealing with.” 

Schwarzkopf was an original and though he was loathe to admit it a hero. He also knew that life was bigger than the military and that one has to be more than the sum of their career. He once told the Associated Press: “I may have made my reputation as a general in the Army and I’m very proud of that… “But I’ve always felt that I was more than one-dimensional. I’d like to think I’m a caring human being. … It’s nice to feel that you have a purpose.”

ip8CXZqG.OL8

Schwarzkopf with Iraqi Generals at Cease Fire

Though I never served under his command while in the Army I knew many friends that did and my early career was shaped and molded by men life him.  He was not a perfect commander, analysis of his command in the Gulf show that he did make some mistakes, the greatest and most long lasting being the concession to allow the defeated Iraqi forces the use of helicopters which they used with great effect against the Shi’a tribes near Basra that sought independence.

However, in my mind it was Schwarzkopf’s public leadership that helped inspire his troops and encourage the nation which until that point had not recovered from all of the effects of the Vietnam War.  His briefings inspired confidence in America and with our Allies. He was as much of a diplomat in figuring out how to employ over 700,000 troops, military forces of 32 nation coalition, including numerous large Arab countries in a successful war.

Schwarzkopf also understood the full gravity of war and its effects on nations and people. He said: “I hate war. Absolutely, I hate war…Good generalship is a realization that … you’ve got to try and figure out how to accomplish your mission with a minimum loss of human life.”

He is remembered well. General Colin Powell who served as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs during Desert Storm remarked after Schwarzkopf’s death “His leadership not only inspired his troops, but also inspired the nation. He was a good friend of mine, a close buddy. I will miss him.” From his hospital bed former President George H W Bush issued a statement saying that Schwarzkopf: “epitomized the ‘duty, service, country’ creed that has defended our freedom and seen this great nation through our most trying international crises….More than that, he was a good and decent man — and a dear friend.”  President Barak Obama praised him saying that “He was an American original” and “From his decorated service in Vietnam to the historic liberation of Kuwait and his leadership of United States Central Command, General Schwarzkopf stood tall for the country and Army he loved…”

Norman+Schwarzkopf+

Rest in Peace General, Rest in Peace,

Peace

Padre Steve+

2 Comments

Filed under History, iraq,afghanistan, leadership, middle east, Military, News and current events, vietnam

Fiscal Cliff Notes: There are Always Results

Wile-E-Coyote_falling

I am not a fan of heights. I find cliffs, bridges and tall buildings frightening. As a result unless there is like a high wall that I cannot be thrown over I stay far away for the edge. I think the correct term for this is ohnosplataphobia. This is the fear of what you say when you realize that you are going over the cliff and the last words that you say before you hear the sickening sound your body makes when it reaches the bottom. “Oh no”…splat.  There are several derivatives of this, there is “Our Father which art in…” splataphobia, the “Oh shit”…splataphobia, the “Did I remember to lock the car door…” splataphobia and my favorite the “Fuck it all you assholes….” splataphobia.

When we visited New York a few years back we went to the top of the Empire State Building and 30 Rock. Both gave us very good views of the New York skyline and no I did not come even close to looking down.

Sometimes I watch movies where there are scenes where a character dives off a cliff or some other really tall place. We were watching the 3D version of Men In Black 3 the other night and the scene where Will Smith has to dive from the top of the Chrysler Building was enough for me to hold onto the couch for dear life.

But now our nation is at what everyone is calling the “Fiscal Cliff” which if you ask me would be a terrifying horror movie if it wasn’t real. In fact in term for the phobia of people like me to the Fiscal Cliff is the “Fuck it all assholes…” splat. Of course the assholes are all the idiots in Congress who a year and a half ago passed a law on the extension of the nation’s debt ceiling in 2011 to keep the nation from defaulting on its debts. It was called the Budget Control Act of 2011 and basically it was caused when the Republicans  decided, believing that anyone that they ran against Obama in 2012 would win, forced a showdown on the usually innocuous measure of extending the debt limit. So to get the deal done all parties joined together to pass this bill, which is such bad legislation that it will screw everyone in the country if our elected leaders don’t do something about it.

Back when it was passed people pretty much figured that with a year and a half before the big mandatory across the board cuts, quaintly called “sequestration” which I think is similar to what happens when you castrate the cast of Sea Quest, except that it happens to all of us.

Since we are not a dictatorship and Mussolini is still dead and magically make things happen we have to depend on both houses of Congress and the President to figure this out. Now in the past we did these things. Politicians frequently compromised to get things done for the benefit of the country even if they did not get everything that they, or their supporters wanted and for the most part we were all better for it.

What I think needs to be done now is drastic. I am really pissed off that the House of Representatives, led by the Orangeman himself John “I need a smoke” Boehner didn’t even show up to work today. I mean that is really responsible. I think that all the members of Congress, House Members and Senators of all parties need to be forced at bayonet point into chambers and not allowed off of the House or Senate floor until they get a deal done. No office visits, no runs to the coffee shop, no ordering pizza for everyone, no conjugal visits and no smoke breaks.

Now I am not completely inhuman. They would get to go to the shitter, except that instead of going to one of the nice ones that our tax dollars pay for we would bring shitters to them. Yes it would break up the decorum of the place but we could put an inadequate number port-a-johns around the wall of the chambers and not empty them until the deal was done. This would be kind of like what happens when KBR-Halliburton contractors run Forward Operating Bases.

We should give them MREs to eat and all the Pabst Blue Ribbon and Busch beer needed to get the deal done even if that means that the port-a-johns overflow. The C-SPAN cameras should be going live the whole time Then maybe these assholes would do something, and if they don’t they should be allowed to leave, at the point of a bayonet. This may seem rather harsh and undemocratic but these men and women, of both parties are failing the country and seem more attuned to those that through their massive campaign contributions help keep them in office.

Will this happen? Probably not, but back when the Budget Control Act of 2011 was passed I knew that it would come down to this. I remembered and wrote about this on August 2nd of 2011 (The Deal is Done and are We? There are Always Results )and I quoted Thomas Jefferson’s words about the Missouri Compromise:

“but this momentous question, like a fire bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. it is hushed indeed for the moment. but this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence. a geographical line, coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated; and every new irritation will mark it deeper and deeper.” 

God help us all.

Peace

Padre Steve+

4 Comments

Filed under News and current events, Political Commentary

The Second Day of Christmas: My Wish for Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward All

68136_10151386881662059_2126249630_n

“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?” Bob Hope…

Today is December 26th and for most people Christmas is now in the rearview mirror until about November, but it is the Second Day of Christmas, also known as the Feast of St Stephen. You see the 12 days of Christmas actually began yesterday, contrary to what the retailers and marketing folks tell us.

Today people will be out seeking bargains battling throngs of other for the best deals while others return gifts that do not not fit or were not to their liking.  Politicians will resume their endless campaigns using the rest of us as pawns for their respective agendas.  Leaders of nations, tribes, religions and political movements; be they terrorists, freedom fighters or liberators, (the terminology varies based on ones perspective) will continue to wage war on each other and the innocent will still be in the way and suffer accordingly. Bankers, financiers and those that profit off of the wars and politicians will continue to use their economic power to amass more wealth and power, exploit workers in Third World nations to maximize their profits and avoid meaningful health, safety and environmental protections. Good on them and if it happens to trickle down to a few of us all the better, right? We might get more bargains next Christmas.

Sometimes it seems easy to despair. It seems that the chilling verse from Henry Wordsworth Longfellow in his Civil War era song I heard the Bells on Christmas Day is as true as the day he penned in in 1863:

And in despair I bowed my head

“There is no peace on earth,” I said,

“For hate is strong and mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Yes, with Christmas behind us are already getting back to doing and thinking all the things that the Unholy Trinity of Preachers, Pundits and Politicians tell us.

But for one day we paused from the madness.  We heard those bells of Christmas day and for a moment there was relative peace on earth, then it was gone until next year, unless by some chance we heard, believed and decide to act upon the message of “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All.”

The good thing is that even if we forget, even if we get consumed in the troubles of the day that the message of this peace, the message heard in those bells, and in a following verse of Longfellow’s song are even more true:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail

With peace on earth, good will to men.”

It could be if we simply decided to love one another like Bob Hope said. That sentiment seems so trite now days with all the bleating of those that make a living off of bad news and tragedy… love one another, peace on earth, goodwill toward all. But I believe like Wordsworth that things will indeed end with peace on earth good will to men. Like Ebenezer Scrooge after his wild ride with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”

Peace on earth, good will to man. It’s not just for Christmas.

Peace

Padre Steve+

4 Comments

Filed under christian life, faith, News and current events, Political Commentary, Religion

Christmas Traditions, Funny Dogs and it’s Good to Have Friends that Can Set Up Technical Stuff

150961_10151404879222059_1111002879_n-1

“In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it ‘Christmas’ and went to church; the Jews called it ‘Hanukkah’ and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘Happy Hanukkah!’ or (to the atheists) ‘Look out for the wall!’ ~Dave Barry, “Christmas Shopping: A Survivor’s Guide”

Judy and I typically celebrate a very low key Christmas. We attend a worship service of some type and display a tree often decorated with hand-made ornaments that Judy produces in the weeks before Christmas. We now fix dinner at home and our favorite part of the day: letting the dogs unwrap their presents.

314671_10151404711622059_819000414_n

The last part of the tradition has taken strong hold with our Papillon-Dachshund mix Molly. Molly savors everything and while our previous Dachshunds went along with the presents game, Molly tears into her presents unwrapping them with great zeal. Our nearly one year old Papillon puppy Minnie figured out what to do with her presents quickly as well and ripped them open with great aplomb. So I expect that this little tradition will continue for quite some time.

551849_10151404714192059_853787595_n

Molly is now 11 and going on 12 years old. This year she went from having great eyesight to being mostly blind. It happened very quickly, within the past few months. She is adjusting much faster than I thought that she would or for that matter faster than I would. At first I was really worried wondering if she would adjust and what it would mean to her and us, but she not only adjusted but is doing quite well.

She is still happy, playful and energetic.  She makes adjustments in the house feeling her way up and down the 2 steps leading to our living room and making note of where the walls and doors are. She is re-learning our back yard and compensating for the blindness by being more careful, listening carefully and sensing where things are, especially Minnie.  Molly has taken to chasing Minnie in a game of cat and mouse, with Minnie dancing around while Molly tracks her. Sometimes it is funny because Molly will simply wait until Minnie gives her location, usually behind me on the beanbag away.

When she is prowling Molly now kind of reminds me of a Shark. Of course we all know that sharks have terrible eyesight and rely on other senses such as sound and smell to find, track and kill their prey. Molly is now our Red Land Shark.

Last night after coming home from dinner with our friends we were preparing to watch the 3D version of Men in Black 3 on the television-entertainment system that I won last week. Since I have few  technical ability our friend Randy came over to set it up the other day. Randy is like “The Tree that Knows Stuff” in the comic strip Over the Hedge while I am more like RJ the Raccoon.

hedge6-1a

340705.full

To use a different movie character illustration, when it comes to technical things I am like Donald Sutherland’s character “Oddball” in the movie Kelly’s Heroes.  There is a scene in the movie when asked by Telly Savalas’ character “Big Joe” about why he is not up fixing his tank with his crew Oddball replied: “I only ride ‘em, I don’t know what makes ‘em work.”  That was pretty much me when I started opening boxes and reading directions. Thankfully Randy, our Tree that Knows Stuff was able to come over and help.

I think the whole aversion to putting things like this together, comes from watching my dad’s valiant efforts to help us build the gifts that advertised “some assembly required” and “batteries not included” at Christmas. But I digress….

Like I was saying…while we were getting ready to watch the movie Judy noticed Minnie with a flour tortilla on our couch. Now we wondered if it was something that she had hidden there and just pulled out. However she was back in the kitchen and came back with another tortilla. We then realized what was going on. For the first time the two had worked together for a common goal.  As we looked into the dinning room we saw that Molly was going in and out the the kitchen. The two dogs had found that I had forgotten to unpack a bag of groceries.  In the bag they discovered a family size pack of flour tortillas, which Molly, yes Molly the blind, but not helpless had gotten into. It was the first time that the two dogs had worked together on a theft, and I hate to say I was proud of them. We were laughing so hard. Of course we had to put a stop to their revelry but it was fun while it lasted. Molly had a tortilla rolled up in her mouth and appeared to be trying to act like it wasn’t there.

Molly is not the first dog that we have had to assume that we were too incompetent to notice her thievery, our Wire Hair Dachshund Frieda was much worse.

Anyway, we are preparing our Christmas dinner and will enjoy a quiet night with our girls.

Peace and Merry Christmas to All,

Padre Steve+

3 Comments

Filed under faith, Just for fun