Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A New Year

The changing of the year is such an odd thing. It's a date on the calendar and this year we'll roll over the '05 to '06. It'll be two months before I quit writing '05 on everything needing a date.

Still, the roll over always makes people look back and look forward. You'll talk about it in social events and the media will fill up with lists of best and worst, biggest and most important and on and on.

I've mixed feelings about '05. The immediate circle of family and friends seems well and in a couple of cases doing very well. Then there are the instances during '05 when things took some bad turns. Our town didn't need a big church fire that turned out to be set by a couple of foolish teenagers. And a day or two later it sure didn't need a major tornado.

And I don't know where to start on the national/international stage of '05. That's the part where I want to look forward to '06 and pray for something good to come of what we have now. It's frustrating and hard to know where to start if I want to make some improvements.

Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Deep winter

Winter solstice has passed marking the deepest, darkest point of the winter. Ahead of the solstice came snow and bitter cold. As the hours of daylight shortened and shortened, the cold intensified and the snow piled up.

Like it does, the weather is now moderating. Snow is turning to slush and the sky, even on a sunny day, is hazy and grey.

Christmas time.

Family will gather here tonight. We'll eat, open some gifts and wander off to church services. At one time we could say the extended family patronized doggone near every church in town. Things are a smaller scale now with people having passed and others moving away.

Lately, my own church-going is limited to occasions: a baptism, Christmas, a special service. Not so long ago church was every Sunday and I spent a fair amount of time volunteering. Not so much now.

It's not that anything happened. First it was other activities, then it was general business, and now it's limited interest. Sunday is one day that I don't usually have to climb out of bed and make a forced march into work. Oh, we're all still up and at it but the hubbub is for a hockey game or other such thing.

But, I'm looking forward to the Christmas Eve service tonight. It's very traditional and I think I'll find some comfort in the shared familiarity of the rituals and communion. And there's the singing. Methodists have the best hymn book in the business. Not that Christmas is a big test for the Methodist hymnal since most of the songs are shared widely within the Christian faith.

Still, I look forward to the comfort. And I wish and pray for peace and comfort for this whole old world. Too many people's lives torn up, too much wreckage. Time to breath deep and face ways to make some positive changes in the time ahead.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Christmas, as in merry

I'll say Merry Christmas anytime and to anyone during the Christmas season. Likewise if I want to say Happy Holidays. I won't feel bad about it. Those friends, acquaintances, and strangers of other particular faiths and beliefs will hear it all the same.

There is no assault on Christmas or Christianity. This is a Christian country, fairly conservative, and reasonably secure. Christians here are the huge majority. No one is threatening Christians, or Christmas in this country.

When some idiot starts whining about how people and institutions now "must" say Happy Holiday" or "season's greetings" instead of Merry Christmas, I gag. Say it any way you want. If Wal-Mart is trying to be inclusive with the use of Happy Holidays, I expect it has more to do with marketing than attacking Christmas.

What is being threatened is decency, rule of law, understanding. For 30 years the conservatives have waged war on every decent public institution, policy and program there is. Its attacks are crafted around the evils of big government spending, taxes, and "entitlements."

On face value, things conservatives say can sound sensible. Who wants a lot of tax? Who wants the government running your life? Who doesn't want you to take care of yourself? What conservatives mean when they say such things is the destruction of social security, the end of public education, and the hoarding of wealth for the comfort of the comfortable.

If your rights as a citizen get trampled all the better because that only expands the privileges enjoyed by the scum of wealth that's steadily drifting to the top of the pond. The rest of us may drown and the wealthy will only find a way to profit selling us faulty life preservers.

So my foot is down. I'll join with my true conservative friends who are appalled at waste, who are offended by greed and corruption, and criminality. They've been betrayed, too.

Nope. We're seeing in Washington D.C. the result of one party rule. Oh, they have minions running off at the mouth all the time about everyone steals, and gay rights, and abortion, happy holidays, and gun control. All freak shows to keep people fractioned off and fighting about things while the conservatives gorge on wealth.

Conservatives, those who have grabbed the Senate, the House, the White House, the judiciary and the media, are firmly in control with a handful of conservative interests seated in corporate America. They've stolen and corrupted everything and they turn around and blame it on everything and everybody else.

Right now they're braying about corrupt liberal Democrats. Sorry, no excuse. You can't squeal about someone stealing your candies when you've got the candy store all locked up in your greedy mitts.

Time to go vote folks. Time to vote them out in a big way. Mind you, I'm not too worried about Democrat or Republican. Go vote for people you've vetted to the best of your ability who are willing to stand up to greed. Vote for people who have the backbone to put the interests of the nation ahead of themselves and the political machine that greases their palms.

I can safely argue with my true conservative friends later about details. But right now, we have to turn back and turn around the filth that's taken over our nation in the name of "conservatism." Those who have an iron grip on our nation are liars and con men of the most miserable sort.

They're so sick that they're willing to use Christmas, one of our most holy celebrations, to drive their greedy lust. Folks, if you're Christian and living in the U.S.A., relax. Nobody is trying to take it away from us. But a lot of people are using it.

Merry Christmas.