Today: Pope Damasus organizes the Bible in 382; Britain conquers Jerusalem; Alcoholics Anonymous; Nazi Germany does FDR a favor and declares war on the U.S.; Christmas Music . . .
A look at some of the history and holidays on December 8
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is held on this day to celebrate the belief in the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary — i.e., that from the moment of her birth, Mary, the chosen of God to bear Jesus, was herself born without sin. “The feast was first solemnized as a Holy Day of Obligation [in] . . . 1708 under the Papal Bull Commissi Nobis Divinitus by Pope Clement XI and is often celebrated with Mass, parades, fireworks, processions, ethnic foods, and cultural festivities in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is generally considered a Family Day, especially in many majority Catholic countries.”
A look at some of the history and holidays on December 6
Feast of St Nicholas – Yes, Virginia, there is a St. Nickolaus . . . and his feast day is today. The Santa Claus we associate with Christmas is a melding of the legends of St. Nickolaus and Odin as filtered through the Dutch. The actual St. Nickolaus was a 4th century Bishop of Myra famous for his gift giving:
After his parents died, Nicholas is said to have distributed their wealth to the poor. In his most famous exploit, which is first attested in Michael the Archimandrite’s Life of Saint Nicholas, Nicholas heard of a devout man who once had been wealthy, but had lost all his money due to the “plotting and envy of Satan.” The man had three daughters, but could not afford a proper dowry for them. This meant that they would remain unmarried and probably, in absence of any other possible employment, be forced to become prostitutes. Hearing of the girls’ plight, Nicholas decided to help them, but, being too modest to help the family in public (or to save them the humiliation of accepting charity), he went to the house under the cover of night and threw a purse filled with gold coins through the window opening into the house. He did the same thing the next two nights, giving the man a total of three bags of gold, one for each of his three daughters.
According to Michael the Archimandrite’s version, on the third night, the father of the three girls stayed up and caught Saint Nicholas in the act of the charity. The father fell on his knees, thanking him. Nicholas ordered him not to tell anyone about the gift. The scene of Nicholas’s secret gift-giving is one of the most popular scenes in Christian devotional art, appearing in icons and frescoes from across Europe. Although depictions vary depending on time and place, Nicholas is often shown wearing a cowl while the daughters are typically shown in bed, dressed in their nightclothes. . . .
The Feast Day of St. Nicholas is celebrated widely throughout all of Europe as a St. Nickolaus Day celebration that begins with a worship service. Then there are the giving of gifts, parades and other local traditions. [Read more…]
A look at some of the history and holidays on November 30
Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, who lived with Jesus Christ, then after a long life of evangelizing, died a martyr on a St. Andrew’s cross in 60 A.D., during the reign of Nero. Andrew was a fisherman and a follower of John the Baptist when he first encountered Jesus Christ. Andrew introduced Jesus to his brother, Peter, and the two became among the first four of Christ’s apostles.
In the gospels, Andrew is referred to as being present on some important occasions as one of the disciples more closely attached to Jesus. Andrew told Jesus about the boy with the loaves and fishes (John 6:8), and when Philip wanted to tell Jesus about certain Greeks seeking Him, he told Andrew first (John 12:20–22). Andrew was present at the Last Supper. Andrew was one of the four disciples who came to Jesus on the Mount of Olives to ask about the signs of Jesus’ return at the “end of the age”
Andrew was martyred in 62 A.D., crucified for his faith on a cross in the shape of an “X” — a shape which is now known as the “St. Andrew’s Cross.” St. Andrew has been associated with many places and patronages, but perhaps most famously he is associated in legends with Scotland, where he is the patron saint, and where the St. Andrew’s Cross flies on the flag of Scotland.
Day to Mark the Departure and Expulsion of Jews from the Arab Countries and Iran — As May, 1948 approached and, with it, the birth of Israel, many Arab Palestinians — the same one’s now demanding a “right of return” — voluntarily left the borders of the nation soon to be Israel. Jews throughout the Middle East in the Arab countries and Iran were not given a choice to remain in their homelands. These Mizrahi Jews were expelled from their homes, with many coming involuntarily to settle in Israel. Since 2014, today is a day set aside in Israel in their honor.
1782 – American Revolutionary War: Peace Negotiations
With the cessation of major operations in the colonies (skirmishes in SC were still ongoing), the war’s conflict turned in April, 1782, from the battlefields in America to the negotiating table in France. Britain’s major goal in the negotiation was to drive a wedge in between France and America so that it would not be facing a long term threat from a Franco-American alliance. That meant returning the American colonies to close trading partners almost as soon as the war concluded. France, for its part, expected to be included in the negotiations with Britain and America so that they could, to the maximum extent possible, shape the peace to their benefit. They wanted the payoff for their assistance to be a peace that punished Britain.
Fortunately for America, Ben Franklin was the man in charge on the American side of the aisle, and he was in his element, He was later joined by lawyer John Jay, the acerbic John Adams, and from SC, Henry Laurens, all extremely intelligent men who worked well together, though not harmoniously. Their first act was to ignore the French and cut them out of the talks. They opened direct negotiations with Britain, making demands that were highly favorable to America. And surprisingly, the British were quite willing to accede to those demands — and more, so long as American loyalists were protected.
The French, who had gone broke supporting the Revolution with $100 million in aid, and who lent their own military and naval might to the effort, were, to put it mildly, outraged. Franklin turned his attention to mollifying the French while the British negotiations were ongoing. Franklin, probably the most skilled and canny diplomat alive at the time, returned to his unsophisticated man from the wilderness of America persona that he used repeatedly over the years in France. His excuse to the French government was, we are poor simple Americans who do not understand how to handle diplomacy properly, so please excuse our faux pas. He then added, utterly shamelessly, the British clearly want to divide America from France. Please do not be angered and give them that satisfaction. Amazingly enough, that worked at least well enough to buy French patience and a measure of acquiescence for enough time to complete negotiations with Britain.
On this date, in 1782, Britain and America signed their own preliminary peace agreement and sent the treaty to their respective governments to be debated and ratified. In terms of land, borders, fishing rights, and independence, America received all for which it asked. And indeed, within three short years after peace was concluded, trade with Britain had returned to pre-war levels and only grew from there. So Britain achieved what it wanted as well from the peace.
On a final note, the painter Benjamin West was commissioned to memorialize the signing of the peace agreement. But one of the two British negotiators refused to sit for the painting. It was left unfinished.
A look at some of the history and holidays on November 20
Feast of the Blessed Anacleto González Flores, José Sánchez del Río, and companions (Martyrs of the Cristero War): After communists rose to power during the Mexican Revolution of 1910 to 1920, one of their major efforts was to drive Catholicism out of the country and to impose atheism. This resulted in a massive, popular uprising known as the Cristero War. Thousands of Catholics died in the fighting or were executed by the state. In 2000, Pope John Paul II cannonized 25 of the faithful who fell in that conflict, the majority of whom were priests executed for carrying out their ministry despite the suppression under the anti-clerical laws of Plutarco Elías Calles.
1943 – World War II: Battle of Tarawa
The Battle of Tarawa began on this date when U.S. Marines conducted an amphibious assault on Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands. It was the first U.S. offensive in the central Pacific region and it was the first contested landing. The Japanese forces on the island were 4,500 strong and in entrenched defenses.
Because of unexpectedly low tides and effective Japanese defenses, the amphibious assault went poorly. The fighting over three days was intense with the U.S. taking heavy losses. The battle ended with the U.S. in control of the island, while the fanatical Japanese force was annihilated almost to the last man. Only 17 Japanese soldiers were taken as prisoners.
The high casualties suffered assaulting but one small island shocked many Americans. Still, the success set the stage for the Marshalls Campaign some ten weeks later, and lessons learned from the contested landings were put to use.
The advent of the internet means that ordinary people like me can loudly criticize Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and the Times‘ ridiculous 1619 project.
(If you prefer listening to reading, the companion podcast is embedded below, or you can listen to it at Libsyn or at Apple podcasts. I’m trying to make a go of my podcast so, if you like it, please share it with your friends and on social media. Giving it good ratings helps too.)
An internet world lets ordinary people praise Israel. It’s very hard to cast ones mind back to a pre-internet era when traditional news outlets were the only game in town and news was on a day-to-day cycle. In today’s world, the fact that two junior Congresswomen were denied admission to Israel has received 24/7 coverage in the old-line news media (television and what we still call “print,” even though it’s really internet). In addition, politicians — especially Leftists — have spoken about it steadily, flooding Twitter with their opinions.
Here are the basic outlines: Rashida Tlaib (D-Palestine) and Ilhan Omar (D-Somalia) have consistently and openly demonized both Israel and Jews. Among other things, both have actively pushed the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction movement, which seeks to destroy Israel economically. Of course, those who argue that this is an appropriate activity because of Israel’s alleged human rights abuses have not pushed a BDS movement against any other country that has provably violated human rights. The same people behind BDS are horrified that Trump would use economic sanctions against China, never mind that China’s human rights abuses against its own people are legion and that its economic abuses are terribly damaging to Americans here at home.
Anyhoo, Tlaib and Omar planned to travel on the taxpayers’ dime to visit Israel. Oh, wait! I misspoke. They planned to travel on the taxpayers’ dime to visit a place called Palestine: [Read more…]
A political riptide is carrying Leftists and NeverTrumpers further from reality on myriad important issues — and Trump is holding the only life preserver.
How much do you know about riptides? For those who don’t know anything about them, they’re currents that run in narrow channels perpendicularly away from the shoreline. There you are, just swimming along happily in the ocean when you realize that you’ve been pushed dangerously far from the shore. If you panic, you start pushing back against the riptide, exhausting yourself.
The way to save yourself — assuming that’s still possible — is to swim perpendicularly to the riptide. That is, instead of swimming towards the shore, which is an impossibility if the riptide is strong, you have to swim parallel to the shore, breaking out of the rip tide. Only then, if you have strength left, can you head back to the land. But as I said, the real danger is the fact that riptides can be subtle things that gently, relentlessly, and imperceptibly leave you in tremendous danger.
The Democrats and NeverTrumpers in my world are finding themselves caught in the riptide of Leftist politics. I need a little personal history here to explain.
I grew up in a completely Democrat world. My family, most of their friends, my educational institutions, the communities in which I lived as a lawyer and a parent — all Democrat. I ought to have drifted along in those waters endlessly, without ever realizing that they were getting dangerously polluted.
What saved me was that I knew Israel. I knew Israel because my parents lived there during the British mandate period, during the Israeli War of Independence (in which they participated), and after Israel gained her independence. I knew it because I’d visited Israel. And I knew it because I knew lots and lots of Sabras — that is, native Israelis, whether blood relatives or friends. Moreover, growing up in a less heated time, I also knew lots of Arabs, both Christian and Muslim, all of whom were lovely people and good friends. Add to that the fact that I’m a history major and had a very solid foundation in both Western and Middle Eastern history, going back to the Biblical era, and it was the one subject about which you could not lie to me. [Read more…]
To help keep ourselves grounded over the screams from the Left, it’s periodically helpful to contrast Progressive belief systems with reality.
When I read the news of late, I keep thinking of the ancient proverb that serves as a title to this post: “Whom the Gods would destroy they first drive mad.” In the West, the Left is in the grip of a fierce insanity, enthusiastically, fiercely, and even violently embracing delusional thinking.
In the real world, throughout the animal kingdom, there are boy animals and girl animals, distinguished by different DNA, different biology, and different behaviors. There are always outliers who, by quirks of nature or by choice, reject these differences, but the differences exist nonetheless and inform the bell curve of behavior across species. In Progressive world, though, as The Kinks once sang, “Girls will be boys, and boys will be girls; It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world.” An edgy rock song about a guy’s accidental (or maybe on purpose) hook-up with a transvestite has become the Progressives’ core truth.
In the real world, the climate has changed incessantly for the last 6 billion years. Moreover, the last two thousand plus years of human history reveal that humans thrive when the world warms and die when the world cools. The best example of this last point is the medieval warming period — a time during which wines were made in Greenland — which saw an explosion in population. That warming period was followed by a cooling period which saw starvation across the medieval world, weakening people’s immune systems and forcing specific changes in global trading patterns that led to contact with the plague carrying marmot in the Russian Steppes. The result: A pandemic that killed 1/3 to 1/2 of the world’s population. In the Progressive world, the combination of 150 years of temperature records (for it was the Victorians who slowly began tracking temperatures); systematic scientific fraud aimed at adjusting pre-1950 temperatures down and post-1950 temperatures up; and computer models that are incapable of reflecting the complexity of future climate events, has resulted in a push to return the world to a Hobbesian pre-industrial era during which life was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
In the real world, communism has consistently failed to deliver on its promises of equality and material prosperity, offering instead violent, repressive totalitarian dictatorships, starvation, chronic shortages of all goods, and invariably brutal warfare. Likewise, in the real world, capitalism has consistently lifted people up from poverty and despair, bringing about in every generation riches and luxuries unimaginable just a generation before. Capitalism functions even better when it operates in a society shored up by a strong moral tradition (I prefer the Judeo-Christian one myself). In the Progressive world, capitalism impoverishes and socialism brings peace, harmony, equality, and wealth. Moreover, stabilizing moral traditions are dangerous, hate-filled, and must be destroyed. [Read more…]
It’s a short illustrated edition, thanks to a shingles vaccination sapping my energy today, but it’s still a very good illustrated edition.
I was reminded today, as I am often reminded, that American Christians are extremely nice, generous people, and that I am lucky to live in America with them.
I stopped by my local Dairy Queen today for a treat: a chocolate dipped cone. Yum. If I didn’t have some common sense left, I’d eat those things every day and become the living embodiment of that old song about Mr. Five By Five. But I do have some common sense, so my visits are infrequent. Perhaps that’s why it really jumped out me as I finished my transaction at the drive-through when the clerk, instead of saying only “thank you,” added “have a blessed day.”
Sadly, I know a lot of people who would be offended by that. Indeed, truth to tell, back when I was young I would have been offended. Being Jewish, my cultural memory was rich in stories of forced conversions and executions for those who didn’t convert or who sneakily practiced Judaism alongside their forced Christianity. For hundreds of years, across Europe (which is where I trace back my Jewish roots), that type of brutal coercion was normative for Jews. The Spanish Inquisition lives on forever in Jewish minds.
That’s why, when I was young and someone said, “Have a blessed day” or asked “Have you found Jesus?” I instantly went into defensive mode. I usually kept my mouth shut, but my brain was ricocheting wildly between “Who do they think they are to impose their Christianity on me?” to “Are they going to hurt me?”
Because there were very few Christians in my world — family friends were Jewish; school friends were Asians, usually Buddhists or Shintoists or atheists — I really didn’t have a working template of American Christianity. My Christian grandmother didn’t really count because, despite a very traditional Protestant upbringing in Europe, she was a stone cold atheist whose idea of Christianity was Christmas trees and Easter bunnies. And after all, she had married a Jew and moved with her Zionist husband and their children to British Mandate Palestine. In other words, I never thought of her as “Christian.”
Fortunately, I moved to Texas for law school and met nice Christians. And then I moved back to California as an adult and met more nice Christians. After which I become conservative and then I suddenly met a whole bunch of Christians, both in real life and through their writing. That’s was when I realized that American Christians are really nice people. Obviously, not each of them specifically is a nice person. There’ll be some who are petty and some who are greedy and some who are just irritating. But taken en masse, I really like American Christians. [Read more…]
When paid work rains down upon me, I celebrate, put my head down, and go to work — but still have time to share a great illustrated edition with you.
With Alabama’s abortion law now more in line with Europe’s laws than America’s, Americans Progressives are going crazy — plus other good political posters.
The latest excellent video from Prager U features former Canadian PM, Stephen Harper, explaining why Israel deserves support, not condemnation.
Transcript: [Read more…]
Russia collusion is still roiling the Left, to the great amusement of sane Americans. Indeed, thanks to Leftists, there’s a lot of silly stuff to laugh at.
There are reasons for you to be very afraid of the social media crackdown on conservatives (even fringe ones), plus other scary stuff in today’s world.
Democrats prepare for 2020 by silencing conservatives. If I had to identify the scariest news today, it would be Twitter’s purge of conservatives, which follows closely on the heels of Facebook’s purge of conservatives. These social media outlets, which hold power unimagined at any past time, are using that power to silence non-Progressive dissent.
When it came to Facebook’s most recent purge, I won’t argue that Alex Jones is an unpleasant, possibly slightly demented character. Others, though, are merely vocal not-Leftists, such as Paul Joseph Watson, whose platform is Alex Jones’s InfoWars, or provocateurs, such as Milo Yiannopoulos. As a sop to “equality,” Facebook also finally shutdown arch anti-Semite (and Democrat friend) Louis Farrakhan, whom two major Leftist media outlets promptly identified as “right wing.”
Other than Farrakhan, both Twitter and Facebook do not appear to have gone after Left wingers. Most conspicuously, they continued to ignore Left wing “news” sites that, for two years, promoted the biggest hoax in American political history or blue-checked Lefties who revel in fantasies of murdering Trump or slapping around conservatives, including the innocent Covington School boys, whose only crime was to wear MAGA hats. These same social media behemoths have also left alone Hamas sites that advocate for Israel’s destruction and the genocide of her people; and unhinged Leftists sites that screech hysterically about toxic whites, masculinity, straight people, etc., all in the most vile and violent terms.
Moreover, currently both Facebook and Twitter seem comfortable providing a platform for Pennsylvania State Representative Brian Sims, who proudly posted video of himself verbally harassing an old lady praying outside a Planned Parenthood clinic and then went on to promise to pay anyone who would dox three pro-life teenage girls.
When called on his behavior, the out-and-proud Sims doubled down on the hateful rhetoric, all of which seems to have escaped Twitter’s eagle eye for “hate speech”: [Read more…]