Thursday, November 27, 2008

The aftermath of Thanksgiving

OK, people! It's now Thanksgiving Day and you have official permission from me who is your better in all things to hang up your outlandish, gaudy, tasteless Christmas decorations which leave not an ounce of grass showing. You are now free to put down fake snow, 3 ft electric candles and yes, even Santa and his reindeer. And feel free to arrange the reindeer into explicit poses. Yes, you now have permission to do this now that we are "officially" in the Christmas season. The turkey is digesting and now we can finally being paying attention to more important things--spending outrageous amounts of money on people and getting us out of this economic funk!

Tomorrow, for me, is like any other day except I'm not going to work. I will sleep in a little and I will resume my reading on St. Athanasius' On the Incarnation. I may even take a run/walk in the park and catch up on some things for my class. I will also help my parents set up the Christmas tree and hang the lights for the outside. But I plan to make it a low key day while people embrace the true spirit of Christmas by trampling people to get that last I-pod on sale and cutting off people in the parking lot because it's easier than walking an extra 3 feet. So have fun on your first day of Christmas shopping. FYI, if I see anyone I know on the news running into the mall at 4 am tomorrow, rest assured that I will make fun of you for the rest of your or my life, whichever ends first.

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...on November 14!

Every single year, retailers, radio stations and people's homes hearald the upcoming Christmas season. And every single year, they start doing it earlier and earlier. I have already been in stores where this is the case and I have heard a couple of songs when I randomly was flipping stations (I normally don't listen to radio) and I have counted no less than six homes which already feature lights and other accessories of the season such as nutcrackers, snowflakes, snowmen, etc. I can't wait until this one person who lives near where I do put up his entire display as if someone had gotten sick and vomited an entire Christmas display on his lawn. You can't even see the lawn after he's through; every inch of grass is covered with some iconic symbol of the season. My question is, of course, why?

For retailers and radio stations, the motive is fairly obvoius. They want to start the Christmas buying season early so that their profits go up sooner and maintain until the end of the season. The radio stations then profit from all the on-air advertising that these retailers are buying up in droves and then helping it further by playing redundant Christmas music in the background. How many times, honestly, can a person listen to "12 Days of Christmas" without going nuts? Really?

But why do ordinary people, who own homes, have families, have jobs and their own lives start with it so early? Is it because they are working for these particular retailers or radio stations which can profit from the season? I doubt all of them are! Is it because they have been hopelessly brainwashed? Considering how stupid wer are as a nation (present company excluded, of course), I suppose that is a possibility. But how about this as a reason.

For a lot of people, not all, but a lot, Christmas brings out the best in them. It's true. People become less irritable, more compassionate, more willing to help their fellow man. In a nutshell, they become nicer people. Now, I will certainly grant that the Christmas season turns a lot of people into jerks (most of whom were probably jerks to begin with) especially when it comes to shopping. These are the people that will run you over just to get that last parking spot at the mall before the other guy or will cut in front of you in line or will actually spit on you if you get that last toy before they do. We've all seen this; it makes (most of) us sick to our stomachs. But, still, every year, a lot of people change and change for the better for that one month time period.

As boring and is schlocky as it might sound, I think a great many of us want a world where that is the case 24-7. Is it possible? I don't think so since we are generally going to be more consumed with self than others. And so, I believe that these people who decorate their homes this early are perhaps subconsciously telling hte world that the season is upon us to actually start acting with more kindness to our fellow human beings and that we should press for peace. And rather than wait until the day after Thanksgiving to start that, maybe we should begin sooner.

I don't know what the reason is. This is only a guess. Maybe it's just easier to believe that people are engaged in a race to try to get their stuff out earlier and beat their neighbors to the punch for whom has the better and more spectacular display. Whatever the reason, it's still to damned early! Take down your lights! Wait until after Thanksgiving! Is that really too much to ask?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Commemoration of our Father among the Saints, John Chrysostom

Today, the Holy Orthodox Church celebrates and commemorates our father among the saints, John Chrysostom "Golden Mouthed." Very few figures are as synonymous with the Holy Orthodox Church as St. John. His liturgy is celebrated pretty much every Sunday and feast day, his prayers are gold mines of humility and repentance, his writings full of eloquence (hence his nickname), brilliance and fire. He is one of the three great hierarchs of the Church along with St. Gregory the Theologian and St. Basil the Great. Although beloved today, in his own day, St. John was constantly in trouble, especially with the royal court. The Empress, Eudoxia, was often the victim of his scathing attacks which he gave from the pulpit about her scandalous life and example to others. St. John was no mere priest, but Patriarch of the See of Constantinople. Exiled not once but twice, he died outside of his patriarchate but continued to live a life of humility, patience and repentance. May such be for me.

Troparion of St. John Chrysostom

Grace hath shown forth from thy mouth like fire, illuminating the inhabited world. Thou hast treasured for the world the treasures of silver-hating and revealed to us the sublimity of humility. Wherefore, O educator, by thy words, O John the golden-mouthed, intercede with Christ God to save our souls.

Monday, November 10, 2008

One of those "get to know you" questionnaires. Enjoy!

What is your occupation right now?
Latin and Greek instructor in the Bellevue Public Schools.
What color are your socks right now?

What are you listening to right now?

What was the last thing that you ate?

cherry yogurt
Can you drive a stick shift?

Last person you spoke to on the phone?
JoEll White.

Do you like the person who sent this to you?
Depends on what day of the week it is! (No offense Russ!)

How old are you today?

What is your favorite sport to watch on TV?

college hoops
What is your favorite drink?

fruit juice
Have you ever dyed your hair?

yes. Not going to say more.
Favorite food?

Gyros with pita and tzanziki.

What is the last movie you watched?

The DaVinci Code on TNT (stupid book, stupid movie)

Favorite day of the year?

How do you vent anger?

yell at my students
What was your favorite toy as a child?

Star Wars and GI Joe figures
What is your favorite season?

Cherries or Blueberries?

Do you want your friends to e-mail you back?

Who is the most likely to respond?
Who knows?

Who is least likely to respond?
Who knows?

Living arrangements?
small apartment by myself which is fine by me.

When was the last time you cried?

The other day.
What is on the floor of your closet?
ties, old notebooks, old binders, clothes, golf clubs, etc.

Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending to?
don't know.

What did you do last night
stayed in and had an unpleasant conversation on the phone.

What are you most afraid of


Plain, cheese, or spicy hamburgers?

cheese with all the fixins!
Favorite dog breed?
I hate dogs.

Favorite day of the week?

Sunday, usually my only day to relax.
How many states have you lived in?

Diamonds or pearls?

What is your favorite flower?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mountain lions in the city OR why liberalism doesn't work

In the news today, it was reported that a mountain lion has been seen in the city of Omaha during the course of the past month. Such occurrences happen every now and then and are not surprising. Usually people blame such occurrences on man intruding on the wild's natural habitat and so this is the result. That could be a reason, but let me posit another one.

On Tuesday, the United States made history by electing the first African American as President. We have also elected a near supermajority in both houses of Congress that could possibly enact a very liberal progressive agenda over the next couple of years until the American people (hopefully) get wind of what is really going on and do what they did back to Clinton back in 1994--repudiate him by electing the Republicans to majorities in both houses, thus stopping his agenda.

OK, the connection with mountain lions. Mountain lions are scared creatures. They will only attack when their lives of threatened and guess what? In the city, their lives are threatened but they keep coming back. Why? Well, which is easier--for the mountain lions to live in the wild and hunt their own food (which is what they were designed to do) or to wander around the streets and eat out of the trash dumpster behind the local Golden Corral? Obviously the second choice is the easier of the two.

Liberalism, in its most unrestricted form, basically keeps giving and giving without the prospect of work and what will happen to the mountain lion as a result? The mountain lion will become a dependant upon Golden Corral for its basic sustenance which it is supposed to get by hunting prey and then eating it. But the work was taken out of it so he becomes complacent. And what happens should that Golden Corral go out of business? The mountain lion will move on to the next restaurant garbage dumpster for the same thing. It will not simply revert to "hunt mode" again, though we may hope.

Is this simplistic? Of course it is. Allegory, at its heart, is always simplistic. Look at Orwell's Animal Farm. But it does get our attention.

Now I don't know for a fact that Obama and the Reid/Pelosi-led Congress will start pushing forth a socialist agenda to redistribute wealth though there are already elements at work (George Miller's plan to get rid of 401ks and put all the money into the social security "trust" fund), but if it does, it will only create dependence on other, specifically the government. And such is the hallmark of of socialist, leftist governments.

I'm a Libertarian. I believe that the greatest freedom we have is self-determination. And I'm worried that such can be taken away. But liberalism has been proven to never work. Simply throwing money at our major social and economic problems has been a failing proposition since the enactment of the Great Society under LBJ. All it has done is created a society of dependants. How many of them have actually worked their ways out of their situation? It wasn't until President Clinton signed comprehensive welfare reform that reduced those on the welfare dole and got them to work and lift themselves out. What government needs to do is to let the private sector create opportunities.

Again, it's simplistic, but the mountain lion analogy in the city may be an apt one especially if things go as they could over the next few years.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's going to be an interesting four years

And I don't mean that in a positive sense. Today, I witnessed a bare majority of Americans turn their back on American exceptionalism and embrace the philosophy of dependence on government and entitlements which have plagued and destroyed the institutions of Western Europe for the past thirty years. It may take us a long time to get to where they are, but we have been on this road for awhile and with President Obama, it will only hasten our own demise.

American institutions were created with the idea that the individual is responsible for his own actions, that, if provided opportunities, he can create outcomes that can lift him up from where he was born. Sadly, Barack Obama does not believe in that, at least not for everyone. Barack Obama is a man who believes he was entitled to his wealth and privilege and that everyone else should remain as they are and can only prosper by government's good graces. Government is the problem and with Barack Obama in power, our own liberties and self-determination will slowly but surely be withered down.

Liberals love the movie "V for Vendetta." To them it's gospel as to what happens when a right-wing person becomes a leader. Well, the problem is that most of the disgusting and revolting acts in human history, especially recent human history were caused by leftists. Just ask anyone who lived under the oppressive thumb of Stalin, Kruschev, Pol Phot, Bashir Al-Assad, Ho Chi Minh and so on. In that particular movie, V says "People should not be afraid of their government, but government should be afraid of their people." But leftists don't want the government to be afraid; they want to expand it and make it infiltrate your life just as much as Hitler did. Barack Obama is going to take an axe to the tree of liberty.

I didn't vote for McCain either. He is a fossil and he is a leftist as well just not as transparent as Obama. The Republicans are leftists; they just move more slowly. I am hopeful that in the first two years of Barack's presidency, that the people will realize just how misguided and how anti-liberty he really is which will usher in a new direction, similar to what happened in 1994 when the Republicans launched a major blitz against the Clintons and took control of the House and Senate and made Clinton backtrack from his ridiculous socialist politics. However, the Republicans are weak and feeble and not to be trusted.

As of this moment, I am concentrating my efforts to start up a national movement of Libertarians, those who believe that government is not a solution but an impediment to liberty in all facets. I call on anyone to join the Libertarian party to start launching, as of this date, a national offensive to hopefully take in 2012 the presidency from wealthy elitists like Obama and McCain and restore this government to the non-intrusive entity it was supposed to be as intended by the Fathers.

I know I am building myself up for only greater disappointment. But, it needs to be done and it needs to be done now.

I will still pray in the offices of the Church and in the Liturgy for our president, regardless of who he is. I did so for President Bush; I will do the same for Obama. I pray God gives him wisdom and strength to do the right things and to keep this nation safe from her enemies (and yes, we do have them).

It's going to be an interesting four years. Perhaps in that time, Americans will rediscover what truly makes us exceptional. If you want to be like Europe, move there.

Tomorrow, I'm sure that I will be called a number of things--racist, uncaring, uncultured, etc. simply because I did not vote for the "annointed one." I'm no racist and I am not caring and I am much more cultured than my friends who voted for Barack. At least I can tell the difference between Haydn and Mozart, I have seen movies in subtitles, I have read books in other languages, I know several different foreign languages, I have eaten and appreciated foreign cuisines, I have been abroad, etc. So, if you want to label me with any of those, go ahead. You have only proved that you can only converse in the realm of insults and not in the realm of ideas. Such is the realm of Democrats and Liberals.

God help us all.