Friday, December 26, 2008

Two Things I Learned This Christmas

1. Whether it be by the previous night's Chinese or a 24-hour bug, having your floodgates opened at both ends is not conducive to holiday cheer.

2. Understanding friends and Mamma Mia, however, are.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What Song Is This?

So here we are again at Christmas.

Growing up Lutheran, you realize early on that there are two tenets of the faith: one, Jesus died for our sins, and two, you had damn well better sing about it. Johann Sebastian Bach, perhaps the foremost of Lutheran choral composers, wrote over 300 cantatas in his lifetime, or roughly one for every Sunday, feast day, and holiday for five years (which explains on several levels his Coffee Cantata).

Of course, as a bright young lad with an above-average singing voice, Christmas meant one thing and one thing only for me: sing, boy, SING! Sunday school pageant (soloist). Adult church choir (never enough altos, right?). School vocal concert (again, soloist). Christmas Eve service cantor -- for not one, not two, but three different churches. It was like being Andrea Bocelli, only without the hair, groupies, and bumping into things.

Along the way, though, I picked up one song that has to me always symbolized at its deepest level what Christmas is and truly about.
What child is this who laid to rest
On Mary's lap is sleeping
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping
This, this is Christ the King
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring Him laud
The Babe, the Son of Mary

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh
Come peasant, King, to own Him
The King of Kings, salvation brings
Let loving hearts enthrone Him
Raise, raise the song on high
The Virgin sings her lullaby
Joy, joy for Christ is born
The Babe, the Son of Mary

Pretty straightforward, right? All that talk about joy and happiness and babies and shepherds and goodies and whatnot, how could that not be a favorite.

Truly, though, that isn't it at all. It's the second verse -- the one that most people leave out.
Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding
Good Christian fear for sinners here
The silent word is pleading
Nails, spears shall pierce Him through
The Cross be borne for me, for you
Hail, hail, the Word made flesh
The Babe, the Son of Mary

Talk about a buzz kill. This is Christmas, right? All that stuff is a good three months away! We should be rejoicing! We should be praising!

Well, yes we should. But to me, the miracle of Christ's birth has never been the fact that he WAS born....but that he was WILLING to be born at all.

Seriously. Which one of you would choose, if you could, to give up the sweetest gig in the universe -- Son of God -- to be popped out in a cattle barn and dropped into a cold manger, with the knowledge that, after thirty-three years of life, you would be ditched by your friends, unjustly accused, tortured, and executed?

Jesus knew all that. He knew in gory detail what was going to happen to Him. He knew He was giving everything up for nothing, that He was going to get no thanks for what He was doing, that there would be people that, after all He said and did, would not only refuse to believe Him, but would go so far as to kill Him in the most repulsive, demeaning, humiliating, and painful way possible.

And yet....despite all that....He did it. Not for Himself, but because He loved us.

It is that act of selfless, beautiful love that is truly "the reason for the season". Even on this most joyous night, the shadow of the cross is not far away....but were it not for that cross, that suffering, there would be no Christmas.

On this great and wonderful evening, I leave you with what is my favorite Christmas song of all.....the one that always brings tears to my eyes.....sung by one of my favorite artists.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

-- Dan

Saturday, December 20, 2008

So Which Do You Choose?

As a kid growing up in the Midwest whose parents were both emergency medical technicians, there were two things engrained in my early childhood: wear seatbelts, and that the difference between life and death in an emergency is literally a matter of seconds. Do what you could to help someone, especially when the situation was quite obviously dangerous, because if you didn't, the likelihood of them dying went up exponentially.

Of course, that doesn't make any sense to the California Supreme Court.
The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a young woman who pulled a co-worker from a crashed vehicle isn't immune from civil liability because the care she rendered wasn't medical.

All right, fine, we won't help them -- then wait for the court to rule that we can be sued for NOT helping them.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hilary Rosen -- Liar and Hypocrite

The leftist gay blogosphere is all atwitter today over Hilary Rosen's ranting, Rosie-esque performance last night on AC360.

Of course, what they leave out is the fact that Rosen has a little bit of a credibility problem in her tantrums about people who support gay marriage bans, given her endorsement of said people.

Again, the problem is not what Rick Warren said or did; it's the fact that he's a) white, b) not a reliable Democrat voter, and c) doesn't worship Obama.

Anything else, is OK.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Next Revelation: Water is WET!

You really have to laugh at the absurdity of it all.
Many borrowers who received help with mortgage modifications earlier this year tended to re-default on their payments, a top U.S. banking regulator said on Monday, citing recent data......

Dugan said recent data showed that after three months, nearly 36 percent of borrowers who received restructured mortgages in the first quarter re-defaulted.

The rate of re-default jumped to about 53 percent after six months and 58 percent after eight months, Dugan said, without providing an explanation for the trend.

Really? What a surprise! You mean people might be defaulting for reasons other than the bank being mean to them, like their having taken out loans that they had no f'ing chance of paying?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Nothing But The Finest Crap

Once upon a time, "AP" stood for "Associated Press".

With stories like this, it can now be formally changed to "All Propaganda".
The Nationals tickets were bargains for Freddie Mac, part of a well-orchestrated, multimillion-dollar campaign to preserve its largely regulatory-free environment, with particular pressure exerted on Republicans who controlled Congress at the time.

Internal Freddie Mac budget records show $11.7 million was paid to 52 outside lobbyists and consultants in 2006. Power brokers such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich were recruited with six-figure contracts. Freddie Mac paid the following amounts to the firms of former Republican lawmakers or ex-GOP staffers in 2006:

But of course, not one word is whispered about a little thing like an actual person in Congress in 2006 who just happened to be a former director of Freddie Mac, or its largest recipients of actual largesse.

So I guess we can safely say it's not that Freddie Mac gave money to politicians and political staffers that's the problem; it's whether or not the fact that they did can be used to impugn Republicans. What was done is irrelevant; who did it is.