Merry Christmas!

Christmas at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah

  I repeat here a favorite Christmas poem of mine, by John Betjeman (d. 1984), formerly poet laureate of England: "Christmas"  The bells of waiting Advent ring,The Tortoise stove is lit againAnd lamp-oil light across the nightHas caught the streaks of winter rainIn many a stained-glass window sheenFrom Crimson Lake to Hookers Green. The holly in the windy hedgeAnd round the Manor House the yewWill soon be s … [Read more...]

Advent, Day 23

John the Baptist and Christ

  Readings for the fourth Monday of Advent: 1 And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies;2 That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.3 And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee.4 And it came to pass that night, that the word of the Lord came unto … [Read more...]

Cynical Thoughts on Christmas Eve

'Twas the night before Christmas

   The Anglo-French poet, polemicist, novelist, and political activist Hilaire Belloc is said to have sent out a Christmas card one year -- actually, I think it appears in one of his novels, but no matter -- that read May all my enemies go to Hell!Noel!  Noel!  Noel!  Noel! I'm supposed, in certain circles, to be such a heartless and unprincipled cad that some will be surprised to learn that I've actually never sent such a card, my … [Read more...]

Celebrating Smithmas: A Report from Central Florida

The Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. (b. 23 December 1805)

  I wrote skeptically a few weeks ago about claims by certain ex-Mormons that Latter-day Saint celebrations of "Smithmas" -- Joseph Smith's birthday, on 23 December -- overshadow if indeed they don't altogether dwarf Latter-day Saint observance of Christmas. Well, today is 23 December.  Joseph Smith's birthday. I attended sacrament meeting this morning in a ward located in the region of greater Orlando, Florida.  I decided to take notes on it in or … [Read more...]

Advent, Day 22

Shepherd with flock near modern town of Bethlehem

  Readings for the fourth and final Sunday of Advent: 1 Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: he hath laid siege against us: they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek.2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.3 Therefore will he give them up, un … [Read more...]

Wherein I try to become a victim

Epcot at night

 I'm feeling pretty unhappy right now. First of all, I had counted on Christmas being neutralized by the Maya apocalypse, and now I find that I have to go shopping after all. But far worse is what I experienced tonight at Walt Disney World's Epcot.  First of all, there were signs all over the place for a program called "Joyful," a concert of Christmas music to be put on by some gospel choir or other.  And there was Christmas music at practically every Epcot ve … [Read more...]

One out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps, to which I say . . .

A scene from Disney's "The Lion King"

   Who cares?  Anyway, it's George W. Bush's fault.  And Mitt Romney hates poor people. And let's stick it to the rich! Hakuna Matata!What a wonderful phrase!Hakuna Matata!Ain't no passing craze!It means no worries for the rest of your days.It's our problem-free philosophy.Hakuna Matata!Hakuna M … [Read more...]

Advent, Day 21


 Readings for the third Saturday of Advent: 24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of theLord in Shiloh: and the child was young.25 And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli.26 And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto theLord.27 For this child I prayed; and the  … [Read more...]