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 again And lamp-oil light across the night Has caught the streaks of winter rain In many a stained-glass window sheen From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.   The holly in the windy hedge And round the Manor House the yew Will soon be … [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 … [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, … [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 … [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, … [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 … [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 … [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 … [Read more...]