Merry Christmas!

Today we will have no political arguments, theological debates, cultural lamentations, snide remarks, or forensic reconstructions. Just reveling in the fact that Christ the Savior is born.

So Christmas greetings to all of you readers. I appreciate that we have so many different opinions. That makes our discussions far more interesting than they would be otherwise. And yet I sense a kinship that we have anyway, a common interest in some of the same things and in most cases a common faith that ties us together with each other and with all Christians through all centuries.

May the blessings of our Lord Christ be with you and your families on this holy day and throughout the New Year. Peace on earth, good will towards men, and good tidings of great joy!

So how is “Avatar”?

Avatar opens today, the 3-D science fiction epic by James Cameron that some say will change filmmaking forever. I plan on seeing it when I can. In the meantime, if any of you see it this weekend, please tell us how it is.

Specifically, how are the new high-tech 3-dimension effects? Will it change filmmaking forever? Do they already make you want to stop watching your high-definition television set that you thought was so cool until you watched the movie, which made you want to not watch television any more until it too finds a way to look 3-D? Or not?

Also, how is the story? Does it have characters that we care about and that come alive? Does it have a gripping conflict? Does it have any thought-provoking themes? Or is it just a series of episodes, with one fight scene, explosion, and chase sequence after another, with a building sense of tedium? Or what?

Person of the Year

Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2009 is Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke. You may be wondering, “huh?” But at least it isn’t Barack Obama for the umpteenth time. Or an abstract non-person, such as the Computer.

Usually, we play this game before the announcement and we can see if anyone guesses who wins it, but the announcement keeps getting earlier every year, it seems like. But we can easily second guess this choice. Who do YOU think should be Person of the Year?

St. Damien

Father Damien was a priest who served the leper colony at Molokai in the Hawaiian islands in the 19th century. He ministered to the lepers as a missionary and tended to their physical care. After working 12 years with the lepers, he himself caught the disease and died 5 years later at the colony in 1889. On October 11, the Vatican will declare him to be a saint.

One does not have to agree with Rome’s theology of sainthood to appreciate Father Damien as one of those sublime examples of self-sacrificial love that Christianity sometimes produces and that so confound the secularists.

This is Damien, afflicted with the disease, not too long before his death:

Father Damien

The great Bob Dylan challenge

In our discussion of Bob Dylan’s upcoming Christmas album a few days ago, some of you maintained that the one true Bob does not have a good voice, that while he is a fine songwriter, the man just can’t sing. I know what you mean, of course, but I enjoy Dylan’s unique vocal style, finding it original and authentic and expressive, and also stylistically appropriate for his songs. I propose an aesthetic experiment. Let’s listen to someone singing a Bob Dylan song who hits the right notes with mellifluous smoothness. Then let us listen to Bob singing the same song, with his gritty, strained, unpretty voice. Then you tell me which is better.

Back to school issue

Today, as the kids go back to their studies and their parents breathe a sigh of relief (unless they are going back to their kids’ studies too), we think about education. . . .


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