The fiscal cliff choice

Here is the choice that Congress has, as we approach the “fiscal cliff” next Tuesday, when all of the Bush tax cuts expire.  Democrats are willing to renew the tax cuts except for those making over $250,000.  The Republicans want to renew the tax cuts for everyone, including those who make over $250,000.

So either everyone’s taxes will remain at the lower rate except for “the rich.”  OR, if nothing can get passed, everyone‘s taxes will go up, including those of “the rich.”

Anti-tax Republicans are opposing Obama’s plan to let taxes go up for  “the rich” EVEN THOUGH if their efforts to block the proposals are successful, taxes will go up for EVERYONE, including “the rich.”  Thus, anti-tax Republicans will be responsible for everyone’s taxes going up.

I know the principles, the ideals, etc., but can anyone explain what good it will do for Republicans to oppose tax increases for the rich when that will mean tax increases for everyone?

Top news stories of 2012

The Associated Press has released the results of the annual poll of American editors and news directors on the top news stories of the year.  I like these features as a helpful way to look back on the year.  Here are the top 10.  (The link has details about each story.)

1.  Mass shootings (in Newton, Connecticut; Aurora, Colorado; and others)

2.  U.S. Elections

3.  Superstorm Sandy

4.  Obamacare approved by Supreme Court

5.  Assault in Benghazi, Libya, that killed 4 Americans

6.  Penn State pedophile scandal

7.  U.S. Economy

8.  Fiscal Cliff

9.  Gay marriage advances

10. Civil war in Syria

AP Poll: Mass Shootings Voted Top 2012 News Story – ABC News.

Any disagreements?  What do you consider to be top stories that are not mentioned here?

The eucatastrophe of Man’s history

It’s still Christmas and will be for a total of 12 days.  Jim Denney reminds us of what J. R. R. Tolkien said about it in his classic essay “On Fairy-Stories“:

JRR Tolkien, the creator of “The Hobbit,” once wrote that his goal as an author was to give his readers “the Consolation of the Happy Ending.” That consolation takes place at the point in the story when all hope is lost, when disaster seems certain—then Joy breaks through, catching the reader by surprise. In a 1964 essay, Tolkien called that instant “a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.”

Tolkien even coined a word for the moment when the light of deliverance breaks through the darkness of despair. He called it “eucatastrophe.” When evil fails and righteousness suddenly triumphs, the reader feels Joy—”a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears.”

Is the Joy of eucatastrophe just a literary device for manipulating the reader’s emotions? No. This same sudden glimpse of Joy, Tolkien wrote, can be found in our own world: “In the eucatastrophe we see in a brief vision . . . a far-off gleam or echo of evangelium in the real world.” Evangelium is Latin for “good news,” the message of Jesus Christ.

Tolkien went on to compare the Christian Gospel, the story of Jesus Christ, to “fairy-stories,” the kind of fantasy tales (like “The Hobbit”) that produce the Joy of “eucatastrophe,” the consolation of the happy ending. The difference between the gospel story and fairy-stories, Tolkien said, is that the gospel is true: “This story has entered History and the primary world.”

“The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history,” Tolkien explained. “The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. It has pre-eminently the ‘inner consistency of reality.’ There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many skeptical men have accepted as true on its own merits.”

via JRR Tolkien, the star of Bethlehem, and the fairy-story that came true | Fox News.

HT:  Paul Veith

Good news/bad news on abortifacient mandate

An appeals courts has given a victory to Christian colleges suing over Obamacare’s requirement that they provide free contraceptives and morning-after pills.  But another appeals court has upheld the requirement for Christian-owned businesses.

A federal appeals court on Tuesday sided with Wheaton College and Belmont Abbey College in a decision related to the ongoing court challenges to the Obama administration’s birth control mandate. The court said it would hold the Obama administration to its promise to never implement the current birth control mandate and to create a new rule by August, as part of the court decision.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to give it updates every 60 days, beginning in February, until a new rule is issued in August. The lawsuits will be held in abeyance until that time.

“There will, the government said, be a different rule for entities like the appellants,” the court wrote, “and we take that as a binding commitment. The government further represented that it would publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the new rule in the first quarter of 2013 and would issue a new Final Rule before August 2013. We take the government at its word and will hold it to it.”

Sebelius first issued the rule in January. As part of the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” she ruled that employers must cover contraception, sterilization and some abortifacient drugs in their health care insurance for employees. There is a religious exemption, but the exemption is so narrow that most religious employers, including religious schools, are not exempt. There have been about 40 lawsuits related to the mandate.

via Christian Colleges Score Win: Court Orders Rewrite of Birth Control Mandate.

No such good news for Hobby Lobby, whose owners are devout pro-life Christians:

A federal appeals court on Thursday refused to shield Hobby Lobby Stores from the Obama administration’s contraception mandate — and the fines that come with it for not complying — in a blow to the largest employer to challenge the ObamaCare rule.

In response, the Christian-owned company vowed to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

CEO David Green, who had taken his case to the appeals court after losing in a lower-court ruling, had argued that his family would have to either “violate their faith by covering abortion-causing drugs or be exposed to severe penalties.”

The mandate requires businesses and organizations, with some exceptions, to provide access to contraception coverage — Hobby Lobby was most concerned about coverage for the morning-after pill, which some consider tantamount to an abortion-causing drug. Hobby Lobby has refused to comply, while saying the fines could add up to $1.3 million a day. . . .

There are currently more than 40 cases pending against that rule, though the Supreme Court has not yet stepped into the fray.

In its ruling, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals said the company did not prove the rule would “substantially burden” its religious freedom. Though the mandate has exemptions for religious entities like churches, the lower court ruled that Hobby Lobby is not a religious group.

The French case against gay marriage

 

France is also fighting a battle against gay marriage.  But religion and politics are not really entering into it.

For Patrick Laplace, the mayor of this trim little town, the Socialist government’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage in France is a colossal mistake.

Laplace has not taken his stand for political reasons. He belongs to the Radical Party, a loyal ally of the majority Socialist Party in Parliament. Nor has he decided for religious reasons. Laplace has faith in God but puts no stock in the organized church. His opposition, he said, arises from a rational analysis defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman for family and filiation.

“And I’ve heard no one here in Blerancourt who disagrees with me,” Laplace, a 59-year-old former banking executive, said in his ornate town hall rising from the flatlands 75 miles northeast of Paris.

As President Francois Hollande’s government prepares to have its comfortable majority vote gay marriage into law, probably late next month, thousands of mayors, deputy mayors and other small-town officials across France have risen up to voice their opposition.

The movement largely ignores political and religious lines, according to its organizers. Instead, they say, it dramatizes another line, one that divides Paris, with its trends and politics, from the countless smaller communities around France where most people remain attached to timeless values in a tradition-heavy society with deep Christian roots. . . .

Here in France, the battle over gay marriage is being fought in the street and in the media, not in the courts. France being France, it is a battle that revolves around ideas and philosophy, not legalities.

via Local officials in France voice opposition to gay marriage – The Washington Post.

Marriage is already a  secular affair under the Napoleonic Code, with these mayors performing virtually all weddings, which then can be solemnized in a church.  Would that Americans could address the issue in terms of ideas and philosophy!

But there is also a cultural divide between a sophisticated elite that assumes it can just change whatever it doesn’t like and ordinary folks who constitute traditional society.

Merry Christmas

Dear readers,

I wish all of you the joy of the season and every blessing of the Christ child!

Remember:  Keep Christ in Christmas.  Keep “mass” in Christmas (by going to church and receiving Holy Communion).  Keep the “holy” in “holiday.”  Keep the day in holiday.  Keep St. Nicholas (the Trinitarian confessor) in Santa Claus.  And just keep Christmas.

Sincerely yours,

GENE VEITH


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