Wrapping our heads around the world at Christmas

Wrapping our heads around the world at Christmas December 21, 2009

So, Bookworm is sounding bummed out as she is quoting Mark Steyn:

The liberal wing of the party—the Barney Franks, the David Obeys—are focused beyond November 2010, to the long-term political prize. They want a health-care program that inevitably leads to a value-added tax and a permanent welfare state. Big government then becomes fact, and another Ronald Reagan becomes impossible. See Continental Europe.

Optimism is still a virtue, and I am forever battling my inner cynic, but I’ve said frequently that while the GOP’ers on the ground are feeling happy about 2010, the Democrats are conspicuously unworried about upcoming elections or the notion about representative government.

“If the people who wrote this bill were proud of it, they wouldn’t be forcing this vote in the dead of night.”

Yes, it’s a coup; of course it is. Once in place, all of our lofty ideals about what America is, stands for and can do may not be enough to rescue what our founding fathers so brilliantly bequeathed to us.

As the saying goes, we are in the very best of hands.

Michelle Malkin has the rundown on the payoffs. Boy, that hope-and-change stuff sure feels like the same-old-same-old in application. Who knew a revolution could be so drearily achieved?

Must read of the week: Before you drown yourself in utter despair, take the time to read a three-parter by Michael Novak, on The Truths Americans Used to Hold. It is very important, very meaty, and I suggest you allow yourself some time to process each part before you move on. Part II here and Part III is here.

The read may or may not give you, personally, a solution, but it can serve to refresh and refocus:

A problem for all democracies is the passage of time from generation to generation, as personal ardor for the nation inevitably cools and the zest for heroic virtue flees. Moral relativism slowly seeps into private conduct and then into the wider drift of things. The only known force for countering this predictable path of decadence is a perennial conversion of heart among the nation’s citizens—an awakening of conscience and moral striving.

You’ll want to read all of it. But take your time.

Meanwhile, amid these genuine feelings of dread, we who believe in God must not allow ourselves to forget that we are in the world but not of it. I noted to some friends this morning that as the world moves more staunchly secular, as it more fervently embraces the dictatorship of relativism, and becomes anti-God, and anti-religion, the world also becomes more deranged and unhinged, more power-crazed.

That is because the world belongs to the Worldly One, who is Chaos. As we watch too many mindlessly run the way of the world’s command -and suffer the effects of same- let us remember what time of the year it is, and who we are; who we claim and what we believe:

He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the Lord, his God; and they shall remain, for now his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; he shall be peace.

Believer, Source

Look at that photograph of a young Orthodox believer; it is eloquent of the beginning of the Gospel according to John – “the light shines in the darkness…” Imagine it as the gaze of the Christ-Child whom we claim to welcome. He looks at us with forthright gravity: “Why were you looking for me; why worried? Did you not realize I AM here, doing my Father’s business?” There is a challenge in that gaze. The challenge is to believe in the Light-from-Light, and to hold it before you. The darkness does not overcome it.

He. Shall. Be. Peace. The All-in-All; Alpha and Omega. I met him while on my knees last August, and he wonders why we keep allowing ourselves to be distracted from the big picture, which is that He Is, and all else is passing.

We must, of course, continue on, live, fight, dream, persevere and (as Churchill said) “never surrender.” But we must also remember that there is much more to reality than that over which we continually fret. We must further remember that all of the answers cannot -will not- come from the pundits and the political classes. They almost never do.

Heed the words of our great teacher and shepherd, Pope Benedict XVI (from Benedictus, again) who writes:

Why do we really celebrate Christmas despite the wretchedness, turmoil, and isolation that are still man’s lot and are if anything intensifying, rather than lessening? What is the real point of Christmas? . . . Is it not consoling to see how, despite all the misunderstands, the message of Jesus of Nazareth is heard? It is not only conflict that the message has produced but also and even more the miracle of understanding, so that across ages and cultures, and even across the boundaries between religions, human beings find one another in his name. Distance vanishes and people are drawn together when this name is spoken . . . for Christmas says to us, amid all our doubts and bewilderment: God exists. Not as an infinitely distant power that can at best terrify us; not as being’s ultimate ground that is not conscious of itself. Rather, he exists as One who can be concerned about us; he is such that everything we are and do lies open to his gave. But that gaze is the gaze of Love. For anyone who accepts this in faith and knows it by faith, there is no longer any ultimate isolation. He is here. The light that one man became in history and for history is not an accident or something powerless, but Light from Light. The hope and encouragement that emanate from this light thus acquire a wholly new depth. But precisely because it is an entirely divine hope, we can and should accept it as also an entirely human hope and pass it on to others.
— Dogma and Preaching

More on Christmas from Benedict, here

Hope and Change were never going to come from a human being. Shame on any who forgot that. It is normal, and human to build up great expectations (another must-read). But if we expect a great deal, while utterly losing sight of what is greatest, then we are forever disappointed:

If we knew the intent of the beasts that we keep
In far fields and dark valleys, in the pale light of sleep,
In marked shards of clay, in papyrus and parchment,
Beneath the brick hearth, in the marks on old bones,
We would know then this life takes place in one day,
That the beasts which we keep are the beasts of our sleep,
Created from dust in the long dusk of God,
That we know the intent of the beasts which we keep.
– Vanderleun (Yeah, read all of that, too.)

UPDATE I: Then let us also consider The Fairy Tales and the Gospels:

. . .”The Snow Queen” begins with a sub-plot about a mirror made by a demon. When viewed by reflection in the mirror, all good things seem distorted and shrunken, and all bad things look bigger and worse than ever. Men look “as if they stood on their heads and had no bodies,” according to the tale. This was precisely the problem with French rationalism: It was a pathetic attempt to make mankind fit a theory, instead of the other way around. The rationalists did not accept the reality, frailty, and necessity of the human body. [. . .] The story continues as the demons attempt to fly to heaven to try the mirror on the angels. But the higher they go, the more hideously it grins and shivers, until it crashes to the ground and shatters into a million pieces. Splinters from the mirror land in the eye and heart of a young boy named Kay. Suddenly he begins to see only imperfection around him, and he makes fun of everything, including his faithful little playmate, Gerda. Kay is lured by the Snow Queen to the frozen north where, all alone and freezing to death, he amuses himself by playing with identical puzzle pieces of ice on the vast, frozen lake called the Mirror of Reason.

Read all of Karen Anderson’s excellent and entertaining piece and you will be reminded that there is something greater at work, at any given second, than “the best laid plans of mice and men,” and that greatness is sovereign. As Benedict says, above: even across the boundaries between religions, human beings find one another in his name.

Across time, too, and media. Amen.

UPDATE II: Via New Advent, a heart-warming story for the season. And, A Nazareth excavation.

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