Merry Christmas

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2: 8-12 NIV

Sometimes, I pull my wool hat down over my ears and go for a walk. Moving out of the neighborhood, I get the courtesy bark from the neighbor’s dog, a curious examination from a couple of squirrels and am nearly trampled by a rampaging buck in rut. He smells a doe somewhere, he just ain’t too sure about where. He disappeared into the tree line at a full gallop, so excited he probably ran into a tree and knocked himself out. The leaves are gone from the trees. The air is a little crisp, but for a few flurries, we’ve seen no snow. Houses and lawns are decorated for the season, some a bit overdone. Christmas cards are going out and coming in. The new Christmas movies are out. I’ve seen none destined to be classics like It’s A Wonderful Life, which we’ll watch for the bazillionth time. For the next few months, we’ll wonder if the angel got his wings whenever we hear a bell. We worry some about presents. What we might get, what we’ll give. The thought that used to go into them doesn’t always now. Getting something homemade is practically unheard of. Now, we savor the warmth of the plastic gift card we receive and worry if we spent enough money on the gifts we gave.

I can see smoke drifting up lazily from chimneys in the distance and smell the oak wood fires burning in fireplaces and wood stoves. It isn’t there, but my mind tricks me into smelling the spice cake my mother used to bake this time of year. I think about getting a big hunk of it fresh from the oven while it’s still steaming. Nothing tasted quite like that, especially chased with fresh milk or hot chocolate. I walk a little deeper into the woods. Nothing smells quite like the woods this time of year. The dead leaves I kick up while walking have a unique, earthy aroma. A squirrel skitters up the side of a tree right in front of me. He stops, safely out of my reach and watches. I come upon a wild holly bush and stick myself plucking a leaf from it. I make a pinwheel from the stiff holly leaf by putting the sharp points between my thumb and finger and blowing on it just hard enough to make it spin. I think of walking through the hills in the snow with my brother many years ago searching for a Christmas tree. I think about a wild sled run. I find a sturdy oak to lean against, pick a twig from a nearby branch and pluck it between my teeth. I survey the rolling hillside. The houses in the distance are visible only because the trees are naked of leaves. I ponder what might be happening in each. In one, Christmas cookies might be baking. In another, maybe they’re trimming the tree.

In my mind, the house is dark. Daylight’s not yet broken. My heart is beating slightly faster than normal. It’s Christmas morning. I slowly move the blankets away and begin to tiptoe toward the living room where the Christmas tree is. I step on a creaky floorboard and freeze, eyes wide. I listen, afraid that I might encounter an old elf gentleman and frighten him away. I peek into the kitchen and see that the cookies dutifully left on the table are gone. Then, in the dark, eyes still wide, heart still racing, I approach the tree….

I’m walking along the street in Chicago. A country kid in the city. I’ve never seen so many stores and all of them decked out for the holiday. Some have signs that say Xmas. I wonder why they’d do that. The sky is gray. The city is gray. The wind blows some newspaper down a slush-covered sidewalk. A panhandler begs for money. It doesn’t seem like Christmas. Something is missing, replaced by an X.

The air has chilled some so I flip the collar up on my down vest and I’m on the other side of the world walking a Christmas Eve post. I’m barely 19 years old. Sure, I have plenty of buddies around, but I’d trade it all for five minutes in that kitchen eating Mom’s spice cake. Then I think, because a few of us are willing to be here, many can be there at home. That thought perks me up some as I look into a glistening star filled sky and snug up the GI wool scarf around my neck. The clear night makes it colder. I wish it would cloud up and snow. Silent Night plays in my head.

It’s Christmas Eve. It’s nearing the end of the Church service and we light candles, each of us receiving the flame from the last Advent candle – the Christ candle. As the sanctuary lights dim, we raise our candles and sing Silent Night. There’s an incredible feeling of peace and hope.

Lying in bed, I realize it’s early. I hear something moving around in the other room. Slowly and cautiously at first it seems. Then I hear a rush of pattering feet and a curdling yell – Mom! Dad! Get up! Look what Santa brought! With huge grins and through sleepy eyes I share the joy and amazement.

From Su and I to you and yours. Have a blessed Christmas.

Copyright © 2004, J. D. Pendry

This time of year, there are things more important on which to focus than politics and politicians. Take some time off from the Internet and news. Focus on your many blessings and your family. Light a candle for the members of the United States Armed Forces who courageously serve us around the world. See you back here in the New Year. – JD

Is There a War on Christmas?

Is the real issue hidden beneath a catchy headline “the war on Christmas?”

A war on Christmas is a war against what we call a decorated tree. It is a war against what we call the school break that arrives each year around Christmas time. It is a war against public display of Christian themed decorations. It is a war of political correctness of whether one should wish you a Merry Christmas, offer you a sanitized season’s greeting, or refer to an alternative list of faith based and made up celebrations, all so as not to offend. To that extent, I suppose you can conclude that there is a war about defining the holiday.

The war is not against Christmas. The war is against Christ, against Christianity, and against Christians.

God gave us many gifts. He created the heavens and the earth and Charles Darwin. He is the one source of freedom, the principle on which our nation was founded. He gave us his Son, whose birth we celebrate on December 25, a date established by men rather than by the actual event.

For Christians, everyday is a celebration of the birth of Christ.

I might be a cynic and most certainly I have a biased point of view, but do you really believe that people around the world would flock in droves to their favorite market place to purchase winter solstice presents. So, God gave us another gift important to our survival. Celebrating the birth of Jesus helps businesses turn a profit each year and as a result keeps many millions of people employed. The employed are able to support their families and purchase the goods that are produced in our waning environment of economic freedom. Without His celebration, the current economic ruin brought to us by politicians would be infinitely more disastrous. Clearly, He does a better job stimulating the economy than any politician’s fictitious stimulus plan. Of course, that means little to the men longing to replace God in our lives.

The war on Christianity is not reserved for one day or one season of the year. It is continuous. I recommend that your read David Limbaugh’s book, Persecution.

Do you recall when George Bush during debates responded with Jesus Christ when asked who the most influential figure in his life was? He publicly professed his faith, although there are pundits who questioned it, and was not timid about it. He was not afraid to state that he prayed to God for guidance. The liberals and many squeamish establishment types openly questioned whether a president should “wear his Christianity on his sleeve.” I always thought that wearing it on your sleeve was a curious expression. Obviously, it is preferable to liberals that one hide his true identity from scrutiny while seeking public office, unless maybe he is atheist or homosexual.

Politicians routinely profess their faith because all of the polls indicate a Christian believing majority resides in the United States of America. For most liberals and other pundits, this does not raise any eyebrows or elicit wearing it on your sleeve comments. Professional athletes have been crossing themselves before stepping into the batter’s box and pointing skyward when slugging a homerun for ages. Could it be they are grateful for steroids? Could they be praying that they not get a nasty breaking fork ball? I do not profess to know their hearts. Football players have been taking a knee in the end zone in a prayerful pose for quite some time now – just before the dance and spike. But, when Tim Tebow did it the liberal pundits were beside themselves. Why does he insist on wearing it on his sleeve?

Why do you reckon the response was different for President Bush and Tim Tebow than it is for others? It is simple really. Faux Christianity does not frighten or threaten liberal beliefs, atheists and moral relativists. The real deal does.

If you profess Christianity with a political wink or if your body is covered in tattoos and all of your hair does not fit inside your hat, your pose may well be just that – a pose. Again, I do not profess to know anyone’s heart, but be assured no one will ask you why you wear it on your sleeve. It is when your Christian walk matches your talk that you become threatening to the many facets of moral relativism one encounters in free America. You are a challenge to the liberal America that insists other groups of people wear their identities on their sleeves.

Just one final thought that may highlight our national direction. Hillary Clinton announced to the United Nations Human Rights Commission (an oxymoron by the way) the President’s national strategy for the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGT) rights. I support the protection of the basic human rights of any person, but I do not recall such a national proclamation of support when the Egyptian army was killing Coptic Christians or for any of the many documented cases of Christian persecution and murder in Islamic states. Maybe we are no longer a Christian nation – or at least not Christian led.

Pray that God gives Tim Tebow the strength he needs to resist the multitude of temptations most assuredly headed his way.

The war is on Christ. Christmas is just one battleground.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.


Merry Christ-mas, Mr. President: An Open Letter to President Obama

Character Counts

I spent the past week in the vicinity of our nation’s capitol. I was near enough that the stench settled on my location whenever the breeze was unfavorable. Fortunately, I did not have to enter politics’ den of iniquity.

I have seen a sizeable chunk of our world. My travels confirmed some things for me. One in particular. Politics is politics. No matter the location, it is clearly and sadly a profession for and of scoundrels. Tailor made for unchecked and even protected criminal activity. To confirm that, you only need to look at what happens when a potential anti-scoundrel approaches the near impregnable walls of national politics manned by legions of Roveshivicks.

I am convinced that any and I mean any type of government would work in the best interest of the governed if its politicians were men and women of character – if they were people we could trust to put the nation’s interest ahead of self-interest or political party interest. Unfortunately, that is why we must be governed by laws, not men. Even our founders conceded that our constitutional representative republic form of government would only work if led by men of character who governed by law rather than philosophical whims and self-interests. We are on the verge of self-annihilation because the character deficit in Washington is bigger than our budget deficit.

I was rummaging around in the Bunker the other day when I found an old stack of 5 by 7 index cards held together by a dry-rotted rubber band. They were covered with hand scribbled phrases and quotes that had meaning to me when I wrote them down. They were my advice cards. They still held meaning as I read them. They reminded me of a more sane time. It was a time when information did not come to me at light speed and I took time to contemplate it, digest it and think proactively about it. Now, I find myself being reactive to much of what I see, hear and read. This is probably exactly where the political class prefers that I stay – emotionally tied to an argument or glommed onto a personality rather than applying any depth of thought to them or their ideas. I expect that I am not alone.

One of my old advice cards captured my attention.

It takes ability to get to the top. It takes character to stay there.

I do not know who coined that pearl of wisdom. Ability implies competence and character implies positive personality traits such as honesty and selfless service. Sadly, the adage does not stand up when you consider the profession of scoundrels. Politicians require sparse ability beyond some oratory skill. At least that is what we appear to put most store into these days. Given that, they need only a slick public relations team and scriptwriters to keep them – or their teleprompters – on message. Ability in the form of competence to govern under the law of the land, the United States Constitution, appears neither necessary nor desirable. Their character? Sadly until they have proven it, their character is typically a work of fiction developed by their image builders and then further embellished by an unscrupulous press.

When we see someone trying to break in to the political club, he or she often has a proven record of ability with documented accomplishments. It is an ability record that stands scrutiny. That is why the political class always, without fail, attacks their character. The Washington Tidal Basin is filled with the hopes of men and women destroyed by character attacks built on innuendo and not proven allegations insinuating fatal character flaws. Character assassination is the mainstay of Washington politics these days and just like stupid Charlie Sheen like antics, we hang on every word until a potentially good leader for our nation can no longer stomach the slimy process and quits. We end up with charlatans in charge. Is it what we deserve?

Character assassination does not end with politics. It is a tool for those who want to destroy any person or entity when ability is established and proven. People who want to destroy our nation, too many from inside Washington politics, cannot contest the ability of our system to provide liberty and enable prosperity. Instead, they attack our national character through antics such as occupy Wall Street. They do that, by the way, with Ivy League indoctrinated rich kids who never worked for anything in their lives. The anti-military, also too many from inside Washington, cannot contest that our military is the most able on the planet. To bring it down, they constantly try to degrade the ability of the only entity that can ensure their freedom. More insidious than that however is their attack on its character. Isolated incidents are painted as representing the entire force or they try to change the character of the force through unchallenged social engineering. Left unchecked and with the help of allies inside the services, they will ultimately succeed. They will give us a military that is less able and whose character is strong on political correctness and short on what made our services the world’s best war fighting force. It will look like the rest of the country. Sadly.

Character counts.