Christmas Goodies

Though a subscriber to their nightly e-mail, I’m not always the biggest fan of the LewRockwell.Com cabal — they’re good, well-meaning folks, I think, but misguided, I believe, in their adherence to Austrian economics, which, John Médaille has noted from Mises’ own words, is incompatible with (Catholic) Christianity. However, they often offer some first-rate material, and tonight they have outdone themselves. Most notable are G.K. Chesterton’s “A Christmas Carol”:

The Christ-child lay on Mary’s breast,
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)

and John Denson’s “Soldiers Against War” on the World War I Christmas truce:

As night fell on Christmas Eve the British soldiers noticed the Germans putting up small Christmas trees along with candles at the top of their trenches and many began to shout in English “We no shoot if you no shoot.”(p. 25). The firing stopped along the many miles of the trenches and the British began to notice that the Germans were coming out of the trenches toward the British who responded by coming out to meet them. They mixed and mingled in No Man’s Land and soon began to exchange chocolates for cigars and various newspaper accounts of the war which contained the propaganda from their respective homelands. Many of the officers on each side attempted to prevent the event from occurring but the soldiers ignored the risk of a court-martial or of being shot.

Joy to the World, the Lord is Come!

Unto Us A Child Is Born

Sincerest wishes for a blessed, merry Christmas day and season, and for a comprehensively prosperous 2009, from the bottom of my absent-from-web-logging heart.

Courtesy of The Northern Agrarian, Linus van Pelt explains the true meaning of Christmas.

Neil Postman, Delivering on Technology

My apologies for the absence. The last few weeks of the semester have been particularly brutal; it all ends soon, though, and within a week, I’ll be back in Indiana, for a good month!

Some time ago, the wonderful Brian Kaller suggested to me that I might enjoy the writings of Neil Postman. I’ve yet to invest in any of Postman’s works (Really, my reading list is dreadfully long already.), but I’ve read briefly about him. For whatever reason, I felt compelled, whilst e-mailing professors to request letters of recommendation (Ph.D. programs, here I come?) and watching Love Actually in the middle of the night, to look up the entry on Postman on Wikipedia and found my way to his 1990 speech, given on my parents’ tenth wedding anniversary, “Informing Ourselves to Death”. The talk includes this absolute gem:

After all, anyone who has studied the history of technology knows that technological change is always a Faustian bargain: Technology giveth and technology taketh away, and not always in equal measure. A new technology sometimes creates more than it destroys. Sometimes, it destroys more than it creates. But it is never one-sided.

The invention of the printing press is an excellent example. Printing fostered the modern idea of individuality but it destroyed the medieval sense of community and social integration. Printing created prose but made poetry into an exotic and elitist form of expression. Printing made modern science possible but transformed religious sensibility into an exercise in superstition. Printing assisted in the growth of the nation-state but, in so doing, made patriotism into a sordid if not a murderous emotion. [My emphasis – NPO]

As much as I’ve complained about our collective dependence on electronic technology, whereof I’m quite guilty, and made a few efforts to write handwritten letters, rather than typed missives, to the violent upheaval that something that we take for granted as much as printing — I’ve previously lamented the risk that Kindle and similar products present to books! — I have remained woefully oblivious. Certainly, the now-simple innovation of printing has provided tremendous benefits to the world — even in exchange for the serious losses mourned by Postman —, and what we’ve lost certainly ain’t coming back if we just start writing more handwritten letters. However, this rather unexpected, but poignant, criticism ought to serve to remind us of the delicate balances we risk upsetting with the embrace of every new technology. It is, indeed, a Faustian bargain.

Liberals Seek to Destroy Luxembourg

From Expatica.com, via the New Oxford Review:

Luxembourg — Luxembourg’s Grand Duke Henri, widely seen as a modernizing figure but strongly attached to Roman Catholic values, is set to see his sovereign powers clipped in a furor over euthanasia.

The 53-year-old sovereign threw off his traditional political neutrality when he let it be known that, for “reasons of conscience,” he would refuse to sign into law a bill adopted by parliament to legalize euthanasia.

In doing so, he triggered a proposed constitutional amendment — swiftly promoted by Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker — towards a purely formal Swedish style of monarchy in the small but wealthy duchy.

And Juncker’s even a member of the Christian Social People’s Party! Ugh. I say give Henri more power.

Still looking for the Perfect Christmas Gift? How about an Abortion?!

Indianapolis, Dec 2, 2008 / 04:23 am (CNA).- The Indiana affiliate of Planned Parenthood is offering gift certificates for birth control and other services, including abortion. While an announcement of the program encourages customers to purchase the certificates to “give the gift of health this holiday season,” one critic characterized the effort as “lethal.”

Indiana Planned Parenthood is offering the certificates in $25 increments through its web site or at its 35 locations in the state. Prospective customers are advised that the gift certificates could be used as co-pays in conjunction with partial insurance coverage.

[ . . . ]

The certificates may be used for breast exams and Pap smears, but may also be applied to defray the cost of an abortion, the Associated Press reports.

“I certainly don’t think anyone would consider giving it for that purpose,” Planned Parenthood of Indiana spokeswoman Kate Shepherd said.

Sure, Ms. Shepherd. And no one would offer a gift certificate to a liquor store to someone for the purpose of getting him drunk. You can read the whole story, from the Catholic News Agency, here.

I wonder, Is the idea that Christmas celebrates birth, the birth of the Savior of mankind, lost on these people as they proffer abortion gift certificates as holiday gifts? Pardon my language, but What the Fuck?

Economic Piranha

Random post-shower thought this morning:

Bringing a Walmart to town to stimulate economic development is something like replacing two dead fish in a tank with two piranha. They’ll replace the now-defunct life in the environment and, be they one male and one female, may even add additional life. They’ll also eat the other fish who already resided in the tank, remaining alone to occupy the previously full neighborhood.

Gersonian Idiocy

In today’s Washington Post, Gerson offers a column titled “Closet Centrist: In Obama’s Cabinet, the Audacity of Moderation”. Can someone please tell me how something as unsurprising as the picks President-elect Obama has made for his Cabinet constitute anything audacious?