Just in Case: Christmas vs. the Grinch

Dr. Anthony Fauci walked back his Grinch-like verbal ranging shot against Christmas last week, but the only thing we know about what he’ll say tomorrow is, there’s a good chance it won’t be what he said today. So I’m putting this out there, in case the need for it arises later, as the holiday draws near.

Old Doc Fauci, his Grinchhood engorging, cried, “No!
I decree, because COVID, it shall not be so!
I command you! No ribbons, no wrappings, no tags!
No dinners! No loved ones! No boxes! No bags!”

He dodged reason all day, till his dodger was sore,
While Americans thought thoughts all Grinches deplore.
“What if we-folk,” they mused, “have a right to be free?
What if Christmas … perhaps … doesn’t come from DC?”

I’ll go back to writing prose now. And early Christmas shopping.


Photo credit: Andreas Avgousti on Unsplash.


David Rodeback - impeachment

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Independence Day, a Sunday

This year, the United States’ Independence Day falls on a Sunday, my Sabbath. (I realize it’s not everyone’s Sabbath.) The Sabbath has long seemed to me ideal for “the heav’n-rescued land” to “praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.” Those are Francis Scott Key’s words, penned in a time when it was not clear that a relatively new nation would survive the British Empire’s latest efforts to reclaim it.

Independence Day: A Day for Gratitude

I’ve been thinking – about this day – that gratitude is a gentle, humble virtue. It may seem too ordinary and small to stand against its rampaging, chest-thumping opposites. This is doubly so in a tumultuous time such as ours. By any other name we applaud and admire ingratitude and shower it with wealth. Its symbols and slogans adorn our lives, both physically and virtually. We call it by a host of trendy names which sound so modern, so enlightened, so revolutionary. I’ll leave it for you to think of names that might fit here.

I think I know the full list of ugly vices some would ascribe to me (if I ever caught their notice) for saying this in AD 2021, but I feel a deep and enduring gratitude to Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Wythe, and many others. This includes thousands whose names I never heard or read. This embraces both those who fought literal and political battles and those who loved, awaited, and sustained them from afar. I feel the same profound gratitude to God for all of these.

Silver Linings and Points of Light

I share many Americans’ gloom in the present political moment. My conservative concerns are legion. But I see points of light in the night sky. I see silver linings to the dark clouds, suggesting the light still burns beyond them.

To be sure, I don’t always write cheerfully.

  • Four posts ago I wrote about not giving ourselves permission to hate people. Hatred is as dark as darkness gets.
  • Three posts ago I wrote about social media censorship and possible measures against it — for a future day when we may have a government which isn’t in bed with Big Tech.
  • Two posts ago I wrote about the rush to reimpeachment and its motives. My thoughts were not sweetness and light.
  • Last time I described a dark and detailed dream about freedom, truth, and their enemies’ raging lust for power. I’ll let you decide, when you read it, whether you think it was really just a dream.

In one or two of those sober posts, and in private conversations with several readers, in person and online, I promised happy thoughts to come — because there are some.

I have three potentially therapeutic things for you. (In some cases I may have to explain the cheering effect.) They are danger signs we don’t see yet, those happy thoughts I promised, and things to do.

Thank God It Was Just a Dream

You know those dreams we have occasionally (at least I do) that are so horrific, humiliating, or bizarre — and so detailed — that our first waking thought is, “Thank God it was just a dream”? And our second and third thoughts echo the first?

Thank God it was just a dream.

Some few may think my dream was idyllic, but I knew right away that for me it was a nightmare. Here was an early clue: I dreamt of a world where hatred was okay, even encouraged, as long as you hated the right people. (Or would that be the wrong people?) And hatred could justify practically anything.

It was a vivid, multifaceted dream.

Something We All Can Do: Stop Hating

I wrote very recently of the 2020 election and its aftermath, and I didn’t plan to write today. I try to avoid politics on my Sabbath, in my reading, writing, and posting. Today I’m making an exception, as hatred rages through our public square a little more overtly than before — an exception for a thought which for some is religious, and for others is at least moral, not simply political, I hope.

One Nation, Not So Much

Whatever sources you choose to consume and believe, the news abounds with evidence that Americans are not a united people. Unity for its own sake is of limited wisdom and value, but unity based on true principles and righteous purposes is precious beyond rubies. Disunity is unstable, uncomfortable, and often dangerous, if cultivated.

Why I’m Voting for President Trump

I recently urged those of us who can to tell others how we’re voting for president this year. I promised to do the same. I’ll be voting for President Trump.

I’m not saying you should cast the same vote. I’ve made the choice I think is best for the long-term freedom and welfare of our nation and my family. You could do the same, and vote differently.

If your vote differs from mine, I’ll still respect you as a person, and I won’t accuse you of being more loyal to your ideology than to your loved ones, or valuing politics more than you value truth itself.

If we vote differently and your guy wins, I’ll pray with all my American heart that you were right. If my guy wins, I’ll pray I wasn’t wrong.

I wonder what we’ll think of this moment two years from now, or five or ten.

Meanwhile, I’m not here to convince undecided voters or change anyone’s mind. So I won’t be explaining every point to my own satisfaction — or yours, probably. My first draft included what felt like a bare minimum of explanation. Then I cut it in half.

16 Things Americans Can Do in October

We’ve made it to October — but many Americans worry about November. I’m one of them. Which of the things that aren’t supposed to happen will happen on or after Election Day this year? Will the inevitable legal and political wrangling pass quickly or completely overwhelm the country for weeks? How much violence will there be?

But my point today is not what may happen. It’s the worry and fear with which we anticipate both the election results and the aftermath.

When we’re worried or afraid, it helps to have things to do. Actually doing them helps even more. So here are 16 things Americans can do in October 2020. I have more for you in a few days.

Some of my suggestions are directly political, but I’m trying to be mostly nonpartisan here. Most of the following can cut both ways; they’re things at least some people on all sides can do in their own way. See what you think.

I’ve divided this set into two categories, “The Overtly Political” and “Feed Your Soul More Than Politics.”

Cloth Masks and the Death of Nuance – Part 1 of 2

To mask or not to mask? Cloth masks, I mean. The nature of the debate suggests a larger problem.

Some people’s views of cloth masks are reasoned and nuanced, but extreme responses on both sides are frequent. Even dwelling on the question may seem extreme, when … but you don’t need me to list the world’s or a nation’s troubles. Do we really have time and mental energy to spare for a sustained quarrel over cloth masks?

Beyond health considerations, the cloth mask has come to symbolize for me the death of nuance in our thought and discourse. We’ve lost our taste for complexity, for seeing more than one side of a question, for reserving judgment and forming a balanced view. From our family dinner tables to our national politics, we reject depth and perspective, and weaponize the shallowest version of everything against our political enemies … er, opponents.

We’ve downed those trendy cocktails of fear and anger until we may be too drunk to self-govern. Perhaps we’re drunk on trivia too, in Mark Steyn’s phrase. The almost-ubiquitous cloth mask is a tangible talisman of our inflamed, intemperate time.

I’ll try to explain. And before this two-parter is done, I’ll discuss some remedies — or at least muse on some things we could do that might help. (I don’t want to oversell.)

American Ideals Will Endure

Drawing freely from the Declaration of Independence and the passing scene, and dividing roughly by topic, I hold these truths — these American ideals — to be self-evident:

Individual Worth and Dignity

  • That all men and women should be equal before human law, as they are equal before the law and mercy of God.
  • That each human individually is endowed by the Creator, not by earthly government, with certain inalienable rights.
  • That among these rights (it’s a partial list) are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This is the fundamental American ideal: we should be free to live our lives according to our own individual senses of happiness, as far as that is compatible with a free society which credibly attempts to balance the competing, legitimate rights of all individuals and to defend itself from enemies foreign and domestic.

Why I (Still) Love the United States of America

I’ve been poking at these thoughts on why I love America for a while now. Once you see what they are, you’ll see why Constitution Day seems appropriate for posting them.

More broadly, this is either an especially good time or an unusually bad time for these reflections. We’re several weeks from a midterm election; those are never pretty. We’re two weeks into the Kneel for the National Anthem regular season. We’re in the throes of another nasty Supreme Court nomination battle. We’ve been watching — has it been forever yet? — the ongoing attempt to overthrow a duly elected President I heartily dislike by a  bureaucratic coup I dislike even more. We’re seeing (still? again?) just how ugly our politics can get, when we’re more committed to obtaining political power over each other than we are to truth, justice, freedom, and the rule of law.

And yet I love my country. Here are some of my reasons. (They don’t have to be yours.)