December 25, 2006

THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

Lileks writes about Kurt Gerstein today and warns that it's "not exactly holiday reading." But he hints that it is, and I'll take it one step further. We don't have kids. We don't have any family or friends here to celebrate with. We don't even have a tree up. So what does Christmas mean without all that? It means being thankful for all the blessings you have, and what better way to do that than to think about how absolutely worse life could be.

I heard Glenn Beck on the radio a few weeks ago saying something I haven't been able to get out of my head. He was talking about the so-called War on Christmas and how people get all bent out of shape about whether the Seattle Airport has any trees in the lobby. He said that these people are entirely missing the point about Christmas. He said that we can't even understand Thanksgiving -- that we've reduced it to food and football -- so if we can't even understand Thanksgiving, how can we possibly begin to understand the true meaning of Christmas?

What he said really got to me. Christians survived communism, a fate far worse than drama about airport decorations. People have been persecuted and killed for their beliefs, and they certainly didn't need a tree or presents to understand what Christmas means. People who truly believe in the meaning of Christmas don't need an airport tree to make them feel Christmassy, and they don't need to whine about any War on Christmas.

We don't need the trappings of Christmas to have the Christmas spirit in our hearts. But we do need the Kurt Gersteins, the deployed soldiers, the stories that remind us that all our bitching and moaning about where the tree should be placed or how long the lines are in the stores is really and truly absurd.

Read the story of Kurt Gerstein. And then wipe away the tears and think about how good your life is. And enjoy your Christmas, with our without a tree.

Posted by: Sarah at 05:28 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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December 24, 2006

FAR OLDER THAN THEIR YEARS

On this Christmas Eve, be thankful for the men and women who serve our country, many of whom are too young to even rent a car...

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ANNOYED

What I love most about being home from Germany is that I can get things done in the morning. I can get up and make it to Walmart before the majority of shoppers do so I don't have to battle the crowds. I love that I can grocery shop at 0700 instead of waiting until 1000 at the commissary.

So this morning we ran to Walmart to try to beat the Christmas crowd because we needed a few groceries and because when we plugged our four-year-old phone into the wall, it started smoking. Hence, a replacement was in order. We got everything we needed and headed for the self check-out. And as I rang my items out, the big red light started flashing and I needed customer assistance.

I had committed the unforgivable sin of trying to buy Miller High Life before noon on a Sunday.

Look, we come from the heart of the Bible belt, and I have never had to think about these ridiculous and archaic liquor laws before. For the first few years of my drinking life, I lived in the state with the loosest laws and the smallest alcohol taxes. It never even crosses my mind that we can't buy something until I walk into a dry Walmart in Kentucky and wonder where the booze aisle is. Apparently you can't buy hard liquor anywhere in this danged country except for designated liquor stores, which always manage to be closed when you need booze (like Thanksgiving). And you can't even buy the soft stuff when you're supposed to be in church, I guess.

Talk about meddling.

I kinda think that if I want to get sloppy drunk at daybreak on Sunday, that's my own business. Why do we still have laws that are related to the sabbath? Shouldn't some hardcore separation of church and state folks be in a wad about this? I'm a little steamed that if my husband wants to have a Christmas Beer, we have to drive back out to the store later in the afternoon. Maybe we should just set ourselves up like Sweden, where you can't even pick the stuff out yourself and instead have to take a number and then tell the clerk to bring you a case of beer. Good heavens, can't we be responsible for anything ourselves, even our drinking habits?

I'm gonna go downstairs and drink a shot of something just for spite! It's early Sunday morning and I'm drinking! Mwahahaha.

Posted by: Sarah at 04:36 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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December 11, 2006

STRUGGLE

My post from yesterday should not be seen as giving up or wanting out of Iraq or thinking we shouldn't have been there in the first place. This War on Terror is full of conflicting views for me. Well, not exactly conflicting, but complex for sure. No matter how freaking backwards I think Islam is and how often I think that these people don't deserve our blood to be shed to set them free, it's not really about that. This offensive war was started as defense, because they're the ones who wanted to kill us first. That's what I have to keep reminding myself when I wish they'd all just feck off and sharia themselves to death. I can't remember where I read/heard this recently, but someone smarter than I said that this war in Iraq is not like Vietnam because when we left Vietnam, we left our involvement with them altogether, but if we leave Iraq, it affects us. The result of what happens in Iraq deeply affects the United States. And that's why we can't let this be a Vietnam. We can't just wash our hands and go home, not only because it would be absolutely shameful for us to do that to Iraq again, but because this war is far bigger than Iraq. People scoff when talking heads say we fight there so we don't have to fight here, but if we left Iraq now, it would surely come back to bite us later.

And so I struggle, with wanting all men to be free, with hating absolutely everything about Islam, with feeling outraged that my husband is trying to get a job so he can help people who clearly don't want to be helped, and with knowing that in the end none of that matters. All that matters is that we win this. That we crush the fighting spirit in Islam that makes them think that they're winning. We have to. Period.

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December 06, 2006

OTHER PEOPLE'S INTERESTS

I'm with Lileks on this one: I like hearing about people's jobs. I guess soldiers must have massive experience with wives not being interested in their shop talk, because they always apologize for talking about it. But I love it. I want to know what people do, especially if it's something I know nothing about. My father has been in heating and cooling since college, and only recently have I started to understand what he does. I had the good fortune of being home on vacation on the night he taught a class on load estimating. He thought I was doodling the whole time; I was actually taking notes. And asking him questions in the car on the way home.

In fact, this desire to learn about other people's jobs was the source of my latest knitting project. One of my friends in Germany taught me binary code, which prompted me to make this:

binary.JPG

With light blue being 1 and dark blue being 0, the bag says 01101101 01111001 00100000 01100010 01100001 01100111, or "my bag". Oh, and the handle says 01001001 00100000 01110010 01110101 01101100 01100101, or "I rule".

Binary is awesome. I'm so glad my friend taught me.

Posted by: Sarah at 05:24 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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December 02, 2006

DEMOCRACY

Long ago I wondered if we're born with our politics or if we learn them. I still think about this a lot. But now I've thought of a new twist: If I had been born a Muslim, would I embrace Islam or democracy? Some Muslims break away from their religion -- like Ibn Warraq or Nonie Darwish -- but many accept the worldview they were born into as the only way to live their lives. It's very 1984 to me; I can never put my finger on why someone would want to live under sharia when they know democracy exists.

Andrew McCarthy:

Islamic countries, moreover, are not rejecting Western democracy because they haven’t experienced it. They reject it on principle. For them, the president’s euphonious rhetoric about democratic empowerment is offensive. They believe, sincerely, that authority to rule comes not from the people but from Allah; that there is no separation of religion and politics; that free people do not have authority to legislate contrary to Islamic law; that Muslims are superior to non-Muslims, and men to women; and that violent jihad is a duty whenever Muslims deem themselves under attack … no matter how speciously.

These people are not morons. They adhere to a highly developed belief system that is centuries old, wildly successful, and for which many are willing to die. They haven’t refused to democratize because the Federalist Papers are not yet out in Arabic. They decline because their leaders have freely chosen to decline. They see us as the mortal enemy of the life they believe Allah commands. Their demurral is wrong, but it is principled, not ignorant. And we insult them by suggesting otherwise.

Democratizing such cultures — in anything we would recognize as “democracy” — is the work of generations. It is a cultural phenomenon. It is not accomplished by elections and facile constitution writing … especially, constitutions that shun Madisonian democracy for the State Department’s preferred establishment of Islam and its adhesive sharia law as the state religion.

Having just read about the Constitutional Convention in my A Pocket History of the United States, I simply can't wrap my brain around this.

Posted by: Sarah at 02:58 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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