Yesterday was St. Nicholas Day. Nicholas, from whom Santa Claus, Father Christmas and other jolly Christmas characters are loosely based, was the Bishop of Myra (in modern day Turkey) in the fourth century A.D. He was one of the bishops who attended the First Council of Nicaea in 325, which considered the person of Christ in relationship to God the Father. He strongly supported what would become the Orthodox position, which affirmed that the Son while distinct was nevertheless of one substance with God the Father. This meant among other things, that Jesus was fully divine and the Son was eternal, not a created being. During a session of the Council while Bishop Arius was arguing for what would become the heretical position, Nicholas became so agitated that he walked across the room and slapped Arius in the face. He did get into a heap of trouble with his fellow bishops and later asked for forgiveness after being thrown in jail.
But all this is to say that the next time someone is singing that you better watch out... St. Nick is coming to town, joy is not necessarily the correct response. He just might be looking for someone to smack.
Nelson Mandela has died. The only people who do not know that live under a rock. I offered some thoughts on Mandela and reconciliation yesterday, but below is a good radio interview with Rick Warren, who notes that many of history's greatest leaders were thrown in jail because "we have to incarcerate the people who challenge our consciences." He also offers thoughts on immigration and depression. Some wise stuff here.
The "Knockout Game" has become popular with some young people in certain cities. Essentially young people traveling in a pack approach an unsuspecting victim and one of the members of the group blind-sides the victim with a punch in the head with the goal of rendering the person unconscious. It's scary to think that a person on a downtown street just minding her or his own business can be the target of such a nefarious game. Al Sharpton and other civil right leaders are leading the charge to stop the assaults. Mega Kudos to Rev. Al, et al for taking the lead.
My friend, Dave Black recommended a new site on his blog called Running Reality. I'm hooked, but Dave... I can't say you didn't warn me.
We must not forget the plight of our sisters and brothers in Christ in difficult places in the world. In Indonesia, the Middle East, and Bangladesh where various religious minorities are being persecuted. If you are not praying for those who are so persecuted, please do so.
Today is December 7th, the day that President Franklin Roosevelt said in 1941 would live in infamy. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on that day leading to the U.S. entry into the Second World War. History.com offers five interesting facts about the Battleship U.S.S. Arizona, which was sunk in the attack.
1. Twenty-three sets of brothers died aboard the USS Arizona.
2. The USS Arizona's entire band was lost in the attack.
3. Fuel continues to leak from the USS Arizona's wreckage.
4. Some former crew members have chosen the USS Arizona as their final resting place.
5. A memorial was built at the USS Arizona site, thanks in part to Elvis Presley
May all those who lost their lives on that day 72 years ago continue to rest in peace.
On a lighter note, today is also National Cotton Candy Day. Even though it is referred to as a national holiday, there has been no congressional or presidential proclamation, which is necessary for an official national holiday.
Cotton Candy was originally called fairy floss because it is made from flossine sugar. I for one am glad the name was changed.
Quotes of the Week (Possibly, but Not Necessarily Said This Week):
"Not a chance am I going there."--President Barack Obama when asked to pick between Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton for 2016.
"But to say that the Bible is the only necessary source for your spirituality or theological pursuits assumes you can actually read it. And it turns out you have the church to thank for that (among about a million other things)."--Joel Miller
"First consider the fact that Christ gave himself up to death on our behalf and became ours: therefore we ought to give up ourselves for the good of all men, not thinking that we are our own, but that we belong to others"-- Ulrich Zwingli, Swiss Reformer (1484-1531)
"Bad news goes about in clogs, good news in stockinged feet."-- Welsh Proverb
You Can't Be Serious?
"I used to work in technical support for a 24/7 call center. One day I got a call from an individual who asked what hours the call center was open. I told him, 'The number you dialed is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.' He responded, 'Is that Eastern or Pacific time?' Wanting to end the call quickly, I said, 'Uh, Pacific.'"-- b.b.k., Board of Wisdom
"Slavery is not intrinsically bad. It is what man does with slavery that makes it evil."-- Rev. Rye
Interesting and Somewhat Useless Trivia:
The first state to recognize Christmas as an official holiday was Alabama in 1836. In 1907, Oklahoma was the last state to recognize Christmas as a national holiday.
The popular song, "Jingle Bells," was originally written to be sung at Thanksgiving.
I Love Irony. It's So Ironic:
This Week in History:
On December 6, 1865, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, officially ending the institution of slavery.