Tag Archives: Christmas

A Christmas Tribute to Our Fallen Heroes

wreath_tomb_of_the_unknown

May God bless the families of all who have given their lives for freedom’s sake. May we never forget the sacrifices these families have made.

From the YouTube Description:

THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG:
“Some Peace On Earth” was inspired by the work done by the Wreaths Across America organization and Jim Varhegyi’s photos of the “Wreaths In the Snow” at Arlington National Cemetery that went viral on the internet in 2007. Music publisher, Justin Wilde was so moved by the photos, he believed there should be an accompanying song, so he asked two of his best writers to come up with one. It took nine months, but it was worth the wait. Phillip Keveren’s lush melody and Steve Hostetler poignant lyric blended perfectly to create this patriotic holiday anthem which pays tribute to the United States military, and especially for those who died serving our country. Marshall Hall was asked to record the vocal. The end result was so moving and inspirational, Justin subsequently decided to produce and direct this video which chronicles the heroic sacrifices made by the men and woman of our armed forces over the last century.

During the hustle and bustle of the December holidays, we often fail to celebrate and honor those who made it possible for us to enjoy the wondrous blessings of liberty and freedom. For those who lost their lives defending our country, we can never thank them enough. Remember the families they left behind. Share your memories of those they lost. Assure them that their loved one is greatly missed and will never be forgotten. It is our hope that this song will become a part of America’s holiday tradition. To quote its lyric,

Every year at Christmas, we should not forget
Resting in those quiet fields are the bravest and the best
We need to show we understand what their sacrifice is worth
‘Cause they gave everything, just to bring … SOME PEACE ON EARTH

Miracle On Main Street

The folks at Rebooting America are at it again.

“A simple act of kindness can change a person’s mood, their outlook and their heart,” reads the Facebook event page entitled, Miracle On Main Street.

Hoping to create nationwide recognition for random acts of kindness, the group of internet savvy activists say they want to prove conservatism works because conservatives are good.

“The simple act of giving a homeless man a pair of boots received over 200,000 hits online within days,” says Justen Charters, one of Rebooting America’s founders. “We know that charity works best at the local level and that communities can better care for their needy than bureaucrats in D.C. can”

The group intends to create a list of ideas on the event page that people can use to do good deeds in their local communities during a 3 day period later this month.

“Together we can create thousands of random acts of kindness all over the country, proving once again that as Americans, we take care of our fellow citizens. To learn what you can do in your community or to post ideas for others, please visit www.facebook.com/RebootingAmerica and leave a comment. Tell us what you are doing, share a photo and inspire others. We will be compiling a list of random acts of kindness and posting it on the event page.”

Critics have already begun to claim that acts of charity should not require recognition, but the group has fired back saying that this event hasn’t been created out of a need for self-promotion, but rather it is to serve as inspiration to others who may need encouragement this holiday season. The idea list they are compiling includes acts that require a charitable donation, but also includes many ideas that can be done for free.

Rebooting America was responsible for Papa John’s Appreciation Day in November that helped create a much needed boost in business for local franchise owners. Tens of thousands of Americans participated in the event that started with a Facebook event page and a few tweets. Rebooting America hopes to compound those efforts and make Miracle On Main Street even more successful.

When: December 21 – 23, 2012
Where: USA
Learn More: Miracle On Main Street Facebook Page

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Full disclosure: This writer is also a founding member of Rebooting America and helped create this event. For questions, media inquiries, comments, etc. please follow and direct message on Twitter: www.twitter.com/erinhaust

Rhode Island’s Ongoing Christmas Tree Controversy

For the second consecutive year, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee is refusing to call the state’s Christmas Tree a Christmas Tree.

Championing secularism, Chafee is insisting on calling the tree a ‘Holiday Tree’ because he believes that one religion shouldn’t be promoted over another in the Rhode Island State House.

“I did what the previous governor did, called it a Holiday Tree. So this goes back to the 90’s,” said Chafee, whose position has once again, been met with outrage by Rhode Islanders who have pointed out that changing the name does not change the symbol.

Chafee further enraged Rhode Islanders last week when he announced the state’s tree lighting ceremony a mere half hour before the actual event in order to stop protestors from attending. During last year’s ceremony, chaos broke out when protestors began singing “O Christmas Tree” over a children’s chorus.

However, Christmas loving Rhode Islanders have been invited to attend the Fall River, MA tree lighting ceremony by Mayor William Flanagan.

” We just feel all Rhode Islanders were gypped. They didn’t have an opportunity to go to their state house lighting of the tree and enjoy the tradition,” said Flanagan, who also believes Chafee is bowing to political pressure in his characterization of the tree.

But Chafee’s statement that no religion should take precedent in state buildings is undermined by a recent announcement that the state will hold a Menorah lighting ceremony to celebrate the beginning of Chanukah.

Doreen Costas, who protested the “Holiday Tree” controversy last year by holding a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in her office, has pointed out the hypocrisy of this statement, because unlike a Christmas tree, a Menorah is an actual religious symbol.

“If we have a Menorah in the State House, what are we going to call it – a candle with sticks?” said Costas.

For Chafee, the controversy shows no sign of abating.

Dallas Christmas Day Slayings: Muslim Honor Killing?

The slaughter of 7 people in the Dallas, Texas suburb of Grapevine on Christmas Day appears to be a case of an “honor killing” and suicide by a Muslim father angry that his 19 year old daughter was dating a non-muslim young man.

According to reports in the Dallas Morning News, the father, Aziz Yazdanpanah didn’t like his daughter’s non-Muslim boyfriend and was exhibiting stalker behavior.

“She couldn’t date at all until she was a certain age, but when he was going to let her date she couldn’t date anyone outside of their race or religion.”

Victims have been identified as Yazdanpanah, his estranged 55-year-old wife, Fatemeh Rahmati, their 19-year-old daughter, Nona Narges Yazdanpanah, and 15-year-old son, Ali Yazdanpanah.

Friends of the family said Fatemeh Rahmati’s 58-year-old sister, Zohreh Rahmaty, and her husband, Hossein Zarei, 59, and daughter Sahra Zarei, a 22-year-old pre-med student at the University of Texas at Arlington, also were killed.

A neighbor at the apartment complex reportedly saw the suspected shooter get out of his white sport utility vehicle dressed in a Santa outfit, including a full coat, pants, boots and belt. Based in part on that witness account, police believe the shootings occurred about the time a 911 call rang into the station at 11:34 a.m. Sunday.

Police have not yet stated a positive motive and said that determination would come when the investigation has been completed.

Bob Russell
December 27, 2011

Why Kwanzaa is Antithetical to American Values – Part 1

When I was a teenager my stepmother decided we should start celebrating Kwanzaa.  My sister was just a toddler at the time, and step-mom was sincerely concerned for her cultural identity.  Though we lived in the “chocolate city” of Washington D.C., we were growing up in a multi-cultural lifestyle.  I was from Canada and my mother and much of my family is white; my younger siblings went to school and daycare in a middle class atmosphere where there was a healthy mix of races; our parents socialized with people of all races and creeds.  We had no lack of exposure to other lifestyles and perspectives.  However, my stepmother was concerned that my little sister might grow up feeling distant from her own culture and inadequate in the face of her other friends with “good hair” or lighter skin tones.  Her very genuine concern for her daughter and all of us led her to establish Kwanzaa as a Christmas alternative in our home.  We hated it.  It wasn’t Christmas.  It was weird. And we couldn’t pronounce all the days of Kwanzaa. Kujicahgulia? Say that five times fast.

Eventually we stopped celebrating Kwanzaa and I never really gave the “holiday” any more thought until I had children of my own and became a conservative. As I’ve immersed myself in conservative thought and analysis I’ve often come across harsh criticism of Kwanzaa as a Marxist, separatist occasion.  This Christmas season I began thinking back to my Kwanzaa days as we celebrated the birth of Christ, our Savior.  I find Christmas to be not just a religious holiday in this country, but a cultural celebration as well.   For those who do not embrace Christ, it still has a uniquely American flavor as we celebrate in this country. As Americans it’s a time we all spend together with our families, appreciating the beauty of the winter season, the lights, the food and the camaraderie.  Everyone seems to be in a better mood at Christmas-time (except if you happen to be one of those Black Friday shoppers; those people can be ruthless!).

To me, Kwanzaa is not just cultural celebration; it is antithetical to the American spirit in general and flies in the face of everything the Christmas season represents in this country. Far from being a traditional celebration, Kwanzaa was established in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga, a convicted felon and influential leader in the Black liberation movement of the 1960’s.  Dr.Karenga is currently a professor of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach.  Karenga’s goal was to create a holiday as an alternative to the “white” celebrations of Christmas and Hanukkah that would emphasize “Black” values and liberation.  Far from the Christmas idea of a season of forgiveness and peace, Kwanzaa seeks to separate Black culture from American culture and emphasize the wrongs that have been perpetrated against the Black community. It does so under the guise of celebrating “African unity”, but reading the official Kwanzaa website dispels that notion. Kwanzaa is about division, and it uses 7 days, beginning after Christmas, to note that division. Marxism is explicitly reflected in the language of the celebration as “collectivism” and “solidarity”.  Each of the seven days represents a different “principle” and is celebrated by the lighting of a candelabra called a kinara, not unlike the Menorah of Hanukkah.  The website kwanzaa.com describes Kwanzaa this way: This holiday is observed from December 26th through January 1st. Again its focus is to pay tribute to the rich cultural roots of People of the African Diaspora…Its reach has grown to include all whose roots are in the Motherland.  Its’ concept is neither religious nor political, but is rooted strongly in a cultural awareness…Gifts are given to reinforce personal growth and achievement which benefits the collective community.

 Kwanzaa most certainly is political.  Dr.Karenga is no fan of America or White people in general and his development of Kwanzaa is a consequence of that disdain.  Today is the first official day of Kwanzaa. As we move through the seven days of Kwanzaa, I will break down each principle and why I feel it does not reflect American values and has no place as a “cultural celebration” in our American experience.  Marxism and separatism have no place in a country built on the principles of individual responsibility and the inclusiveness of God. Over the next seven days we will explore the modern tradition of Kwanzaa and why I believe it has no place in the season we as Americans know as the Christmas season.  To read about day one of Kwanzaa and the first “principle”, please go here.  Also, please note: this is not written as a rejection of the importance of Black culture but to expose the false “tradition” of Kwanzaa as a Marxist, separatist holiday that does more to divide the Black community than unite it.

Next:  Umoja:  First Principle of Kwanzaa

Don't Get Offended This Christmas

Don’t you dare say “Merry Christmas” or someone might get offended! Don’t wave that American flag! Foreigners might get offended. Change the school mascot from the Redskins to something else or Native Americans might get teed off. Burn the Confederate flag, or African-Americans will get stirred up (yet the Civil War was not primarily over slavery, but state’s rights). Destroy your fur coat or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals will hiss and growl. Sound familiar? Yet we shouldn’t be surprised because statements similar to these are the result of a “multi-cultural society” which over stresses diversity, leading to division and a one-sided tolerance.

Yet, as Christians, we should be concerned about not causing offences. Where do we draw the line? How do we walk the tightrope of never offending anyone, yet standing for what we believe simultaneously? It is important to stand, with the right attitude. Even then, some are looking to be offended. I could get offended all the time, if I so choose. Here’s a list of some things that light my fire. I could get offended:

**When Bible-believing, conservative Christians are portrayed as backward, illiterate fools, which is usually the way the news media and entertainment industry portrays them.
**When trans-sexuals claim they were born the wrong gender and want insurance companies or taxpayers to pay for the “handicap” they have had to endure. God doesn’t make mistakes. Live with what you have and be who you are born to be.
**When we are told that Islam is a religion of peace and that we cannot dare speak the words “terrorism” and “Islam” in the same sentence, nor can we point out the hypocrisy of the media in defending Islam while trashing Christianity.
**When Christmas haters continually attack Christmas in public government places, The should be reminded of the First Amendment’s guarantee is about the freedom FOR religion and not freedom FROM religion.

However, I choose to be mature and not walk around crying and sniveling over these blatant inequities. Yet, I get so weary hearing of the few who yell the loudest. ONE person doesn’t want a Christian symbol displayed, so the FIVE HUNDRED people who prefer the symbol MUST defer to the ONE. ONE or TWO complain about a Santa appearing at a public city government sponsored event, so the whole town is supposed to give up the time honored tradition, even for the ONE or TWO (regardless what your personal opinion of Santa Clause may be, the principle is the issue here). ONE artist has the right to express himself or herself by creating and exhibiting obscene art, so EVERYONE must be exposed to it and endure. And so forth, and so on . . .

So what answer do you give to people who on these issues? I want to say, “Get a life” but that might offend someone. Instead, I’ll just say get in the Word of God. It will thicken your skin, ground you in reality, and insulate you with wisdom and discernment. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them,” Psalm 119:165. People who are easily offended are usually immature and selfish. Those individuals with a healthy degree of maturity (from the Word), who put others first in Christian service, aren’t easily offended, and they stand like a rock.

Climb the Mountain: Recollections of a Christmas Journey to the Holy Land

Yasmina and her sister in Cairo

Three years ago on Christmas Day I made a pilgrimage to Israel and Egypt to visit the Holy Land. It was a vacation that touched me deeply which I will never forget.

It was after my 15-month deployment to Iraq. I had extra money in my pocket from the deployment, all that tax free cash.  (Let’s reminisce about that line for a moment conservatives! Ahhh. No taxes.) I decided to make the pilgrimage because it seemed like the right time, and I might never get the chance again. There is no safe time to go, so if you really want to do it, you will.

I wasn’t disappointed. It was well worth the money. I arrived in Ben Gurion Airport outside of Tel Aviv shortly after the holiday. I took a cab to Netanya when I should have taken the train. I over paid the cabby, who pretended not to be able to speak English, paying him in the local currency and in American Dollars. (I didn’t understand the exchange rate and didn’t have enough of the local currency. It wasn’t the cabby’s fault. Oh well.) I had arrived. My hotel, the Blue Bay Hotel in North Central Israel, was right on the Mediterranean. I spent two days by myself hanging out in the hotel and wandering around the city waiting for my tour group. I spent hours on the beach meditating on my life, praying in anticipation of what I would see on my trip. It was beautiful. (My second mistake of my trip was to travel by myself without the tour group. I won’t do that again. I had traveled alone in Germany and thought I could do it. In the new normal it’s always better to go with a friend or with a group. Lesson learned.)

I met a lovely family from Canada who I hung out with for a few days there in the hotel. I still keep in touch with them on occasion on Facebook. The mom would later get symbolically baptized in the Jordan River, an emotional time for everyone. Their young son and I bonded well and I think of him as a new nephew. We enjoyed exploring the grotto beneath the ancient city of Megiddo together.

It’s hard to rate all the great locations we visited and the historical and religious meanings behind them. There was a snap and a tension in the air that was palpable. The Jewish people both the Christian Jews who were our guides and the religiously practicing and secular Jews were all very pleasant. The cities and the country side were all very beautiful, beyond expectation. I had anticipated seeing a lot of desert, but the Israeli people have done wonders taking back the land from the desert and turning it green. I went hiking in thick woods one time at the ancient city of Dan. We climbed the slopes to the top of the Ancient Fortress of Masada, and we took a dip in the Dead Sea. It was spectacular.

Jerusalem was beautiful and totally worthy of its own column. Maybe someday I’ll tell you about it.

What I really wanted to talk about is the Egypt portion of the trip, particularly the climb up Mount Sinai.

Only a small contingent of our fellow travelers continued with us from Israel to Egypt, and of those, only the youngest had any interest in climbing the mountain of Jebel Musa in the middle of the night. While the older people slept, the four of us gathered our belongings, warm coats, hats and gloves, flashlights and other gear and exited our bungalows at the foot of the mountain, ready for our trek. It was midnight when we set out. There was my Spanish friend Yasmina, her young sister, myself and one older gentleman, a 55-year old pastor from California. To get to the site where we were to begin our climb we would first have to trek three miles in the dark to the foot of the mountain. The mountain loomed over us and I could not tell the difference between sky and earth except for where the heavens were punctuated by moon and stars. It was terribly cold.

We met our guides at the foot of the mountain and we mounted camels there waiting for us, paying a dollar for the privilege. As we started up on camelback, I promptly lost track of the pastor and the two girls there in the dark. Half way up, the pastor paid his guide an extra dollar to take him back down. The saddles we were given were so small that they were only appropriate to accommodate the hips of a teen aged girl, with pins poking up in the front and the back keeping the rider snuggly in place. To me, the saddle was an annoyance. To the pastor, who was heavy set, it was intolerably painful.

The trip up the mountain was the most thrilling, scary thing that I have ever done, to include taking part in armed convoys in Iraq, and dog-fighting over the Pacific. In my mind I imagined pitching headlong into the dark and plummeting thousands of feet to my death. Nothing like that happened and eventually we reached to stop off point where we were to dismount. The last third of the way we were to climb on foot.

As we climbed I could see the snake of flashlights and lanterns lighting the trail all the way to the  top. Upon dismounting the camel I set about trying to find the girls. I did not know at the time that the pastor had quit the trail. After a few nerve-wracking moments of searching, I found the girls and we continued to climb the last few steps up to the summit. The locals use the term “steps” very loosely. It was not as advertised. In fact the rocky steps were so sharp and dangerous that camels weren’t allowed to traverse them for fear of injury. We were slow and careful in our early morning ascent.

After nearly five hours we arrived at the summit. At the top of the mountain there is a stone chapel built by local monks. We huddled together in its shadow under a blanket we rented by a local for a dollar (everything on the mountain costs a dollar, from the toilet paper squares to the splinter of The True Cross somebody tried to sell me).  Then, we waited for the sun to rise. It was incredibly moving. I could barely move; there were so many people snuggled together there on the summit. I was afraid to move for fearing a fall through the abyss. The locals were unperturbed. They lept around like mountain goats over rocky crags with bottomless falls beneath. To them it was routine to climb that mountain every day. It was just a job to them.

After sun rise we started the procession back down the mountain. Our guide then told us what happened to the pastor. He laughed at us when we expressed our feelings about how much of a shame it was for our companion not to stick it out and climb all the way. When we asked him why he laughed at us, he replied, “you may have the best of intensions, but your body has to climb the mountain.” Good point. The Muslim local had inadvertently quoted Jesus Christ who phrased it another way, saying, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” We laughed at the irony, but we didn’t explain ourselves to the guide, who wrinkled his nose in confusion.

Americans have had it so easy for so long, we no longer want the hard work of climbing the mountain. We want everything handed to us and we expect a better more equitable result. Only hard work and effort will turn this economy around and bring back freedom for the average citizen. More government and regulation and more entitlements don’t bring happiness or freedom. They bring chains. We have to rely upon ourselves. It’s time to break the chains and start climbing again. Only then will we be happy with the end results that we profited from though our own effort and toil. No politician or president can deliver that result.

Justice is not delivered through secular law. A godless society is outside the law, a law without standards that can be changed at whim by the mob. John Adams remarked that the laws of our government were meant for a Christian Nation, wholly inadequate for the governance of any other. Self discipline is the only way to return us to the moral center. When people continue to fight over Air Jordan retro sneakers and toaster ovens rather than spending the holiday with family and friends, we deserve the world we’ve created. In order to return to our religious heritage and moral core we must not be afraid to push back against the atheists and secularists who want to quash all reference to God and morality in the public square.

Banish God from the public square and see the result. Violence in the Middle East and chaos at home.

This Christmas I will be spending my holiday with family, close to home, and I will be thinking about my brother who is getting ready for his fourth deployment, who won’t be able to join us. On the anniversary of Christ’s birth, I will remember my trip to the Holy Land, and thank God for the friends I made along the way.

Merry Christmas!

NORAD Santa tracker and free mobile apps are live

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has started its annual countdown to the well known Santa Tracker – a web application that tracks Santa Clause as he traverses the earth delivering presents to deserving children and lumps of coal to those that made the naughty list.

This year, NORAD is going mobile. Android and iPhone apps have been added as a way to track Santa on your Apple or Google-based smartphone.

Also available from NORAD is the Kids Countdown Village where daily additions will be made up until Christmas Eve.

So when Christmas Eve gets started, track Santa with your kids at the NORAD Santa Tracker or Santa Tracker app for smartphones.

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