December. A time to relax. Hibernate. Renew your energy for the spring. And Christmas. Way too commercial, but still a good time to reflect on Christ and the message that he taught, which for the life of me I don't think had anything to do with supporting materialism, violence, or racism, all dominant themes this holiday season. So this Flub's for all of us who shop till we drop; for you war mongers out there, eager to blow Iraq into oblivion; and for Mr. Trent Lott, who manages to keep uttering racist remarks, even though he says he doesn't mean any of it. Happy Flub-A-Dub.

Materialism clearly obscures the depth of the Christmas celebration. Retailers bank on each of us buying into the idea that their product, whatever it may be, is an important and undeniable way for us to show our love for one another. I usually fall into this trap. I don't generally do much shopping, except at Christmas. I can't resist all the sales. Fifty percent off, seventy-five percent off. Some days I feel like they should owe me money, what with all the discounts. But somehow I generally end up with a balance. My joy turns to despair when my credit card runneth over. Then I inevitably return to thinking about the real spirit of generosity and caring, which of course has nothing to do with buying. I think about the year that is ending and the amends I need to make; I think about the poor and why I am not; I reflect on my dreams not yet realized. May this holiday season awaken more compassion in all of us. If nothing else, let's take a moment to think about that life of equanimity we should all aspire to.

I've never thought violence and Christ mix. We have received several Christmas cards this season with a patriotism theme blended into the holiday spirit. Patriotism is not necessarily a noble trait. Nor does it have anything to do with religion, or Christ in particular. Or Christmas specifically. Pledging allegiance is not a one-way street. One needs to be thoughtful and careful about what you are pledging loyalty to. Blind nationalism has not ever proven to be a good thing for the human race. It's definitely not a good thing for Christmas.

This holiday season we are gearing up for war. War is never good. Our young people are sent to kill or be killed by people they don't even know, much less hold anything against. And inevitably, innocent people die. Wars should be fought by the politicians who are so eager to see us kill one another. I think that would be a much cleaner, much more contained, and much more useful way to resolve our differences. And there would probably be a whole lot fewer, wars and/or politicians. Peace, good will among men is not getting much playing time this year. Patriotism and war seem to be the mainstays this holiday season.

Mr. Trent Lott. A southern Senator who has never gotten over his racist ways. Here is a person who is obviously intelligent, who keeps saying things he says he doesn't mean. Give me a break. Here is a guy who has racism etched in his heart, and it periodically flows to his mouth, where he utters degrading remarks about African-Americans. If you talk racist, tell racist jokes, my best guess would be we're looking at a racist, harboring hatred for persons that are different, that you maybe don't understand, who maybe you've been taught to hate. Here in Galesburg we have so called ministers who do the same thing against homosexuals. Someone has ordained them to speak The Gospel of Hatred against persons they consider ''perverts.'' That someone certainly wasn't Christ. That I'll bet an eternity in Hell on. No, it's that same hatred seeping from the heart, flowing to the mouth. Mr. Trent Lott has it. These ministers have it. None of them should be in a leadership position, especially Mr. Lott. He needs to at best follow for a while. People can change. There's always hope.

So here's to our materialism, our warism and our racism. The New Year gives us all an opportunity to change. Hopefully, we will use it wisely to reflect on where we've been and where we are headed.

Uploaded to The Zephyr website December 24, 2002

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