A brief note before we get down to business. . .
The originators of the scurrilous piece of garbage that is being circulated in Belleair Beach are well known.
There is no question about their identity. The sad thing is, that it is all a reflection of how afraid they are. They are terrified.
And well they should be.
Now, to healthier thoughts. . .
We are now in the Christmas season.
I emphasize Christmas, because there has been a pernicious attempt in recent years to eliminate the word Christmas and substitute the word "holiday" as the characterizing influence of the season.
I won't have it.
Commercial interests, no doubt, and the strictures of spifflicated doubledomes and nicely-nicelys who keep pushing stupid "political correctness" have brought us to this sad pass.
Christmas is well established; it does not need this agent as its advocate.
Let's talk about another holiday in this season, also religious, and more ancient than Christmas.
Of course, it has no connection with Christmas whatsoever, merely the coincidence on the calendar.
Let's think of Hanukkah, which began two days ago.
When the great Alexander, of whom you have been hearing much lately, died, his generals split up the great world that their boss had conquered.
One of the heirs of those generals, Antiochus, who wound up with a piece of the world focused on Jerusalem. Antiochus set a standard that has been with us at various times in various guises ever since.
He wanted to wipe out all Jewish customs and religous rites. By extension, that meant getting rid of the people themselves.
About two centuries before Joseph and the pregnant Mary wended their way to Bethlehem to register for the Roman census, Antiochus began his efforts to expunge Jewry.
He failed because of a man named Judah Maccabeus. He was one of the five sons of Mattathias. Judah was one of those men who would not bargain or surrender to the demands of Antiochus.
The courageous Judah Maccabeus resolved to fight to the death. He was a man of courage and he defeated Antiochus.
His efforts are celebrated today, almost 2,200 years later, as Hanukkah.
So Hanukkah is not the Jewish version of Christmas. That would be an absurdity. It is the forerunner of Christmas and had not the events that commemorate Hanukkah taken place there would not have been the event at Christmas as we know it and celebrate it.
We have become somewhat hardened, perhaps, to genocide, mostly, I suppose, because there is so much of it. It is happening in Africa right now. We talk of millions being slaughtered blithely. The words roll off our tongues -- seemingly detached from the subjective reality of the horror of the words.
The attempt at genocide by Antiochus failed just as Hitler's attempt failed -- millions died, yes, but the people still exist. Genocide also failed in the attempt by the Turks against the Armenians, and the English attempt against the Irish.
When it was all over, Judah and his people had won the battle and preserved Jerusalem. He restored the altars of holocaust. That word at which we shudder and shed tears, has its original meaning in an offering, a sacrifice (which means holy offering).
In December 164 B.C., Judah and his people celebrated their victory with a day of dedication, which is what Hanukkah means. They decreed that the holiday should be celebrated each year for eight days, and thus the menorah's branches are lighted successively.
Think of the significance of Judah Maccabeus. Had he not won that great victory, there might have been no Jewish people to register in accordance with Caesar Augustus's decree. No census necessary, no Joseph and Mary going to Bethlehem, no nativity scene.
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