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Christian Action for Israel
Christmas 2001 Newsletter

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Friday, December 21, 2001
“ And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come…..and in this place I shall give peace says the LORD of hosts” ( Haggai 2:7 )
As we minister to and for Israel throughout the year it would be unbearable to carry the burden but for Faith; in fact, what I call, “the eye of Faith”, that sees past the dark tunnel into the glorious Light of the Promises of God.

The Prophet Haggai heard it from the God of Israel, and by faith believed it 520 years before the birth of the expected “Annointed One”, the Messiah; the one the Greek language designated “the Christ”.

“Peace”, and the hoped for reality of it, is the theme for many speeches; but it will not come through man, nor through the nations “united” , but only when mankind through great tribulation, yet to come, is purged of selfishness, pride and rebellion against “the Most High”; then “every knee shall bow, every tongue confess, that Jesus the Christ is LORD”

The promise was originally made to Israel only, but is now universally offered to “all flesh” as revealed in this New Testament dispensation…….by the GRACE (unmerited favour) from GOD !

So, no matter what “mountains” and/or “storms” we face we can in sincerity and truth “overcome”; even as Israel has overcome the onslaught through several millennium. “Faith IS the victory that overcomes” GOD BLESS EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU this Season and coming year !

Christian Action for Israel

We've collected several Christmas essays below for you. We encourage you to subscribe to receive the newsletter on a regular basis.
An archive of several current issues can be viewed here.

1.    THE GREATEST GIFT FOR ALL
2.    CHRISTMAS REVEALS TRIVIAL PURSUITS
3.    THE SEASON OF SNOWFLAKES, SANTAS AND SIMPSONS
4.    CHRISTMAS IN AMERICA

1. THE GREATEST GIFT FOR ALL

Paul Craig Roberts - December 19, 2001

Christmas is a time of traditions. If you have found time in the rush before Christmas to decorate a tree, you are sharing in a relatively new tradition. Although the Christmas tree has ancient roots, at the beginning of the 20th century only one in five American families put up a tree. It was 1920 before the Christmas tree became the hallmark of the season. Calvin Coolidge was the first president to light a national Christmas tree on the White House lawn.

Gifts are another shared custom. This tradition comes from the wise men, or three kings, who brought gifts to baby Jesus. When I was a kid, gifts were more modest than they are now, but even then people were complaining about the commercialization of Christmas. We have grown accustomed to the commercialization. Christmas sales are the backbone of many businesses. Gift-giving causes us to remember others and to take time from our harried lives to give them thought.

The decorations and gifts of Christmas are one of our connections to a Christian culture that has held Western civilization together for 2,000 years.

In our culture, the individual counts. This permits an individual person to put his or her foot down, to take a stand on principle, to become a reformer and to take on injustice.

This empowerment of the individual is unique to Western civilization. It has made the individual a citizen equal in rights to all other citizens, protected from tyrannical government by the rule of law and free speech. These achievements are the products of centuries of struggle, but they all flow from the teaching that God so values the individual's soul that he sent his son to die so we might live. By so elevating the individual, Christianity gave him a voice.

Formerly only those with power had a voice. But in Western civilization, people with integrity have a voice. So do people with a sense of justice, of honor, of duty, of fair play. Reformers can reform, investors can invest, and entrepreneurs can create commercial enterprises, new products and new occupations.

The result was a land of opportunity. The United States attracted immigrants who shared our values and reflected them in their own lives. Our culture was absorbed by a diverse people who became one.

In recent decades, we have begun losing sight of the historic achievement that empowered the individual. The religious, legal and political roots of this great achievement are no longer reverently taught in high schools, colleges and universities. The voices that reach us through the millennia and connect us to our culture are being silenced by "political correctness." Prayer has been driven from schools and religious symbols from public life. Georgetown University, a Jesuit institution, is too fearful of offending diversity to display the crucifix.

There is plenty of room for cultural diversity in the world, but not within a single country. A Tower of Babel has no culture. A person cannot be a Christian one day, a pagan the next and a Muslim the day after. A hodgepodge of cultural and religious values provides no basis for law -- except the raw power of the pre-Christian past.

All Americans have a huge stake in Christianity. Whether or not we are individually believers in Christ, we are beneficiaries of the moral doctrine that has curbed power and protected the weak. Power is the horse ridden by evil. In the 20th century, the horse was ridden hard. One hundred million people were exterminated by National Socialists in Germany, and by Soviet and Chinese communists simply because they were members of a race or class that had been demonized by intellectuals and political authority.

Power that is secularized and cut free of civilizing traditions is not limited by moral and religious scruples. V.I. Lenin made this clear when he defined the meaning of his dictatorship as "unlimited power, resting directly on force, not limited by anything."

Christianity's emphasis on the worth of the individual makes such power as Lenin claimed unthinkable. Be we religious or be we not, our celebration of Christ's birthday celebrates a religion that made us masters of our souls and of our political life on Earth. Such a religion as this is worth holding on to even by atheists.

©2001 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

2. CHRISTMAS REVEALS TRIVIAL PURSUITS

By Cal Thomas 9/11 has changed everything, including the way we look at this Christmas. The daily portraits in The New York Times of lives lost in the attacks reads like a yearbook of sadness and unrealized hopes.

The shopping malls, our temples to secular society and altars of conspicuous consumption, are less populated and less prosperous now, while many churches are full of people and richer in hope. Some radio stations broadcast traffic reports on Sunday morning because more cars are on the road, destined for places where their passengers hope to discover ultimate reality.

Before 9/11 is consigned to the history books and, like Pearl Harbor, the generation that lived (and died) through it has to explain to succeeding generations what it was like to "be there," perhaps we should consider what differences the terrorist attacks have made.

Chief among them must surely be that things which seemed important pre-9/11 are less important, or even trivial now. One definition of the word trivial offers perspective: "of little worth or importance."

Oh, the things we consider important, especially in Washington, D.C. and as portrayed in films and on TV: fame, wealth, power (or the presumption of power; the two are not synonymous), position, pleasure, things. Post 9/11, when none of us knows - or can ever know - what today will bring, much less tomorrow, all these pursuits seem so trivial, meaningless and a chasing after wind.

No relative of anyone who died in the 9/11 attacks is looking at life today the way he or she did before. Who wouldn't give everything they have to buy back the life of a loved one who was lost?

None of the firefighters, police officers and others who escaped with their lives from the World Trade Center or the Pentagon is expressing ingratitude this Christmas.

An acquaintance writes to tell of nearly losing her baby daughter to a cancerous tumor. Surgery was successful but she and her husband will view this Christmas and every future Christmas in a different way. A man tells a Washington, D.C. radio talk show host that he called the airlines to get lists of laid-off workers at area airports. He says he's giving them the money he would have spent on presents. His family approves. 9/11 has changed him.

Great social transformations occur when large numbers of people individually decide to live differently. It's too early to tell whether people will commit to their families in ways beyond making money and buying stuff, but 9/11 gives us permission to make, or renew such commitments without societal disapproval.

One newspaper has reported it's now "in" to be square. Those who always thought square was "in" didn't chase the trends and simply stayed in one spot, waiting for culture to come to its senses and return to the place they never left.

In the film "It's A Wonderful Life," the angel tells George Bailey he's been given a gift - the chance to see what the world would have been like had he not lived. What has 9/11 given us this Christmas? In both a secular and religious sense, it has shown us that properly used, power is important if our way of life is to be preserved. It's also shown us that evil exists and must be opposed. To some, that's obvious. To many others, it's a revelation.

9/11 has given us something else. It's reminded us that the best things are small things - a touch, a kind word, an assurance of love, an act of forgiveness, a kindness to a stranger, a trip to visit a someone in a prison or hospital, a note to a lonely person, a visit to a baby in a manger.

That baby is a rebuke to the way humans think. His contemporaries wanted a political deliverer. They were offered deliverance from a greater oppressor. They got nothing that they wanted -- but everything that they needed.

Cultures, civilizations, leaders and threats change, but the message of Christmas doesn't. It isn't about reindeer, a fat man and material things. It's about a miracle baby and eternal things.

As the Christmas card says, "Wise Men Still Seek Him." Post 9/11, more apparently are seeking and that is a valuable gift to all who do.

©2001 Tribune Media Services

3. THE SEASON OF SNOWFLAKES, SANTAS AND SIMPSONS

by Suzanne Fields

It's the most serious of seasons. It's the most unserious of seasons. For all of our political correctness, we're still looking for a grand era of kindness, tolerance and brotherhood. (Uh, better make that siblinghood.)

Officials in Ramsey County, Minn., banned "red poinsettias" from display at the capitol in St. Paul because they're symbolic of something, presumably religious. Exactly what the symbolism is is not quite clear, since the plant was named for James R. Poinsett, an early U.S. minister to Mexico, who discovered it there in 1828. As Freud might have said, sometimes a red poinsettia is just a red poinsettia.

When the town council of Kensington, Md., an affluent suburb of the nation's capital, banned Santa Claus at the community tree-lighting ceremony - to enforce patriotic solemnity, the officials solemnly said - the citizens rebelled, and a gang of Santas rode in on a red fire engine. That jingled their bells.

Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, along with other homosexual groups, are stuffing the Salvation Army's red kettles with phony $5 bills (passing counterfeit?) because the Salvation Army, an evangelical Christian organization, opposes as a matter of religious doctrine the "normalization of homosexual relationships." The characters in Damon Runyon's "Guys and Dolls," played in the movies by Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra, took bets on whether Jean Simmons, a lovely Salvation Army lassie, was seducible, and would never understand. (She wasn't.)

The children in Washington public schools no longer make Christmas or Hanukkah presents (although this year celebrating Ramadan is probably OK). They can't decorate trees or light menorahs. Snowflakes are OK, though a few flakes of my acquaintance should sue, alleging discrimination.

Now that Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey is being sued for animal abuse for prodding an elephant with a hooked stick into the circus parade, the animal rights flakes will next demand that Santa motorize his sleigh and put Donder, Dancer, Prancer & Co. out to the great reindeer pasture in the sky. Then the enviro-geeks can decry sky pollution at the North Pole.

The National Labor Relations Board should investigate whether his elves have been denied a union. The fat people lobby could claim discrimination by building codes, which should be changed to accommodate fatter Santas. The feminists should demand affirmative action for Mrs. Clauses (fat or not), and it's an outrage that we don't have multicultural translators for letters received at the North Pole. (Everybody knows that Santa, bigot that he is, speaks only English.)

Well, I exaggerate, but not by much. The holiday spirit ain't what it used to be.

One of my fondest memories at John Greenleaf Whittier Elementary School in Washington was the year I was assigned to be one of the three kings in the Christmas pageant. It was no secret that I was one of a tiny number of Jews, and was thought, inaccurately, to be rich, "like most Jews." (My father didn't even own a department store.) When I was asked to carry my very own jewelry box, overflowing with imitation diamonds and rubies, I was flattered. Today the American Civil Liberties Union would lean on my mother to sue.

Hiding differences, it seems to me, hardly prepares anyone for the real world. Better the example at Siena Heights University in Adrian, Mich., in a course called "Animated Philosophy and Religion," which highlights the wit and wisdom of the "The Simpsons," the animated television cartoon. This two-credit course might not really belong in the philosophy department, but it could sharpen the ability to understand the humor and biases in the popular culture. Writers for Homer Simpson have a sharp eye for hypocrisies.

Homer goes to church where he goes to sleep, and only prays out of desperation (unlike most people we know): "God, if you really are God, you'll get me tickets to that game." Such lines are unseriously serious. When a pious character shows himself to be overly righteous, the exasperated parson asks him: "Have you thought of one of the other major religions? They're all pretty much the same."

One quirky character, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, is a vegetarian who sells spoiled meat at his Kwik-E-Mart while trying to remain a good Hindu (speaking of adapting to American mores). Apu is urged by another character, a mobster, to pretend to have been born in America, subtly mocking multiculturalism and its antagonists. "Remember you were born in Green Bay, Wis. Your parents were Herb and Judy Nahasapeemapetilon."

What "The Simpsons" acknowledges is that religious and ethnic differences are well integrated into American life. We ought to delight in difference rather than dictate sameness, even, maybe especially, in our public institutions. Then we could lighten up and enjoy the poinsettia, red or not.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

©2001 Tribune Media Services

4. CHRISTMAS IN AMERICA

by Emmett Tyrrell

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Back in the days of the Cold War, when low-lying anxiety about the world's future quivered through this comfortable country, I used to write a special Christmas column.

Perhaps it was the spirit of the Grinch that got hold of me, but I always looked beyond our shores to those suffering under communism and wrote a column called "Christmas in (blank)." Putting a little damper on my fellow Washingtonians' seasonal good cheer, I would fill in the blank each year with the geographical name of a place where suffering really was taking place thanks to the bully boys. One year it was Christmas "in Warsaw," another "in Cambodia," another "in Cuba." During the Cold War, every year there was suffering and sadness for a foreign people.

This year I could write about the suffering in Afghanistan. For the bully boys of Islamic fundamentalism certainly have brought suffering there. But our troops have moved in to put an end to that suffering just as eventually American resolve against communism put an end to much of the suffering of communism's victims. Admittedly, the communists still impose misery on Cuba, and, for that matter, that other recipient of the anti-anti-communists' ignorant meddling, Vietnam. Yet American resolve, aided by the resolve of our British friends, has brought hope to the Afghans. This Christmas, in scanning the world for a site where innocents have suffered at the hands of the bully boys, I might settle on "Christmas in America."

Though "'tis the season to be jolly," America is still touched by sadness for the people we lost on Sept. 11. We grieve also for the families and friends of those lost Americans. Moreover, I should think, we are saddened that three very great American buildings were either totally destroyed or badly damaged by the demented bullies who ambushed them.

America remains prosperous and powerful. In fact, precisely how powerful can be judged by those with a sense of history. In the 19th century, the world's most powerful empire could not subdue Afghanistan. The British army suffered grievous defeat in its Afghan wars, and that mighty army to Afghanistan's north, the Czar's, fared no better. America conquered the Taliban in less than three months, and any other nation that would be foolish enough to take us on would do not much better.

Still, an inescapable fact of this Christmas season is that Americans are saddened. The media echo with the pained sentiments of ordinary Americans expressing grief and of American leaders grieving at memorials. Just the other day, in a ceremony beginning at 8:46 a.m. and synchronized with ceremonies around the world commemorating the Sept. 11 attacks, President George W. Bush reminded the world that we shall never forget "the cruelty of the murderers and the pain and anguish of the murdered." In his newfound eloquence, he observed that "every one of the innocents who died on Sept. 11 was the most important person on Earth to somebody," and,

"Every death extinguished a world."
One of the season's mysteries for me is not that Bush has performed so magnificently from the White House. He was obviously a better man than his opponents made him out to be. His fine record as governor of a huge state had made that clear. The mystery for me is that he has almost totally ceased to mangle the English language. His speeches are eloquent, but so are his extemporizations. How do we explain such a transformation? The poet Goldsmith in "The Deserted Village" speaks of "The silent manliness of grief." Joseph Addison in "The Spectator" in 1712 writes that "Grief has a natural eloquence belonging to it, and breaks out in more moving sentiments than can be supplied by the finest imagination."

This nation at Christmastime has been brought together and ennobled by its grief. When America grieves, however, others best not think us despondent. The president has made clear our intentions. When the vibrancy and intellect of my friend, the commentator Barbara Olson, was extinguished forever in American Airlines Flight 77, grief bore in on all her friends, but on her husband the most.

The other day at a commemoration at the Justice Department, Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson expressed some of the sentiments that tinge this season in sadness. "We will never forget our loved ones who died or who were wounded on Sept. 11," he said. Then he added: "I say this for every American -- we will fight this evil as long and as patiently as it takes. We will prevail. We will comfort and care for those who have suffered. We will not forget."

America's grief ought not to give comfort to those who caused it. Rather, America's grief ought to give them pause to reflect on their future. They who have been so eager to greet Allah in Heaven may soon discover that their everlasting host is not Allah, but the smiling innkeeper at Hell.

©2001 Creators Syndicate, Inc.


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