Thursday, December 30, 2010

The real war on Christmas

I don't care if folks at Target say "Merry Christmas" and those at Home Depot say "Happy Holidays." I love the returning light, however it is celebrated, and anyone who ties The Christ to merchants' manners needs to go poke his head back into the Gospels.

Heck, if we got back to our New England's Puritan roots, publicly celebrating Christmas would be outlawed. No nativity scenes. No Santas. No merrie.

One enthusiastic English 17th century vicar, "Blue Di
ck" Culmer, "climbed up to the stained glass windows in the Martyrdom [of the Canterbury Cathedral]and smashed the stained glass windows with a pikestaff," part of his duties to eradicate the church "of all monuments of superstition."

Meanwhile, when no one was looking, long before the Puritans polluted our shores, a couple of dead Roman Emperors gone done slipped their names into the calendar. Julius believed he was a demi-god, and now we celebrate him in July. Augustus was accorded the same honor, but his month, Sextillis, was a day short of Julius', so a day was stolen from February.

We continue to worship Mars, Juno, Janus and Maia without a peep from Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly.

Meanwhile the real war on Christmas, and every other day, continues thousands of miles away, with our young men and women serving in a war few of us understand. Cpl. Tevan L. Nguyen was killed in combat Tuesday, one of 498 American soldiers killed in Afghanistan this year.

And what does any of this have to do with teaching? Maybe very little.

We can use Google Earth to study the terrain of Helmand province where Cpl. Nguyen was felled. We can search online databases and follow the body counts. We can use YouTube to see the damage done by IED's.

Or maybe everything. Maybe grasping what matters is the heart of what matters. Maybe a Walmart greeter's choice of words, dictated by his employer, carefully chosen through market research, matters less than knowing how hard and cold the ground felt under Corporal Nguyen's face, a man who died for us this week, 21 years old.

Cpl. Nguyen graduated with the Class of 2007 Hutto Hippos, ran track, part of a 4 x 100 meter relay team that took 3rd place in the 2006 Texas State Regional Qualifiers Meet. Here's more about him here:

Tevan's life, for most of us who even hear about him, can be summed up as a casualty, a moving but ultimately abstract tribute to abstract ideals.
Corporal Tevan Nguyen was a brave Marine who gave his life in service to our country. Maria and I were deeply saddened to learn of his death and we will forever be grateful for his sacrifice.

Tevan, for those who knew him, leaves a huge hole in their hearts, because he was real.

We keep our amygdalas raging about how the Giants are doing, about who says "Merry Christmas," about Justin Bieber's newest haircut.

It's evening in Afghanistan now. A gentle breeze from the southwest chills a soldier's face in Kabul, as she gazes up a Jupiter through the haze. She's not thinking about the astract--she's thinking about home.

Information on Richard Culmer from P. Blanche here.

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