Elephant's Memory — A Touching Story

In 1986, Mkele Mbembe was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from college. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed so Mbembe approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant’s foot, and found a large thorn deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Mbembe worked the thorn out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot.

The elephant turned to face the man and with a rather stern look on its face, stared at him. For several tense moments Mbembe stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned and walked away.

Mbembe never forgot that elephant or the events of that day. Twenty years later he was walking through a zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Mbembe and his son Tapu were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Mbembe and lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.

Remembering the encounter in 1986, Mbembe couldn’t help wondering if this was the same elephant. Mbembe summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. Suddenly the elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Mbembe’s legs and swung him wildly back and forth along the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn’t the same elephant.

LULAC, NAACP got nothin' on me.

Welcome to St. Patrick’s day in America. The oldest traditional Irish holiday in the new world (1762 by some accounts). We were celebrating our differences in the melting pot of America long before other immigrant groups.

Given for the Scottish son of the Roman Calphurnius and his wife, Conchessa. Padraig, at 15 became a cowherd slave to the Irish barbarians, escaped, spent a good part of his life on the continent of Europe, and Rome; and then with an angelic dream calling him to Ireland, converted a great many of the pagans there to Christianity. He began his call to conversion by … lighting a bonfire near Tara at the high Druid celebrations, on 26 March, Easter Sunday, in 433.

Conchessa’s Boy

American Holiday

Banning Christmas

An administrator, Patricia Sonntag, at California State University, has banned Christmas.

“Time has come to recognize that religious discrimination, as well as ethnic insensitivity to certain holidays, is forbidden,” Patricia Sonntag, director of the Office of Services to Students with Disabilities, stated in the directive she e-mailed to members of her staff on Dec. 9.

While Patricia was at it, she banned Thanksgiving, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, the 4th of July, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter on the grounds that they are “offensive.” She wrote in an email that the ban was necessary “in order to avoid offending someone else.” Someone else could not be reached for comment.

So in order to avoid offending “someone else,” it’s OK to offend everyone else?

The Catholic League has already pointed out the problem with an adminstrator of a public university taking such a stance.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue called the policy a violation of free speech rights. “It never occurs to these secular supremacists that it is their aversion to anything religious – or patriotic – that accounts for their desire to muzzle free speech.”

Try to remember this simple rule: The US Constitution say you cannot abridge freedom of religion. It doesn’t say to eliminate religion.

Still Boycotting Winter Holiday

I’m still boycotting the neopagan Winter Holiday, whatever that is.

For this next year, I’m taking it one step further. Listen up schools, businesses, and retail stores: Christmas is a federal holiday, an official United States holiday. If you can’t acknowledge that it’s Christmas, I want nothing to do with you. I will assume that you are not only antagonistic toward Christians but that you are unpatriotic as well. I plan on making a list and checking it twice, then posting it here.

Other religions are great, have at them. Feel free to to wish a Happy Hannnukah, Kwazy Kwanza, whatever you want. But if you exclude Christmas, I’ll exclude you.

More "Christmas," Less "Holiday"

As some of you know, I’m boycotting “Winter Holiday” again this year. I’m not even sure what that holiday is, but I’m pretty sure it’s some sort of pagan / atheist thing. Whatever it is, I want none of it.

For me, it’s Christmas. And for many, it’s Christmas. Why is so terrible to acknowledge that? It doesn’t bother me if somebody wishes me a Happy Honukah or Really Good Ramadan. I don’t celebrate those holidays, but I recognize others do. So why has there been such a push to eliminate “Christmas” from our vocabulary?

I’m going to list some stores in a minute that are anti-Christmas or Christmas-neutral, but I want to pass on kudos to Hobby Lobby first. Not only are they wishing people a “Merry Christmas,” but they do it with big advertisements in USA Today. They do it for Easter, too. And if you’re seeking, they even steer you to a Christian ministry that can tell you more about a relationship with Jesus. Here’s Hobby Lobby’s Christmas 2005 message.

Last year, Dillard’s and Macy’s removed all references to Christmas from their stores. Word got around, and Christians didn’t shop there as much. This year, Macy’s has a full-page “Merry Christmas” ad. Sure, it’s really for a commercial Christmas, but I’d rather have that than a secular “Happy Holidays” anyday.

Lowe’s took a little heat this year for selling “Holiday Trees.” Is there another major holiday celebrating with trees this year that I don’t know about? Lowe’s finally decided to dump all their “holiday trees” and only offer “Christmas trees.” Yeehaw.

Worldnet Daily reports that Wal-Mart promoted other holidays by name, including Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, but not Christmas. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights called for a national boycott. Wal-mart has apologized and redesigned its website, though they still encourage employees to say “Happy Holidays.” Other retailers hiding Christmas behind the “Happy Holidays” sign include Kmart, Sears, Home Depot, Target, Kroger, Office Max, Walgreens, Staples, J.C. Penney, Dell and Best Buy.

Have you run into any “Christmas aversion” this year while shopping?

A Simple Light

Like you, I’ve noticed the days getting shorter – and not just the hours of daylight. The actual 24 hour cycle is getting shorter, as we hurtle from the calm eddy of our county’s brief experience of Autumn into what we call the Holiday Season.

It was only a few days ago when the trees were showing off. I noticed the chinaberry trees in bright yellow robes – startlingly bright – in yards all over town. And the cypress trees’ needles were just starting to rust. Then the winds blew one night and these splendors were dumped in halos on the ground around newly naked trunks – looking like discarded bathrobes – and it seemed Fall had fallen until I remembered we still have some maples showing and the red oaks have yet to blaze. The pecans and sycamores are littering the ground just now with bran-colored drifts. Still, the sight of millions of cypress needles dusting the river made me realize it was time to gird for the onslaught of the hardest season of the year.

Our old black mailbox groans daily with catalogs of delights – most beyond our means, and certainly all beyond our needs. We’ve been offered clothing (lots of clothing), fruit, travel, books, gadgets and whatnot, all presented in vibrant color, all with guaranteed delivery by Christmas, page after page of gifts. The stack of catalogs we’ve received this month alone is more than two feet tall.

I’ve seen, on my way home from work, delivery trucks parked in the dark, their headlights on, delivering gifts. This must be a tough time to be a driver for the parcel companies – and the volume will continue to grow, swelling like a crescendo, until the last few hours of Christmas Eve – as entire mountains of gifts pour from their tributaries right to our doorsteps.

In all of this haste, all of this shopping, all of this worrying about budgets and finding the right thing for that difficult-to-shop-for friend, amidst the travel and houses full of family, the grumpy uncles and the weepy aunts, it’s hard to remember this time of year offers some beautiful opportunities.

Churches will offer special musical presentations, opportunities for worship and service. Several local charities will be collecting gifts for the needy, and all of us will find appeals in our mailboxes from worthwhile groups. While many of the appeals ply on our sense of guilt (I’m thinking about the seemingly endless fundraising efforts of a San Antonio radio station), a precious few of the groups will offer a chance to share in the hope they bring to others. To those it is easy to give, and to give joyfully, if in secret.

Overhead I’ve noticed the moon dancing farther and farther away from bright Venus in the sky. A few weeks ago the moon, just a crescent, seemed close enough to the shining planet to touch it. As the gap between them grew, the moon grew fuller and fuller until it got so bright several friends complained it was interfering with their sleep. I guess the approaching holidays are like that – as the noise and spectacle of the holidays grows bigger and bigger, until it seems to occupy all the available space of our feeble attentions, it gets more distant from the simple single light that is the reason for the holiday in the first place.