The politically correct Handel’s Messiah, right here in my hometown:

Both an awe-inspiring holiday tradition and a memorable religious experience, Handel’s Messiah returns this holiday season. Guest conductor Christopher Seaman leads Houston’s premier performance of Handel’s choral masterwork, which includes the timeless Hallelujah Chorus.

Would it be so bad to actually say that the music’s title is about Jesus Christ and was written to honor him? Do we really have to go to such great lengths to avoid the word “Christmas?” As OpinionJournal says today:

Handel With Care
By and large we agree with those who prefer to call Christmas “Christmas,” rather than those who insist on the generic “holiday,” which is supposedly more palatable to Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists, Unitarians, Zoroastrians, Taoists, Sikhs, deists, pantheists, atheists, agnostics and adherents of the Baha’i faith, even though we fall into one of those 14 categories. But the effort to be sensitive to non-Christians can lead to some very funny results. If they really want to be sensitive to those who can’t stomach “Christmas,” shouldn’t they change the name of the work to, say, Handel’s “Dude”?

Oh Christmas Tree

Some time in the 1990s, the annual spruce placed on the Washington Capitol grounds started being called the “Holiday Tree” instead of “Christmas Tree.” Nobody seems to know why it was changed, but it was at about the same time Bill Clinton was in the same city and struggling to keep his pants up. Coincidence? I think not.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert is going to have it renamed back to “Christmas Tree.” Huzzah!

If it’s a spruce tree adorned with 10,000 lights and 5,000 ornaments displayed on the Capitol grounds in December, it’s a Christmas tree and that’s what it should be called, says House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Hastert, R-Ill., in a letter to the Architect of the Capitol, recommended that the annual Capitol Holiday Tree, as it has been called the past several years, be renamed the Capitol Christmas Tree.

“I strongly urge that we return to this tradition and join the White House, countless other public institutions and millions of American families in celebrating the holiday season with a Christmas tree,” Hastert wrote to Architect Alan Hantman.

His office said the tree began to be referred to as the Holiday Tree in the 1990s. Spokesman Ron Bonjean said the reasons were unclear.

On Dec. 8 Hastert will flip the switch to light the tree, a 65-foot Engelmann Spruce from the Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico. On Tuesday workmen were erecting the tree on the West Front of the Capitol.

Intelligent Design in Public Schools

Andrew Coulson at the Cato Institute has a question – why are we fighting over Intelligent Deisgn vs Evolution? Does it matter to one parent if another parent teaches their child about God?

Supporters of the theory of human origins known as “intelligent design” want it taught alongside the theory of evolution. Opponents will do anything to keep it out of science classrooms. The disagreement is clear.

But why does everyone assume that we must settle it through an ideological death-match in the town square?

Intelligent design contends that life on Earth is too complex to have evolved naturally, and so must be the product of an unspecified intelligent designer. Most adherents of this idea would undoubtedly be happy just to have it taught to their own children, and most of my fellow evolutionists presumably believe they should have that right. So why are we fighting?

We’re fighting because the institution of public schooling forces us to, by permitting only one government-sanctioned explanation of human origins. The only way for one side to have its views reflected in the official curriculum is at the expense of the other side.

This manufactured conflict serves no public good. After all, does it really matter if some Americans believe intelligent design is a valid scientific theory while others see it as a Lamb of God in sheep’s clothing? Surely not. While there are certainly issues on which consensus is key — respect for the rule of law and the rights of fellow citizens, tolerance of differing viewpoints, etc. — the origin of species is not one of them.

The sad truth is that state-run schooling has created a multitude of similarly pointless battles. Nothing is gained, for instance, by compelling conformity on school prayer, random drug testing, the set of religious holidays that are worth observing, or the most appropriate forms of sex education.

Not only are these conflicts unnecessary, they are socially corrosive. Every time we fight over the official government curriculum, it breeds more resentment and animosity within our communities. These public-schooling-induced battles have done much to inflame tensions between Red and Blue America.

But while Americans bicker incessantly over pedagogical teachings, we seldom fight over theological ones. The difference, of course, is that the Bill of Rights precludes the establishment of an official religion. Our founding fathers were prescient in calling for the separation of church and state, but failed to foresee the dire social consequences of entangling education and state. Those consequences are now all too apparent.

Fortunately, there is a way to end the cycle of educational violence: parental choice. Why not reorganize our schools so that parents can easily get the sort of education they value for their own children without having to force it on their neighbors?

Doing so would not be difficult. A combination of tax relief for middle income families and financial assistance for low-income families would give everyone access to the independent education marketplace. A few strokes of the legislative pen could thus bring peace along the entire “education front” of America’s culture war.

But let’s be honest. At least a few Americans see our recurrent battles over the government curriculum as a price worth paying. Even in the “land of the free,” there is a temptation to seize the apparatus of state schooling and use it to proselytize our neighbors with our own ideas or beliefs.

In addition to being socially divisive and utterly incompatible with American ideals, such propagandizing is also ineffectual. After generations in which evolution has been public schooling’s sole explanation of human origins, only a third of Americans consider it a theory well-supported by scientific evidence. By contrast, 51 percent of Americans believe “God created human beings in their present form.”

These findings should give pause not only to evolutionists but to supporters of intelligent design as well. After all, if public schooling has made such a hash of teaching evolution, why expect it to do any better with I.D.?

Admittedly, the promotion of social harmony is an unusual justification for replacing public schools with parent-driven education markets. Most arguments for parental choice rest on the private sector’s superior academic performance or cost-effectiveness. But when you stop and think about it, doesn’t the combination of these advantages suggest that free markets would be a far more intelligent design for American education?

Incidentally, the reason those that we’ll continue to fight over this issue was mentioned yesterday – the Left hates Inequality. All children should be taught equally, and that means your child taught whatever the state decides.

Merry Christmas. It's Okay to Say It.â„¢

The Alliance Defense Fund wants you to know that it’s ok to say, “Merry Christmas.”

Christmas is a cherished time of year when Americans come together and celebrate something bigger than ourselves, something that has united us for generations. An event that is the center of all history—the birth of Jesus Christ.

Surveys show that 96% of Americans celebrate Christmas. Yet, due to political correctness, disinformation, and even the threat of lawsuits from the ACLU and its allies, religious expression at Christmastime is increasingly absent from the public square. Slowly, this holy day is being turned into a secular “solstice season.”

The Alliance Defense Fund works year-round to preserve and protect our religious liberties, including the right to…

…sing Christmas carols at school
…pass out candy canes to classmates
…call it “Christmas vacation”
…sponsor a nativity scene on public property
…say “Merry Christmas”

ADF wants all Americans to know the Truth—that they have the freedom to celebrate Christmas publicly, joyfully, and without fear—for generations to come! We are launching our annual national Christmas Project™ to spread the message, “Merry Christmas. It’s okay to say it.™” Will you join with us?

Count me in. I’m boycotting that stupid “Winter Holiday” thing for the umpteenth year. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Again. 🙂

Tip from Jesus Politics.

Two Tickets to Heidelberg

The Germany trip is half over, and this is a long German weekend. Monday is Unification Day and they’re celebrating either the East-West German reunion or the fall of the Berlin wall. I’ve been told both by local Germans, and I’m currently without an internet connection to check. I’m typing this into Notepad to past later.

Duisburg has been nice, but it’s an industrial town. There are a few sights within a train ride, like the Cologne trip I mentioned the other day, but I’ve nearly exhausted them. The hotel concierge said there was a nice aquarium in Dusseldorf I haven’t seen, but unless the aquarium is stocked with little German fishes with tiny mustaches, I’m not very interested. I’d much rather see architecture or old art.

Also, directly across the street from the Duisburg hotel, I discovered, is the Immanuel Kant park. Blech. If I’m going to spend a weekend away from home, I could do better than a 3 day weekend in a tiny industrial German town.

So my business counterparts and I are fleeing to Heidelberg for the weekend. Day trips from there, I can reach the Black Forest and see handmade cuckoo clocks, I can see a castle (I forgot the name of it and again, no current internet connection), and… I dunno what else I can do. I’ll find out when I get there.

The train ride so far is interesting. The countryside went from flat to very hilly quickly as the train has passed Cologne and Bonn. Now that I think of it, that’s the Rheine river I see out my window, the same river I spent a terribly long day on a boat. *Shudder* I never want to get on the boat again. I’m enjoying the river much better this way, a few hours at a time. We’re already approaching Koblenz after an hour train ride; by boat, this took 6-1/2 hours.

After that, I think we’re coming up on Mannheim. Is it related to Mannheim Steamroller? Without an internet connection and nobody to ask, I am my own expert at the moment, so I will confidently say yes, Mannheim Steamroller took their name from this little German town. If I’m wrong, I won’t know for days.

(Time passes. In fact, too much time passes.)

Well, I know this was the right train, but these German trains really do run on time. We should have stopped over 45 minutes ago. And the announcement on the train keeps saying “Heidelberg” over and over. And now… we’re in Stuttgart. Huh.

I’ve discovered that talking to German teens is easiest; they’re required to take English in school, and it’s still fresh in their minds. Once they get older (ahem, like me), their English tends to fade. And if they’re younger, they only know a little English and nothing at all about reality. (“Excuse me, son, is this the train to Heidelburg?” “I like choo-choos!”)

Some teens tell me that the train was running late, so they decided to skip Heidelburg. Huh. We get a free ride back on the next train. Total delay for us is around 2 hours… but hey, the train is still running on time!

Next stop, I hope, is Heidelberg.

(More time passes)

The Adventure in Hotel hunting is over and I’m done for the day. The Visitor’s center in Heidelberg recommended an inexpensive place downtown – but when we got there, they didn’t have what I’d call a “bed” but more of a medieval rack with a thin cloth that doubled as a mattress. No way. A call to a travel agency booked us a Holiday Inn (in Heidelberg? I had no idea they were worldwide.). After a 30 minutes drive out of town (including passing Hanother oliday Inn), we re-booked at the Holiday Inn we passed. We’re not very close to town, but it’ll do for a day, especially since it’s 8:30pm and we haven’t eaten anything since that pretzel for breakfast. The room is about the size of my closet back home, but it’s clean and modern. It’ll do. I checked on internet service, and it’s $50 a day extra. Ouch.

I’ll try to post a bit over the weekend, too, and give my brother’s brain a rest. After that last doggy picture, I can tell he needs a break.

Haphazard Posting

Stephen the Redneck Blogger will be filling in yet again for me over the next month. Give him a hand, but make sure he washes it first if he’s been playing with his animals.

I don’t know how accessible I’ll be over the next month – I have 3 separate business trips planned for Duisberg, Germany. My company has provided me with a laptop, but I may be limited to dialup only. The laptop has no wireless card (yet) and the hotel is wireless only.

I have lots of things coming up, including spilling the details (and asking for prayers) for an upcoming Kenya Mission trip my wife and I are involved in. And I’ve already queued up a post for the national holiday on Monday (ha!) that’ll be fun.

I’ll post when I can. (Er, and I won’t post when I can’t.) 😛

A Frosted Flakes Man

After I came across this story at Spin the Moon, I remembered this little episode this past weekend.

While visiting my brother this past weekend, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on the other side of town. I went downstairs for breakfast and a father was there with his 4 year old son.

The father said, “What kind of cereal do you want for breakfast, son? They have Cheerios, Corn Flakes, …”

The son interrupted indignantly, put his hands on his hips, and said, “Daddy, you know I’m a Frosted Flakes man!”