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December 27, 2007

Searching For The Meaning of Christmas

'But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.'

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Well, another Christmas is over.

Once more The Blog Princess finds herself rudely catapulted from the mindless rush of shopping, cooking, and making lists with virtually no hope of being completed straight into full blown post holiday letdown. After the holidays comes that bleak era when she (in lockstep with millions of similarly bemused hominids) slows down just long enough to fish the lint from her belly button, peruse it numbly for signs of her missing raison d'etre, and ask the question that has bedeviled mankind since the first Cro Magnon stumbled from his cave in early January, shaking his head and holding a 7 page MasterCard bill:

"Huh???"

In a less technological (or merely less self-absorbed) age, such musings would be confined to daydreams or - thankfully - a well hidden diary. But the rise of venues like MySpace and Blogger allows ordinary housewives to torture their unsuspecting readers with their novel attempts to connect the dots between chaos theory, persistent income inequality, the Bush administration's inexcusable refusal to sign Kyoto, and the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Blogging has often been compared by professional journalists to a form of self gratification best not mentioned in polite company. It should come as no surprise, then, to the vestal virgins who guard our rapidly vanishing national brain trust that the beginnings of this post came to The Princess whilst lathering herself up in the shower.

That happens a lot. Too often, really. Or depending on one's point of view, not nearly often enough. For some odd reason the best ideas arrive like telemarketers, unbidden and at the worst possible times: when I'm out driving, cleaning the basement, or about a week ago, while wearily dragging two overloaded suitcases, a briefcase, a camera, and a purse nearly bursting at the seams through the Outer Circle of Hell (otherwise known as Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport). Thanks to that experience, I can now announce to all and sundry with some confidence that I know what awaits me in the afterlife and it is Not Good. Naive folk may believe that, if they are bad, they will go to Hell when at last they shuffle off this mortal coil. I have learned, however, that a far worse fate awaits us. Contrary to what we were taught in Sunday school, The Damned do not go to Hell. Oh no.

They go to Atlanta.

More specifically, the terminally bad are consigned to a particularly heinous realm called North Baggage Claim where, in payment for their manifold sins and wickedness, they will spend Eternity wearily circling a never ending series of whirling carousels in a vain attempt to reclaim their psychic baggage hook up with a party who committed the far more egregious sin of Not Flying Delta Airlines.

[cue demonic laughter]

As if this weren't gruesome enough, the Particularly Naughty will be assigned further torments, like attempting to manoever a large SUV out of the Alamo rental lot during rush hour, an experience which makes one long for the comparatively civilized charms of Washington, DC beltway traffic. Few things are more inimical to a sense of holiday bonhomie than watching that diminutive lady who seemed so sweet in the rental line turn into Tina Turner from the Thunderdome. In retrospect, the little flames flickering behind her eyes as I waited patiently in line to exit the turnstiles were the first warning that she meant to ram us into the steel spikes... that this time it was personal. At that moment I suddenly realized it was her or me. My son and daughter in law began pounding the seats like maniacs and yelling, "No Mom - don't let her in - she's trying to butt in line AGAIN".

Well, since I scraped her off in front of that oncoming shuttle bus, she won't be butting in front of anyone again now, will she?

I think NOT. Hard to cut your fellow travelers off when you're squished flatter than a boysenberry flapjack, isn't it? Merry *&$%! Christmas to you, too, Madam.

Headed out of Atlanta in my rented SUV, my racing mind was set free to begin pondering deeper questions such as the meaning of Christmas. As the landscape slowly began to morph from urban to suburban to a pastoral series of rolling hills and valleys dotted by fields, woods, and livestock I felt the tension begin to drain out of my weary neck and shoulders. Someone - my son or daughter in law - I can't recall which, broke the peaceful silence by commenting, "Wow. I've never seen so many crosses, religious billboards, and church signs".

I forget they're from the city and it's been a long time since either of them has been down South. God seems closer out here. That can be jarring for those with a more modern, urban sensibility. There is something primitive about strong faith, something that stretches back beyond our earliest memories, our most basic human programming, something we can't quite put our collective fingers on. Something that doesn't quite seem... rational, logical, empirical.

This is odd, because when one stops to think about it, there is no more evidence that God does not exist, than there is to prove that he does.

And when you stop and think about that for a moment, the logical implication is that passionate atheism has no more empirical basis than passionate faith yet many Americans rightly sense it is safer not to profess belief. They respect the fervent denier more than the fervent believer though there is no more solid grounding for one position than the other.

This may be because if you truly believe a thing, there is always the uncomfortable possibility you will be called upon to defend your beliefs. One of the more controversial passages in the New Testament is this one:

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it." (Matthew 10:34-39)

The modern vicars of Christ would seem to have taken His words to heart, for they seem anxious to avoid taking any stance which might require a vigorous defense. In the best traditions of PoMo academe, they decline to concern themselves with conflicts. They simply redefine them until they are no longer troublesome. Thus, our Father who art in Heaven becomes less a parent and more a BFF, faith is reduced to a lifestyle choice, and the Gospel becomes a living, breathing document which was never intended to be taken seriously:

Rev. Redding is clear about her ... doubts about basic Christian doctrines. She denies original sin and admits she has long doubted the deity of Christ.

...Rev. Redding denies the historic doctrines of the church and then declares herself a Muslim. In March 2006 she said her shahada or profession of faith, declaring that there is only one God and that Mohammed is his messenger.

I believe that Jesus is divine in the same way in which all humans are related to God as children of God. Jesus is different in degree, not kind; ... I don't think God said, "Let me send this special person so that I can kill him for the benefit of the rest of humanity." That's not the kind of sacrifice I think that God desires.

Yet again, Rev. Redding denies the central teachings of Christianity and explicitly denies what the Bible undeniably teaches.

...religious liberals can negotiate themselves to any position they desire. Once you commit yourself to a methodology of denying Scripture and orthodox Christian doctrine, you can declare yourself to be a Christian and a Muslim, a Christian and a Druid, or a Christian and an Atheist for that matter.

The real shame in all this is that Rev. Redding is getting away with this while continuing to be an Episcopal priest in good standing. Adding insult to injury, her bishop, the Rt. Reverend Vincent Warner of Seattle, says that Rev. Redding's declaration that she is both a Christian and a Muslim to be exciting in terms of interfaith understanding. Is there any hope for a church whose bishop considers heresy to be exciting?

Well, these would appear to be exciting times. The good bishop travels in exalted circles. No less a person than the Archbishop of Canterbury has abandoned Scripture in favor of the Gospel according to Al Gore, global warming having a much broader appeal on a multicultural playing field than old what's-His-noodle. But those who believe they can eliminate conflict (whether physical or rhetorical) by abandoning faith are ignoring the lessons of history. It has long been argued, paradoxically, that religion both causes bloodshed and poses the ultimate cure for it.

Neither argument makes much sense and both confuse the symptom - violence committed in the name of religion - for the underlying malady - simple human aggression, which never needed religion for an excuse and would persist even if organized religion were wiped from the face of the earth tomorrow. There is, in fact, ample evidence that secular governments are, if anything, prone to brutal despotism, torture, and genocidal killing sprees. In the 20th Century alone, the first wholly secular governments ruthlessly controlled or suppressed (and in some cases nearly eradicated) organized religion within their borders. Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot (not to mention Saddam Hussein) were also responsible for the worst genocides of that era. This makes it hard to scapegoat religion as the root cause of violence, or to argue that getting rid of religion will magically make men peaceful. In fact it is a powerful argument for the obverse case: that in modern times at least, religious faith often acts as a powerful moral force in society and moreover, its influence has more often been good than malign. But there is another important way in which faith - and not just religious faith - operates on societies:

Some truths are so obvious that to mention them in polite company seems either pointless or rude. What is left unstated, however, can with time be forgotten. Both of these observations apply today to the American way of war. It is obvious that a military can only fight well on behalf of a society in which it believes, and that a society which believes little is worth fighting for cannot, in the end, field an effective military. Obvious as this is, we seem to have forgotten it.

Remembering will help us in several ways. First, it will show us that the greatest asymmetry in our struggle with radical Islam is not one of arms or organization or even of ideology in any simple sense, but one of morale in the deepest sense. Second, it will provide an insight into the state of civil-military relations in our own country, which is a growing problem many of us refuse to acknowledge. And third, it will show us why some kinds of wars—“in-between” wars, I call them—have become inherently difficult for the United States to fight and win.

Faith, whether in God or in intangibles like freedom, democracy, or simply the rightness of a moral cause, doesn't simply act as a moral force in society; it also strengthens the will of a nation. The belief in something larger than ourselves acts as a force multiplier; it is what binds individuals into a larger unit, makes us willing to sacrifice for some greater good. This is why the erosion of faith and the undermining of institutions, legends, and icons are particularly dangerous during time of war. They eat away at our stamina and capacity for sacrifice at a time when we need them more than ever. It is not a new idea that a circumscribed vocabulary limits the ability to both develop and express ideas. Andrew Ferguson comments on how, in our modern quest for inclusiveness and inoffensive, banal language which avoids upsetting anyone, we've lost the ability to describe (and one might argue, to defend) the very ideals which made this country great:

I sat there in the audience, hoping to hear what it was that Lincoln had done that was so essential to the country's greatness. And instead they would say things like, “He was very tolerant of ambiguity.” “Lincoln was very non-judgmental.” My favorite was, “He eschewed nationalistic triumphalism.” And sure enough, the Lincoln statue that they were bringing in was, in fact, quite a small life-sized affair, very humble, placed at ground level. They loved the fact that it was so small and diminutive, because it showed us a sensitive Lincoln.

Now, I may not know, and certainly at the time did not know, that much about Lincoln, but I did know that he waged one of the most savage wars in our history. And non-judgmentalism is generally not high on the list of priorities for guys who wage wars like that.

I realized in Richmond that we'd lost the capacity, we'd lost the language even to describe his greatness. These pro-Lincoln scholars were his friends, and they couldn't tell you why he was great.

The War Between the States was many things, but it was not sensitive. It was long, bloody, and incredibly brutal. Just down the road from where I live at the battle of Sharpsburg nearly 10,000 men were killed or wounded in a single day. And yet as a consequence of that war men were freed from bondage and a nation was preserved. Ferguson reminds us why Lincoln is considered one of the greatest living American presidents:

I keep getting asked, Why can't we forget him? Why do we keep coming back to Lincoln?

People say it's because he freed the slaves and saved the Union.

Yes, but that's just part of it. A lot of people were “union savers.” Garibaldi created a union in Italy—Bismarck in Germany. The nineteenth century was an era of consolidators, statesmen essentially bolting together their fractious countries. You can see Lincoln as part of that trend, I suppose.

But what Lincoln did was much greater than what Garibaldi did, or what Bismarck did. Lincoln wanted to save the Union, but he wanted to save a particular kind of Union. He wanted it to be a Union that was dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

He thought that if the union wasn't saved, then that proposition was in danger, and it may have slipped into darkness altogether.

Cole: I think he was right.

Ferguson: Yes, I do too. This country was the vessel of that principle. That's the Union he wanted to save. And he succeeded. And the fact that he succeeded is one of the greatest achievements in human history.

Cole: And it was a close run thing. I mean, with history, it's always close run. What Lincoln's attitudes on race were, what Lincoln's motives were, at the end of the day, they fall away. And what he did and his ideas, you know, endure.

Lincoln was widely hated in his day.

He would have been despised today, I think. For one thing, he is untelegenic and we are uncomfortable with such unswerving devotion to a larger idea; even so iconic a notion a the one that all men are created equal: the belief that we all have the right to live freely, or that a nation divided against itself cannot stand. It has rightly been pointed out that Abraham Lincoln's first priority was never freeing the slaves. Many of his contemporaries thought neither abolition nor the preservation of the Union worth the horrendous cost in American lives. I often wonder whether any of our previous wars could have withstood the full frontal assault of TV and cable news and Keith Olbermann's special comments, where "journalism" is proudly defined as doing something you openly admit is wrong because your partisan, ad hominem attacks are "better written" than your opponent's:

[After being asked how he differentiates his ad hominem attacks from those on the other side]

"Well, they're better written. The first-- no, I hate to-- I-- it's the most vulnerable point because it bothers me, too. It do-- it's the one criticism that I think is absolutely fair. We're doing the same thing. It is-- it becomes a nation of screechers. It's never a good thing. But emergency rules do apply. I would like nothing better than to go back and do maybe a sportscast every night. But I think the stuff that I'm talking about is so obvious and will be viewed in such terms of certainty by history that this era will be looked at the way we look now at the-- at the presidents and the-- the leaders of this country who rolled back reconstruction // I think it's that obvious. And I think only under those circumstances would I go this far out on a limb and be this vociferous about it.

...When I have an opinion on the most important political issue of the day, I'm gonna sink a president and maybe throw the election to the other guy right now.

It's perfectly acceptable for Mr. Olbermann to oppose the war. He has been doing that - quite loudly - every night for as long as I can remember with no adverse consequences other than a regrettable tendency to whinge at the top of his lungs that he's being repressed in some fashion undetectable to mere mortals. Sadly, all choices involve tradeoffs. Adults recognize this. Mr. Olbermann wishes to screech truth to the BusHitler so in punishment, he must reluctantly accept an obscene salary from MSNBC. Such are the perils of modern telejournalism in a police state. In 2007 alone, over 0 MSNBC journalists were killed or maimed in the line of duty whilst sparring with Dana Perino. That's why they are forced to use so many stringers.

Someone has to do the jobs Americans won't do.

But it's not just that Keith doesn't want to give up anything for what he believes. He, and pseudo intellectuals like Paul Krugman, seem to spend most of their time trying to convince their fellow Americans that we can all have something for nothing: that the only violent people in the world are Christian fundamentalists; that if we ignore bad people, they will simply give up and go away; that if more wealthy people's children were drafted we'd have no more wars, that high prices exist because greedy sellers hate the virtuous working poor and not because there are fewer of some resources than there are willing buyers who push prices up. I listened to Krugman on the radio a few weeks ago defending perhaps the most indefensible idea I've ever heard: that income inequality itself is the single greatest problem facing America.

aug.jpg Not poverty. Or illegitimacy. Or terrorism. Or the decline of education. Inequality.

According to Krugman, until we all have the same amount of money, we'll never be truly free. It never seems to occur to him that right now, many people freely exchange the right to work long hours for the right to bring home more money because he can't accept the consequences of that freely made decision. It doesn't even seem to occur to Mr. Krugman that perhaps not everyone wants to be equal; that some people may actually like living in a world where people freely choose different lifestyles and standards of living.

He would very much like to replace our current system with one in which his personal policy preferences were dictated by law and income was redistributed on a more "equal" basis. And he can do that, in a democracy ... assuming he can convince enough of his fellow citizens to go along with him. That is the great thing about our current system of government. And in the mean time he can whine at the top of his lungs about how unfair it all is while other men die defending his right to say what an terribly cruel and unjust society we live in in complete safety.

Which brings me back to the meaning of Christmas. I thought a lot about it. About those words:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son..

To me, this is the meaning of Christmas. It turns out God must be a better economist than Paul Krugman. At the least, He has a better appreciation of human incentives. Even in all His glory, He understood that little of real value is gained on this earth by offering nothing in return. And so, as a sign of how highly He values our faith, He gave up His only begotten Son. This is what is often called an object lesson, meant to show that while strong beliefs may sometimes involve sacrifice, faith in something larger than ourselves can also lend us strength far greater than we could summon up on our own:

When Denton talks to groups around the country, he tells them that patriotism can motivate men to perform for their country, but only prayer can provide the strength for the kind of performance required in prison camps.

"I experienced what I couldn't imagine human nature was capable of," Denton said. "I witnessed what my comrades could rise to. Self-discipline, compassion, a realization there is a God." He also experienced periodic compassion from the North Vietnamese. Sometimes the guards would weep as they tortured him. One experience, he will never forget. Denton kept a cross, fashioned out of broom straws, hidden in a propaganda booklet in his cell. The cross was a gift from another prisoner. When a guard found the cross, he shredded it. Spat on it. Struck Denton in the face. Threw what was left of the cross on the floor and ground his heel into it. "It was the only thing I owned," Denton said.

Later, when Denton returned to his cell, he began to tear up the propaganda booklet. He felt a lump in the book. He opened it. "Inside there was another cross, made infinitely better than the other one my buddy had made," Denton said. When the guard tore up the cross, two Vietnamese workers saw what happened and fashioned him a new cross. "They could have been tortured for what they did," Denton said.

I think these are lessons we forget at our peril. I also believe most of us rarely do pause to think about them during the Christmas rush. They make us uncomfortable. I know they make me uncomfortable. Perhaps they are meant to.

On my drive home from my parents' on MD 270, there is a giant white Christmas star. I love to see it every year. I gazed up at it last night and thought, for some reason, of illumination rounds arcing against the night sky in Afghanistan. An odd juxtaposition. Some would say a disturbing one. Not to me, though.

So many sacrifices. Let us hope that, as with that long ago war between the states, we don't lose the capacity to honor the humbling power of faith in something greater than ourselves. The notion that all men and women deserve (and have the capacity to) live in freedom is still an idea worth defending. This is the right which makes all others: freedom of worship, of expression, of assembly, of self-government, possible. What we are attempting to do in Iraq and Afghanistan is a great task. Though there has been much debate over why we became engaged in these wars, there is virtually no serious debate over the whether it would benefit us to abandon the innocent citizens of these countries to our enemies; that is, after all, precisely the end state al Qaeda has fought so hard to gain.

More than anything else, Christmas is a time of hope. In the dead of winter, we are sent a message: "Fear not, for I am with you".

With faith, all things are possible.

Posted by Cassandra at December 27, 2007 10:19 AM

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Comments

However, if you're flying in from DFW - you take American, arrive at the North terminal, grab your carryon (because all business travelers lug carryons, some of which appear to be minor tessaracts), and head for the rental buses. Then grab the rental car and get out while the getting's good.

Of course, returning is much more sporting, as sometimes the TSA decides to send massive hordes from the other security gate to the T gates security lines ... in which case, the bottleneck is astonishing.

I hate Hartsfield ....

Posted by: annlee at December 30, 2007 06:32 PM

I forgot the fun part where I grabbed someone else's suitcase off the carousel (same make and model as mine). It had no tag so I was a bit suspicious. Therefore, I unzipped it just a tad - enough to see a man's pair of joggers inside.

So I quickly zipped it back up and put it back on the conveyor. Two men were watching me with some amusement as I muttered to myself under my breath - one guy caught my eye and said, "Did you just take what you wanted and put it back?"

I was going to kick him but he had a big grin on his face :) I said, well that would not have been very nice of me to take someone else's bag! Luckily mine showed up just then and it was indistinguishable from the one I'd just put back. He was snorting away. I really should have kicked him in the shins but he was kind of cute so I let it go :p

Posted by: Cassandra at December 30, 2007 06:52 PM

I suspected that there might be more to the Atlanta traffic comment you made a few days ago... The Airport! Sheesh, I am so sorry Milady.

If only Dante knew of Hartsfield-Maynard he might have imagined an eighth circle.

A Happy New Year at all of yas.

Posted by: bthun at December 30, 2007 07:09 PM

So the Littlest Angel post came to you in the Atlanta airport.

Interesting. Not surprising but interesting.

Posted by: Pile On at December 30, 2007 07:31 PM

And you didn't call me to bring you sustenance?
We went through that particular level a couple of months ago...and I can't say what's worse: Baggage claim, baggage search, take off, landing
or the whole miserable flying experience.

Posted by: Cricket at December 30, 2007 07:36 PM

I will get you for that, Pile :p

Posted by: Cassandra at December 30, 2007 07:55 PM

Carry-on.

Always use ONLY carry-on. I know that Annlee was being derisive and mocking to 'business travelers' (that's me!), but really.
Checking baggage is just an invitation to masochism. If you're visiting friends or family in the US and you need more than carry-on, send the extra stuff by UPS. No really, I'm not kidding.

This has nothing to do with the real meaning of Christmas, just hard-won travelers' advice. Air travel anymore is just fracking misery.
1. Sadistic TSA personnel; this midget black woman in Philly.....just wow.
2. overbooked flights
3. Legions of the weird filling the airport terminals (doesn't anyone know how to dress anymore?)
4. Bad airline food (this is on purpose nowadays)
5. Rude/incompetent Customs people (I fly out of the country, and back in! several times a year)

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at December 30, 2007 08:03 PM

Don, Don [sigh] - I have actually now spent TWO WHOLE WEEKS at home!! American must be missing me - there is no doubt a BOLO for a short engineer missing from DFW. I may even get to back off the travel for a while ... maybe ... if a certain major wireless carrier whose engineering HQ is in ATL cooperates. {hysterical laughter echoes 'round the hall}.

But I called some of those carryons minor tessaracts for a reason - it boggles my mind what some people believe they can wedge into the overhead bins.

As for airline food ... I pack my own, thank you very much. I have standards - starting with edible, and including nutritious.

Posted by: annlee at December 30, 2007 08:16 PM

I know , dear. And a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, too.
If only we could have fifth - dimensional carry-on bags; limited spatial size, unlimited (space-folded) content. :)

A tesseract is only a 3-dimensional shadow of a fourth dimensional object (I tink?).

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at December 30, 2007 08:53 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tessaract

I recall a Heinlein story involving a tessaract - it was based on the housing boom/land shortage in SoCal post WW II. The solution was tessaract housing, which ought to have worked if you could just manage which dimension was where, when ... and the pesky earthquakes ;-)

Found it - http://tinyurl.com/me7t

Enjoy.

Posted by: annlee at December 30, 2007 10:28 PM

Happy New Year to my favorite blogger and friends. There is a C.S. Lewis or A.W. Tozer lurking in you just waiting for the right airport to show up.

Posted by: Russ at December 31, 2007 04:11 AM

Oh, come on now...not to get dragged into an epistemological quagmire...


...your post was like a logical lump of coal (ha! a holiday tie-in!). Re: "there is no more evidence that God does not exist, than there is to prove that he does." Instead of "God," you could insert words like "the Easter Bunny", "Fairies" or "the Flying Spaghetti Monster," and I bet you don't believe in any of those things, though there is no "reason" not to.


As for Pascal's Wager, God is presumably smart enough to know whether you're faking it or not.

Finally, 2 points about "secular" murderous dictators:

1) their "Cult of Personality" seems to me indistinguishable in the structure, the jargon, intent and effect from religious hierarchies.

2) It's not difficult to find passages from Hitler confirming his Christian beliefs (though he also lied as a matter of course, and often spoke against religion when it suited him; he might, in what sounds oddly contemporary, be using these words as -*gasp*- raw meat for his German Christian voting public) Like, this from Mein Kampf: "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."



Happy "Post" Holidays...

Posted by: seanman at December 31, 2007 10:58 AM

I am wounded beyond belief that you do not believe in Me, seanman.

Wounded. Beyond. Belief.

*sigh*

No eggs for you :p

Posted by: The Easter Bunny at December 31, 2007 11:12 AM

It's not difficult to find passages from Hitler confirming his Christian beliefs (though he also lied as a matter of course, and often spoke against religion when it suited him)...

And of course, though he lied as a matter of course when it suited him, we must uncritically accept that whenever it fits your argument, his rare professions of Christianity were entirely genuine... his well-known persecution of Christians and the Church notwithstanding :p

Nope. No contradictions here. Just moooove along.

Posted by: The Easter Bunny at December 31, 2007 11:16 AM

Oh. And by the way...

The very nature of faith is that one believes despite the presence of doubt. In other words, if one has absolute proof it is no longer a question of faith at all, is it? My point was that that although faith itself is not intrinsically rational or empirically based, neither is atheism, since there is no real evidence (nor has anyone yet proved) that God does not exist.

Doubt is both rational and logical. Absolute certainty that God does *not* exist doesn't make much sense on a purely logical basis. It requires the same leap of 'faith' (in the sense that one must passionately believe something for which there is really no empirical evidence) as passionate faith in God.

Think about it :)

Posted by: Cassandra at December 31, 2007 11:24 AM

Reading this post, I started off laughing at your travel woes. Ah, the joys of imagining your fellow drivers as hood ornaments.

But of course, wimp that I am, I ended with tears.

So many sacrifices.

Some time ago, there was grievously wounded soldier here whom I saw shortly before he died. Looking at him I remember thinking only one thing: For God so loved the world...

It was Christmas Day.

Posted by: MaryAnn at December 31, 2007 12:37 PM

"...your post was like a logical lump of coal (ha! a holiday tie-in!). Re: "there is no more evidence that God does not exist, than there is to prove that he does." Instead of "God," you could insert words like "the Easter Bunny", "Fairies" or "the Flying Spaghetti Monster," and I bet you don't believe in any of those things, though there is no "reason" not to.
"

*Shrug*. Don't believe in Flying Spaghetti Monsters if you don't want to. If you ask me, I believe and am full for the spaghetti and meatballs provided (free of delivery) by air has and will sustain me until my passing. Sucks to be you if you are not.

Posted by: Kevin L at December 31, 2007 02:33 PM

And to think, for a nominal fee, you could've been picked up and taken safely through Hartsfield by a professional. Complete with TSA clearance and armed by law. Heh! It's you amateurs that screw everything up! :-o

Not like I had anything pressing on the calendar eh?! ;-)

*sigh*

And just where the hell did you find cows on the way to Athens? I thought they had all died of dehydration? ruh-roh!

You do know, presuming that Athens was your destination, that you had to pass within five minutes of the K Kompound, right? he-he! Just for that I'm sending my children to Athens to rape, pillage, and terrorize. That ought to annoy your son! :-o

Posted by: JHD at December 31, 2007 05:19 PM

Yes -- I noticed that on the map whilst espying out the relative location of my son's small hamlet to Atlanta :)

I did offer to contact at least one denizen of the greater Hotlanta area who was mas cerca del aeropuerto. But this time around my ability to hook up with anyone was extremely limited on account of my serving as a one woman transportation service for my offspring. With my grandson there, however, I will be back in the area frequently :p I plan to pester you at a time of maximum inconvenience.

There are cows, by the way, right up the road from my son. You can hear them moo-ing from his front porch.

It was just too hard for me to get around this time with my kids in tow.

Posted by: Princess Leia, Way Too Full of Herself For Her Own Good,,, at December 31, 2007 05:38 PM

"There are cows, by the way, right up the road... You can hear them!"

Good Lord. All this time, I didn't realize how much of a city girl you really are. :)

Posted by: Grim at December 31, 2007 07:30 PM

*sigh*

Grim, there are cows less than a mile from my house too :p If you take a left turn out of my development and pass about 4 or 5 houses, the next thing you see on the main drag is a series of small dairy farms. Go the other way, and there is a lake. The road I live on is not even paved and will not be for the foreseeable future even though my home is worth a fair amount of money.

I would not call myself a country girl by any stretch of the imagination. I am a product of the suburbs, but where I live now is really not your average suburban neighborhood. The average home is on well water, not sewer and our roads are not maintained by the county.

Pppphhhhhtttthhhh.

Posted by: Princess Leia, Way Too Full of Herself For Her Own Good,,, at December 31, 2007 07:56 PM

Oh.

And my home, FWIW, is on sewer and I have city water.

Because I can read a newspaper and we paid a sh*tload of money when we built it to make sure we'd have access to water... because the water table is falling like crazy around here and yet these idiots keep building. So yes, I'm that much of a city girl.

I may have been born in the dark, but I wasn't born last night.

Posted by: Princess Leia, Way Too Full of Herself For Her Own Good,,, at December 31, 2007 07:59 PM

Dairy cattle, eh? :)

Posted by: Grim at January 1, 2008 06:48 AM

Do we anticipate a meeting of the Georgia residents for a round of cow tipping in the forseeable future?

Posted by: Cricket at January 1, 2008 11:01 AM

We can "tip" something Cricket but I'm not sure it'll be cows! ;-)

Ah Grim, lest you forget that Princess Leia loves to flash squirrels, bunnies, et al. She communes with nature! Au naturale'!

ruh-roh!

Posted by: JHD at January 1, 2008 11:36 AM

You're right, I had forgotten that. I see, however, that you had not. :)

Posted by: Grim at January 1, 2008 08:38 PM

JHD never forgets anything associated with *nekkid* (or nearly nekkid, for that matter), Grim.

0>;~}

Posted by: Sly2017 at January 2, 2008 10:55 AM

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