Friday, December 26, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
PRAEFECTUM IMPERII IN JUDAEA
UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION FROM THE LATIN
IMPERIAL POST SERVICE DENARII FUND CITE
DRAFT:ASSISTANT TO ASSISTANT PREFECT
FROM:JUDEAN PREFECT JERUSALEM
TO:OFFICE OF PROVINCES ROME
ROME OFFICE OF PROVINCES FOR BUREAU OF RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS
E.O. MCMXVII: N/A
TAGS: PLEX, PEMP, PFSC
SUBJECT: PERSIAN ASTROLOGERS UPSET TAX REGISTRATION, INSTIGATE HEROD TO KILL CHILDREN
Unclassified. Please Protect Accordingly.
I. (U) Summary: Imperial efforts to register the residents of Judea for tax purposes have been complicated by local political events. Client-"king" Herod has taken an unnecessarily pro-active approach regarding a child predicted to be a challenger to his position, and ordered the killing of all unweaned children in and around Bethlehem. Imperial and local security forces are watching border crossings for the three Persian astrologers implicated in the instigation of Herod's suspicions. End summary.
II. (U) The astrologers appear to have traveled into Judea by night, over less-frequented roads. According to local contacts, they were carrying undeclared baggage full of precious metals and aromatics, and chose their routes and timing to avoid paying Customs duties. Little is known about their activities. They were observed by locals in Jerusalem asking about the welfare and whereabouts of a child born to be "King of the Jews." Herod's steward (strictly protect) told us that the "king" met the astrologers in secret, and instructed them to find the child so that he could worship him.
III. (U) The astrologers were apparently tipped off regarding Herod's mala fide intentions regarding the child, and may have slipped out of Judea by avoiding daylight travel and mandatory Customs posts. (Note: Post plans to make up for the lost revenue by imposing a one-time regional death-registration tax for children under the age of two. End note.)
IV. (U) Although generally amenable to Roman demarches concerning Judean governance, Herod is known to be touchy about threats to his position. His half-Nabatean, half-Idumean ancestry has inspired local concerns about his qualifications to "rule" (even as our client) the Jewish people, and further fed Herod's fear and suspicions. His killing of children under two years of age in and around Bethlehem is another example of his tendency to take matters into his own hands in a manner prejudicial to the peaceful ordering of Roman governance. Post requests language from Rome to make an official demarche against such behavior.
V. (U) Comment: As in all areas where Roman concepts of the rule of law have not taken firm root, local actors, especially those in high places, feel no compunction in wrecking Rome's plans for fiscal registration and revenue, in pursuit of their own private vendettas. Parents in Bethlehem who are concerned about the treatment of their children have proved to be uncooperative in registering for and paying taxes. Several have made threats against local and Roman law enforcement authorities. Unknown actors have daubed "Romans Go Home" and other graffiti on the perimeter wall of the chancery. In light of these actions, Post believes that this is an opportune time to raise again the requests made earlier this year for another cohort of well-trained Roman or Gallic troops, and for four extra denarii per month for working-level staff, in the form of danger pay and hardship allowance. End Comment.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I can tell you why Catholics question the notion of Santa Claus.
Because we have learned not to trust the Culture.
When the culture is secular, expedient, selfish and materialistic you tend to become reactionary. (or maybe it is just me)
But, when Chesterton speaks, who can help but listen?
Catholic Culture had a piece of teaching your children about Santa Claus.
I have nothing to add: Voila:
Chesterton tells us why we should believe
By Father John Dietzen
Catholic News Service
Q. My question isn't very deep, but with Christmas coming I am
concerned about the attitude of some friends who don't want their
children to "believe in Santa Claus." From almost infancy, they
tell their children there isn't really a Santa and that it was all
made up to sell more things at Christmastime. I think they're missing
something, but I'm not sure how to tell them. (Florida)
A. I too think they are missing something - very big. It's always
risky to analyze fantasies, but maybe it's worth trying for a moment.
Fantasies, perhaps especially for children, are critical ways of
entering a world, a real world that is closed to us in ordinary human
language and happenings. They are doors to wonder and awe, a way of
touching something otherwise incomprehensible. Santa Claus, I believe,
is like that.
No one has ever expressed this truth more movingly and accurately,
in my opinion, than the great British Catholic author G.K. Chesterton
in an essay years ago in the London Tablet. On Christmas morning, he
remembered, his stockings were filled with things he had not worked
for, or made, or even been good for.
The only explanation people had was that a being called Santa
Claus was somehow kindly disposed toward him. "We believed," he wrote,
that a certain benevolent person "did give us those toys for nothing.
And ... I believe it still. I have merely extended the idea.
"Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I
wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and
the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great
planet in the void.
"Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dolls and crackers, now
I thank him for stars and street faces and wine and the great sea.
Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big
that it only went halfway into the stocking.
"Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present
so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great
deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as
to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa
Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic good will."
Are not parents of faith blessed, countless times over, to have
for their children (and for themselves) such a fantastic and playful
bridge to infinite, unconditionally loving Goodness, the Goodness
which dreamed up the Christmas event in the first place?
Call Santa Claus a myth or what you will, but in his name parents,
and for that matter all of us who give gifts at this special time of
the year, are putting each other in deeper touch with the "peculiarly
fantastic good will" who is the ultimate Source of it all. Plus, it's
I hope your friends reconsider.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
I saw this article from CNN that explains the story behind this famous photograph. The photo was taken by Dorothea Lange at a Migrant work camp in 1936. The mother pictured was 32 year old Florence Owens Thompson. She was the mother of 7 children.
Katherine McIntosh (pictured on her mother's left) was 4 years old when this picture was taken and she had this to say about her mother:
"She was the backbone of our family," McIntosh says of her mom. "We never had a lot, but she always made sure we had something. She didn't eat sometimes, but she made sure us children ate. That's one thing she did do."
The message from the McIntosh is to work hard and live within your means. Meanwhile everyone is saying that on the one hand but the next minute we have commercials for "no payments until 2010", no credit, no cash, no problem. Save but spend to help "save" the economy.
I read an article recently about a mother who had lost her job and was feeling guilty that she could not spend $600 on her one daughter for Christmas. Yes, $600 on ONE daughter. I've spend $500 on 5 kids and felt guilty about that. It's interesting to read about what people consider "hard times".
I'm reading this great book: "We Had Everything but Money: When Banks Closed and Hearts Opened: Stories of the Great Depression".
And what you come away with after reading this is that no money did not equal misery. People were happy. They struggled. They worked hard and sometimes they were disappointed but life went on, they were able to prevail and most of all the children remember those times as filled with the love of family.
So which would you rather have- money, financial security or the love of your parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents and aunts and uncles?
N.B. This is a clue for those struggling with the issue of "family size". Please see my last post and the anonymous commenter.