What is a “Holiday Tree”?

Whole Foods Market near my house is selling so-called Holiday Trees.

What is a holiday tree?
What is a holiday tree?

And be sure not to forget your “Holiday Wreath”.

I have noticed that there is only one holiday for which retailers sell fresh cut trees. I have never met any Jewish people who decorates for Hanukkah by erecting and decorating a tree in their home. I have also not met any Muslims who prepare from Eid al-Adha by making sure there is enough space for their prayer mats next to the newly trimmed tree in their living room.

I also cannot help but notice that there are no trees for sale during the times leading up to Hanukkah or Eid al-Adha when those holidays do not fall during the Christmas season. For example, Hannukkah was on December 5 in 2007 and Eid al-Adha was on December 8, 2008. I did not see any “Holiday Trees” lots in front of Whole Foods for sale in early November the last two years. In fact, Whole Foods Market only stocked trees right after Thanksgiving, just in time for the Christmas season.

That tells me that Whole Foods Market knows that the only people who buy trees during the “Holidays” are people who buy them to celebrate Christmas. Sad that Whole Foods Market wants to profit from selling Christmas products but refuses to acknowledge the reason its customers by those products.

Hey Whole Foods. Americans celebrate Christmas, not generic holidays. If you are afraid of promoting Christmas, then don’t sell the products at all.

Holiday Trees? Come on. Really?

Bad messages in good movies

Geekdad on Wired has an article up today about the messages in movies. I was not surprised to see one commenter claim that “art is not meant to convey a message.” This person has no clue about art or even movies. All stories (including those portrayed in film) have a message. The idea of movies is to entertain in order to convey that message.

Geekdad is right on in recognizing it. I just disagree with the messages he takes from some of the movies (Wired leans largely to the liberal side).

10. If you’re not born with special abilities, you’re never going to be any good at some things, no matter how hard you try (from the Harry Potter movies, and, of course, books).

He missed this one. The squibs and muggles may not have wizarding abilities, but the good wizards do not look on them as worthless.

The real bad message is:
If you are the chosen one (e.g. Harry Potter) then the rules do not apply to you. For example, Harry disobeys his teacher by flying on a broom when unsupervised and ends up getting rewarded by getting to play the most important position, “Seeker,” on the Quiddich team.

9. No matter how appallingly bad conditions on Earth get, so long as there is one tiny plant on the planet, it can still be restored to its former beauty and sustainability (from WALL-E).

Wrong again. Earth took 700 years to be able to support that plant – and a few others we learn right before the credits. The plant shows the ability of the planet to heal itself.

However, that is not the main message of the movie. People abandoned the earth in the movie and have lived in space for 700 years. They lost their humanity during that time by pursuing only their own entertainment. Humans do not even raise their own children (work left to robots), and the movie even suggests humans do not even procreate.

The robot Wall*E is the most human of all characters. His humanity was developed over 700 years of working on earth. So the message is, humans need to work on earth to maintain their humanity.

8. Technology is fundamentally evil (from lots of movies, including the The Lord of the Rings trilogy). This message comes pretty much unchanged from the books, but it’s much easier to see it in the movies.

He pretty much gets this one right. J.R.R. Tolkien fought in World War I and his son in World War II. He thought industrialization was a negative influence on man.

7. Arrogance, brash self-confidence and having had a heroic father are much more indicative of a competent leader than are experience and knowledge (from the 2009 Star Trek movie).

I did not see this one, but it is consistent with the original Star Trek.

6. Kissing sleeping women you don’t know will wake them up and lead to them falling in love with you (from Sleeping Beauty and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs). We don’t really need to explain this one further than that, do we? I mean, we all know the stories.

Well, to be fair, both Snow White and Rose (in Sleeping Beauty) met their suitors prior to been bewitched. Still, the message that infatuation is the basis for a life-long commitment is a bad one.

5. If you’re a really good person, but in a lousy situation, simply wait around and eventually good things will just happen to you (from Cinderella).

I agree and disagree with this. My Catholic perspective says that suffering has purpose. Then again, we can take actions to change our circumstances. In the end, Cinderella did take advantage of opportunity when it presented itself.

4. Unconventional creative play is very, very wrong (from Toy Story). Sid, the kid next door, is portrayed as basically evil. The movie makes him out this way because he pulls toys apart and reassembles them in strange ways, and likes to blow things up. In other words, he’s a geek. If the toys weren’t alive — and Sid can probably be forgiven for not realizing that they were — his behavior would be perhaps a little extreme, but not in any way wrong, especially for a boy his age.

Could not be more wrong here. Geeks hack things to improve them or to make new things. They take things apart to learn how they are made so they can create their own designs. Sid is not a geek; he is a bully who steals from his sister and destroys her toys. He takes beautiful things and makes them ugly. He delights in destruction.

3. Even tough women who aren’t afraid to fight aren’t as important as the men they fight alongside (from the Star Wars movies).

Wrong. Leia is a princess and demonstrates leadership throughout the first series. Padme is a leader also. She doesn’t vanish as Geekdad says. Rather she assumes her new role of mother while she is pregnant (who sadly dies in childbirth). Padme’s decision to not fight while she is pregnant is not weakness; it is wisdom.

2. It’s OK to completely change your physical appearance and way of life for the person you love, even if he makes no sacrifices at all (from The Little Mermaid).

Wrong message again. Ariel’s transition is a secret to Eric, but when her life is in danger, he risks his own to fight the Sea Witch.

The real bad message is that it is OK to disobey your parents because they will apologize to you in the end. The message is amplified in Little Mermaid 2. This is coupled with the “infatuation is love” message of early Disney movies.

1. If you’re not a member of the elite, you’re basically inconsequential, even if you die heroically trying to save your people and your way of life (from the Star Wars movies).

Not really. This can be said of all adventure movies. The movie focuses on a few specific people. Obi Wan’s reaction to the destruction of Alderaan shows that non-elite people do have worth. (OK, he gets over it pretty quickly but it is a movie after all. He can’t mope forever).

On turning 40

So now I’m 40. It was a great day. Bailey woke me up with her usual enthusiasm to start the day. My parents then watched her for the day while my brother and some friends came to our house for an afternoon of gaming. Honeybun made the best chicken soup ever along with beer bread to feed everyone.

Afterwards we met my parents and Bailey for dinner at The Claim Jumper. On the way over, Honeybun told my brother to watch how Bailey would be so thrilled to see me again that she would ignore everyone else. Sure enough, as they walked in Bailey caught sight of me and yelled, “Daddy!” loud enough to announce it to the entire restaurant, then ran over to give me the biggest hug an almost 3-year old can give while telling me “I’m so glad to see you.” That always makes me feel special.

So, isn’t 40 the part where you are supposed to take stock of your life? That is pretty simple for me.

Well, aside from some career frustration, I am a happy man. I am married to the woman I love above all others. I have a daughter who is the epitome of a “daddy’s girl” and who I love with every fiber in me. I have great friends.

No, I’m not wealthy, but I am rich beyond measure and truly blessed.

What it means to be Catholic

Rhode Island Representative Patrick Kennedy has taken his disagreement with Catholic moral teaching into the public arena. On October 21, Rep. Kennedy (son of the late Edward Kennedy) told CNSNews.com, “I can’t understand for the life of me how the Catholic Church could be against the biggest social-justice issue of our time.” He said, “If the church is pro-life, then they ought to be for health-care reform because it’s going to provide health care that is going to keep people alive.”

Kennedy was criticizing the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for opposing a national health care bill that would fund abortions. The Catholic Church teaches that abortion is a gravely evil act.

The Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island to Rep. Kennedy’s comments to clarify the church’s teaching. Bishop Tobin’s most recent statement came in an open letter. The bishop makes a clear case about Kennedy’s error:

“The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” Well, in fact, Congressman, in a way it does. Although I wouldn’t choose those particular words, when someone rejects the teachings of the Church, especially on a grave matter, a life-and-death issue like abortion, it certainly does diminish their ecclesial communion, their unity with the Church. This principle is based on the Sacred Scripture and Tradition of the Church and is made more explicit in recent documents.

I hope we see more bishops stand up to correct the politicians who call themselves Catholic but put so much effort into undermining its beliefs.

Anti-freedom Democrats – Part IV

Yesterday, California U.S. House representative Lynn Woolsey (D) wrote an article for Politico in which she suggested that the Catholic Church’s tax exempt status should be revoked because the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) took the moral stance of objecting to a health care bill that would force tax payers to fund abortions.

She also made the false claim that the bishop’s position was funded by taxpayers because of the church’s tax exempt status. Wrong. Not forcibly confiscating money of religious organizations is not the same thing as the government giving money to those organizations.

The church has the right to speak out on moral issues even though Democrats increasingly don’t like it. Woolsey’s suggestion to punish the Catholic Church for exercising its rights is yet another warning sign that the left does not respect religious freedom.