Friday, December 30, 2011

2011: the 1968 of the New Evangelization

Today it’s time to write the last post of 2011.  On the purely personal level I’m ready to put this year to bed.

On the macroscopic level, it’s been full of events that may define the last twelve months as a watershed time similar to 1968.  While it’s still early to say the culture of death has come to the end of its chain and that Catholicism is firmly on the path of resurrection, our hopes for the return of sanity have pretty firm grounds.

Just over a year ago, a “progressive” nun speaking for a schismatic group called FutureChurch proclaimed, “It is clear that change is happening, and that it is bigger than any of us. … [The positions taken by some bishops in the last decade and a half] have led to more Catholics saying we have to resist this and be about a different kind of church because that’s not working anymore.”[1]  FutureChurch is indeed ahead of its time, applying the thoughts of the mid-Sixties to the Church of the mid-Forties.[*]  By contrast, the evidence pouring in since then indicates that change is happening in the opposite direction, that the movement is towards becoming more faithful to orthodox, traditional Catholicism.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Do religious beliefs matter?

To my dear friend religion is just another personal choice, like who to date or whether to have coffee or tea for breakfast.  It doesn’t matter what religion you choose to follow if it works for you. But that is not what Catholicism is.  It is not just another choice on the buffet of beliefs.  He thinks my stubborn persistence that Catholicism is the True Faith founded by Christ to be nothing more than a desire to be right.  [In the previous paragraph, “He finds it elitist a Catholic’s claim of belonging to the One True Church.”]

What our friend the Crescat is describing, in her post on dating outside the Faith, is described in the old Catholic Encyclopedia as “restricted indifferentism”: “all religions are equally worthy and profitable to man, and equally pleasing to God. … God looks only to the sincerity of intention, and that everybody can serve Him by remaining in the religion in which he has been brought up, or by changing it at will for any other that pleases him [i.e., the worshipper] more.”[1]

This is not an uncommon position to take.  In fact, a very dear friend of mine holds (or at least held at one time) this position almost exactly as stated.  If there’s anything enviable about the position, it allows one the benefit of having religious convictions, even strong convictions, without either the uncomfortable imperative of examining them for flaws or the equally uncomfortable need to challenge the beliefs of others.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Who cares about religious apathy?

The joke example of “mixed emotions” is “Watching your mother-in-law go over a cliff in your brand-new Maserati.”  Well, never having been married, my experience of other people’s mothers-in-law has been nothing but positive.  So I’ll have to settle for this example: reading that Richard Dawkins is a Christmas traditionalist.

In the Christmas issue of the New Statesman, published this week [writes Jennifer Schuessler of the New York Times], the eminent zoologist and author of “The God Delusion” began an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain by heartily wishing him “Merry Christmas!,” adding that he will accept no substitutes.
“All that ‘Happy Holiday Season’ stuff, with ‘holiday’ cards and ‘holiday’ presents,” is a tiresome import from the United States, where it has long been fostered more by rival religions than atheists,” Mr. Dawkins wrote.
As a “cultural Anglican,” Mr. Dawkins continued, “I recoil from such secular carols as ‘White Christmas,’ ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ and the loathsome ‘Jingle Bells’ [he’s obviously never heard Andrea Bocelli sing it with the Muppets], but I’m happy to sing real carols, and in the unlikely event that anyone wants me to read a lesson I’ll gladly oblige — only from the King James Version, of course.”

Of course, Dawkins’ encomiums for traditional carols and robust, unapologetic references to Christ as part of Christmas merely set up attacks on government support of religious schools, the “faith-labeling” of children, and on PM Cameron’s own religious sincerity.  But the mental picture of him, bundled against the cold, appearing on some Belgravia doorstep and regaling the residents with “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” (perhaps in a barbershop quartet with Sam Harris, Philip Pullman and P. Z. Myers?), does much to alleviate the “after-Christmas blues”.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Have yourself a merry little Christmas ....

What are you doing here?  Listen to the song, then shut your computer OFF and go be with your family!  I'll be back Monday, 12/26.  In the meantime, God bless you all; have a merry, merry Christmas and a happy New Year!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Awkward science problems

In Harper Magazine’sThe accidental universe: Science’s crisis of faith,” physicist/novelist Alan Lightman, writing for Harper’s Magazine, explains the dilemma that string theory, which posits multiple dimensions and multiple universes, places the discipline of theoretical physics.

On the one hand, it promises a workable Theory of Everything, the Holy Grail of physics, which would finally reconcile general relativity with particle physics in a coherent, mathematically expressible way.  As well, as Steven Weinberg explains, “The multiverse idea offers an explanation of why we find ourselves in a universe favorable to life that does not rely on the benevolence of a creator, and so if correct will leave still less support for religion.”  No need for “fine tuning” here, so sorry, folks; you can pack up your intelligent-designer bags and go home.

On the other hand, with 10500 universes in play, it means that the fundamental principles of our universe are accidental; the whole point of string theory in the beginning was to prove those principles necessary.  Worse, because of technological and financial limitations they can’t prove eternal inflation or string theory true, and won’t be able to for many, many years (if ever):

Not only must we accept that basic properties of our universe are accidental and uncalculable [sic] [; in] addition, we must believe in the existence of many other universes.  But we have no conceivable way of observing these other universes and cannot prove their existence.  Thus, to explain what we see in the world and in our mental deductions, we must believe in what we cannot prove.

Excuse me, I gotta get this out of my system:  BWA-HAHAHAHAHA-AA!  O the irony!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Can’t we just be friends?

I wonder if I even know what constitutes “romance” anymore.

I bring this up because there’s a pretty heavy discussion on Steve Gershom’s blog, where one of the readers is trying to “appeal to finer detail” on gay romance (no sexual contact implied) vis-à-vis Catholic sexual morality. And I don’t mean to appear as though I ridicule the idea, but my unruly mind can’t help but reel under the assaulting image of one man presenting another a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates.

At one time, to say that something was romantic was to say that it had the air of epic adventure, that it was an Iliad or Chanson de Roland waiting for the right bard to cast it into poetry. Within the context of love, it was love both idealized and realized, having all the required, even scripted, elements yet evoking wonder and beauty, like a performance from Michelle Kwan at the top of her game. (No, I will not turn in my guy card.) The sexual tension was maintained almost perfectly, awaiting the honeymoon for its resolution and consummation.

The postmodern sexual madness always has to find new ways to shock because, wherever it’s occupied territory for awhile, it’s become yawningly banal. While I get that calling an ardent admiration for another person a “crush” is supposed to be funny, as is calling a close male friendship (such as that between Matt Damon and Ben Affleck) a “bromance”, it has all the stale emptiness of too many knock-knock jokes, of hearing somebody say “Houston, we have a problem” as though Apollo 13 just hit the big screen last weekend. “Man-crush” was cliché as soon as it was coined.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Terrorists are criminals, not soldiers—UPDATED

On December 1, the Senate passed S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012.  The last action taken as of this date was on December 14, when both houses adopted a modifying resolution which pretty much imports the language of the Senate bill into the House companion bill H.R. 1540, passed back in April.

Originally I had written that the legislative process gives Congress the chance to correct mistakes.  Actually, it appears not; it justs gives a committee power to perpetuate mistakes.  For instance, Section 551(d) of the bill repeals — not "amends", mind you, repeals10 USC 925, Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice;[1] while the Senate intended to legalize homosexuality within the military, this provision if the bill is signed would also legalize bestiality within military jurisdiction.

Yeah, “oops”.  I seriously doubt our congresspersons are that “progressive”; I honestly believe they were so excited to strike a blow for gay rights that they didn’t do their homework to see what all they were repealing.  Nevertheless, now they’re stuck with the language, since BHO can’t do a line-item veto.

But of greater concern — one that’s spurred Mark Shea to new heights of purple anti-government invective — are Sections 1031 and 1032.[2]  Simply put, these two articles make the category of “people with Constitutional rights” subject to the say-so of the Executive Branch.  Congress has drunk the Kool-Ade.

Monday, December 19, 2011

On the doorstep of philosophy

In his classic concert film Bill Cosby: Himself, the storytelling comedian talks about the natural childbirth of his and his wife’s first daughter, Erika.  Cosby, who has an earned doctorate in education, sets up this story with the wry observation, “Now, we were Intellectuals, mind you … Intellectuals go to class to study things that people do naturally.”

This line popped into my brain after an exchange I had on eChurch Blog with “Simian”, an agnostic to whom I was introduced by Stacy Trasancos and who pops up on Accepting Abundance now and then.  Stuart James’ post was on the need of an objective reality by which we can define sanity; to cut this post to size, I’ll just say that Simian has been playing … er, devil’s advocate. 

In his response to me, Simian’s last lines were, “If we are looking for an external validation of our sanity we surely need look no further than other people around us. Why do we need more?”  More out of mischief than anything else, I replied, “Are the people around you sane by definition?”

Strange as it may seem, that’s the kind of question a philosopher asks in full earnest.  You’re at the doorstep of philosophy when you start to ask questions about ideas and facts that people take for granted.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hell, Hitchens and unconditional acceptance

I’ve been writing a lot this last year about Catholic eschatology, especially about the doctrine of Hell, and was hoping to move on to pastures new. But two things happened today that changed my mind.

First, I received an email from my cousin Greg, prompted by a post I wrote for Catholic Bandita. Then, while I was writing him back, I got the news that Christopher Hitchens, journalist and one of the Four Horsemen of New Atheism, had passed away from esophageal cancer.

Other writers and Catholic bloggers have written their own eulogies for this brilliant, incisive, angry penman; for pure, touching pathos, I recommend his brother Peter’s valedictory. For myself, I’m hesitant to add to or detract from Hitch’s public wake; I may post something on The Impractical Catholic later. For now, let’s read an excerpt from Greg’s e-mail:

So here’s my take on religion and guilt. I think they very much go hand in hand but I think it's more how it is taught and delivered to us than of the religion itself, regardless of what faith.  I mean, think about it.  How many times are we told, “If you do XYZ, God will punish you.” Part of my issue with organized religion is the mixed messages that are involved. God’s love is supposed to be unconditional providing … and then all of these conditions are laid out.  […]  That is when the “guilt” begins to come into play, in my opinion of course.  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tim Tebow and “Christian incrementalism”

If [Denver Broncos quarterback Tim] Tebow wins the Super Bowl, against all odds, it will buoy his faithful, and emboldened faithful can do insane things, like burning mosques, bashing gays and indiscriminately banishing immigrants. While America has become more inclusive since Jerry Falwell​’s first political forays, a Tebow triumph could set those efforts back considerably.

This piece of anti-Christian effrontery by Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, and the op-ed piece it was part of, have been removed from The Jewish Week website. But not before it caught the ire of “Jammie Wearing Fools”, who posted a vicious fisking on Human Events, and the satirical gaze of Mark Shea:

Many Lefty Jews are stuck in some shtetl in Tsarist Russia and have trouble getting what 21st Century conservative Christians are really about. Part of it, as this piece demonstrates, is sheer class snobbery. Evangelicals like Tebow are seen by this snooty elitist as mouth-breathing Hee Haw lovers just about to erupt in mob violence at the slightest provocation. And this is understandable given the outbreaks of mass Christian violence against Jews that came with the release of The Passion of the Christ. Since that horrible terror erupted, leaving in its wake a nation traumatized by zero acts of violence against Jews (a number that has doubled every day since then), you can see why somebody like the author of this piece has grounds for his fears.

Well, not quite “zero” … there have been a couple of synagogue vandalisms since then. The problem is, since there were occasional synagogue vandalisms before, it’s really stretching things to argue that they were uniquely motivated by The Passion of the Christ. Ordinary anti-Semitic idiocy covers them nicely, thank you very much.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Is teaching the doctrine of Hell child abuse?

You don’t have to be a parent to be ripped apart by the sound of a child crying. If there’s anything in you worth calling “human”, then the tears of a frightened, hurt or sad child are the most wrenching thing to witness; it automatically calls forth a response — to heal, to help, to comfort, to defend. And there’s not much worse than to stand by helplessly, knowing there’s nothing you can do.

Of course, sooner or later the little monsters learn this weakness of ours and try to exploit it. If you spend enough time around kids, you learn to tell the subtle differences between authentic tears and the raging screams of a brat who didn’t get his way. In these cases, the worst thing you can do is to give in, to reinforce the expectation.

There are other times, though, when the thing that must be done may — and probably will — make the child cry. For instance, when you have to tell little Johnny that his beloved Papa has gone to heaven. Or when the doctor must set the broken bone, or give little Susie a tetanus shot.

And it’s hard to predict what may frighten a child. The little boy who happily hacks up monsters with a sword while playing with his X-Box may lie awake at night because he overheard his father talking with a friend about a bugbear called “the twi-night double-header”.[*] His father spoke of it as a real thing; why shouldn’t he believe it’s a real beast?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Catholic Moms v. Erica Jong

Back in July, I wrote a reflection on an op-ed piece in the New York Times by Fear of Flying author Erica Jong, titled “Is Sex Passé?” The point of my post was that the Sexual Revolution, of which Jong was a prominent exponent, had done women more harm than good by telling them that they had to have multiple partners, eschew monogamy and put strict limits on childbearing (if not forgo it altogether).

In the article, Jong thought about why so many of the women who contributed to her anthology, Sugar in My Bowl, were “obsessed with motherhood and monogamy”, mostly choosing not to search for the “zipless f***” Jong had celebrated in her first novel.[*] Three-quarters of the way through, what could have been for her a line of thought leading to a massive paradigm shift runs instead into the unyielding wall of ideology:

Punishing the sexual woman is a hoary, antique meme found from “Jane Eyre” to “The Scarlet Letter” to “Sex and the City,” where the lustiest woman ended up with breast cancer. Sex for women is dangerous. Sex for women leads to madness in attics, cancer and death by fire. Better to soul cycle and write cookbooks. Better to give up men and sleep with one’s children. Better to wear one’s baby in a man-distancing sling and breast-feed at all hours so your mate knows your breasts don’t belong to him. Our current orgy of multiple maternity does indeed leave little room for sexuality. With children in your bed, is there any space for sexual passion? The question lingers in the air, unanswered.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The corrupting influence of utilitarianism

Yesterday on The Impractical Catholic, I wrote with some well-merited fury about the Air Force dumping the cremains of 274 or more soldiers in a Virginia landfill, as reported in the Washington Post (“Betrayal: treating soldiers like garbage”). As I said, this act is far more than a lapse of good judgment; it’s a slap in the face, a betrayal not just of those soldiers and their families but of the entire military community, of everyone who wore the uniform with pride and honor.

But I fully expect the Pentagon to rake through their personnel in an ecstasy of ass-covering to produce some desk-jockey lieutenant colonel, whom they’ll sacrifice in the usual way with the usual media connivance. That’s not sufficient, because this isn’t an “oopsie”: several people in the Air Force and DoD civilian leadership, at least one of which had to be flag rank, had to screw this up. Even desk jockeys don’t take that kind of decision on themselves.

This digs into the deeper question: How could this have happened? How could any collection of human beings lose their heads or their hearts so far as to dump the remains of citizens like so much refuse? How could they have lost sight of the fact that the ashes were once people whom other people loved and lost, that they were owed at minimum a decent burial, a dignity we accord even convicted felons … in full justice, burial with bugle and 21-gun salute, their families given folded flags “with the thanks of a grateful nation”?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Of booties and killing

“Thou shalt not kill.” Seems obvious, right?

It isn’t. Not really. And let me explain why.

As you may have guessed, I’m fascinated with words. I’m not a trained linguist, just a logophile with access to the virtually unlimited resources of the internet and a little too much time on my hands. But I’m also in a continuing study of my own religion, as a revert whose religious formation was spotty and arguably mismanaged, and as person fascinated by the cultural and philosophical richness of the Catholic faith.

As I explained the other day, semantics is calling a spade a spade because it isn’t a shovel. The application of sound to concept may be socially constructed; but it doesn’t follow that you can therefore mean whatever you want with words. In fact, it’s precisely because they are socially constructed that you have to mean what the rest of society means by those words in order to be understood. Failure to do so is failure to communicate your thoughts and emotions, which is what words are supposed to accomplish.

The last couple of years have been full of stories concerning translation, about how specific words and phrases are rendered into good or poor English. The biggie, of course, was the most recent Latin Missal translation, with various people getting into Web donnybrooks about the replacement of “one in being” with “consubstantial” and the reintroduction of “ineffable”. But there have been lesser tempests in smaller teapots.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Testing the soundness of an argument

Formal propositional logic can make your head hurt. It’s higher mathematics applied to language use, and many people are scared of higher mathematics of any kind. In running through every inference, it often has the appearance of belaboring the obvious. Not only is it accessible only to the trained, because of that limited accessibility it’s off-putting to the untrained, as if though the subject in question belonged only to specialists and therefore the unwashed masses mustn’t even hope to participate.

Why go through such a megillah, then?

The rigor. It belabors the obvious precisely because it doesn’t take the “obvious” for granted; not everything that’s obvious to you and me is obvious to everyone else. By forcing the reader through the supposedly unnecessary steps, it demonstrates irrefutably the internal consistency of an argument. Informal logic tests the soundness of an argument by walking the floors and pounding the walls; formal logic supervises the welding of the steel beams and the pouring of the reinforced concrete.

Over on The Impractical Catholic I posted a formal argument demonstrating the infallible reliability of the Church. Reliability, after all, is the crux of the infallibility question: Can the Church be trusted not only to teach the evangelium correctly but also to teach dogmatic propositions that aren’t explicit or obviously implicit in Scripture?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Garden tools and First Amendment rights

What is semantics? The best way I can put it is: Semantics is calling a spade a spade because it’s not a shovel.

Let me unpack it for you: Semantics is the art and study of words in their variation of meaning, particularly their precise application for the best expression of ideas. For example, if you’re digging a hole in the dirt and you ask for a “shovel”, in ordinary circumstances the person helping you would hand you a spade — laterally-curved blade with an ogive edge — because that’s the appropriate tool for the task. But a true shovel — flat blade with a straight edge — isn’t for digging; it’s for scooping. Especially when the blade is about 2’ wide, shallow and sometimes longitudinally-curved … that is, a snow shovel.

If you want to be understood, precision is your friend, ambiguity your enemy. If, however, you intend to mislead, misdirect or flat-out lie, ambiguity is your shovel.

Now we can look at three words that have been used to describe a certain First Amendment freedom: religion, worship and conscience. Which does the actual text protect? (Cue Jeopardy! music.)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The risk of being heroes

I’ve made two additions to my blogroll that you should read: Steve Gershom’s Catholic, Gay and Feeling Fine, Thanks and Richard Evans’ Catholic Boy Richard. Although both describe themselves as “gay”, they also practice continence: Steve made his decision almost as soon as he became aware of his same-sex attraction (SSA), while Richard turned to continence after many years as a gay-rights activist.

This leads to two points. First, I’m not sending you over there to clog their comboxes with arguments as to whether they should call themselves “gay” or not. Steve only uses the term sporadically, generally preferring the shorthand “SSA”; I don’t know what Richard’s rationale is, and I don’t intend to beard him on it either. And while I generally reserve “gay” for people who are practicing homosexuals, I don’t insist on it … it’s just not that important.

Second point: I’m not asking you to go over to “get a load of the freak shows” or to make poster boys of them. They’re both truly intelligent, well-spoken people who write things about life in the Catholic faith worth reading. Say to them, “Hi, Tony sent me;” read what they have to say, then comment on what they’ve said. It’s that simple.

The injunction against making tokens or freak shows of these men is especially important. On one of Steve’s posts, which addressed another person’s statement “The best a gay Catholic can get is not-masturbating” (please read the post for the context), one reader, Ron, snorted: “Oh, please ... That shows the bias that all people with SSA are a bunch of sex-always-on-the-brain, ready-to-jump-in-the-sack people. We are capable of so much more than that, capable even of heroism.”

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Teaching sexual stupidity (Part II)

So in a rich, private Quaker school in Philadelphia, an English teacher named Al Vernacchio is also instructing a course in “Sexuality and Society”. While there’s no “show and tell”, and the course material doesn’t go so far as to demonstrate positions from the Kama Sutra, the discussion is frank and often graphic.

Furthermore, Vernacchio abandons abstinence education in favor of promoting “safe sex” in an “LGBT-friendly” manner. And author Laurie Abraham is so taken with his approach that she has written an eight-page encomium in the New York Times Magazine.

In Part I, I conceded that kids do need authoritative education in sex and sexuality. However, using “they’re gonna do it anyway” as a justification for abandoning abstinence-centered sex education is poor pedagogy and dumb policy. The saturation of our media with messages encouraging poor sexual judgment is simply further reason why we need abstinence education, and can provide a myriad of examples of how the media sells an unrealistic expectation of sex without consequences.

Nevertheless, this is the strategy many educators want to pursue: to teach kids to rely on prophylactics and chemicals to minimize the risks of pre- and non-marital sex. In fact, Abraham titled her piece “Teaching Good Sex”, as if copulation within the bonds of a monogamous, permanent marriage open to procreation is by definition unsatisfying or substandard. (I’ve seen this dirty-only-if-it’s-done-right implication before, in a Young Catholics For Choice advertisement, and I remember that our culture’s sexual values are still largely informed by the mindless psychobabble, quasi-scientific research and half-digested Marxism of the 1960s.)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Teaching sexual stupidity (Part I)

We all know that having a lot of money doesn’t mean you can’t in some way be a ninny. (Cue photo of Paris Hilton.) Nor is a post-graduate education a bar to silliness; while I know and admire plenty of people with magisterial and doctoral degrees, some others peddle and gulp theories or policies worthy of Dr. Peter Kreeft’s pungent phrase, “so stupid only a Ph.D. could believe it!”

If you want to go to the land of rich, well-educated idiots, you have to go either west to California, especially the San Francisco Bay area, or east to anywhere within 150 miles of Manhattan. Philadelphia’s Main Line — full of some of the oldest money and bluest blood in the country, and source of many of our nation’s greatest unsung heroes — now seems to be descending into the kind of senescence produced by inbreeding even an uncrowned, unofficial nobility.

Case in point: Friends’ Central School. A private school in Wynnewood run by the Society of Friends (“Quakers”), tuition starts at $13,200/year for nursery and tops out at $27,400/year for the secondary grades. Needless to say, it’s the kind of school ambitious yuppie parents want their kids to go to and the Philadelphia elite stuff full every year. And one of the electives a senior student can select from the curriculum is a year-long course called “Sexuality and Society”.

This course, taught by English teacher Al Vernacchio, who developed the course and sold it to the school’s leadership, is the subject of a rather fulsome, admiring 8-page article in the New York Times Magazine written by Laurie Abraham [H/T to Mark Shea]. Despite Abraham’s effusive praise, the article unconsciously conveys exactly what can go wrong with sex education in schools.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Humans matter; or, Why holiday specials suck

The other day, I had an almost crystal-clear story idea. And since I’m publishing it here, you can tell me if it’s already been done … but you can’t use it yourself. Heh-heh-heh.

Here it is: A man living in a seemingly Utopian materialist future becomes frustrated by the annual commercial madness of the “Winter Holiday”, a holiday whose purpose and origin he doesn’t know or understand. After giving voice to his confusion and irritation publicly, he receives a cryptic message which pushes him into researching this annual headache. The first major plot point, which springboards the rest of his story, is when he finally comes across a clip of A Charlie Brown Christmas — fifty-one seconds that puts his job, his marriage, his reputation and his life in peril.

You know the fifty-one seconds I’m talking about: Linus reciting Luke 2:8-14 KJV.[*]

Let’s face it: Most “Holiday” specials, shows and movies are crapburgers. They’re either too treacly or hooky to be truly heartwarming, or they’re too uneven or crude to be truly funny, or they take a big, grinchy, Scrooge-like dump on Christmas altogether in an obscenity- and blasphemy-laden fillip on “Bah, humbug!” (like A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas). And would somebody please tell me what’s so flipping magical about A Christmas Story that it needs to be shown all bloody day on Christmas Day!?

Above all, only a thimbleful of these shows have the stones to refer to the Nativity … for which A Charlie Brown Christmas is still remarkable.