” And so it begins”

These were, in essence, the closing words from the 1977 made for television movie, Jesus of Nazareth. Having seen it a number of times in its entirety, and the resurrection section even more often, I still consider the best video presentation of the life of Jesus.

The production was directed by Franco Zeffirilli and starred Robert Powell as Jesus along with other more notable actors such as Olivia Hussey( Mary) Ernest Borgnine, Anne Bancroft, James Earl Jones, Rod Steiger ( a great Pontius Pilate) and Michael York ( John the Baptist) among others.

It was a two-part series that was annually aired every Easter for a number of years. I appreciated the reverence with which it was done as well as  its faithfulness to the biblical record.

A number of things intrigued  me but I will for obvious reasons focus on the resurrection section. It was almost underplayed, nothing flashy or dramatic, just an empty tomb  with , a bit incongruously, an angel with an English giving the miraculous , unbelievable biblical quote “Why do you seek the living among the dead? Jesus is not here. And the dramatic footage of an empty tome holding abandoned grave-clothes. The scene always spoke volumes to me. ( Had a kind of Jack Webb quality, just the facts)

But now the title quote. It was spoken by an extrabiblical character,an official of the Jewish temple. It was made in response to the reports that Jesus was not in the tomb. As best I remember, his character was a skeptic, but all the same, he knew something  earthshaking had happened and things would never be the same.

His statement is not a bad response to the sermon title I saw this week on a local church sign, ” What does Easter mean to you? ” Yep, and so it began and so it continues today!

April 3, 2010 Posted by | Christianity, Holidays | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does it Matter Which One You Say?

We are well into the Christmas season with decorations and pageants and parades and shopping all around us. A season that seems to go at a faster and faster pace every year. It is  somewhat reminiscent  of the conceited tigers from the 1899 book by Helen Bannerman, Little Black Sambo. Trying to take their treasures from each other they run madly around and around a tree until they turn into butter. Almost sounds like a trip to the mall or the “evil place” does it not?

In previous posts I have made reference to my dislike of shopping in general and this time of year with its overemphasis on such, just makes it worse.

But there is something about the season that affects me  a bit differently and it concerns a feeling. There is of course, an increasing tendency away from the use of Merry Christmas as a greeting to be replaced by a more generic Happy Holidays. Schools are institutionalizing it somewhat and even celebrating winter instead -ok for Jack Frost  and Frosty , I guess. I understand that  much of the reasoning is the expressed desire not to offend or make uncomfortable those whose beliefs or traditions  run  in a different direction.

I don’t become angry about the generic but rather saddened that we feel the need to  turn into  a pretzel rather than risk  offense by saying things that shouldn’t even be offensive.

I read an interesting article by Andrew Malcolm of the Los Angeles Times that  referred to this year’s White House Christmas card. Generic, you betcha. Season’s Greetings and a joyous holiday season it says. Anything wrong with it, of course not. Just sorta bland and blah for my taste. Of course, Malcolm had to cite  a poll or two. And frankly these numbers surprised me. Not the fact that some 70% of Americans  prefer Merry Christmas but that it varies across political lines.A Rasmussen Reports survey indicates that  91% of Republicans and 70% of Independents prefer the traditional greeting with 58% of Democrats leaning that way.

Who woulda thunk it? I’m going with Merry Christmas regardless of the   political implications. Hope that’s alright.

December 13, 2009 Posted by | Holidays, Media | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Hallelujah of Choruses

During the Christmas season, I am always reminded of what  a wonderful blessing we have in music. As with  most people, I have my favorites. But there is  one Christmas song that seems to belong on an entirely different level. I am not musically literate enough to use the proper terminology so I will resort to describing it as a layman. The song is “The Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah.

My wife, the musically talented part of us has sung the entire Messiah on occasion and has tried to describe for me its difficulty and its majesty. The majesty part, i think i get. She and I attended a concert by the Albemarle Chorale this past Sunday  which closed with the chorus. For me, an okay evening of music was again transformed by their presentation. I have heard it don ea number of times, perhaps  my favorite was   in Columbus, Ga at First Baptist Church which was our church at that time. Some twenty plus years later, it remains for me a special musical memory.

Don’t know if it is the music or the words that leap directly  from the pages of the Bible (Isaiah, if you want to look it up) or the music  or knowing that  King George II was so moved that he may or may not have stood when it he first heard it. Audiences still stand though.

The Messiah was written in 1741-42 and first performed in Dublin in 1742 and I am thankful that it has endured to bring a touch of majesty to each Christmas season.

So, some time during your Christmas celebration, find a recording of the Chorus and enjoy!


December 8, 2009 Posted by | Holidays | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Enemy of Thanksgiving

How can it be? Can there possibly be  an entity, a person or thing that is anti Thanksgiving, that wishes to do it harm? I believe that the answer is yes an d that I have positively identified the culprit. This opponent is something  about which I have warned previously. But now, its nefarious tentacles have launched  a personal attack against our household. What is it? You should know by now, it is , it is the  evil cholesterol. Yes that despicable villain, that alters our diets, has taken away my potato chips,  and turned many of us into constant label readers at the grocery store.

Its stealthy approach has required Mrs THT to employ the use of medication to fight the battle. Now, don’t get me wrong. i am thankful for te medication for when one must, one must. But Thanksgiving, the feast of thanks, whatever one’s choice of food to feast upon, has been forced  to adjust.

So, adjust we have and adjust we will. No longer will one eat with no thought of consequence( except a few extra pounds) we will fight the good fight. Adios potato chips, it is Utz no more. Popcorn has surpassed you as a weapon keep ourselves healthy. I trust your day of thanks was blessed, enjoyable  and a healthy as possible. We know the enemy, it is not us, but those choices that can and will be improved. (As long a sI can drink Mello-Yello, that is.) Didn’t  Snoopy serve popcorn on A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving? Sure he did. Always the role model, that beagle.

At long last, after a stealthy attack, the inhibiter of the e njoyment of food has forced Mrs THT onto medication, a swell a sdietary adjustments.

November 26, 2009 Posted by | Health, Holidays | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Buy That Big Screen Television Quickly

I’m not a big television viewer. Generally,my television viewing could be described as NCIS, The Penguins of Madagascar, a potpourri of sporting events with an episode of Criminal Minds  here and there. Oh and reruns of JAG and Walker, Texas, Ranger. But, for those inclined to watch  a bit more often, have I got  a show for  you.

However, to get the full benefit of this  ABC special, airing on December 13, it is absolutely imperative that one   has  a big screen set. If ever there were a program geared for big screen, high-definition, this is it. There are no actors, per se, on this  special. And, one of the biggest stars of the program is  a house, the White House. What it is, is “Christmas at the White House, An Oprah Primetime Special.” You know  someone is  a really big media star when Christmas and the White House both get to share a title with them.

Anyway, the program will feature a tour  of the House, a conversation with the  Obamas, a behind the scenes  look at decorating the House and an interview with the President. Among the interesting facets of this event are the fact that Oprah rarely does  such specials and been virtually  invisible vis-a-vis the First Family since the election. And during the election, she was quite visible, as you will remember.

So, since  Oprah did not even attend the first state dinner, featuring the Prime Minister of India, Manmahon Singh, they will have many things to discuss. Example: How  did that Palin interview go and did you really read her book? Oprah could counter with a question about job openings in the Administration and how is it being  a Senator from Illinois? I might like to try that before running for a higher office. Good thing this show will be televised from  a large facility. Don’t know if she and Michele could co-exist in closed quarters.

So, remember, Sunday, December 10 at 10:00 pm on ABC.  Your celebration of the season will be incomplete  if you miss it. ( You think Gayle King filled Oprah in on the state dinner happenings?)


November 25, 2009 Posted by | Holidays, Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Forgotten Holiday

Wanted to get this out a little ahead of time. My far and away #1 candidate for the most forgotten holiday is Thanksgiving. Overwhelmed by the growth in Halloween preparation and paraphernalia on the one hand and the holiday shopping season on the other, the humble day of thanks has no chance. Perhaps it even should get a new name. Oh, how about Holiday Shopping Eve. Since the Friday afterwards is known as Black Friday and people must shop or else, it makes perfect sense. Rest up on Thursday, forget the big meal and hit the mall and Wal-Mart  ASAP.

In my family, I am sometimes indicted as one who “hates” holidays, modern-day Scrooge, if you will. But Thanksgiving, now that is one that I like. Can’t really eat as I once could, but that’s not  a problem. The food is just a backdrop, I think for the reconnecting with family that we wish were more commonplace.

I remember with great fondness songs like, “Come, Ye Thankful People Come and  “Over the river and through the wood”. If my memory does not totally fail me, we even sang some of those in elementary school. Not so sure that would happen today.

I know, I know all of the stories about the 1st Thanksgiving are not 100% accurate but there are elements from  that day that remain with us. The day itself has only been a federal holiday since 1941 and who knew what was going to happen in just a couple of weeks. obviously, there are stong religious  underpinnings but the day is much more secular now than religious. Wonder how long it has been since families actually started eating out  on Thanksgiving, have even done  that myself. Perhaps the pressure to create a culinary masterpiece has just become  too great. Here’s  a thought, it doesn’t have to be  a biiiggg deal meal to be a time for thanks. I will admit that Snoopy’s thanksgiving meal left  a bit to be desired though.

I understand that the First Family does not give Christmas gifts to their children and that’s ok. Hope they celebrate Thanksgiving though. And, if you need a little extra something for which to give  thanks, try this link, militaryfamiliespray. That could include those in Iraq, Afghanistan, Ft Hood and… you get the picture.

November 17, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Holidays | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Eleventh Hour, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Month

November 11,1918 marked the end of the war to end all wars or WWI. Alas, as we know all too well, that was not to be. Truth be told, it had no chance to achieve that goal. Wars have continued and continue; in all sizes and for a multitude of reasons. The day we call Veterans Day remembers those who served, those who returned,those who didn’t and honors those who serve now. We know all too well about those in Iraq and Afghanistan but also South Korea, on ships around the world, in numerous other countries and on bases here at home like Ft Benning and particularly Ft Hood.

The day originated as Armistice Day on November 11,1919,  the first anniversary of WWI’s conclusion, at the urging of Pres Woodrow Wilson. It did not become a national holiday, however,until 1938. The name changed to Veterans Day until 1954 when President Eisenhower signed legislation to honor those who had served in any  and all wars. Appropriately so, since he was the Supreme Allied Commander in WWII.

We have  around 24 million living veterans, about 10% of whom are women and  slightly over 10% are African-American. Some the more interesting  facts I discovered was that about  40% of of our living vets are over 65 but only 10% of  our living vets are from WWII. That is  a number that is rapidly declining. Numbers also indicate that about 1/3 of  veterans live in  just 5 states; California, Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania. I know numbers can be mind numbing but just  a couple more. The number of living veterans   comprises roughly 1/2 of  the veterans that served in wartime since Revolutionary  War  days .

So, today, we salute them all (the approximately 1.5 million on active duty) those who have served and remain  and in particular those who are gone.

November 11, 2009 Posted by | Holidays, military | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thanks Sonora Dodd

In the interest of equal time, hey, hey, it’s Father’s Day. So hats off to us dads, all 64.3 million of us. Almost seriously, dads don’t generally toot their own horn and they shouldn’t. But on behalf of dads, thank to Ms Dodd for Father’s Day. She was from Spaokane, Wa and got the idea for Father’s Day by(of all things) listening to a Mother’s Day sermon at church. She wanted her widower dad, Civil War vet, William Smart to be appropriately honored. Upon the death of his wife, he was left to rear six children on the family farm. He must have done a good job if he had  daughter who wanted to pay him honor.

June 19, 1910 was chosen as the first Father’s Day and so proclaimed by the mayor of Spokane. June was chosen since it was the month of Mr Smart’s birth. Surprisingly to me, the first presidential proclamation regarding Father’s Day was not until 196 courtesy of LBJ.

So, I had the opportunity to celebrate 26 such days with my dad before he moved up and out. Admittedly, I probably  contributed little  to the first 3 or 4  of those. And I would guess I always saw him on those days. For my wife as a child and me as a father, that has not always been the case. When her dad was with  us, the constraints of geography kept her apart from him on some of those days. So it has been  true with me. And that is ok. I treasure the love of my  children whether they are near or far. I must add for clarification that I consider myself fortunate to have added an additional child to my “quiver”(Psalm 127 :4-5) when my son and his wife were married a few years ago.

So, thanks Sonora Dodd, again proving the power of one individual to all of us who wonder what can one person do.

June 21, 2009 Posted by | History, Holidays | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“Nevah, Nevah, Nevah” Forget

Today, we celebrate Memorial Day, although we should be celebrating on May 30. You could almost call it a forgotten holiday or a “mis-celebrated” holiday. It is, alas, thought of most often as the beginning of summer and the vacation season. But, if we pause to remember, it is far, far more.

This is not necessarily a day to celebrate wars. It is a day to honor and remember those who, many on a volunteer basis, gave of themselves and many times gave their all. As the Declaration of Independence so eloquently states”… pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”

As those men put their all on the line in 1776, the men and women of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard have done so  since the days of the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish- American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. As well, there have been  have numerous conflicts, skirmishes, etc where soldiers and  sailors have given their  all.

As one who did not serve, it is somewhat embarrassing to to just say thank you. In itself, it is very inadequate but nonetheless should be said repeatedly.

I close with a small montage of photos in honor and memory of all who have served.

2006- U S Army in Afghanistan

2006- U S Army in Afghanistan

Graves at Arlington on Memorial Day

Graves at Arlington on Memorial Day

Vietnam patrol

Vietnam patrol

1944 - under attack in Europe

1944 - under attack in Europe

So , remember the over 43 million who have served and the almost 700,ooo who have died from the Battle of Bunker Hill to Tikrit and all points in between.

So, today, fly a flag, salute a vet but remember.

Semper Fi, Fair Winds and Following Seas, Duty, Honor, Country and Semper Paratus,Integrity, Service, Excellence.

May 25, 2009 Posted by | History, Holidays | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mothers Day Trumps Fathers Day

Tomorrow  is the annual and well-deserved day to honor our moms, whether they are with us or not. (Mine is not.) We

Mrs Jarvis and daughter Anna

Mrs Jarvis and daughter Anna

owe this day primarily to a lady named  Anna May Jarvis, whose mother died 104 years ago today. After her mom’s death she began a campaign to have a day set aside to honor mothers all over the country. Her tireless efforts bore fruit with west Virginia declaring a state holiday in 1912 and Congress passing a law designating the second Sunday in May as the official day. Congress passed the law on May 8, 1914 and President Wilson made the first Mother’s Day proclamation the following day. It was announced as a day to show the flag and honor mothers whose sons had died in the war.

I remember even as a child the custom of wearing a white carnation if ones mother had died and red  if she was living. This came about due to the fact of Ms Jarvis’ mother preferring carnations. Alas, this custom seem to have largely faded away. Another childhood memory bites  the dust.

One other little tidbit, the Postal Service says that the busiest delivery  day for its trademark Express Mail is on Mother’s Day. Now, having daid all that, I have often wondered why Mother’s Day trumps Father’s Day. And, yes I wondered even before I was a dad. Sentiment, guilt, I wonder. I am certain that Hallmark and the florists would not if the dads day caught up.

Oh well. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms, especially those represented in my family. And if you have a mom around, do not forget her!


May 9, 2009 Posted by | Holidays | , , , , | 2 Comments