The Rod Martin Report
As we head into the Christmas weekend, I just wanted to share a few thoughts.
Yes, it’s been a great couple of weeks. Donald Trump’s appointments have continued to delight (with the possible exception of Rex Tillerson, but see our article on him below). Perhaps none have been such a joy as Kellyanne Conway‘s new role as Counselor to the President (for those who’ve forgotten, that’s Ed Meese’s old job, in Reagan’s first term).
The left’s attempted Electoral College coup backfired, with more faithless electors voting against Hillary than against Donald Trump (amusingly, Democrats called these “Hamilton electors” in the run-up to the vote, discovering an exceedingly brief and heretofore unheard-of devotion to the Founding Fathers).
Dark warnings of “Russian hacking” were shown to be the politicization even of Obama’s CIA, as top spies literally — and illegally — refused to brief the House Intelligence Committee on the “evidence” supporting their innuendo.
The Trump Boom continued on Wall Street. The Trump jobs boom did too, as IBM announced plans to bring 25,000 jobs home, and even a Chinese billionaire announced plans to move a factory to Ohio, taking advantage of Trump’s announced tax policy.
On defense, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump announced competing nuclear force modernization plans. A reporter (Mika Brzezinski) suggested to Trump that this might provoke an arms race, to which the President-Elect replied: “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”
Sounds scary, right? Here was the reply from the ever-tough-talking Vladimir Putin: “We will never get dragged into an arms race where we spend resources that we can’t afford.”
In other words, we surrender. Now. Please don’t hurt us.
Yes, it’s kind of been Christmas every day.
I could write another 4,000 words on this. And you guys are all political junkies (not to mention all the economics and tech I write about) or you wouldn’t be here. But who wants to do that on the Friday afternoon before Christmas?
So on this Christmas Eve Eve, instead, I’m going to share with you something I just wrote on the conjunction of modern Capitalism and Christmas, which is wonderful not only for the former but the latter also. I think you’ll really like it (even if you’re not a Christian, but especially if you are).
Oh, and if you just can’t get enough of the geopolitical stuff, keep reading down to the bottom. We’ve published some great stuff this week, much of it listed below.
by Rod D. Martin
In the perfectly delightful A Charlie Brown Christmas, perhaps the most Christian 25 minutes of television ever (and not only because of Linus’s wonderful presentation of Luke chapter 2), everyone’s favorite Round Headed Kid unendingly decries the “commercialism” of Christmas.
And this is one of oh so many reasons Charlie Brown is rightly called a blockhead.
Commercialism is not, of course, the “real meaning of Christmas.” But the fact that Linus has to tell Charlie Brown what that true meaning is tells the rest of the story. Most people complaining about Christmas’s commercialism don’t know anything about Christmas’s “true meaning” either: they’re just complaining, as they always do, about nearly everything.
And complaining is the exact opposite of Christmas’s true meaning. Christmas is about grace. And grace, once received, is about gratitude.
As I’ve written before, Christmas is an absolutely singular holiday: there is nothing else like it. Independence Day is nice, but there is no “Fourth of July Season.” Ditto Halloween or St. Patrick’s Day. Christmas dominates an entire portion of the year. Secularists relentlessly attempt to redefine it into “the holiday season,” lumping it together with Thanksgiving and Hanukkah and the New Year so as to drain the meaning from all of them; but this is a relentless failure.
How much so? Sherri and I spent Christmas three years ago in Communist Beijing. We could not walk three feet without tripping over and practically being impaled upon a Christmas tree, strangled in garland, blinded by Rudolph. There were even Christmas trees at the Great Wall (and not even Communists called them “holiday trees”).
Christmas is unique. It is the most explicitly religious of holidays, celebrated around the world by countless millions who don’t even believe in Christ. In a very real sense, the whole calendar revolves around our Savior and His day.
But how they celebrate it is even more remarkable. Everywhere and always, Christmas is selfless. And our observance, one of the most visible attributes of our culture and our influence upon the world, centers upon precisely that selflessness.
After all, doesn’t the complaint against Christmas center upon the accusation that we are piling up things for ourselves? But who ever buys a Christmas present for himself?
Our culture’s celebration of Christmas – like that of the Wise Men – entails working long hours entirely for other people’s gain. It focuses even unbelievers upon “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It emphasizes the goodness in out-giving others, frequently anonymously, not for any gain to self but for their pure benefit and joy.
What’s more, it particularly highlights “the least of these”: children certainly, and in an age when the very young are routinely discarded once born or murdered even before that; but also on the jobless, the homeless, the shut-ins, the widows, all of those whom society might normally ignore.
Christmas – even in its most secular interpretation – focuses hearts and minds upon Christian virtue, Christian action, Christlikeness.
The so-called “commercialism” Charlie Brown laments serves only to promote that.
In focusing ire on the merchants and advertisers we make the tail to wag the dog. Every ad reminds us of Christmas; every one reminds us to give, not keep, not take. Every ad promotes the idea that others are more important than me, that my money and my work is better spent – voluntarily, and with a pure heart – to make the world a little better, whether to produce delight in a child or a meal in a shelter.
Not only that, each product suggested is an opportunity for me to refine my giving, so that my wife gets the dress she wants and not the vacuum cleaner I oafishly think she needs. What is decried as commercialism is actually a great service: first, promoting Christian thought and action, and second, helping me to actually serve in an effective, thoughtful way.
Some who accept my assessment of their effect will still question the advertisers’ motives. But a system that encourages right action even from impure hearts is an incredible achievement, a brilliant advance upon the savage selfishness of most of human history.
And even more to the point, is Charlie Brown’s complaint itself not uncharitable, even un-Christian? Is it not covetous in its essence, to envy and look askance at someone for providing that very thing which you seek? And when a parent buys a toy, or a church member gives a meal, isn’t the checker or the store manager very likely the next person on your pew? Are they evil for making a living? Indeed, are they not enabling everyone else’s good works?
And therein we discover the Satanic lie at the heart of this never-ending attack on the “commercialization” of Christmas. It is a giant guilt trip, an assault on the giving (which requires purchasing), on the volunteering (promoted by the ads), on the legitimacy of the honest and decent work of the sellers, but above all, on the relentless focus given to Christ’s birth by even the godless all over our world.
Satan would enjoy nothing so much as the diminishing of Christmas and all the hoopla around it, because with that diminishment would come a hardening of hearts, a subtraction of hope, and millions if not billions fewer opportunities every year to tell and to hear “the old, old story.” It is, after all, still Christmas they are celebrating, and one cannot be touched by Christmas without having to confront, in small ways or large, Christ Himself.
The “commercialization” of Jesus’s birthday is in reality a giant ad campaign for Christ, for the Gospel, paid for without a cent of tithe money or offerings. We should not lament or look down upon it. We should be grateful, to our Father Who turns the hearts of kings, and orders all things to the glory of His Son.
You can read about the world anywhere. You come to RodMartin.org to understand it. The Rod Martin Report was the most accurate analysis of 2016. Do your friends a favor and pass it along; and remember, there’s a lot more we publish each week that doesn’t make the newsletter.
P.S. Don’t forget: Christmas is about Jesus Christ, and His mercy on each of us. There is nothing in life so important as that. Read the articles below. But take some time this weekend and read the Book of John. You’ll be glad you did,
by Ian Morris
“The Geopolitics of Christmas” is a great secular follow-up piece to Rod’s article above. It also illustrates an essential point left unspoken in that essay and forgotten by most.
by Emily Roden
Emily Roden served on a jury with Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, trying a child predator. This is her story.
Barack Obama promised that if Britons voted for Brexit they would “go to the back of the queue” in trade negotiations. Donald Trump has sent them to the front. But there’s a lot more to be done. It’s beginning.
by Edward Ellegood
This week: John Glenn, Jeff Bezos’ shiny new rocket factory, Apollo 8’s Christmas Eve broadcast from the Moon, J.J. Abrams’ new space exploration drama, China’s and Japan’s big new plans, plus Making Space Great Again.
by Patrick Cox
Trump’s FDA choice matters more than most people realize (so it’s a very good thing Peter Thiel is on the case!). Here’s how we could get safe drugs to a lot more people a whole lot faster.
by Rod D. Martin
The revolution Jesus wrought is chiefly but not merely spiritual. Indeed, the Golden Rule is the foundation of capitalism, of entrepreneurship, and of the vast increase in human life expectancy and standard of living in the last 250 years.
You can read about the world anywhere. You come to RodMartin.org to understand it.
“Most Accurate Analysis of the 2016 Election Cycle”
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