Keep Saturn in Saturnalia– The Sixth Day of Christmas

A Pagan Rejoinder to “Keep Christ in Christmas”

The atheist/agnostic group Freedom from Religion Foundation bought this “Keep Saturn in Saturnalia” billboard in Pitman, New Jersey, in response to a “Keep Christ in Christmas” banner that hangs in town. Someone was offended, and tried to burn down the billboard. As the article below wryly notes, the steel support beams suffered minor charring.

The billboard and ensuing hubbub provoke a couple thoughts. First, in this particular example, the atheists have a better sense of humor than the dour Christians of misdirected earnestness.

Second, with regard to the wider culture: has anyone in Pitman noticed that Christ hasn’t been in Christmas since at least 1980? If he were in Christmas, we would be paying more attention to Isaiah’s prophetic vision: beating swords into plowshares (2:4), assuring the fearful (35:4), and dealing graciously with the poor and socially inferior (11:4).

The excerpt follows, with the link below:

A South Jersey billboard proclaiming “Keep the Saturn in Saturnalia” was torched Tuesday night by two unidentified men who fled in a pickup truck after only charring the sign’s steel support beams.The billboard, erected as a cheeky counterpoint to a “Keep Christ in Christmas” banner in downtown Pitman, refers to the ancient pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice, held in mid-December to honor the Roman god, Saturn.

The incendiary incident is only the latest to be sparked by the billboard, which was paid for by a national group of atheists. According to town officials, many Pitman residents lost their holiday cheer when they woke up Friday morning to see the message plastered at the intersection of two heavily trafficked roads….

via Attempt to burn down atheists’ Saturnalia billboard in South Jersey.

St. Anselm, Public Safety Officer

St. Anselm himself, pondering the ontological argument for God’s existence, moments before pulling the fire alarm

The following headline appeared recently in the Manchester (NH) Union Leader:

St. Anselm to test emergency notification system today

Hope it was a success! Otherwise, a greater notification system– one that actually works– must exist.

via St. Anselm to test emergency notification system today | New Hampshire Public Safety.

Jason Gay: 27 More Rules Of Fourth of July Wiffle Ball

“Steeeee–rike”

Just for fun, some highlights from Jason Gay’s Wall Street Journal article on the 27 rules for Fourth of July Wiffle ball. The whole article is accessible at the link at the bottom:

3. Some people play Wiffle ball without running bases. But running bases is entertaining. So is getting an out by hitting the runner with the Wiffle ball. This makes the game more action-packed, burns more calories, and most important, introduces the amazing opportunity to legally throw something at members of your own family.

7. Bunting in Wiffle ball is a state and federal crime.

8. Wow, that is an amazing 82 mph backdoor slider you’re throwing. Related: Everyone in this Wiffle ball game despises you.

9. Beware the Wiffle ball strike zone. There’s always someone who wants to set up a strike zone behind home plate, and this can be an interesting wrinkle, but the “called strike” adds a mean streak to the game. The pitchers start taking themselves too seriously, and the next thing you know, Scott Boras is representing your aunt Claire.

11. Look, it’s fine—and common—to strike out in Wiffle ball. Don’t worry: The ridicule only lasts between 10 seconds and 40 years.

12. Just let Grandpa pitch one inning. All he wants to do is his Luis Tiant impression and then go inside and read his Lyndon Johnson book.

14. There are no umpires in Wiffle ball. There’s Uncle Billy watching the game on the porch, and Uncle Billy saw…OK, Uncle Billy is asleep.

18. Little kids should always be encouraged to play Wiffle ball. You just have to accept that your left fielder is eating Cheerios from a Ziploc and your second baseman went back to the house to watch “Ratatouille” for the 900th time.

21. Mid-game trades are allowed in Wiffle ball, but be careful: feelings can get hurt. No matter how much sense it makes at the time, you cannot trade your brother for a lawn chair.

24. Exciting news! There are more people at your Wiffle ball game than at a Marlins game.

25. The oldest rule of Wiffle ball: The person who has never played Wiffle ball before will end up getting the biggest hit of the game.

27. Do not take Wiffle ball seriously. You are an adult trying to hit a small piece of plastic with another small piece of plastic. But yes: Everyone knows you went 4 for 5 with seven RBI.

via Jason Gay: 27 More Rules Of Fourth of July Wiffle Ball – WSJ.com.

Frat Boys Are No Angels, Either

Every now and then we like to throw in some lighter fare. For amusement, I re-post this heading from Howard Friedman’s Religion Clause:

“Fraternity House Is Not A Monastery For

Zoning Purposes”

It seems that a federal court in Illinois has rejected an argument that a proposed fraternity house in Chicago be considered a monastery. Since the local zoning laws prohibit a fraternity house at that location, the owner of the house petitioned the court for the house to be considered a monastery (which would be permitted in the zoning laws). The basis of the claim was that Sigma Pi’s mission statement is “In the Service of God and Man.”

Perhaps the claim would have been stronger, had some of the “brothers” presented themselves to the court wearing cowls and drinking mead?

The full text of Friedman’s summation follows:

In Myers v. City of Chicago, ND IL, Sept. 12, 2012, an Illinois federal district court rejected an equal protection claim by plaintiff who purchased a house on Chicago’s North Shore Avenue intending to rent it for use as a fraternity house to Sigma Pi Fraternity. However, fraternities and sororities in this area require a special use permit– except for those located in the area before 1970 zoning changes established this requirement. Plaintiff argued that the city should treat his proposed use of the house as a “monastery”– a permitted use in the area– because of the Sigma Pi’s mission statement: “In the Service of God and Man.” The court concluded: No matter how closely Sigma Pi hews to the letter of its motto, Myers has fallen far short of proving that the Sigma Pi fraternity brothers are actual Religious Brothers, that is, in the words of the ordinance, “persons such as nuns or monks under religious vows.” The defendants’ interpretation of this language to exclude fraternity houses therefore passes the rational-basis test.

via Religion Clause.

Rest A While

Wrigley Field, which was built in 1914, will be playing host to Major League Baseball for the 99th season in 2012 – and to the Cubs for the 97th year. via Wrigley Field | cubs.com: Ballpark.

In the Christian scriptures prescribed for reading in church last Sunday came Jesus’ instructions to the disciples: “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.” The twelve had been out preaching repentance and healing the sick, so they were understandably ready for a break.

In such a spirit of renewal, Religion in the Balance will be resting in the upcoming couple of weeks. While Wrigley Field (and Miller, Comerica, and PNC Parks) are not lonely places, they will be places of rest for this author, his 14 year-old son, and two of his son’s friends. We’ll be back to Balance at the trading deadline.

The Pope Receives Fragrant Offering

Does New Cologne Increase the Pope's Appeal?

Benedict XVI is getting a custom-blended scent from Silvana Casoli. “The Guardian” reports that the Italian perfumist has filled a commission to create a unique cologne for the German pontiff.

Casoli, who has made special fragrances for Sting and Madonna (the singer), refuses to disclose the recipe for her pope concoction, although she did say it included the fragrances of lime tree, verbena, and grass.

An excerpt and link follow here:

He is picky about his robes and his red shoes are tailor-made, but Pope Benedict has taken the meaning of bespoke to a whole new level by ordering a custom-blended eau de cologne just for him….

via Pope commissions custom-blended eau de cologne | World news | guardian.co.uk.

Have You Met World Peace? Let the World B. Free

Rondo Drives on World Peace

Professional NBA basketballer Ron Artest changed his name to Metta World Peace in 2011. Last night, the Celtics played World Peace’s team, the Lakers. This morning’s game notes, appearing in “The Boston Globe,” had the following account of World Peace:

Paul Pierce and Metta World Peace were assessed technical fouls after mixing it up under the Lakers’ basket with 7:57 left in the third period and the Celtics leading, 53-51. World Peace and Pierce began shoving each other and World Peace put his forearm into Pierce’s chest. Kevin Garnett responded by pushing World Peace but was spared a technical. It might have inspired World Peace, who followed that dust-up by scoring 7 of the next 9 Lakers points. He once again burned the Celtics with 14 total points and lockdown defense on Pierce in his 31 minutes, 27 seconds. When asked if he enjoyed playing against World Peace, who while with the Pacers in 2004 pulled down Pierce’s shorts during a game, Pierce said, “It’s OK,’’ with a wry smile.

via Celtics’ Wilcox out indefinitely with potential heart issue – The Boston Globe.