Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Old Year's Eve: A concluding comment on the Year 2008

I was introduced to a Dutch tradition when I met Sarita.

I had only heard of New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

But Sarita's family celebrated Old Year's Eve or Old Year's Night . . . a time to remember the past and contemplate the future.

And so, in keeping with that practice, I thought the following end-of-year/Christmas editorial from the National Post, a publication of which I was previously unaware, is most apropos:
“Yes, we can” is good politics but bad theology.
“No, we can’t” won’t inspire a campaign rally,
but the realization that the glory of this world
is constantly passing away
is the first step in the search
for another, more enduring glory.

Sic transit gloria mundi — thus passes away the glory of the world, the old Latin phrase puts it.

In 2008, the glory of money took the biggest hit. The economic ground shifted beneath our feet, and so much that was solid, so much that was powerful, so much that was thought stable, has passed away.

The mightiest of them all, General Motors, has devoted its most intense recent energies not to production, but to begging.

The year began with five famous investment banks on Wall Street. In 2007, they distributed year-end bonuses to their combined 186,000 employees of some $38-billion — more than the GDP of Bulgaria, to put it in perspective.

In 2008, Bear Sterns and Merrill Lynch were bought out to save them from going bust; Lehman Brothers went belly up; Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley converted themselves into regular banks. Transit: 5; gloria mundi: 0. . . .

The fundamental Christian telling of history is that we are always in crisis to a greater or lesser degree. Man is estranged from God and consequently estranged from his neighbour; therefore he lurches through history trying to avoid one calamity or another. The Christian believer knows we need Christmas.

We need Christmas because, contrary to a certain messianic politics that took hold of so many this past year, the simple answer is that we can’t save ourselves. The things we make and manufacture, whether automobiles or mortgage-backed securities, are not the stuff of salvation. . . .

The Christian faith is that the Child in Bethlehem came to save us from this passing world, entering into it that we might, with Him, overcome it. This year we may be more disposed to considering that possibility than most.

To our readers then, who do us the . . . honour of passing some of their time with us, we wish a Merry Christmas and a new year abundantly blessed by those things that do not pass away.

I couldn't say it so well myself.
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