- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Acquisition binge

“Americans have been on an acquisition binge for decades. I suspect television advertising, which made me want a Chatty Cathy doll so much as a kid that when I saw her under the tree my head almost exploded. By contrast, my father will be happy to tell you about the excitement of getting an orange in his stocking during the Depression. The depression before this one. …

“Wall Street executives may have made investments that lost their value, but, in a much smaller way, so did the rest of us. … A person in the United States replaces a cell phone every 16 months, not because the cell phone is old, but because it is oldish. My mother used to complain that the Christmas toys were grubby and forgotten by Easter. …

“Now much of the country is made up of people with the acquisition habits of a 7-year-old, desire untethered from need, or the ability to pay. The result is a booming business in those free-standing storage facilities, where junk goes to linger in a persistent vegetative state, somewhere between eBay and the dump.”

Anna Quindlen, writing in “Stuff Is Not Salvation,” in the Dec. 22 issue of Newsweek

Warren’s history

“[President-elect Barack] Obama’s selection of Orange County mega-pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his swearing-in has hit liberal Hollywood in one of its sorest spots: the passage of Proposition 8, California’s ban on gay marriage, which Warren strongly supported. …

“While none of the senior activists are advocating a boycott of the inaugural, as some grass-roots voices on the Internet are, they are calling on Obama to make some concrete gestures showing he understands their concerns. …

“Warren has his own history with liberal Hollywood. He was instrumental in encouraging support among evangelicals for the Al Gore-inspired, Oscar-winning documentary on global warming, ‘An Inconvenient Truth.’

“At the film’s premiere a few years ago, which Warren attended, the pastor … enthusiastically voiced support for reducing carbon emissions and expressed outrage over official neglect of the global warming issue. Afterward, he hugged and congratulated one of the film’s producers, Lawrence Bender, and vowed to do whatever he could to get the word out.

“And Warren delivered. Many credit his efforts with making global warming and environmental stewardship issues in young evangelical congregations across the country. Similarly, his own church’s work to ameliorate the suffering of HIV-positive Africans has drawn the support of many film celebrities.”

Tina Daunt, writing in “Obama’s choice of Rick Warren to lead prayer dismays Hollywood liberals,” in the Los Angeles Times on Dec. 20

Perfect hymn

“Hallelujah is the song we will all be singing this Christmas, although not necessarily in praise of the Lord. For all its air of religious devotion, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah is a very secular ballad of desire and rejection, failure and transcendence.

“It is set to become the most philosophically complex Christmas number one in the history of the pop charts. Three versions are currently competing for that honor, Cohen’s stately original (at a lowly number 34), the late Jeff Buckley’s towering 1994 recording (currently at three, driven by an Internet campaign to save the song from the clutches of [‘American Idol’ judge] Simon Cowell) and the firm favorite from X Factor winner Alexandra Burke. …

“Yet Cowell has probably identified Hallelujah as a perfect Christmas song for godless times. As a nation, we may no longer go to church, but we still celebrate the birth of Christ with a fervor. There remains a tangible yearning for the social unity that Christmas represents, the glue of faith, symbolism and shared stories. Hallelujah is really a kind of secular hymn, giving praise to a non-specific deity, to be interpreted however the listener wants.”

Neil McCormick, writing in “Hallelujah: The perfect Christmas song,” in the London Daily Telegraph on Dec. 17

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