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A Joyful Christmas to All WAISers!



     We no longer go to Christmas parties, but we have the joy of e-mail parties with the WAIS extended family. So a joyful Christmas to you all! I avoid the once joyful word "merry," because it suggests the spurious Santa Claus, whose "Ho!Ho!Ho!" is the most primitive Christmas music I know. There is so much great Christmas music!
     It is curious that this year none of the cards we have received has a Christmas theme. It seems to be out of fashion. I am not referring to Christmas trees and holly, which really have nothing to do with Christmas. The nearest thing was a card from England reproducing an ancient tile representing the Three Wise Men. One does have to accept the Christian theological interpretation of the Holy Family. Christmas essentially celebrates the miracle of human life.
     Of the many letters we have received (and we are grateful for all of them), I will mention only that from Stuart and Elsa Rawlings; it is long and timely. In protest against technology (which makes this message possible!), Stuart has withdrawn to live in the California foothills. He thinks it would be marvelous to have a new Jesus, or perhaps a Moses, a Buddha or Mohammed. In view of what he writes, he could have mentioned St. Francis or St. Anthony of Padua.
     St. Francis? He loved not only the poor, but all animals, and there I part company with him. The story goes that the village of Gubbio was being ravaged by a ferocious wolf. Saint Francis spoke to it words of Christian love, and the wolf became as loving as a lamb. I don't believe a word of it.
     Stuart has three frogs he loves. Fine; the transformation of tadpoles is a miracle worthy of Christmas. But then Stuart meets a full-grown mountain lion, and his dog, in an unFranciscan spirit, chases him up a tree. It is a wonder that the lion didn't maul the dog and Stuart. The dog sounds like a fearsome beast, unworthy of loving Stuart.
     Then in his driveway Stuart encounters a mother bear and its small cub. Cute, eh? Bah, humbug! Stuart suffers from what Ruskin called the pathetic fallacy. He probably had a teddy bear when he was a child, and was misinformed about the bearish nature of bears. They are the ultimate grinch. I fear I may see an obituary about Stuart, after in his Franciscan way he tried to pat a mother bear with cub. If WAIS lost Stuart, the bear would NOT be invited to join.
     St.Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of children? The Franciscan represented with a child in his arms? The bulk of Stuart's letter concerns his unsuccessful trip to Brazil with Elsa adopt a child. I don't understand why it is so difficult to find a child to adopt. One WAIS couple went to Romania and came back with one. There are so many abandoned children in the world, it is a tragedy that a loving couple like Stuart and Elsa encounter so many difficulties. One problem is that stories are circulating in Latin America about children having been adopted by Americans for all kinds of purposes, among them selling the child's organs. There were allegations of this kind on Mexican TV this morning. In any case, Stuart's letter warmed by heart. So did the others we have received. Thank you. AND A JOYFUL CHRISTMAS!

Ronald Hilton - 12/21/99


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