So hello again, it’s been a while, I know. Almost two years. Obama was just re-elected president, and this has upset a lot of people, like my father in law, who sent the following chain email to my wife today:

Only hope we find GOD again before it is too late ! !

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

My confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish.  And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees…  I don’t feel threatened..  I don’t feel discriminated against.. That’s what they are, Christmas trees.

It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me.  I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto.  In fact, I kind of like it.  It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu .  If people want a crèche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians.  I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period.  I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country.  I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat…

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand Him?  I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too.  But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different:  This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.

In light of recent events… terrorists attack, school shootings, etc..  I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.  Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school…  The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself.  And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock’s son committed suicide).  We said an expert should know what he’s talking about..  And we said okay..

Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out.  I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell.  Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.  Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing.  Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing yet?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit.

If not, then just discard it… no one will know you did.  But, if you discard this thought process, don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My Best Regards,  Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein

This is the same sort of bullshit that he used to send me before I started pointing him back to Snopes or challenging him on. Now he doesn’t send me anything and I must say I really miss the energy I get from rebutting all of the misinformation. Now to keep things civil around here I’m not going to send it back to him, but will instead vent my feelings here and then pass the good word back on upstream to the person that sent it to him. Not that I have any illusions that it will convince him of anything, but rather that this kind of thing is bit of a hobby of mine.

So Snopes has a rather good page on Ben Stein’s Confession for the Holidays email, which shows that like most of these forwarded emails, they start with the truth and then veer off into the realm of the untrue. In this case, someone appended their own remarks onto the email that were then later forwarded on as Mr. Stein’s, so everything starting with “in light of the many jokes…” and continuing on with “in light of recent attacks” and so on to the end of the email, each person adding on their own little bit or removing things like the Jessica Simpson mention like some game of telephone, turning it into a chain-mail goulash of opinion and falsehoods like the fact that Dr. Spock’s schizophrenic grandson committed suicide, or that death and murder existed long before O’Hare took prayer out of school. This email demonstrates exactly what I find so fucked up and ignorant of so many people: that they will take anything that reinforces their worldview as gospel and preach it and forward it without any regard, or, dare I say, any care of whether it is true or not. It’s like the word of God, handed down unto man and misquoted, mis-attributed and forwarded on to the next sucker without a second thought.

By far the best thing about this whole thing that brings me the most joy in my heart of hearts is that Ben Stein actually did post on CBS News this yesterday, and this is what he had to say regarding the GOP coming back after last week’s election loss:

We still have great ideas […b]ut we have to make some changes in our hearts – big changes. This is not the white man’s country exclusively anymore, and it hasn’t been for a long time. The strategy of appealing to angry white men is not correct, either morally or practically.

This is a genuine multi-cultural, multi-racial democracy today. We must appeal to working women, to single women, to blacks. In particular, we can and must stop hurting the feelings of Hispanics and start inviting them into our party.

While I’m not sure entirely if these remarks spawned this latest round of the Christmas Tree chain mails, but it is a funny coincidence, almost like one is trying to drown out Stein’s acknowledgement of the changing face of America and his appeal to greater inclusion with this appeal to traditional right wing values, just in time for the War on Christmas.

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