If you’re in the Bay Area, you can give yourself a holiday treat

We went on Saturday to the Christmas concert given by the Grammy award winning San Francisco Boys Chorus.  It was an auditory delight. The SFBC doesn’t pretend to any PC Christmas white out, but instead, inundates you with truly beautiful Christmas and Christmas music.  This year’s program included Oh Holy Night, I Saw Three Ship, and Joy to the World.  In addition, the boys sang Ava Maria, led by a soprano and an alto doing a duet so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes and ran chills up and down my spine.  If you like choral music, the SFBC is one of the best groups performing today.

And if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can hear a replay of their concert from last year.   As the SFBC website says:

KQED-TV will broadcast the San Francisco Boys Chorus in concert on Sunday, December 23rd at 1:30pm and again Monday 24 7:30pm. In the special 30-minute program recorded in 2006, the Chorus will perform selections from Marc Antoine Charpentier’s Te Deum and other holiday favorites, under the direction of Maestro Ian Robertson. KQED Life (Comcast channel 189) will air Monday December 24th at 1:30pm.

Having attended last year’s concert, I can assure you that you will be delighted with what you hear.


NPR picks up inspiring story

Rather surprisingly, NPR picked up and did a nice job with the story of Bill Krissoff, the 60 year old man who enlisted in the Navy’s medical corp to honor his son, First Lt. Nathan Krissoff of Reno, Nev., who was killed in Iraq last year.

Deeply, truly, awesomely good people

I heard it from the Paragraph Farmer, who heard it from the PalmTree Pundit, who read this incredible story of sacrifice, nobility and generosity at CDR Salamander. It’s not going to be a big story nationwide, of course, because it’s not about being a victim, it’s about being a hero. Still, I feel honored even to share the same country with people like this.

Ecumenicalism where it counts

Americans like to talk about ecumenicalism, which is an idea that concerns itself with “establishing or promoting unity among churches or religions.” We in America have proven to be very good at it, so much so that we think nothing of little news stories about the rabbi giving a talk to his neighbor’s church, or the minister from one Protestant church joining a prayer meeting from another Protestant Church. The difficulties many conservatives are having with the Romney candidacy (Mormon!) and the Giuliani candidacy (Catholic and pro-Choice!), or even the nasty smears the Democrats leveled against Bobby Jindal during his successful candidacy for governor, are about as bad as religious differences get here. No blood is shed, no villages are destroyed, no people are persecuted or driven from their homes. We are, therefore, exceptionally blessed.

Other nations, and particularly Middle Eastern nations, are less blessed. In Muslim dominant countries, Jews are banished and Christians are persecuted. Once that’s done, the Muslims turn on each other, with the varying sects diving into blood baths to attain religious and secular predominance.

That’s why Michael Yon’s most recent photograph out Iraq, which you can see here, at his blog, is so important. On its face, it shows something wonderful: a cross going up on a Church in Iraq. What’s even more amazing, though, is the text that accompanies the photograph, since it explains that this is not just a Christian church that is taking a risk at reestablishing a place of worship. Instead, it is ecumenicalism in action, in the heart of the Middle East:

I photographed men and women, both Christians and Muslims, placing a cross atop the St. John’s Church in Baghdad. They had taken the cross from storage and a man washed it before carrying it up to the dome. (Emphasis mine.)

Some regimes are cancerous. They grow and swell, and make the body politic look strong and full, but they are, in fact, slowly killing it from within, with their poisonous tentacles reaching out to destroy every organ in their path. Cancer does not yield easily, preferring to kill its host rather than to give up.

With real cancers, we go in with knives and chemo and radiation. And with political cancers, sometimes the only answer is troops and weapons. The body bleeds and suffers but, if it is fundamentally strong and if the disease is stopped in time, it can recover fully.

I’d like to think that this is what we are seeing in Iraq — after the removal of the cancerous Hussein leadership from the Iraqi political scene, and after the trauma of that removal, the Iraqis are recovering and going on to be stronger and healthier than ever before.

UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, Chris Muir has the last and best word:

Awe inspiring at so many levels

It’s inspiring because of the human spirit, because of compassion, because of bravery, and because of the reaches of modern surgery.  Watch it and be impressed.

How little we know

As you may recall, I thought it was a mistake to stave and dehydrate Terri Schiavo to death.  We know so little about the human brain and, as long as her parents were cheerfully willing to care for her, I thought it was out and out murder to bar them from providing that care.

It’s been a long time since Terri Schiavo died, but I thought of her when I read a story in the L.A. Times about Samantha Palumbo, a 16 year old girl who lost almost her entire left frontal lobe in a car accident.  As good as dead you’d think, right?  Wrong.  Read the story and then look at and listen to the photo essay.  If, at the end, you’re not tremendously moved and awed by the human capacity to recover, you’d better read and listen again, because you missed something.

A rose amongst the ashes

I don’t know about you, but it’s easy to read a whole bunch of quite uplifting symbolism into this story:

An 800-year-old, gold-plated crucifix that went missing after being seized by the Nazis has been found in a rubbish skip in Austria, police said.

The crucifix, made of copper and enamel, was crafted in Limoges, France, and was part of a Polish art collection brought to Austria during Nazi rule, Josef Holzberger, police spokesman in Salzburg, said on Thursday.

It was found in 2004 in the lakeside winter resort of Zell am See by a woman combing through a skip filled with the discarded possessions of a neighbor who had just died.

“The lady had a soft spot for old crockery and was rummaging for plates when she found the crucifix,” said Holzberger. “She asked the deceased’s family, and they said she could have it.”

Last month the woman showed the crucifix to a friend who realized it might be something special and took it to a museum.

In the run-up to World War Two, the owners of the crucifix had hid it and other treasures by walling them inside the basement of a house in Warsaw.

They were discovered by the Nazis in 1941, brought to the Polish National Museum and later transferred to a castle in the Austrian village of Bruck an der Grossglocknerstrasse, near Zell am See, police said.

“We lost track of what happened then — we don’t know how the crucifix ended up in Zell am See,” Holzberger said.

The crucifix might be worth up to 400,000 euros ($539,000) at auction. Poland’s culture ministry has contacted the London-based Commission for Looted Art in Europe, which represents the heirs of former art collectors, Holzberger said.