Five at 8 – 12/18/09: The war on Christmas?

1) Garrison Keillor channels the people who post comments on YouTube and newspaper Web sites:

Unitarians listen to the Inner Voice and so they have no creed that they all stand up and recite in unison, and that’s their perfect right, but it is wrong, wrong, wrong to rewrite “Silent Night.” If you don’t believe Jesus was God, OK, go write your own damn “Silent Night” and leave ours alone. This is spiritual piracy and cultural elitism and we Christians have stood for it long enough. And all those lousy holiday songs by Jewish guys that trash up the malls every year, Rudolph and the chestnuts and the rest of that dreck. Did one of our guys write “Grab your loafers, come along if you wanna, and we’ll blow that shofar for Rosh Hashanah”? No, we didn’t.

Christmas is a Christian holiday — if you’re not in the club, then buzz off. Celebrate Yule instead or dance around in druid robes for the solstice. Go light a big log, go wassailing and falalaing until you fall down, eat figgy pudding until you puke, but don’t mess with the Messiah.

Lousy songs by Jewish guys? Here’s one written by a Jew:

Are these other candidates in the category? White Christmas, Sleigh Ride, Silver Bells, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer?

One of Keillor’s hosts on Monday in Cambridge (Universalist territory) is not amused:

First, as mentioned, he was there as a guest of the Cambridge Forum, and of our Parish. It’s likely, though I don’t know one way or the other, that he was paid an honorarium for being there. And at the very least, he got a significant amount of PR out of the visit, discussing his newest story with a large audience. So, after visiting our house of worship, as an invited and welcomed guest, he writes this piece. To me, that is rude and disrespectful, to say the least.

Trivia: The guy who wrote “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer was a Gentile. He was a former Gospel singer.

Bonus: Keillor sings lousy Christmas songs. In German.

We say “enough!” The war on Christmas goes too far.

2) Good news/bad news. Eric Ostermeier at the U of M’s Smart Politics blog says the recovering employment situation is happening twice as fast as during the economic mess of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Bad news: We’re years away from a full recovery.

3) The infamous Arbeit Macht Frei sign at the entrance to the Auschwitz Nazi death camp in Poland has been stolen.

4) Yesterday was rumored to be the day scientists would announce they’ve discovered “dark matter” in a mine in Minnesota. Dark matter is the glue that holds the universe together. They actually did announce it, but Minnesota was far too distracted by a much more important story: Al Franken refused to yield to Joe Lieberman.

But the explanation of dark matter and the story’s significance would appear to apply to both of these stories if you substitute “politicians” for “dark matter”:

Dark matter particles are peculiar because they pass through objects as if they were not there. Their aloof nature has led scientists to name them weakly interacting massive particles, or Wimps.

Scientists at the University of Minnesota will discuss the finding this afternoon in Minneapolis.

5) The state of brain damage? The brain of a former NHL star reveals he suffered from a disease associated with head trauma. The revelation adds to the growing body of evidence that our lust for sports is killing the people who provide the big hits. Eleven former NFL players have been found to have the same disease.

It’s a topic discussed on MPR’s Midmorning:

The Department of What’s Right With Us: A western Minnesota man is hoping to break his own record of last year by placing 500 wreaths on the gravesites of fallen soldiers in Kandiyohi County.

Here’s a compelling account of his years in Vietnam.


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: A new private hospital soon opens in Maple Grove, the first new freestanding hospital built in Minnesota in nine years. The hospital business is not like any other — it’s competitive but also controlled in many ways by government.

Second hour: If you’re making last minute butter runs to the grocery store, you are in the midst of a holiday baking frenzy. America’s Test Kitchen’s Christopher Kimball solves listener cooking conundrums. And he weighs in on a new food trend: the crowd sourcing of recipes. (Hint: he’s skeptical.)

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: NPR’s Juan Williams talks about the first year of the Obama presidency.

Second hour: Veterinarian Dr. Kate An Hunter will be in the studio with her dog Ansel, to answer listener questions about pets.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: It’s Science Friday! Using cellphones to track air pollution, traffic jams and city park attendance.

Second hour: A talk with Julie Holland, the doctor in charge of the weekend shift at Bellevue’s psychiatric ER for nine years.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Neurologist Dr. John Noseworthy took over as CEO of all of Mayo Clinic in November. He’s has been groomed for a long time, as any Mayo Clinic leader is. What’s he bringing to the table? How is Mayo positioned for regional competition and the national health care reform debate? MPR’s Elizabeth Baier has the story.

This week marks the 65th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Bulge, the last-ditch attempt by the Germans to break through the Allied lines after D-Day. It’s believed 19,000 U.S. soldiers died in the battle, which was fought in the depths of winter. Local theater owner Joe Minjares is showing an award-winning film of the battle “The Battleground” at the Parkway Theater, and holding sessions with veterans of the battle on Saturday and Sunday. Euan Kerr will report.