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Ways of the World

Carol Stone, business economist & active Episcopalian, brings you "Ways of the World". Exploring business & consumers & stewardship, we'll discuss everyday issues: kids & finances, gas prices, & some larger issues: what if foreigners start dumping our debt? And so on. We can provide answers & seek out sources for others. We'll talk about current events & perhaps get different perspectives from what the media says. Write to Carol. Let her know what's important to you:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Ways of the World at Christmastime

The Ways of the World: often, the ways of the world come across as wrong-headed, such as a news anchor seeming to make a racial comment about Santa Claus, or as totally inept, such as the implementation of a new Government-designed health insurance program that so far has resulted in more people losing their current insurance than being granted easy access to better coverage.

So, when the ways of the world yield good things, we can rejoice specially.  The Spirit of Good indeed does come to dwell among us.  Here are three current examples:

First, Time Magazine's editors picked Pope Francis as their designated Person of the Year.  If we may say so ourselves, isn't he a breath of fresh air as a religious leader?  Warm-hearted and welcoming.  So of all the people who made news in 2013, isn't it lovely that the Time editors picked the nicest one?!

Here are some sentences from Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs' tribute in the December 23rd issue (page 45):
". . . . he is . . . saying what Popes before him have said, that Jesus calls us to care for the least among us – only he's saying it in a way that people seem to be hearing differently.  And that may be especially important coming from the first Pope from the New World.  A century ago, two-thirds of Catholics lived in Europe; now fewer than a quarter do, and how he is heard in countries where being gay is a crime and educating women for leadership roles is a heresy may have the power to transform cultures in which Catholicism is a growing, even potentially liberating force. . . .
 "The heart is a strong muscle; he's proposing a vigorous exercise plan.  And in a very short time, a vast global, ecumenical audience has shown a hunger to follow him.  For pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets, for committing the world's largest church to confronting its deepest needs and for balancing judgment with mercy, Pope Francis is Time's 2013 Person of the Year."

Second, a real miracle.  Last Tuesday, December 17, a blind man felt faint on the A-train subway platform at 125th Street in upper Manhattan.  His guide dog, named Orlando, tried to keep him from falling, but couldn't, so as Cecil Williams fell, Orlando jumped down onto the tracks with him.  Then he licked Cecil's face to try to keep him alert.  Bystanders, who all too often are known for just doing that, standing by, instead got the attention of MTA personnel who knew a train was bearing down on the station.  They got man and dog to lie flat in a trough between the rails, and they radioed the engineer to come in as slowly as he could.  A car-and-a-half rolled over Cecil and Orlando.  But they were safe and crews were able to pull them out from under the train; they did send Cecil to a hospital to have a cut stitched and for some badly needed rest.

There a part two to the story that's also sweet.  Orlando is 11 years old and due to retire.  Cecil will be getting a new, younger dog soon and doesn't have the money to support Orlando in his retirement.  But as soon as this story got around, money poured in from well-wishers more than enough to make it possible for Cecil to have two dogs.  Or if he chooses, the funds can go to the guide dog agency to assist with Orlando's comfortable old age.

Here's a simple man and his dog ready for a very merry Christmas.

Finally, a sports story.  Indeed.  But a bittersweet one.  We casually glanced over the list of memorable sports events of the year as compiled by Jason Gay, a lead sportswriter for the Wall Street Journal.  The last one in his list is the Boston Marathon.  But how could such a tragedy be in anybody's Christmas list?  Ahh, listen to what Gay says:
The 2013 Boston Marathon: It might seem strange to include a terror attack on a list of sports moments mostly filled with superlatives and happy memories. (Sports Illustrated put this atop their list of 2013, and I believe this is correct.) What happened on April 15 was a tragedy, impacting many lives. And yet in the minutes and months afterward, the heroism, resilience and generosity showed by Boston and beyond was representative of the very best of what sports is about. A race is about finishing, and in elite cases finishing first, but the best athletic events reveal the heart of a community. Next year there's a Winter Olympics and a World Cup, but the next Boston Marathon will be among the biggest sports moments of 2014. Count on it.

And a footnote:  the recent modest brouhaha over the Fox News anchor and the race of Santa Claus gleaned us this fascinating bit of information from a priest-friend.  We knew that St. Nicholas was Greek and lived in Myra, in Turkey, in the first half of the 4th Century.  Our friend explained that not only was he a nice local bishop who helped his people by giving well-chosen gifts, but he was also a leader of the Church at large and a signer of the Nicene Creed.  So there's a lot to Santa's story besides the North Pole and the chimney of Clement Moore fame.

A Very Merry Christmas to all of our readers from Ways of the World!


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