Behold Two Paintings That Show A Miraculous Christmas Meeting

Two historic women, one old and one young, were the first to welcome and praise the Savior of the world. And two glorious paintings communicate the beauty of these wondrous events.

Behold Two Paintings That Show A Miraculous Christmas Meeting

Dec 23, 2019

If quizzed “Who was the first person to welcome Jesus and announce his lordship?” how would you answer? It’s an important question when we consider that this man from the nowhere town of Nazareth is the most consequential individual ever.

His teaching and followers across the globe radically transformed world culture, toppled great powers without ever firing a shot, established the world of humanitarianism and accessible medical care for commoners, inspired the scientific method, and enlivened the world movements for justice, human dignity, and individual freedom. He literally divides history and is responsible for the founding of the largest, most diverse collection of people around some basic ideals.

This all started with two women no one had ever heard of, whose life-altering experiences are now illustrated in two exquisite works of art. Mary, a humble, young virgin, by tradition about 14 years old at the time, is told by an angel she will give birth to the very Son of God. At this striking news, she “arose and went with haste” to see her cherished relative, Elizabeth, some 90 miles away.

Elizabeth was in the sixth month of her own miraculous pregnancy, for she was well past child-bearing years. Of course, her baby was Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist.

The beauty of this part of the Christmas story is the miracle that happens the moment Mary enters Elizabeth’s home. Christ is recognized, received, proclaimed, and worshiped, and Mary and Elizabeth are not the only two involved in the divine drama here. We read in Luke 1:41-44:

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

This is a major event in Jesus’ story and thus the Christian church, but we seldom appreciate it as such. It is the first time Jesus is both proclaimed and worshiped as God! This was done, we are told, “in a loud voice.” And Christ the Lord is worshiped by two people at the same time — one very old, one super young.

The First to Proclaim Jesus’ Lordship

Elizabeth proclaims the blessedness of Jesus and his mother. The simple but world-changing confession, “Jesus is Lord,” was the first and most basic way Christians began to proclaim their faith and greet one another in the church’s early years. It was the first Christian creed, and Elizabeth was the first to proclaim it, long before Christmas morning. Think on that for a moment.

The second greeting is even more incredible and speaks to an intimate relationship in the Savior’s life. Baby John leaps for joy, literally, at the coming of the Savior. He does so as a child in the darkness of his mother’s womb. (Yes, Christianity has profoundly strong words for the humanity and dignity of the unborn child in John and Jesus’ remarkable in utero contribution to the good news.)

John did not start serving as the forerunner of Christ when preaching about his coming in the desert. It was here, in the womb. And it was two very common mothers, Elizabeth and Mary, who experienced this remarkable, history-changing event. It happened in distinctly womanly interiors of their hearts and wombs, and in the humbleness of Elizabeth’s home. Humble motherhood and the intimate bond only mothers can share is the human font of the Christian story.

To be sure, the Christian church, which is often incorrectly charged with being sexist by people who know little of its actual story, is founded upon two women being the first to welcome and praise the Savior. (Remember as well, it was a small group of women who announced the “second birth” of the Savior, if you will, at his resurrection.) What other major faith or philosophy has women playing such a significant role in its founding? I cannot think of one.

Two famous paintings communicate the beauty of these wondrous events, “The Annunciation” and “The Visitation.” The first African-American painter to achieve significant critical acclaim, Henry Ossawa Tanner, created both. He is a remarkable man and one of my favorite artists.

Christmas paintings by Henry O. Tanner

‘The Annunciation’

One of the things I like best in Tanner’s two works here is that he shows us the simple humanness of Mary and Elizabeth. They are not supernatural, other-worldly, saintly subjects in the typical sense. Tanner’s images show us the regular, everyday women they were.

Christmas Painting The Annunciation

He will not allow us to miss the youth, innocence, and commonness of our Mary. Tanner doesn’t give her a facial expression communicating anything obvious. Is she scared? Stunned? Joyful? Solemn? His Mary is more complex than many artists’ as is undoubtably true of the actual event. Tanner has her communicating all these feelings and struggles at once.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with this most startling news, he found a teenage girl living a typical teenage girl’s life. The greatest royal announcement in the history of the universe takes place in this teen girl’s humble bedroom, illuminated by the majesty of God’s oracle. That is precisely what Tanner gives us, and it’s just stunning. Also, his technique in presenting the folds and flow of her gown and bed coverings is nothing short of magnificent.

‘The Visitation’

As wonderful as Tanner’s “Annunciation” is, his “Visitation” is even more striking.

Just look at it and consider what’s happening here.

When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Christmas painting The Visitation

Tanner allows us personally to witness this event. Elizabeth most likely did not have any notice that Mary was coming or the grand news that prompted the visit. She sits at the table on an ordinary day, when she hears Mary possibly utter what any of us likely would as she comes to the door, “Liz, you home?”

Elizabeth’s divine surprise and wonder is dramatically communicated simply in her uplifted hands. It’s a glorious device. Are they hands of praise or surprise? Certainly both at the same time.

This simple scene of a surprise family visitation and domesticity is the first scene of Jesus being worshiped. Reflect on this a moment. The event we are witnessing right here in this kitchen is the initiation of what the rest of history and eternity will be about, the worship of the second person of the divine Trinity: Jesus, the Father’s beloved Son.

The interchange between these two women in this domestic setting is unspeakably profound. We typically move over it far too easily, wanting to get onto what we see as the center of the Christmas story, the manger.

This exchange is also vitally important because it is the first revelation of Christ beyond Mary’s heart and womb. It is the precise second and scene that commenced the worship of the Son of the God that will continue without end into eternity, the story that encapsulates a Christian’s whole reality.

P.S. Tanner Lived in Philadelphia

I knew Tanner lived in Philadelphia for some time, so on a business trip there some years ago, I wanted to see if his house was discoverable. It was, and I found it, right around the corner from John Coltrane’s home. How cool is that?

Henry O. Tanner house

Glenn T. Stanton is a Federalist senior contributor who writes and speaks about family, gender, and art, is the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, and is the author of the brand new “The Myth of the Dying Church” (Worthy, 2019). He blogs at glenntstanton.com.

https://thefederalist.com/2019/12/23/behold-two-paintings-that-show-a-miraculous-christmas-meeting/

The People Who Missed Christmas: The Innkeeper

The People Who Missed Christmas: The Innkeeper

by John MacArthur Monday, December 14, 2020

This post was first published December 10, 2012. -ed.

No room.” Those shameful words describe more than the inn in Bethlehem. They apply just as aptly to today’s world. Sadly, in all the busyness of our Christmas celebrations, people still make no room for Jesus. Without even realizing it, they miss Christmas, just like most of the people in and around Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born.

Did you know most people miss Christmas every year? That may sound rather silly, especially in North America, where we drown during the holidays in a sea of Christmas advertising. Still, I’m convinced that most people miss Christmas. They observe the season because culture says it’s the thing to do, but the masses are utterly oblivious to the reality of what they are celebrating. So much fantasy and myth have been imposed on the holiday that people are numb to the real miracle of Christ’s birth. The legitimate emotion of the holiday has given way to a maudlin and insincere self-indulgence.

A newspaper I saw had a two-page spread featuring some man-on-the-street interviews where people offered their opinions of the real meaning of Christmas. The views ranged from mawkish to irreverent. Some were sentimental, saying Christmas is a family time, a time for children, and so on. Others were humanistic, seeing Christmas as a time to celebrate love for one’s fellow man, the spirit of giving, and that sort of thing. Others were crassly hedonistic, viewing Christmas as just another excuse to party. Not one person made mention of the incomprehensible miracle of God’s birth as a human baby.

What a mess Christmas is! We have compounded the holiday with so many traditions and so much hype and hysteria that we miss the utter simplicity of Christ’s birth. It is ironic that of all holidays, this one has become the most complex. It is no wonder so many people miss Christmas.

Yet one thing hasn’t changed since the time of Joseph and Mary: nearly everyone missed that first Christmas, too. Like people today, they were busy, consumed with all kinds of things—some important, some not—but nearly everyone missed Christ. The similarities between their world and ours are striking. Every one of these people has a counterpart in modern society.

The Innkeeper

Scripture doesn’t specifically mention him, but that night in Bethlehem, an innkeeper was confronted by a man and his pregnant wife. He turned them away saying he had no room for them. And so he missed Christmas. Not only did he turn Mary and Joseph away, but he apparently did not even call for anyone to help a young mother about to give birth.

Luke 2:7 sets the scene: “And [Mary] gave birth to her first born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

That verse is explicitly concerned with a lonely birth. There are no midwives, no assistance to Mary at all. The Bible doesn’t even mention that Joseph was present. Perhaps he was, but if he was typical of first-time fathers, he would have been of little help to Mary. She was basically on her own.

Such a birth was far from typical in the first-century Jewish culture. These were not barbaric people or aboriginal tribes that sent their women off into the jungle to have their babies alone on a banana leaf. They were civilized, intelligent, educated, and, above all, hospitable people who cared deeply about human life. It would be highly unusual for a young woman about to give birth to be turned away from an inn and left to give birth alone in a stable.

Yet that’s what happened. Mary brought forth the child, she wrapped Him in swaddling cloth, and she laid Him in a manger! Where usually a midwife would clean the baby and wrap him, there was no one. Mary did it herself. And where usually there would have been a cradle or basket for the baby, there was none. Mary had to put Him in a feeding trough.

G. Campbell Morgan wrote:

Think of the pathos of it. “She brought forth”; “she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes.” It is very beautiful, but oh, the pity of it, the tragedy of it, the loneliness of it; that in that hour of all hours, when womanhood should be surrounded by the tenderest care, she was alone. The method of the writer is very distinct. She with her own hands wrapped the Baby round with those swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger. There was no one to do it for her. Again I say, the pity of it, and yet the glory of it to the heart of Mary (G. Campbell Morgan, The Gospel According to Luke [Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1929], 36).

As I said, the innkeeper is not specifically mentioned. In fact, Scripture is not clear about what kind of inn Bethlehem had. The Greek word translated “inn” is kataluma. That can mean “guest room,” “hostel,” or simply “shelter.” So the inn could have been anything from a full-fledged precursor of the modern bed-and-breakfast lodge to a lean-to on someone’s property that was built to house both people and animals. Scripture gives no clue beyond the single mention of an inn. In any case, whatever hospitality Joseph and Mary sought, it was unavailable to them. They were turned away.

The innkeeper may have been a landowner whose property included an informal shelter, or perhaps he was the host of a boardinghouse. Whatever the case, an innkeeper in Bethlehem missed that first Christmas. The Son of God might have been born on his property. But he turned away a young mother about to deliver a child, and so he missed Christmas.

He missed it because he was preoccupied. His inn, or his guest room, or his lean‑to shelter was full. It was census time in Bethlehem, and the city was bulging with everyone whose ancestry went back to the little town. Bethlehem was the city of David, so every living descendant of David would have been there, along with every other family whose roots were in Bethlehem. The town was crowded. The innkeeper was busy. There is no indication that he was hostile or even unsympathetic. He was just busy.

Exactly like millions of people today. Their lives are consumed with activity—not necessarily sinful activity; just things that keep them busy. At Christmas, people are especially busy. Shopping, banquets, parties, concerts, school activities, and other things all compete for attention. And in the clutter of activity, many preoccupied people miss the Son of God.

(Adapted from The Miracle of Christmas.)

https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B121210

Daniel Webster: America Rests Upon Gratitude For Our Government Of And For The People

‘When, from the long distance of a hundred years, they shall look back upon us, they shall know, at least, that we possessed…gratitude for what our ancestors have done for our happiness.’

Daniel Webster: America Rests Upon Gratitude For Our Government Of And For The People

Nov 28, 2019

 

This excerpt from “The First Settlement of New England” by famed American orator and U.S. Sen. Daniel Webster is selected from the “What So Proudly We Hail” collection of Thanksgiving original documents and information about them. The collection introduces the speech: “In 1820, the bicentennial of the Pilgrims’ arrival at Plymouth Rock—well before Thanksgiving became a national holiday—the great statesman, orator, and United States Senator Daniel Webster (1782–1852) delivered this oration (excerpted) at the landing site.”

The online What So Proudly We Hail curricula, extended from a worthy book of the same name, includes videos, poems, discussion guides, and other excellent resources for families, schools, and civic organizations.

Standing in relation to our ancestors and our posterity, we are assembled on this memorable spot, to perform the duties which that relation and the present occasion impose upon us. We have come to this Rock, to record here our homage for our Pilgrim Fathers; our sympathy in their sufferings; our gratitude for their labors; our admiration of their virtues; our veneration for their piety; and our attachment to those principles of civil and religious liberty, which they encountered the dangers of the ocean, the storms of heaven, the violence of savages, disease, exile, and famine, to enjoy and to establish.

And we would leave here, also, for the generations which are rising up rapidly to fill our places, some proof that we have endeavored to transmit the great inheritance unimpaired; that in our estimate of public principles and private virtue, in our veneration of religion and piety, in our devotion to civil and religious liberty, in our regard for whatever advances human knowledge or improves human happiness, we are not altogether unworthy of our origin.

There is a local feeling connected with this occasion, too strong to be resisted; a sort of genius of the place, which inspires and awes us. We feel that we are on the spot where the first scene of our history was laid; where the hearths and altars of New England were first placed; where Christianity, and civilization, and letters made their first lodgement, in a vast extent of country, covered with a wilderness, and peopled by roving barbarians. We are here, at the season of the year at which the event took place.

The imagination irresistibly and rapidly draws around us the principal features and the leading characters in the original scene. We cast our eyes abroad on the ocean, and we see where the little barque, with the interesting group upon its deck, made its slow progress to the shore. We look around us, and behold the hills and promontories where the anxious eyes of our fathers first saw the places of habitation and of rest. We feel the cold which benumbed, and listen to the winds which pierced them.

Beneath us is the Rock, on which New England received the feet of the Pilgrims. We seem even to behold them, as they struggle with the elements, and, with toilsome efforts, gain the shore. We listen to the chiefs in council; we see the unexampled exhibition of female fortitude and resignation; we hear the whisperings of youthful impatience, and we see, what a painter of our own has also represented by his pencil, chilled and shivering childhood, houseless, but for a mother’s arms, couchless, but for a mother’s breast, till our own blood almost freezes.

The mild dignity of CARVER and of BRADFORD; the decisive and soldierlike air and manner of STANDISH; the devout BREWSTER; the enterprising ALLERTON; the general firmness and thoughtfulness of the whole band; their conscious joy for dangers escaped; their deep solicitude about danger to come; their trust in Heaven; their high religious faith, full of confidence and anticipation; all of these seem to belong to this place, and to be present upon this occasion, to fill us with reverence and admiration . . .

‘It Rests on No Other Foundation Than Their Assent’

The nature and constitution of society and government in this country are interesting topics, to which I would devote what remains of the time allowed to this occasion. Of our system of government the first thing to be said is, that it is really and practically a free system. It originates entirely with the people and rests on no other foundation than their assent.

To judge of its actual operation, it is not enough to look merely at the form of its construction. The practical character of government depends often on a variety of considerations, besides the abstract frame of its constitutional organization. Among these are the condition and tenure of property; the laws regulating its alienation and descent; the presence or absence of a military power; an armed or unarmed yeomanry; the spirit of the age, and the degree of general intelligence. In these respects it cannot be denied that the circumstances of this country are most favorable to the hope of maintaining a government of a great nation on principles entirely popular.

In the absence of military power, the nature of government must essentially depend on the manner in which property is holden and distributed. There is a natural influence belonging to property, whether it exists in many hands or few; and it is on the rights of property that both despotism and unrestrained popular violence ordinarily commence their attacks. Our ancestors began their system of government here under a condition of comparative equality in regard to wealth, and their early laws were of a nature to favor and continue this equality.

A republican form of government rests not more on political constitutions, than on those laws which regulate the descent and transmission of property. Governments like ours could not have been maintained, where property was holden according to the principles of the feudal system; nor, on the other hand, could the feudal constitution possibly exist with us.

Our New England ancestors brought hither no great capitals from Europe; and if they had, there was nothing productive in which they could have been invested. They left behind them the whole feudal policy of the other continent. They broke away at once from the system of military service established in the Dark Ages, and which continues, down even to the present time, more or less to affect the condition of property all over Europe. They came to a new country.

There were, as yet, no lands yielding rent, and no tenants rendering service. The whole soil was unreclaimed from barbarism. They were themselves, either from their original condition, or from the necessity of their common interest, nearly on a general level in respect to property. Their situation demanded a parcelling out and division of the lands, and it may be fairly said, that this necessary act fixed the future frame and form of their government.

The character of their political institutions was determined by the fundamental laws respecting property. The laws rendered estates divisible among sons and daughters. The right of primogeniture, at first limited and curtailed, was afterwards abolished. The property was all freehold. The entailment of estates, long trusts, and the other processes for fettering and tying up inheritances, were not applicable to the condition of society, and seldom made use of . . . .

‘Every Feeling of Humanity Must Forever Revolt’

I deem it my duty on this occasion to suggest, that the land is not yet wholly free from the contamination of a traffic, at which every feeling of humanity must forever revolt,—I mean the African slave trade. Neither public sentiment, nor the law, has hitherto been able entirely to put an end to this odious and abominable trade.

At the moment when God in his mercy has blessed the Christian world with a universal peace, there is reason to fear, that, to the disgrace of the Christian name and character, new efforts are making for the extension of this trade by subjects and citizens of Christian states, in whose hearts there dwell no sentiments of humanity or of justice, and over whom neither the fear of God nor the fear of man exercises a control.

In the sight of our law, the African slave trader is a pirate and a felon; and in the sight of Heaven, an offender beyond the ordinary depth of human guilt. There is no brighter page of our history, than that which records the measures which have been adopted by the government at an early day, and at different times since, for the suppression of this traffic; and I would call on all the true sons of New England to cooperate with the laws of man, and the justice of Heaven.

If there be, within the extent of our knowledge or influence, any participation in this traffic, let us pledge ourselves here, upon the rock of Plymouth, to extirpate and destroy it. It is not fit that the land of the Pilgrims should bear the shame longer.

I hear the sound of the hammer, I see the smoke of the furnaces where manacles and fetters are still forged for human limbs. I see the visages of those who by stealth and at midnight labor in this work of hell, foul and dark, as may become the artificers of such instruments of misery and torture.

Let that spot be purified, or let it cease to be of New England. Let it be purified, or let it be set aside from the Christian world; let it be put out of the circle of human sympathies and human regards, and let civilized man henceforth have no communion with it . . .

‘The Voice of Acclamation and Gratitude’

The hours of this day are rapidly flying, and this occasion will soon be passed. Neither we nor our children can be expected to behold its return. They are in the distant regions of futurity, they exist only in the all-creating power of God, who shall stand here a hundred years hence, to trace, through us, their descent from the Pilgrims and to survey, as we have now surveyed, the progress of their country, during the lapse of a century.

We would anticipate their concurrence with us in our sentiments of deep regard for our common ancestors. We would anticipate and partake the pleasure with which they will then recount the steps of New England’s advancement. On the morning of that day, although it will not disturb us in our repose, the voice of acclamation and gratitude, commencing on the Rock of Plymouth, shall be transmitted through millions of the sons of the Pilgrims, till it lose itself in the murmurs of the Pacific seas.

We would leave for consideration of those who shall then occupy our places, some proof that we hold the blessings transmitted from our fathers in just estimation; some proof of our attachment to the cause of good government, and of civil and religious liberty; some proof of a sincere and ardent desire to promote every thing which may enlarge the understandings and improve the hearts of men.

And when, from the long distance of a hundred years, they shall look back upon us, they shall know, at least, that we possessed affections, which, running backward and warming with gratitude for what our ancestors have done for our happiness, run forward also to our posterity, and meet them with cordial salutation, ere yet they have arrived on the shore of Being.

Advance, then, ye future generations! We would hail you, as you rise in your long succession, to fill the places which we now fill, and to taste the blessings of existence where we are passing, and soon shall have passed, our own human duration.

We bid you welcome to this pleasant land of the fathers. We bid you welcome to the healthful skies and the verdant fields of New England. We greet your accession to the great inheritance which we have enjoyed.

We welcome you to the blessings of good government and religious liberty. We welcome you to the treasures of science and the delights of learning. We welcome you to the transcendent sweets of domestic life, to the happiness of kindred, and parents, and children. We welcome you to the immeasurable blessings of rational existence, the immortal hope of Christianity, and the light of everlasting Truth!

Photo By Internet Archive Book Images – https://www.flickr.com/photos/internetarchivebookimages/14597125217/Source book page: https://archive.org/stream/popularhistoryof00brya/popularhistoryof00brya#page/n471/mode/1upNo restrictionsLink

 

https://thefederalist.com/2019/11/28/daniel-webster-america-rests-upon-gratitude-for-our-government-of-and-for-the-people/

Stop Turning Your Yard Into A Hellscape For Halloween

No four-year-old should watch ‘Game of Thrones,’ and no four-year-old should see a severed head. Sick Halloween decorations force people to either hide in their homes or be exposed to a celebration of evil.

Stop Turning Your Yard Into A Hellscape For Halloween

Oct 30, 2019

I walk with my children in our neighborhood frequently. One of the reasons we picked our neighborhood is walkability and nearness to community life. It’s been a big change for a country girl who grew up three-quarters of a mile from the nearest neighbor.

One of the things I’ve learned from moving into town is how little so many people think about others. Drivers will honk at 6 a.m. to get someone to come out of a house (Don’t you have a cell phone? Or get your rear out of the car and walk 20 feet to the door and knock.). People will blare music at all hours so loudly it shakes the windows of the houses they pass. They paint their porches fire engine red and their houses execrable shades of teal, let their cats defecate in other people’s sandboxes, and dump their fast food wrappers into the wind.

In other words, lots of people are rude, tasteless, and selfish. Of course, since I believe human nature is corrupt, this isn’t really a surprise, but what is a surprise is what appears to be an increase in these crudities along with a growing tendency to excuse and rationalize them.

Perhaps the most vivid illustration of this tendency is the grotesquery with which many people “decorate” their yards for Halloween. Within a few blocks of my house are yards full of severed heads, decomposing corpses, positively demonic-looking witches, goblins, and ghouls, and moldy skeletons coming out of the ground (some even shake!).

One entire nearby neighborhood decorated all of its streetlights with hanging severed heads that have blood running out of the eyes. Some people have fog machines and motion detectors that emit noises from Hell every time a mom walks by with her preschooler and baby, or kids of all ages go past on their way to school.

What is wrong with these people?

Your Warped Sense of Good and Evil Is Showing

This is neither tasteful nor fun. It’s ugly and selfish. Every person who uses public streets is not an adult who enjoys viewing things designed to provoke horror. Some people are old, some people are very young, some people have PTSD, some people have easily sickened stomachs, and people like emergency workers see horrific things on the job and need a break after-hours. Like other friends’ kids, my four-year-old has been having nightmares since Halloween season started and is unable to sleep alone or even go upstairs in the daytime due to fears of all the horrible things he’s seen on our streets. Thanks, neighbors.

They should not be forced to hide in their homes for eight weeks while all the demented people desecrate the streets. They deserve the common courtesy of their neighbors taking into consideration their needs, sensibilities, and desires.

People who enjoy objectively sick and horrible things should not be the measure by which we decide what to hang in public spaces. If you like something bad, you are the problem.

Some people might object that evil is a part of life and it’s brave to face it rather than trying to Precious Moments the world. I do certainly tell my children about evil, at what I think are age-appropriate times and contexts. But these decorations force such information well before small children could possibly be ready, and at a time and context of an outsider’s choosing instead of mine. It thus puts teaching children judiciously about evil at a disadvantage.

Further, none of these decorations is a sober assessment of evil, a depiction of combating it, or any other such proper treatment, as are many of the world’s cultural remembrances of the dead and the ultimate triumph over death at the end of the world, like Dia de los Muertos. These yard hellscapes are instead a celebration of, a reveling in, evil. (Sometimes the Day of the Dead trends that way too, but that is not its original or proper purpose.) That is, quite simply, wrong. Only fools make light of evil. Hell isn’t a joke.

It’s impossible not to see this delight in evil as encouraged by the entertainment people consume. It’s no secret that Western entertainment has become increasingly pornified, both in sex and violence. Like frogs in the boiling pot, people who regularly consume this get used to it, and it warps their sense of what is good, beautiful, and true. It corrupts their judgment. To hide their self-hardening, they pretend that the sensitive and less-corrupt people are the problem (“Prudes!” “You’re no fun!”), instead of them.

Safe Spaces and Public Spaces Are Both for Children

When I floated a trial balloon of this opinion on Twitter, plenty of people agreed, but others attacked me as a bad parent whose children are crybabies I’m putting in a “safe space.” Folks, four-year-olds do need a safe space. Would you let them watch “Game of Thrones”? If you would, you’re the bad parent. No four-year-old should watch “Game of Thrones,” and no four-year-old should see a severed head.

The problem with college safe spaces is that they infantilize adults. On the contrary, good parents and a good society rightly protect small children temporarily to help them grow long-term. If you can’t see a distinction between a preschooler and college student’s needs and expected maturity level, I can’t help you.

Some Twitter people pretended it was somehow a contradiction of the libertarian “do whatever you want” ethos to suggest that people restrain themselves in any manner. Even if one were a libertarian — I no longer am — the mantra, in full, is “Do whatever you want so long as you don’t harm other people.” Under that paradigm there is plenty of room for being considerate of other people.

What we do in public, which includes how we dress ourselves and our yards, ought to be different from what we do in private. I don’t poop on the sidewalk, and you shouldn’t either.

The public includes everyone, which means a huge diversity in sensibilities and preferences. Acting more restrained and tasteful in public exhibits respect for others. The public square is where we should put our best selves forward out of love, not unleash our ids and demand that everyone else put up with it or lose their ability to enjoy public goods.

That’s plain selfishness, and it deserves rebuke. We restrain people who ruin public spaces through littering, vandalism, and drunkenness, because their behavior undermines the common good. The rudest person shouldn’t win, the rudest person should be taught how to treat others properly or lose his social privileges. The best behavior should be celebrated, and the worst not ignored, but condemned.

Deliberate Disregard of Others Hurts Self-Government

I don’t think “big government” should decide how people decorate, although I do support the self-determination of local communities to put boundaries around such matters with buy-in from residents, as exhibited in zoning laws, neighborhood associations, and housing covenants. But it’s not as if our only choices for action are between either “government mandate” and “individual free for all.”

The more they push boundaries and disregard their fellow citizens, the more undisciplined people enable bigger government.

That’s not the way America was designed, because then it would have been like Europe, as Alexis de Tocqueville explained in great detail, with a great bureaucratic government meddling in every single aspect of life. It was designed with a small, constricted government whose limits depend on the people’s ability to govern — i.e. control — themselves.

A government that allows great freedom absolutely requires citizens who use that freedom responsibly. The more they push boundaries and disregard their fellow citizens, the more uncivilized and undisciplined people enable bigger government. So it is not at all an accident that as our nation has grown more lax in privately policing social mores that our government has also expanded immensely.

I don’t think we are on the verge of a giant social movement to have bureaucrats approving yard decoration schemes, and I don’t want one. But, with positively no apologies to the Philistines, I do think that this lack of courtesy, civility, and restraint in Halloween decorations is emblematic of a destructive and seemingly accelerating cultural Philistinism.

Joy Pullmann (@JoyPullmann) is executive editor of The Federalist, mother of five children, and author of “The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids.” She identifies as native American and gender natural. Her latest ebook is a list of more than 200 recommended classic books for children ages 3-7 and their parents.
Photo Image by Don White from Pixabay