More Jesus, less you

December 17, 2008

All Things Considered, December 17, 2008 · By the Rev. James Martin

It’s the middle of the day, and I’m opening my Christmas cards. And what do I see when I tear open the envelope? Not Baby Jesus in his manger. Not the Virgin Mary. Not even the Wise Men. No, chances are the card will be a photo of a family on some beach in the Caribbean. Or a picture of somebody’s house. Or someone’s dog wearing reindeer horns.

These are the new favorite Christmas cards, for even the most pious Christians: the family cards.

Family cards display — on the front — a photo of a happy family, typically wearing red-and-green scarves or red-and-green sweaters. Sometimes the family dog is included, wearing a scarf covered with slobber. Just as often, family cards show the clan on their summer vacation, posing jauntily in bathing suits in the Caribbean. These cards don’t say “Merry Christmas” as much as “Look where you didn’t go!”

Look, I love family photos during the holidays. Plus, I actually read those annual holiday letters, all of which start with “What a busy year it’s been!” Seeing photos of my friends and their families and even enjoying a few sunny beach scenes when it’s cold and dark outside is a highlight of December.

But I enjoy the photos more when they’re inside the card, not the card itself. Because more and more, even devout Christians have been replacing Jesus, Mary and Joseph with themselves. Doesn’t it strike you as weird to set aside the Holy Family in favor of your family? Does a photo of Cabo San Lucas trump the story told by the original San Lucas? Is Christmas really about you?

Still unconvinced? Try a thought experiment. For your next birthday, how would you feel about getting a birthday card with my photo on it? “Happy Birthday! It’s a photo of me!” My modest campaign against family cards has less chance of success than another Ralph Nader presidential bid. People will accuse me of being anti-family. But I’m not: I’m more pro-Holy Family. Plus, I’m battling Snapfish, Shutterfly, Kodak and a lot of online card stores that have been promoting this idea with more resources than a poor Jesuit can muster.

So I’ll leave you with a simple plea. Place those great photos inside the card. Or how about this: When choosing your Christmas cards this year, think more Jesus and less you. Or, more Virgin Mary, and less Virgin Islands.

The Rev. James Martin is a Jesuit priest and author of My Life with the Saints.

Selling Bunnies

December 7, 2008

rabbitIt was Heifer Project market day today and my second graders agreed to sell the bunnies.  The first 45 minutes they were not so into it.  They wanted to color their coloring sheets and stick the pins in each other, not to mention eat cookies and spill lemonade on themselves.  But when the 9:45 service let out and the fellowship hall started filling they suddenly got excited about the marketing of the bunnies.  Hannah was our barker.   She shouted “Hop on over and buy a bunny” solid for that whole fifteen minutes.  Her mom came over to pick her up, she said “but she’s so shy.”  And when we’d get a potential costumer Mira would dutifully tell them that one bunny costs $20, half a bunny is $10, and a forth a bunny is $5.  And Corrine set out decorating the table.  She made a hat for our stuffed rabbit that said “I’m a bunny” and hung a sign around his neck that said “Bunnies Rock.”  And the whole class rallied around handing out our material and doing a little bunny dance.  The kindergateners had chicken costumes and chicken favors, the middle schoolers had cupcakes with candy bees, but we were the hit of the market.  Everyone was eatting up my little sales people.  I was so proud.  Hey, does anyone want to buy a bunny?

I think that there was a staff writer on “West Wing” from FSU.  The episode on tonight had a suicidal pilot from Tallahassee.  The pilot (the first episode not the suicidal one) had a couple of FSU political science majors who recognized Josh in a cafe. And Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) almost took a professorship at FSU after he lost the election before he took the Secretary of State position.

Anyway… Erin is a nerd.

Overtime Adventures

December 4, 2008

So I got this new job and I thought I was going to be doing the job that Access Coordinator IIs do. But I’m an Access Coordinator I.  Which means I’m an NPR (New Patient Registration) specialist instead of an E&A (Evaluations and Admissions) specialist.  So I get to make appointments for outpatients all day, while the ACIIs get to see and process  the new inpatient clients.  I think the idea is that we all will kind of know what each other is up to so that we can be flexible answer eachother’s phones and stuff like that as necessary.  Oh and the other weirdness is that we don’t have a supervisor that’s directly in our department right now, she’ll start next week.  So right now we are reporting to the Vice President of Inpatient Services, crazy right?

So today the morning shift ACII didn’t show up. (I say morning but she really works from 7:30 to 8:00.)  So the problem came when it got to be 4:30 and everyone realized that the day shift counselor would be alone from 5 till 7:30.  So the VP came down and was frantically calling the scheduleing person and all the ACIIs to get someone to come in for those 2 and a half hours or even someone who’d been promoted from out of the department.  And she had no luck.  So I volunteered to stay and at least answer the phones and run insurance verifications until the night shift guy came.  So now I hopefully will have some extra credit plus 2 and a half hours of double pay. Woohoo.

And I actually had a good time. It was like being thrown head first into the fray.  I think that’s why I like Stage Management too, because it’s like a hundred little issues being thrown at you at once and you have to figure out what’s most pressing and what has to be put off.  So do I like it because it was novel or because it really was fun? Once I know all the answers it won’t be as challenging. Hum.

Stay tuned…