Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, December 22, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 16



 Mountain Views News Saturday, December 22, 2012 

HAIL Hamilton My Turn

STUART Tolchin..........On LIFE




Susan Henderson


Dean Lee 


Joan Schmidt


LaQuetta Shamblee


Pat Birdsall


Patricia Colonello




John Aveny 


Chris Leclerc

Bob Eklund

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Stuart Tolchin

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Hail Hamilton 

Rich Johnson

Chris Bertrand

Ron Carter

Rev. James Snyder

Bobby Eldridge

Mary Carney

Katie Hopkins

Deanne Davis

Despina Arouzman

Greg Wellborn

Dr. John Talevich

Ben Show

Sean Kayden

Jasmine Kelsey Williams


 I remember as a child how my brother and I spent Christmas 
Eve. Before going to sleep we would carefully hang our most 
colorful stockings from the mantle above the fireplace in hopes 
that they would be filled with presents the next morning. We 
would also leave an assortment of our favorite cookies and a 
glass of milk for Santa Claus in case he was hungry when he 
came to our house. Then once we were tucked into bed, my mother would read to 
us Clement Clarke Moore’s 1822 poem, “T’was the Night before Christmas”, just as 
her mother had read it to her each year as a small child.


‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, 

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, 

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads; 

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, 

Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, 

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash, 

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow 

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below, 

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, 

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick, 

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, 

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! 

On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen! 

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!...”

 But if Moore’s poem about jolly St. Nicholas delivering presents to children 
everywhere Christmas Eve is a fairy story directed at children, then Charles 
Dickens A Christmas Carol (1843) is a cautionary tale directed at adults who 
have somehow forgotten the true Spirit of Christmas. At one point, the Ghost of 
Christmas Past tells Scrooge:

 “I wear the chain I forged in life....I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I 
girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.”

 “Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed,” cried the phantom, “not to know, that ages 
of incessant labour, by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before 
the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not to know that any Christian 
spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too 
short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make 
amends for one life’s opportunity misused!” 

 But Dickens was never one to leave his readers glum. Near the end of his 
Christmas allegory he has Scrooge telling us he has redeemed himself:

 “It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in 
disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter 
and good humour.” 

 “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. 
I am as giddy as a drunken man.” 

 And finally Dickens leaves us on an especially happy note with Tiny Tim, crippled 
but joyous, surrounded by family and friends, full of the Spirit of Christmas, saying 

 “God bless us, everyone!” 

 I hope you will accept this humble offering as my Christmas gift to all of you. I 
pray that each and every one of you will be blessed with a very Merry Christmas 
and a Happy New Year.


Acting Against One’s Better Judgment

 I went to the dentist yesterday for a cleaning yesterday and 
he told me that my gums were in pretty bad shape. I told him 
that my gums were just trying to go along with the rest of my 
body and the rest of the world. I got no laugh. My barber would 
have laughed but my dentist doesn’t. Maybe the reason for the 
difference is that it is so much easier to change barbers than to 
change dentists. Speaking of change: I assured my dentist that I would change 
my dental hygiene procedure and begin flossing daily. I reminded him that I had 
purchased a water pic and that I would begin to use the pic immediately. I told him 
I would do it and when I said it I really meant it. 

 I drove home intending to immediately sit down and write my article. I didn’t do 
it nor did I attack the pile of legal billing that was waiting for me. Instead my son and 
I watched meaningless basketball and football games for awhile. My son’s vision 
is returning gradually after his operation and I felt pretty relieved after he went to 
bed. I went upstairs to write my article, but instead procrastinated some more and 
continued reading the novel “Sweet Tooth”, which I began reading while waiting for 
the dentist. Strange juxtaposition, don’t you think? Anyway, as usual, I read until 
I was about to fall asleep and then made a mad dash to the bathroom, brushed my 
teeth, rinsed my mouth, changed into a comfortable sleeping suit and kind of slid 
into bed. Yes, to answer your impertinent question I did go to the bathroom and 
no, I didn’t floss.

 I wasn’t able to fall asleep. Part of my mind was bothered about the fear of losing 
more teeth and another part wondered why I hadn’t even tried flossing or using the 
water pic. So what did I do? O f course, I got up, walked into the adjoining room, 
eased down on my recliner and started reading “Sweet Tooth” again. Anyway, 
almost as soon as I pick up the book I come across the term akrasia written in 
italics. This term is my intended subject for this article and it is about time for me 
to tell you about it. Akrasia is mentioned in the novel as the state of acting against 
one’s better judgment. I googled the word and learned that it was linked to the 
concept of procrastination and it is further defined as acting in a way contrary to 
one’s sincerely held moral values. Why, that is the story of my entire existence. I put 
everything off until the last minute. It’s not that I forget about the task; rather, it’s 
just that until my fear of failing to do what must be done overcomes my distaste at 
actually doing it, I am almost paralyzed.

 The concept of akrasia connects not only to procrastination, but also refers 
to an individual’s inability to act in accord with his own recognized best interests. 
Certainly this includes the behavior of an addict who sincerely asserts that he will no 
longer use drugs or smoke or fail to conform to a healthy diet, only to immediately 
go back on those promises. It includes the many of us who buy gym memberships 
or purchase expensive exercise equipment and never go to the gym or exercise. The 
concept includes the many women who find themselves in abusive relationships 
from which they barely escape, only to soon enter into relationships that are even 
more damaging. Of course the term also applies to individuals such as myself who 
do not follow doctor or dentist recommendations despite their promises.

 Socrates argues that the whole idea of akrasia is nonsense. He asserts that one 
can tell what a man wants only by what he does. If one procrastinates or fails to do 
what he says he wants to do, it is because he enjoys procrastination and does not 
fully understand himself. Aristotle took the term more seriously and concluded 
that there is always a conflict between a person’s mental opinions and his physical 

 At this very moment the wind is blowing so strongly that the shingles are blowing 
off our roof. Akrasia may perhaps be very interesting, but right now I have to do 
something to try and keep the house together. That may be part of an answer. Times 
change and our needs change from moment to moment. The only quasi-effective 
course of conduct is to learn to know oneself. Do what you can do when you can 
do it. Preplan and make things easier for yourself and allow your expectations to 
conform to who you know you are rather than who you would like to become.

 Sound easy, it probably isn’t. I’ve got to bring in things from the deck. Now is 
the time. Maybe I can floss tonight. Maybe you can also do something you want to 
do but have not done.

 Let that be my Christmas present from me to you.

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A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder


RICH Johnson



 Since the election, 
there has been a 
lot of jibber-jabber 
by the kings and 
queens of jibber-
jabber about some 
financial cliff we are facing. I have no 
idea what they are talking about, and I 
have a suspicion they do not either, but if 
I am to guess I would say, it is not a great 
leap of faith.

 The great thing about being a jibber-
jabber is you do not have to know what 
you are jibber-jabbering about. In fact, 
the less you know the more you can 
jabber your jib.

 As one great American consumer and 
I only speak for myself, I am tired of all 
of this nonsense.

 In the light of this, I bring good news 
concerning this ominous financial cliff. 
I am always happy to bring a little bit 
of good news in the midst of all of the 
twaddle and idiotic jibber-jabbing that 
goes on in our country. I know good 
news does not make the front page but I 
think it helps those of us who are tired of 
the bad news.

 The good news concerning this 
financial cliff is that we do not have 
to worry about it at all, thanks to the 
Mayan’s calendar. Wherever they are, 
somebody needs to congratulate them 
on saving not only our world but also our 
country from a financial disaster. If we 
had the time, I would recommend that 
they be nominated for the Nobel Peace 

 According to the Mayan’s calendar, the 
end of the world, whatever that means, is 
to take place on December 21. How they 
had the foresight to come to our rescue 
at such a portentous time we will never 
know. Thanks to them, we do not have to 
worry about any financial cliff that might 
be looming ahead of us.

 I think this should be enough to 
silence all of this political jibber-jabber 
the rest of us are tired of hearing.

 As grateful as I am to the Mayan 
calendar, I do have a little bone to pick 
with them.

 I do not mind people predicting the end 
of the world. Really, they have nothing 
on me. For years I have predicted the end 
of the world at the end of every month. 
Believe me, some months I really came 
close to the end of the world. At least the 
end of my world.

 Now the bone I have to pick is simply 
this. Why did they pick December 21, 
which is four days before Christmas? 
This is very frustrating to me. If they 
would have consulted with me, I would 
have suggested maybe the end of the 
month. After all, give everybody a few 
days to enjoy his or her last Christmas.

 Personally, I do not mind missing New 
Year’s Eve. In my opinion, it is all hype 
and nothing else. After all, Dick Clark 
is gone, so what is the use of celebrating 
New Year’s Eve? In my lifetime, I have 
seen enough people drop the ball; I do 
not need to stay up to midnight to watch 
everybody drop the ball. But, Christmas 
Day, that’s a whole different ballgame.

 The problem I face is simply this, if I 
buy a Christmas present and the world 
actually does end on December 21, I 
have wasted my money. Being a tightwad 
such as I am, that is a most blasphemous 
thing to do. On the other hand, if I do 
not buy Christmas presents, assuming 
that the world will end on December 
21, I am going to be redder in the face 
on Christmas day than Santa’s suit. The 
Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage 
will not accept some lame excuse that I 
thought the world was going to end on 
December 21.

 This whole thing has put me in quite 
a quandary. I know there have been 
hundreds of people down through the 
years predicting the end of the world. 
The problem I have is, what day is going 
to be right, and who is to say when?

 Many people are putting a lot of 
credence on this Mayan calendar. Some 
are pointing out how brilliant these 
people were. However, I have one simple 
question to ask is.

 If the Mayans were so smart, where in 
the world are they now?

 I am rather suspicious of their 
disappearance, especially when we come 
to the end of the world according to their 
prediction. If they can predict the end 
of our world, why were they not able to 
predict the end of their world?

 So, let us say December 21 is the 
end of the world. What I am doing to 
prepare myself for that is stockpiling 
Apple Fritters. I do not know what the 
end of the world means, I do not know 
the condition I am going to be in, but 
I do know that an Apple Fritter is the 
panacea for all ailments. If I just have 
enough Apple Fritters, I know I can face 
anything, even the end of the world.

 It would be nice that the last thing I do 
before the world ends is savor a delicious 
Apple Fritter.

 Actually, I have something much 

 “But the word of the Lord endureth 
for ever. And this is the word which by 
the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 
1:25 KJV).

 I do not know how the world is going 
to end, but I do know who is really in 

Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the 
Family of God Fellowship, PO Box 
831313, Ocala, FL 34483. E-mail His web site is 

This first paragraph 
was reprinted from 
my 2008 Christmas 
column. Amazing 
similarly. I reprint 
it purposely 
because, if you are reading this now, 
you’ve somehow managed to survive 
the last four years. And I am certain we 
will survive the next four (that is if the 
Mayans are wrong): 

“I hope you are having a wonderful 
holiday season. Yes, I know the economy 
is tanking. And we can certainly come 
up with a lot of reasons why we shouldn’t 
bother celebrating Christmas this year. 
It makes perfect sense. However, I’m 
hoping we can enjoy Christmas through 
the eyes of a child. It certainly was easier 
to celebrate in our youth when we didn’t 
have to be concerned about the mortgage 
and all the other bills. Not to mention 
health issues accompanying our middle 
age and later years. If you can’t find 
that place to celebrate the holiday as a 
child, try celebrating it through the eyes 
of young children you know. Rent ‘em if 
you have to.”

Here’s a current Christmas message 
from me. Many of you who know me 
personally, or through my columns, 
would surmise that I am not particularly 
religious. If that is your perception it is 
accurate and exactly what I hoped you 
would think. That being said, let me 
point out that I am a believer in Jesus 
Christ. And no, not simply a believer 
in Jesus’ good and moral teaching. I 
believe he is exactly who he claims to 
be. What’s more, I believe he is out 
there keenly and actively interested 
in the quality of anybody’s life who is 
interested in his participation. It’s not 
a turn or burn philosophy, nor is it a 
pie in the sky. Nor did I suspend my 
intellect in arriving at my belief (Ray, 
who was instrumental in my becoming 
a Christian, earned the first Ph.D with 
distinction ever bestowed by UCLA in 

Although Christmas is not exactly 
the same to me without the blanket of 
snow often accompanying the holiday 
in my native home of Minneapolis, it is 
still joyfully celebrated by me and my 
family. Whether you are a believer or 
not, you should celebrate the holiday 
with the same vigor. Share the joy 
with your family and do your best to 
reconnect with those estranged from 
you for one reason or another. 

Remember the three stages of man: 1. 
You believe in Santa Claus. 2. You don’t 
believe in Santa Claus. 3. You become 
Santa Claus.

Special Johnson smart tip to parents: 
My parents would never let us open 
gifts until Christmas morning. And I 
think morning is a wonderful tradition. 
When I could convince my parents 
to let me open a gift on Christmas 
Eve invariably it would be socks or a 
bathrobe. BIG MISTAKE! There is a 
very good reason to let your kids open 
a toy. It will keep them up late. And 
since what goes around comes around, 
you will find your children will not be 
waking you up at 5:30 to open presents. 
You will be waking them up at 8:30 to 
open presents.

In conclusion, if you’ve ever wondered 
whether Jesus is who he says he is and 
is really out there or not, there is an easy 
test: In bed tonight, before you doze off, 
address the ceiling with this question 
(I suggest asking it out loud (but not 
too loud)). “Jesus, if you are really who 
Rich claims you to be, please let me 
in on it.” Now you’re covered. If he is 
really out there, you have just made it 
his obligation to make himself known 
to you.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Mountain Views News

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