Into Our Turmoil, The Prince Of Peace Descends

Date: Mon, 21 Dec 1998 11:15:31 ~ From: Exegesis exegesis@sm.org

 

Exegesis

A Compass For Moral Excellence

Published Worldwide From Washington, Christmas 1998

Into Our Turmoil, The Prince Of Peace Descends

How does one begin to place a week like this in context? In just five days, the psychopathic Prince of Demons, assisted by his naive British sidekick, has unleashed death and destruction on Iraq and has etched himself a uniquely repugnant place in American history by being impeached, having consumed two Republican Speakers in the process. And moments after the impeachment bomb had been dropped on him, he called off the bombing of Iraq. The White House actually felt it necessary to deny that the President is "under any treatment for any psychiatric or mental condition." And to make it even more surreal, this extraordinary tumult has been played out to the strain of familiar Christmas carols.


Washington has never seen a day like Saturday, December 19. Bill Clinton had spent Friday evening alone. He had declined the Democratic National Committee's idea of throwing an eve of impeachment party. Instead he decided to bomb Iraq again, while Hillary went to a party. In the morning, he had an early national security briefing and less than an hour before the impeachment debate was due to resume, he planned another bombing raid, being meticulously careful not to infringe on the Holy month of Ramadan. After all, we wouldn't want to offend the Arabs by bombing them on a holy day. Hundreds were killed in the Basra barracks as they lay in their beds, but surely no reasonable person could possibly be offended by being annihilated on an ordinary day. Clinton's plan never to even mention his impeachment was thwarted when the Speaker-elect, Bob Livingston dropped his resignation bombshell on the floor of the House.


Clinton was stunned. He immediately dispatched a member of the White House staff to the Capitol to persuade Livingston to change his mind, a hopeless task given his reputation for decisiveness. He had dared to take up the Democrats' oft-repeated challenge: let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Mr. Livingston had indeed sinned but had now come clean with his adulterous past, thus now possessing the poise and the power to cast a stone right in Mr. Clinton's direction.


The story had been broken on Thursday evening by ABC Presenter Cokie Roberts, herself the daughter of a former House Majority Leader. Interestingly, she broke into the so-called 'World News Tonight', to reveal the "breaking story" yet confessed she had been briefed about it by a White House official two weeks earlier. The story was researched by Larry Flynt, a notorious pornography publisher who had advertised in the socialist Washington Post, offering a million dollars to anyone who could dredge up dirty secrets about currently serving politicians. The President of the United States utilizing the services of a pornographer to further his sleazy ambitions? What strange bedfellows, one might think. There again, in this case, perhaps not.


When you add that piece of information to the revelation, now confirmed by several Pentagon officials, that the bombing of Iraq was deliberately started 16 hours before the impeachment debate and ended two hours after it finished, you begin to understand the dimensions of the deception. As ever, the secret to understanding the machinery of life in Washington lies in possessing the ability to join up the dots.


Try to imagine the dissonant scene in the Oval Office. It is a few days before Christmas; the place is all decked out, this time we trust without the erotic toys which had previously adorned the White House Christmas Tree. The President sits alone, deserted by most of his friends, bombing a distant land.


The First Lady is alienated from him: Bill Clinton has served her primary purpose, to act as a springboard from which she may propel herself to power. As he sat alone in the most powerful office in the world awaiting his impeachment a few hours later, she was out and about in Georgetown, enjoying the Christmas festivities, a poignant situation that perfectly illustrates the true nature and condition of their relationship. Worse, while his impeachment is in progress, he is obliged to be chaste. Thus during the temporary absence of interns, prostitutes or lovers, he unleashed his misguided, demonic macho in a hail of bombs. He spent some $500 million dropping over 400 Cruise missiles on Iraq, killing civilians and soldiers alike. If Monica was not available to soothe his desires, he reasoned that the next best alternative was to bomb Baghdad and Basra. As one wag put it, he was caught between Iraq and a hard place.


Presumably he could justify it in his own deranged mind by insisting that Saddam Hussein had refused to comply with United Nations inspectors, rather in the same way that he had refused to comply with Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's subpoenas. There is no doubt that Saddam is at least a psychotic, disobedient and dangerous tyrant who possesses a considerable number of weapons of mass destruction, but in that respect, is there much to differentiate him from Bill Clinton?


In reality, Saddam and Clinton bear a striking similarity to each other, though Saddam will have the last laugh. He has already outlasted Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, George Bush and John Major and is doubtless looking forward to adding Bill Clinton to his trophy shelf. Presumably he had been briefed about Clinton's need for a four day "impeachment campaign", and promised the compensation of lucrative oil sales. He therefore felt relaxed enough not to reciprocate, again emulating Mr. Clinton's sexual conduct, and even declared victory afterwards. Mr. Clinton might have a little war with him, but he didn't have one back. Perhaps Hillary will appoint her ex-husband-to-be as Ambassador to Iraq when the pretense is dropped and diplomatic relations are resumed. He'd love it: he could have his own harem.


First though, we are to have at least a partial Senate trial, during which we'll doubtless discover which Republican Senators are unfortunate enough to have their FBI files sitting in anticipation on the President's desk. The early comments suggest that Orrin Hatch and ex-Senator Bob Dole are among them.


Heaven knows what he'll do while Chief Justice Rehnquist is listening to the nonsense about this being only about sex and the other ludicrous whining. Will he launch a nuclear missile attack on Switzerland perhaps, in reciprocation for the very modest rates of interest they pay on his bank account? It is said that his retirement fund is augmented by a very decent commission every time a million-dollar Cruise missile is launched. If so, it must be fairly sizable by now. No wonder he's annoyed with those stingy Swiss bankers. And their cheese is full of holes too. So why not bomb them in January?


As the House was passing the first article of impeachment, Bill Clinton munched a sandwich in the Oval Office. At the same moment, the men, women and children of Baghdad again rushed for cover from his Cruise missiles. The schizophrenic Clintonian tragedy was thus manifested for the world to see. The American television networks could not decide which event to show, and decided to split their screens to show both simultaneously. They needn't have worried too much: either way, Clinton was bombing.


In a few days, thank God, it will be Christmas. Into this tormented, troubled world descends the Prince of Peace. Before the melodrama resumes, it will be good to pause and refresh ourselves in His glorious presence. We all have unique ways to celebrate Christmas. May I share one of mine?


For me, the celebration begins on Christmas Eve with the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge. I'll describe it briefly. It is dusk in the university town, now emptied of most students for the Christmas vacation. In the weak, failing light of day, a congregation of citizens, professors and students makes its way to the 13th Century chapel. As they enter, they may notice the famous fanned ceiling and at the far end of the chapel behind the altar, Rubens' majestic painting 'The Adoration Of The Magi', while they are warmed by the candlelit holiness of this ancient house of worship.


In the cloisters, the choirmaster is preparing to make an important decision. He has carefully trained three or four small boys to sing solo the first verse of Once In Royal David's City, the traditional opening hymn. All their parents are in the chapel. Nobody knows which boy will be chosen. As the service is broadcast worldwide with an estimated audience of over 1 billion people, it is a delicate and crucial task.


The time ticks up towards 3 o'clock. With the choir assembled at the entrance to the chapel and thirty seconds to go, choirmaster Stephen Cleobury will point to the boy he has selected. There is no time for nerves, but only for a deep breath before the lad sings the verse flawlessly to a listening world. Over the next 90 minutes, the story of Christmas is told in familiar scriptures and well-loved songs. BBC Radio 4, the BBC World Service and most American Public Radio stations broadcast the service live at 3:00 pm GMT (10:00 am EST/7:00 am PST) on Christmas Eve. I pray you will be blessed by it.


Here again are the wondrous words of the opening prayer: "Beloved in Christ, be it this Christmas Eve our care and delight to prepare ourselves to hear again the message of the angels, and in heart and mind, to go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass and, with the Magi, to adore the child lying in his mother's arms. Let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God, from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious redemption brought us by this Holy child."


I am deeply conscious that, for some people, Christmas is not a time of joy. I want to send my special prayers and thoughts to those of you who feel weary, troubled or unloved, who are lonely, broken-hearted or bereaved. For you especially, I pray that the God of all comfort will be with you and remind you how much He loves you this Christmas and throughout the coming year.


And so we celebrate once again the incarnation of God's promised Messiah. Amidst our turmoil, we proclaim: 'Joy to the world! The Lord is come'. With profound sincerity, let us join together in prayer for each other, for America, and for the world in the words of the much-loved Christmas carol: "O Holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray. Cast out our sin, and enter in! Be born in us today! We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell; O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel."


From Washington, to all our readers around the world, I send my heartfelt prayers that God's peace will rest upon you and all those you love this Christmas. May our blessed Lord, the Baby in the Manger who became the Savior of the World, bless your hearts and minds with His love, His joy and His guidance in the year ahead. I wish you a Holy and Happy Christmas. ~ Steve Myers + Editor

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