The Societal Problem of Custom Photo Holiday Cards

Observations after browsing the custom-photo-holiday cards online:
1) SURELY there’s some money to be made for custom photo cards for single people who aren’t all smoochy smoochy with that special someone in their card photos, and who don’t have newborns or little blonde children in adorable poses, and are allergic to pets.SURELY there’s a way to include us single people in this cash cow industry…I just need to figure out what that is.
2) What the heck is “Merry Everything”??? I wish you a merry tarantula, a merry polar vortex, a merry granite rock, a merry mundane workday, a merry mechanical pencil with no lead…

3) We need theologically robust Christmas cards. Forget the mundane “Joy!” or “Peace on Earth.” We’re celebrating the incarnation of Christ! We’re celebrating God’s plan for redemption of humanity! Don’t you think we should be excited about this? I want a Christmas card that features some lines from my favorite Shape-Note Carol:

The Babe of Bethlehem
Ye nations all, on you I call, come hear this declaration,
And don't refuse this glorious news of Jesus and salvation.
To royal Jews came first the news of Christ the great Messiah,
As was foretold by prophets old, Isaiah, Jeremiah.
To Abraham the promise came, and to his seed for ever,
A light to shine in Isaac's line, by Scripture we discover;
Hail, promised morn! the Saviour's born, the glorious Mediator.
God's blessed word made flesh and blood, assumed the human nature.
His parents poor in earthly store, to entertain the stranger
They found no bed to lay his head, but in the ox's manger:
No royal things, as used by kings, were seen by those that found him
But in the hay the stranger lay, with swaddling bands around him
On the same night a glorious light to shepherds there appeared,
Bright angels came in shining flame, they saw and greatly feared
The angels said:  Be not afraid, although we much alarm you,
We do appear good news to bear, as now we will inform you.
The city's name is Bethlehem, in which God has appointed,
This glorious morn a Saviour's born, for him God has anointed;
By this you'll know, if you will go, to see this little stranger,
His lovely charms in Mary's arms, both lying in a manger.
When this was said, straightway was made a glorious sound from heaven
Each flaming tongue an anthem sung: To men a Saviour's given,
In Jesus' name, the glorious theme, we elevate our voices,
At Jesus' birth be peace on earth, meanwhile all heaven rejoices.
Then with delight they took their flight, and wing'd their way to glory,
The shepherds gazed and were amazed, to hear the pleasing story;
To Bethlehem they quickly came, the glorious news to carry,
And in the stall they found them all, Joseph, the Babe, and Mary.
The shepherds then return'd again to their own habitation,
With joy of heart they did depart, now they have found salvation.
Glory they cry, to God on high, who sent his Son to save us.
This glorious morn the Saviour's born, his name is Christ Jesus.

Happy Guy Fawkes Day

Last week I had a wonderful Reformation Day party with my friends at work. It wasn’t quite as exciting as the year I convinced my college history club to dress up like our favorite reformers and go caroling “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” to our religion professors, but we still had a good time. And now lo and behold, it’s another old-world history geek holiday today. Happy Guy Fawkes Day to friends far and wide.

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.

An Extravaganza of Historical Minds

Over the next two weeks I will be attending AASLH and the Conference on Faith and History. I arrived in St. Paul this afternoon and had a joyful reunion with my beloved SHA friends. There’s nothing as sweet to my soul as that first glimpse and hug of a friend who lives far away. Lots of “hugs and squeals” today.

This is especially welcome right now. It’s been a rough 10 months since I came back home after SHA last November. My injury, office budget politics, and shattered relationships have all made me feel worthless . But today, seeing my friends again, my soul feels elevated and joyful.
Today I am with my people who value me and who love history, and my heart is happier than it has been in a very long time. Much love to my mighty SHA friends, and to my colleagues in public history in general.

As I have time I’ll send out updates on my adventures. In the meantime, happy birthday to my favorite Historical Person who must remain in identified for the sake of the blog ‘so attempt at vague annonimity.


Saul Wars Episode IV: The King is Dead. Long Live the King.

1 Samuel 31: 

You remember yesterday’s adventure when David and his men got rejected from the Philistine army and then had to  launch a rescue party to save their wives and kids from the Amalekite raiders? Ok, well, while David and his guys were busy with their own adventures, the Philistine attack still happened.  Basically, it went down like this:

The Philistines were in hot pursuit of King Saul, his sons, and the army of Israel at Mount Gilboa. They killed Saul’s three sons, Prince Jonathan, Abinidab, and Malki-Shua. Sad day! Jonathan was David’s BFF so you know that there’s going to be a lot of weeping and crying going on in later episodes. This is the worst news ever. 

It gets worse, though. On top of all that, the fighting grew fierce around Saul and the Philistine archers rained down arrows, striking him. Saul said, “I’m mortally wounded!  This is the end! Quick, someone finish me off so the wicked Philistines don’t come and torture me as I lay dying.” He said this to his armor-bearer, and that guy was like, “Uh uh, don’t look at me, man. I can’t do that!” So Saul fell atop his own sword, taking his own life. King Saul and Prince Jonathan were dead.

The Israelites abandoned their cities and town, and the Philistines took over everything. They nailed up the bodies of the dead king and prince to the wall of Beth Shan. Some of the guys in Jabesh Gilead said, “Hey, they can’t do that to our king! Let’s go rescue the bodies.” So they marched through the night and rescued their dead king. They gave him a proper burial under the tamarisk tree. Thus ends the first volume that we call Samuel. The king is dead. Long live the king. 

Saul Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Amalekites

Susannelein’s Quick and Entertaining Summary of 1 Samuel 29-30:

The Philistines were getting ready to attack Israel and Saul’s army. David was part of the Philistine army attack force because he had taken refuge with them while he was on the run from Saul.  Some of commanders looked at David and were like, “Hey, what’s this guy doing here? He’s going to double cross us, kill our men, and then return to Saul.” And Achish was like, “Guys, no worries. David is my bodyguard and he’s totally awesome. He won’t double cross us.” But they wouldn’t listen and demanded that David leave. So Achish said, “David, look, I know that you’re a cool guy and everything but you have to go back to Ziklag because these guys are jerks. So, you should probably leave now. Peace out, I’ll see you when we’re done fighting.” And David was like, “Duuude, but I’m totally awesome! I’ve protected you and everything. Why can’t I go into the battle too?” Achish shook his head, “Yeah, I know. But you need to go home now.”

So David and his band of rebels went back home to Ziklag, which was the Philistine town they had settled in. After three day’s hard journey they arrived at the town gate. OH no, their EVEN BIGGER ENEMIES, the Amalekites, had raided the town! They had burned the city to the ground and had kidnapped all of the women and children! The bad guys had even taken that smart/hot Abigail whom David had married a few episodes. David fell to the ground weeping, all his strength gone. His men were like, “David! This is totally your fault! If we hadn’t been trying to fight Saul with the Philistines none of this would have happened. We’re going to stone you now.” And David said, “I need to strengthen myself in the Lord. Go get the ephod.” So he asked the Lord if they should go after the raiders. God said, “Yes! Hurry up and you’ll catch them!” 

David took 600 men on a rescue mission to save their wives and children. Some of the men collapsed by the river and were like, ” You guys go on – we have no strength so we’ll stay here. Good luck.” So David and 400 men continued onward. They found this random Egyptian guy wandering around a field – he hadn’t eaten or had any water in 3 days. David asked, “Hey, random Egyptian, what are you doing wandering around this field looking half-starved?” And the guy said, “I’m a slave of the Amalekites who raided Ziklag. My master is a jerk-face idiot and abandoned me in this field when I got too sick to go on. I totally hate that guy and I want to double cross him, so I’ll show you where they are.” And he did. When David and his men found the Amalekites they killed most of them and rescued their wives and kids. Woo hoo! Abigail and her sister-wife are safe!

When the rescue party got back to their comrades who had collapsed by the river, some of the men were like, “Hey! You guys didn’t fight with us. We’ll give you back your women and kids but you can’t have any of the plunder.” And the river guys said, “That’s totally not fair!” So David said, “Everyone calm down. We’ll split everything equally.” David also sent some of the plunder to the other towns in the region in order to buy support for himself from his neighbors. To be continued…


Part 2: The Thrilling Tale of the Witch of Endor

Susannelein’s Quick OT Summaries:   The Thrilling Tale of the Witch of Endor.

1 Samuel 28: “Samuel the prophet was dead. Not mostly dead – really dead. The Philistine army marched closer and closer and King Saul was super-afraid. He said, “Since God doesn’t seem to be answering me, I totally need to ask Samuel what to do.” And his men were probably like, “Um, he’s dead.” And Saul said, “Oh yeah. Look, I know that I kicked all of the witches out of the country but I need someone to raise Samuel from the dead, so go find me a witch.” So they found a witch who lived at Endor, which is a place near Israel, not a planet.  Saul and his men put on disguises and went to her house. He said, “I need you to raise someone from the dead. Bring up Samuel!”  She argued for a while but eventually agreed. When she saw Ghost-Samuel rising out of the ground she screamed, “Dangit, you’re actually Saul! You totally deceived me. Anyway, I see a ghost rising up and he’s wearing a prophet robe so it must be Samuel because he’s the only one who has that outfit.” Saul was really scared and fell on his face. Ghost-Samuel was like, “Hey! Hey! I was totally resting! Why did you wake me up??” Saul said, “The Philistines are coming and I need you to help plan my attack.” (Note: this is maybe where Inigo got the idea to raise Wesley from the dead to help plan his attack on the 6-fingered man. But I digress). And Ghost-Samuel was like, “You’re a disobedient  jerk-face and the Lord has torn your kingdom away from you. And get ready, because tomorrow you’re going to join me in the grave when the Philistines kill you.”  Saul was faint with terror. The witch lifted him off the ground and laid him out on her bed. She cooked him some food and strengthened him. Then Saul left. We’ll see what happens to him tomorrow!

Susannelein Tells you About Entertaining Old Testament Stories. Part 1: David and Abigail.

At the Presbyterian church that I attend we’ve been going through the books of 1 and 2 Samuel in a fantastic sermon series. After struggling to reconnect with Scripture in the aftermath of my father’s death last fall, somehow these two history books seem to be the perfect thing to get me back into the Bible. (Imagine that – a historian who connects well with the historical books of Scripture!)  I haven’t spent much time in 1 and 2 Samuel before except for the more famous stories of David and Goliath, and David and Bathsheba, so I’ve been delighted with the crazy and interesting lesser-known passages of these two books. These stories deserve a sparkling retelling. So I’m starting a series on my blog where I give quick and entertaining summaries of the more interesting passages.

Samuel 25: “In a settlement in the desert there lived a gorgeous and really smart woman named Abigail who was married to a drunk idiot named Nabal. David, who was hiding out in the desert because he was still hiding from Saul, sent a message to Nabal saying: “Hey, my troops and I protected your shepherds when they were out in the fields. Now, give us some food.” Nabal was like,” Huh? Who is this David guy? I’ve never heard of him.” And David was like, “Men, get your swords. We’re going to destroy this jerk-face.” Abigail heard about all this and was super-angry at her husband. So she packed up all the food they owned and rode out to David. She gave him the food was was like, “Hey David. I think you’re super-awesome and I know the Lord is with you. Don’t kill us.” David said, “Thanks for the food. I’m glad that you came out here and now I won’t kill you.” Abigail rode back home and told her husband what she had done. Nabal dropped dead of shock. David heard that Nabal had died and was like, “That Abbigail woman was super-hot and smart. I want to marry her immediately.” So Abigail became his 3rd wife. The end.”