Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Merry Christmas from the Fibbs'

While our annual Christmas letter awaits you below these introductory paragraphs, I'm afraid, despite the prevailing holiday spirit, it was not the only blog I intended to submit this week.

What I want to write about is the breaking story that the President authorized illegal spying on our own citizens. What I want to write about is the just-passed ban on torture, as if such a thing doesn't call our national integrity into question just because it was ever brought to a vote in the first place. What I want to write about is the monstrous Patriot Act and the brave statesmen who are fighting its reimplementation.

What I want to write about is the culture war's slosh over into Christmas: the Christmas vs. Happy Holiday debate (never mind the fact that the word holiday is derived from "holy day") or the fact that so many churches are canceling their services this Sunday so all their uninterested parishioners can stay home.

That is what I want to write about. However, as this is the season of peace, I thought I'd give my vitriolic blogs some rest and you the peace. I've decided to be perfectly uncontroversial for the rest of the entire year! Isn't that magnanimous of me...




Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy Hanukkah!

We continue to fall ever deeper in love with one another and are delighted that there is still so much about each other yet to be discovered. For our first anniversary, we traveled to Ouray and Telluride, Colorado, to attend the Telluride Film Festival. We reveled in five days of film going and celebrity watching while tucked into a cabin in the stunning and jagged Sangre de Christo mountain range at the cusp of autumn. The first year of marriage was delightful and challenging as we grow together and learn more about one another.

Our lives together have encompassed one of our shared loves – travel – and taken us to Crested Butte, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Leadville, Aspen, and numerous locales in Colorado; Portland and the coastline of Oregon; northeast Iowa; and Cape Canaveral, Jacksonville, and Pensacola, Florida. Yet we have become happily settled into our little downtown apartment. Since our offices are across the street from one another, we often carpool to work and come home for lunch together. We’ve also started walking across the street to attend Grace & St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. While we still consider ourselves part of the family at Radiant Church Assembly of God, we are enjoying our split spiritual personality.

STEPHANIE: One of the true highlights of my year has been the opportunity to visit my dear grandmother in Iowa three times. I was able to combine one of those trips with welcoming my twin sister home from three years in Panama.

I am still at work to promote continued space exploration. One perk of the job is that it keeps me traveling...

In July, I was lucky enough to attend the return to flight of the space shuttle and witness the launch of Discovery and mission STS-114. Even “Wow!” cannot describe what an amazing experience it was. I worked at the press site for both the first attempt on July 13 and the actual launch July 26. Standing approximately foud miles away, I was overwhelmed by the sound waves that rolled through my body and by how quickly the shuttle disappeared into space. We all ran back inside to watch the replays on TV!

Another wonderful trip took me to Seattle in August. I’ve been told I was there during the few days of sunshine, which is probably why I found the city so stunning and beautiful. I loved Seattle, Puget Sound, and Pike Place market.

My extracurricular activities included taking a German class last spring, joining a book club, playing indoor soccer weekly with a fabulous group of women and outdoor in the spring and fall, and, of course, snowboarding. And we love to entertain in our home, having friends over for dinner regularly.

After donating 11 inches of my hair to Locks of Love in May, I am (mostly) enjoying my newly short hair.

BRANDON: This year I got a little older, plunging deeper and deeper into that nebulous world wistfully referred to in hushed tones as thirtysomething. I also got a little heavier—why didn’t anyone ever warn me that getting married would be such a threat to my waistline?

Like last year, this year was one of many new beginnings, chiefly professionally. In January, I began teaching a film class at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. It was an eye-opening and fascinating experience to learn about the jubilation and complexities of college from the other side of the lectern. Part of me suspects I chose the subject of the Hollywood epic just so I’d have an excuse to talk about my favorite film, Lawrence of Arabia.

Despite my scholastic knowledge of film, I also wanted to compliment it with some technical knowhow. So about the same time as the university job, I began as a producer at a video-production company where I have been learning videography and editing and even a little acting.

I continue to stay active in other areas of film. I found a perfect second job as a critic at the Web site, DVDFanatic.com. And this will be my third year as a judge, chair, and moderator of UCCS’s Annual Student Short Film Festival, the only such festival among Colorado’s universities.

If that weren’t enough, as I write this, I am currently suffocating beneath graduate film school applications. I very well may be writing this letter from a different address next year. Keep your fingers crossed with me!

It was also a big year for my family. In May, my mother was married to a man whom she has known since childhood but with whom she only became reacquainted after moving back to Oregon. It is wonderful to see her so happy with such a fantastic husband. My sister, who finished her associates degree in criminal justice may soon be moving to Oregon herself to apply for a position with Portland’s finest. This summer my brother was discharged from the Marine Corps after nearly ten years and will be remaining in Okinawa with his wife. We had a wonderful time together as he stayed with us for nine days in August while completing his outprocessing. In the past year, I’ve also had the blessing of becoming reacquainted with my father; we have so much catching up to do.

Other noteworthy events of the year include attending an extraordinary U2 concert; and a trip to Florida to take a special VIP tour of the Kennedy Space Center and see the Space Shuttle Discovery and catch up with family members and several dear Navy friends I hadn’t seen since I left Sicily.

May you find God’s deep peace and scandalous grace this blessed advent, friends. You are in our hearts and prayers this and every season.


“O God, who makest us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of thy only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that as we joyfully receive him for our redeemer, so we may with sure confidence behold him when he shall come to be our Judge; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen” – The Book of Common Prayer

22 Comments:

Blogger Virginia said...

Merry Christmas!

Virginia (strange_girl979@yahoo.com )

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Nate said...

Waistline be damned - Clooney looked fine in Syriana - but look at that soul patch!

Merry Christmas to you both.

12:30 PM  
Anonymous AF said...

I am glad to hear of your happiness in marriage. May there always be true joy in it.

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, the holidays comes from holy days argument seems flawed. It isn't sufficient to have a holy day, ancient pagans had those.

We are denying the influence of Christ in our culture. That is the serious problem.

Now whether or not fighting that battle politically is the best strategy...Well, THAT I'm not so sure about... But shouldn't we engage the fight on all fronts, in a godly way?

4:24 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

I think it is the wrong fight, an unnecessary battle, fruitless and a waste of our resources and energy. All sound and fury signifying nothing.

If Christians were half as concerned about acting like Christ's instead of enforcing their own versions of his supposed morality, the world would look like a far different place.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree so much about being like Christ. I am convicted by the statement you made. May I be changed...

BUT, do we just sit around saying nothing while our culture trashes and rejects everything to do with our Lord? I think that what you are reacting to is What seems to be hypocritical, judgemental actions that miss the main points about who we believe in. I agree, but I also am glad that they are raising a voice to our culture about the devastating and destructive path that our culture is on in rejecting God at so basic a level. Of course, there are other levels that our culture is rejecting Christ in that we seem to ignore...

6:23 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

To care more about semantics than sinners is not only silly, it is sinful. To care more about politics than the poor is not only silly, it is sinful. To care more about morality than mankind is not only silly, it is sinful. We never see Christ attacking the things modern Christians feel the need to attack. We're all surface, no root. Our priorities are inverted and capsized. If we were all a little more like Mother Theresa and less like Jerry Falwell we'd have a far greater impact on our society. May I be changed as well...

6:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in agreement about authentic Christianity LIVED out. I believe that it should be lived out in LOVE and TRUTH. When Israel began worshiping idols, it was the ones who spoke out against it that were the godly ones. I think I almost can hear, "But we are not Israel, we are th U. S.". True enough, yet, we have some similarities to Israel in the Christian precepts that were part of the foundations of our country. So to some extent, the analogy is pertinent. We cannot sit by and not raise a voice about what is happening. We are not only called to love but truth. We are watchmen on the wall. We must not renig on our duty. When our culture openly rejects the freedom of religious speech of CHRISTIANS, we have a spiritual and a civic duty to fight it, lest we stand idly by and watch our freedoms die, not to mention failing to confront our society about it's rejection of the Lord.

As to the love part. Unfortunately, we are lacking in the authentic living out loud the love of Christ. We must improve on this. It is as vital, if not more so, to our witness, to our portrayal of Christ as is the speaking out mentioned above. So. I violently agree with you on other necessity of living out the love of Christ. I also agree, though, with speaking out to our culture on it's hypocritical and godless rejection of Jesus, and of the hypocritical rejection of the right to freedom of Christian speech and practice, of which there are a plethora of examples in our current culture.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Deon said...

Merry Christmas Brandon and Stephanie. I wish you both twice the happiness in the New Year, as you've enjoyed in the present one. Take care and God Bless, With lots of Love to both of you.

10:05 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

What are some of those examples? I would like to know. How is your freedom of religious expression being restricted? Is it the Jews? Have the damn Jews locked you out of your church? Lord knows they weren't a founding element of this country or anything. Please provide specific examples of how your freedom of religious expression is being curbed. When providing these examples, please do not confuse an unwillingness of public and private institutions to help you impose your views on others as a restriction of your freedom. Those are two separate things.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Nate said...

There's a guy here in my town who stands on a downtown street corner in the middle of the college bar scene on Friday and Saturday nights and wears a large sandwhich board sign that reads "The Party Ends in Hell."
We all make fun of him, but so far no one's come to arrest him, and I think if they did, that's when we'd start worrying and I'll be right there with you.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Andrew Foster said...

Hello Nate,
My name is Andy, and I'm the anonymous one in these comments. You have asked for examples. Have you heard of the sensorship of valedictorian speeches? That they are not allowed to mention Jesus or His influence in their lives because atheists, or people with other religious views may be present? That is a serious impingement of free speeech. When I was in Okinawa, they celebrated Obone (not sure how they would spell that). Thie origins of this festival is ancestor worship. No one in their culture apologized to me for this pagan ritual that my religious beliefs are against. Nor did I expect them to. It is a part of their cultural heritage, just as Christianity is a part of our heritage. Their is a significant movement in our country to not allow "Merry Christmas" in public because the word "Christ" is in it. But this is the first generation to worry about such a thing. For centuries our country has made this, and many other christian statements and not worried about it, Thomas Jefferson even encouraged religion in culture. Schools have to refer to winter break rather than Christmas break. When an old fart like me was in school, no one gave it a second thought, it was Christmas time, let's take off school. This is not about imposing a view, it is a part of our heritage. I am not interested in imposing christianity. Indeed, Christianity is about belief from the heart, that cannot and should be imposed. These few examples are just off the top of my head, I could come up with more indicators that our culture is becoming less and less tolerant of openly expressing Christianity. That is what is wrong, and we should stand against it in a godly way. I look forward to more discussion if you so desire.

3:14 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

What does that mean, "significant movement in our country to not allow 'Merry Christmas' in public."
What does that mean specifically? When you say "not allow," you mean you can't say it? Anyone?
By "in public," you mean, like, on the street?

Who is the "significant movement?" Is there a bill about to be passed? Are they lining up the votes in the House right now? Or is it more likely that there is some fringe group somewhere that is offended, of which there are many and of all stripes.

Where are you hearing this? O'Reilly? By chance are your emotions just being stoked by a certain sect of entermainment media?

For God's sakes, Christmas is a government holiday. Everything's closed! And if it falls on a Sunday like this year, they give us an extra day off!!! I know I'm getting one. I guess you are not, and I am sorry for that.

Never had a day off for Hannukah or Ramadan or Kwanzaa though. I think Christians are alright for the time being.

And a lot of things in our history are heritage, Mr. Foster. Some good, some not so much. Past performance is not justification in and of itself.

5:17 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

“To dream, the impossible dream-to write the uncontroversial blog”…that’s how the song goes doesn’t it? Ahhhh Brandon, keep trying my brother. For the record I would just like you to note that it was not I that made this one into a “discussion”. Merry Christma…hold on, there’s someone at the door…

“Yes?”
“Homeland security sir, where you just about to say Merry Christmas?”
“Aaaaa, yeah, why?”
“I’ve heard enough. Take him away boys. No more religious terrorists in this country! Not while I’m on watch and have been granted the powers to spy on all electronic communication. And thanks to the leadership of our Furor-I mean President-you’ll be going away for a long time. No more Habeas Corpus for you my friend! Charges? What charges, who needs ‘em? Not us! We’re the United States government! Best and freest country on the face of the earth! Now I’m free to investigate and search anybody without a warrant! See how free the government is?!
“I thought the freedoms were supposed to be for the people, not the government!”
“Thinking too ehh? Add that to the list. We’ll have to send him to O’Rielly’s reeducation seminar! WHO SAID YOU COULD THINK!

Now, of the above paragraph, which elements are actually going on today? Save for the incarceration of Christmas fans, all of it. And for the record, just to illustrate the absurdity of this debate, Christmas started out as a pagan druidic festival much more akin to the Burning Man festival. The Catholic Church originally banned the practice but as its popularity grew they decided that if they couldn’t stop people from observing this “Mardi Gras” like festival, then they would adopt it and try to “convert” it. Thus began Christ Mass or Christmas. Has nothing to do with Christ and his birth. I grow weary of Christians who are willing to fight for God, but not willing to live for him. That happened before once, we call it the crusades. A very lovely part of our history.

I do have problems when kids are suspended from school for praying at lunch time or have their Bibles torn and thrown into the trash by school officials (which has happened), but I guess I see that as more the fault of “Christians” then the officials. And the greatest of these commandments is “Thou shalt use the full resources of thine government to sue thy neighbor and enforce thy morality on them will the full force of the law”. Makes me warm every time I think of it.

“Once government becomes keeper of the nation’s moral code, those who hold traditional values have no principled complaint if the morals advanced are not their own.” - Doug Bandow

9:21 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

"why didn’t anyone ever warn me that getting married would be such a threat to my waistline?"
Ahhh, I did dear brother. I not only said it but I also showed it. You chose to ignor my warnings though. Ha ha ha, now you can't poke fun at me anymore Mr. Chubby cheaks!

9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I was discusing this with a couple of friends, and they laid out a good case that this is not the issue to make a big battle of, as Brandon was saying earlier. I agree. They also said that if Merry Christmas offended someone, then we shouldn't say it, in order to not be obnoxious. I was actually making it a point to say Merry Christmas to everyone. But I think that I will stop it. Christians have often been plain rude when they have stood up for a cause (like pro-lifers making a lot of noise atan abortionist doctor's house). I deplore this sort of thing.
What I am incredibly bothered by, on a politial level, is the loss of christian freedom of speech, and on a spiritual level, the rejection of our Lord that is more and more pervasive in our culture.
Nate wonders where I'm getting this from. I will address this in a future comment as this one seems long.
Andy

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Andy said...

Hi Nate,
The point that we have a government holiday for Christmas is a good one.
But, then again, when there is a huge complaint about a government building putting up a Christmas tree, that is significant. Why the uproar? What are they concerned about?
Second, I heard a congressman state that a particular court nominee was not fit to be a judge because they had made public comments that they belived that, according to the Bible, a man is the head of the household. So, one can freely speak in public, but then that disqualifies them from public office? Is that freedom of speech? Thankfully, after this, another congressman stated that this was a matter of free speech to not vote on the nominee based on his religious views alone. However, if a congressman holds such views, does that qualify as a significant movement to curtail christian speach in our culture?

As to our heritage, just because a practice occurred does not make that a heritage. Are you really unaware of the tremendous influence of protestant christianity on western culture and our own country as well? Let's see, oh yeah, the 10 commandments are hanging in the highest court in our land. Is that not a statement by our forefathers of a heritage? (I could bring up MANY more similar examples if you need.) And, many would like to see them removed. Our forefathers did not see that as a conflict between separation of church and state, that it is a conflict, THAT is a modern idea.
I agree that Merry Christmas is not the thing to fight about. But, the idea that we should be ashamed of the role that christianity played in our heritage, or to deny that this is true, THAT I will fight for. And I will pray for and work to bring about in our country, spiritually, not politically, a revival to the One who can truly make us stand. That is where my heart is.

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Randy Fetzer said...

Since most everyone on here seems to be religion literate, I have a question I need answered. Even a Catholic Priest can't seem to help me here. Where in the bible does it say December 25 is the day Jesus was born on? I can't seem to understand why we celebrate that day. It says to celebrate his death, but no where does it say his birth. In pictures we see the manger with Mary and Joesph in barely any clothing out side. In December in that part of the world it snows and is very very cold. Is there anyone out there care to a answer this?

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

I can't answer that question, Randy, but on a related topic, this was an interesting article on Slate recently.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

Randy,

To boil it all down, no one knows exactly when Christ was born and, in fact, scholars are pretty certain it wasn’t anywhere near the traditional December 25th date we celebrate today. That date was chosen for both ethereal and utilitarian reasons:

First off, the Church (I use the big "C" because at this time in history, there was only one demonination) wanted a date upon which to celebrate the birth of Christ. No, there is no command to celebrate his birth (or his death for that matter) but it is done as a token of love, honor and respect rather than duty.

Secondly, the Church desperately needed to make inroads against the pagan festivals of the day. In order to do this, they decided to celebrate the birth of Christ during the particularly prickly winter solstice and specifically on the date of the "Birthday of the Invincible Sun" festival which they wanted to subvert.

Mix want and need and presto—instead holiday. The fact that the exact date is not known or that we are celebrating it on the wrong day do not make Christ’s birth or the Christian’s devotion any less real.

As far as I know Bethlehem isn’t particularly snowy at any time of the year! Artists depict Christ’s birth in snowfall because people like to appropriate things and make them their own. How else do you explain pictures of Christ with blond hair and blue eyes?! If the tradition is that Christ was born in December, then surely it had to be among two feet of fresh Colorado powder. During the Middle Ages, paintings were made with the holy family in castles, dressed in royal garments and surrounded by the rulers or patrons of the artist! Each age remakes the iconography in its own image. Sad.

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Stephanie Almeida said...

Brandon,
How wonderful that your first year of marriage was so incredible! :) I wish you MANY MANY more just like them.
I, too, became reacqaunted with my OTHER parent this year. In June 2005 my family went to Arizona for a 5 day visit. It was an interesting experience. My mother is flying here tomorrow. Slowly but surely (hopefully not SURLY!) we'll see what happens! It was the first time I had since her since my wedding over 8 years before!
I couldn't be more proud of you, old friend. I wish you more and more success until your little chipmunk cheeks explode!
;o) - it's AMAZING how much I agree with your political views. PLEASE RUN FOR PRESIDENT.

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

I call firsties on Lincoln Bedroom.

10:19 AM  

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