In the spirit of the impending season, let me just say, Jesus Christ, the WSJ is printing a lot of lunatics these days. Case in point, WSJ deputy editor Dennis Henninger, who explains that saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" is leading us inexorably into subprime-fueled financial ruin on the certain road to a Mad Max society.
At this point, you are tut-tutting "Oh, Ken … how you exaggerate. Let's see what this fellow actually said."
And I say, no really.
One man's theory: A nation whose people can't say "Merry Christmas" is a nation capable of ruining its own economy.
Basically, it boils down to the old canard that people who aren't into praying on the street to be seen by men perforce have no moral compass and therefore make stupid and dishonest economic decisions, leading down the path to Mel Gibson shooting people with crossbows and eventually Tina Turner singing about thunderdromes.
What really went missing through the subprime mortgage years were the three Rs: responsibility, restraint and remorse. They are the ballast that stabilizes two better-known Rs from the world of free markets: risk and reward.
Responsibility and restraint are moral sentiments. Remorse is a product of conscience. None of these grow on trees. Each must be learned, taught, passed down. And so we come back to the disappearance of "Merry Christmas."
It has been my view that the steady secularizing and insistent effort at dereligioning [sic] America has been dangerous. That danger flashed red in the fall into subprime personal behavior by borrowers and bankers, who after all are just people. Northerners and atheists who vilify Southern evangelicals are throwing out nurturers of useful virtue with the bathwater of obnoxious political opinions.
The point for a healthy society of commerce and politics is not that religion saves, but that it keeps most of the players inside the chalk lines. We are erasing the chalk lines.
Feel free: Banish Merry Christmas. Get ready for Mad Max.
No, really. Now, maybe this is a brilliant parody. But I'm afraid it isn't.
But now I'm all curious. Was there a sudden wave of atheism leading up to October 1929? Did the malaise and stagflation of the 1970s result from people not putting luminous Santas in the front yard as early as the day after Halloween? Did Black Monday in 1987 happen because the writers of Family Ties never showed the Keatons going to church? Did the internet bubble burst because too many people spent time watching the dancing hamster and not enough time at LandoverBaptist.org?
Are bankers and borrowers really all Northeasterners? What do Southerners live in, wattle huts?
Also, every time you say Happy Holidays, does a mortgage default? Is that like an angel getting its wings every time a bell rings?
And how come poor Mel Gibson gets stuck with representing post-Christian moral Armageddon, after he made The Passion of the Christ?
The stupid, it burns.
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