A convert from Anglicanism myself, I find the emphasis on Newman’s conversion beautiful and profound. A conversion feast sets aside a day for contemplation on this experience for its own sake, and this seems meet and right.
From the same blog, a last glimpse of the Pope as night falls on Britain: “Eagle-eyed Pope fans spot Benedict walking up and down in front of the building, rosary beads in hand before retiring for the night.”
Early this morning, London’s Metropolitan Police arrested five men in connection with a possible terror plot aimed at Pope Benedict XVI.
The arrests were made at 0545 BST at addresses in London after counter-terrorism officers received intelligence of a potential threat.
The five men have been taken to a central London police station.
Officers are continuing searches at premises connected to the raids. The men are not British nationals.
[. . .]
The five were arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism under the Terrorism Act 2000.
The five men are 26, 27, 36, 40 and 50 years old. They were arrested in an armed operation at business premises where searches are continuing.
Residential premises in north and east London are also being searched. Officers have not found any hazardous items.
It is not clear whether the investigations relate to a plot against the Pope himself or an element of the visit.
There are some who now seek to exclude religious belief from public discourse, to privatize it or even to paint it as a threat to equality and liberty. Yet religion is in fact a guarantee of authentic liberty and respect, leading us to look upon every person as a brother or sister. — Pope Benedict XVI at Bellahouston Park
A Catholic friend in England remarked that she had to stop following news of the papal visit on Twitter: even in that truncated form of communication, the anti-Catholic rhetoric was too much.
To be sure, there were the crowds lining the streets in Edinburgh. There was, as William Doino has said, the triumph of the Mass in Glasgow. But while all this was going on, as well as in the run-up to it, there were the people who sat at their computers and typed out responses to the BBC’s “Have Your Say” feature for September 16.
In defiance of a ruling by the British Advertising Standards Authority—doesn’t that ring quaintly on the ear: Advertising Standards Authority—an ice cream company has announced its intent to plaster the Pope’s route through London to Westminster Cathedral with images “continuing the theme” of a poster already banned by the ASA.
Though the new posters have yet to appear, and the ASA has declined to comment on what it hasn’t yet seen staring it in the face all over London, the UK-based Antonio Federici has said that it “wished to comment on and question, using satire and gentle humour, the relevance and hypocrisy of religion and the attitudes of the church to social issues.”
Listen to us! Social commentary brought to you by your ice cream! Apparently Antonio Federici can hold, simultaneously, both this official position and the one in which they claim that “the idea of conception represented the development of their ice cream,” and that religious imagery merely suggests the company’s “strong feeling towards its product,” and really, anyone who objects to anything about this ought to try thinking metaphorically once in a while and not go getting all knicker-twisted. It’s ice cream.
But it’s not just any ice cream. This ice cream is relevant, yet hypocritical. Plus it’s all a bit of lighthearted fun. In which, of course, the Pope and his cavalcade must be forced to take part, for the good of society, in a satirical yet gently humourous kind of way.
All right, Joe, I’ll bite, though I hesitate to accept a title like “poet-in-residence” for the simple reason that I haven’t actually written much poetry in the last five years.
A prosaic turn of mind hasn’t stopped me, however, from thinking about poetry. Poetry-as-aural-experience is a fact of life in my house, so I’m hardly disposed to say that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m an avid reader-aloud of poetry, especially to my children, and I’ll tell anyone willing to listen (again, my children, who really have no choice) that it’s our ears primarily, not our eyes, which remember poems.
So far, so good, right? But here’s what I wonder about Billy Collins: how much of his poetry is the kind of thing our ears not only receive, but remember? How many of his lines return unbidden into the mind once we’ve finished listening to them? Wordsworth wrote, “The music in my heart I bore/Long after it was heard no more.” I’m not prepared right this second to die for the idea that this, and nothing else, is what defines poetry, but—well, how much Billy Collins do you bear in your heart, long after he’s stopped talking?
Actually, I know how I’d answer that question. I can recite one Billy Collins line off the top of my head: “And here is your lanyard.” Make of that what you will.
Before five hundred people write in to repeat for me all their favorite Billy Collins passages, committed to heart as people used commonly to commit sacred scripture, let me qualify what I just said. It’s not that you can’t memorize Billy Collins’s poetry if you want to. In fact, if you’ve got it on CD and listen to it a lot, I would imagine that you have in fact memorized a good bit more than I have. I would argue, however, that this isn’t exactly the same thing as memorizing poetry written to appeal to the ear via the traditional aural devices of rhyme and meter. You may be able to call up passages, even whole poems, at will. But I’m not sure that this act of remembering is the same act by which we recall poetry.
Let me give you an example. Billy Collins has, in England, a children’s-poet counterpart named Michael Rosen. Now, as for me and my house, we are tremendous fans of Michael Rosen. Among other things, he has written an excellent book on Shakespeare for children, but the reason my children love him is that, in about 2000 or 2001, while we were living in Cambridge, we happened to check out from the library an audiobook of his poems, entitled Just Wait Till I’m Older Than You.
I think we may very possibly still owe overdue fines on this tape. We listened to it, and we listened to it, and we listened to it, and then we listened to it some more. When we left England in 2003, I was almost tempted to check it out again and drop it into a packing box by premeditated mistake. As it turned out, I didn’t have to, because as a family we have most of it committed to memory anyway and can recite entire poems off the top of our collective head.
The thing is, though, that this isn’t really like reciting poetry. I’m not sure what these poems look like on the page, but they don’t seem to be rhymed or metered (though to be fair, many poets read right through their line endings, and you don’t know that poems rhyme unless you chance to read them). These poems play on the ear like stories—hilariously funny stories, which is really why we remember them, but stories. In short, they might as well be prose. They’d lose nothing by being written in paragraphs, not stanzas. When we recite bits of them aloud, we sound more like people repeating their favorite lines from a Monty Python sketch than people participating in the great oral tradition of poetry:
“The car’s moving!”
“I know the car’s moving!”
“Look at the peaches!”
“Never mind the peaches!”
See what I mean? For those of us who know the whole story, these are funny lines. For the rest of you—well, I’ll have to tell you the story sometime. And here is your lanyard.
Meanwhile, there was one other book—an actual book, this time, not a tape—which I was sorely tempted to check out on a permanent and illicit basis from the public library of Cambridgeshire. Now that I think of it, we probably still owe fines on this one, too. It was a book of poetry for children, by a Cornishman named Charles Causley, and it was as irresistible to me as it was to my children.
There was, and is, a pleasure on an entirely different level from “recalling the funny bits” in saying aloud a poem which begins, “Here’s Reverend Rundle/His gear in a bundle,” or
Good morning, Mr. Croco-doco-dile,
And how are you today?
I like to see you croco-smoco-smile
In your croco-woco-way.
These poems were often funny; they were often lyrical and even—and this is unusual in children’s poetry—haunting. They were wonderful to read aloud and to hear, not only because what they had to say was funny, or lyrical, or haunting, but in their music, in the very pleasure they took in their own sound.
This is a quality, incidentally, not confined to Causley’s poetry for children. In fact, as the Charles Causley Society’s website points out,
It is difficult to decide which of Causley’s poems can be classified as “children’s poems” since many of them contain several layers of experience.
It’s no slur against Causley’s reputation to say that my children can understand a poem like this or this as readily as they understand the “children’s” poems. And though Causley didn’t make a name for himself via recordings and animations, you can hear him read “Timothy Winters” and a selection of other poems at The Poetry Archive.
So . . . it may look as if I’d forgotten your original question, Joe, but I haven’t. No, I don’t think Billy Collins is killing poetry. But when I stand him up beside poets for whom the idea of an oral tradition of poetry means more than just “intelligible stuff you say out loud”—poets who write memorable music as well as accessible and repeatable lines—it seems to me that we don’ t have to settle for mere life-support, either.
From the L.A. Times, a look at a cluster of California charter schools which “mock liberal orthodoxy with such zeal that it can seem like a parody.” At American Indian Public Charter,
School administrators take pride in their record of frequently firing
teachers they consider to be underperforming. Unions are embraced with the same warmth accorded “self-esteem experts, panhandlers, drug dealers and those snapping turtles who refuse to put forth their best effort,” to quote the school’s website.
Students, almost all poor, wear uniforms and are subject to disciplinary procedures redolent of military school. One local school district official was horrified to learn that a girl was forced to clean the boys’ restroom as punishment.
The school serves a low-income population, yet its students routinely post some of the highest standardized-test scores in the state.
Among the thousands of public schools in California, only four middle schools and three high schools score higher. None of them serves mostly underprivileged children.
At American Indian, the largest ethnic group is Asian, followed by Latinos and African Americans. Some of the schools’ critics contend that high-scoring Asian Americans are driving the test scores, but blacks and Latinos do roughly as well–in fact, better on some tests.
Is this a miracle story? Is the charter’s success as simple as the triumph of discipline and common sense over basketweaving? The school’s critics claim that American Indian’s high test scores result from active recruitment of high achievers and, in the words of the local
teachers’-union president, “getting rid of kids who won’t” perform well.
And then there’s the matter of the mother who withdrew her son, concluding that the school was “evil.” She had proposed to keep her son at home to watch the presidential inauguration in January, to which the school’s principal responded with the threat of extra homework as
punishment and, more objectively disturbingly, of rescinding a recommendation to a private high school.
It’s clear, at any rate, that when this school administration says “zero tolerance” for attendance or behavioral infractions, they aren’t kidding. And not-kidding produces results. It’s possible to argue about the means, and about the value of the end of high test scores, but the results are undeniably there.
Hymns are listed alphabetically; click on any title for words, audio clips, histories and author bios.
Guess I know what I’ll be doing this morning. Actually, what I’m afraid I won’t be able to stop myself doing is mentally adding the words “in the bathtub” to each hymn title. It’s an entertaining game, though a bit of a threat to any sense of churchgoing gravitas, and I recommend it with caution.
“Cleanse Me” . . . in the bathtub.
“He Hideth My Soul” . . . in the bathtub.
“There Is a Fountain” . . . in the bathtub.
“What Child Is This” . . . in the bathtub?
Bad, bad, bad.
But the hymn site is interesting.
Or, if there’s a problem, it’s time to redefine “problem.” At least, that’s what this piece from the New York Times’ “Room for Debate” blog suggests:
The recently released study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that the birthrate for unmarried women has risen to 40 percent and is highest among Hispanic women–climbing 20 percent between 2002 and 2006. While this data is worth noting and signals a need for policymakers and advocates to reexamine our family-centered policies, we shouldn’t present single motherhood as a problem in itself.
It’s always nice, too, to see Corinne Maier–remember her? 40 Good Reasons Not to Have Kids? That Corinne Maier–weighing in on single motherhood.
It’s no coincidence that celebrity tabloids devote more ink to stars who give birth or adopt than to those who marry or remake their lives.
The child is thus the center of everything — perhaps too much so.
The situation makes one think of the famous line by the French writer Andre Gide in 1897: “Families, I hate you.” Would its modern version be “Kids are hell”?
Yeah . . . that’s exactly what I thought of . . .
From Semicolon, a call for favorite hymns:
Hymn (according to Webster): a song of praise to God
a metrical composition adapted for singing in a religious service.
For the purposes of this poll, I’m limiting the choices to Christian hymns, but the form of the song doesn’t matter. In other words, the songs on your list should be suitable for congregational singing and should be Christian. Handel’s Messiah is Christian but probably not suitable for congregational hymn singing.
Anything you sing in worship service, even what are normally called choruses or gospel songs or spirituals or CCM, is fine. (Oh, English, please, or at least translated into English. Sorry, but it’s all I really speak.)
I can think of a number of things, actually, which call themselves hymns but aren’t suitable for congregational singing, but let’s not start down that via dolorosa.
The problem I have with ranking my own favorite hymns is that I can’t rank them in preferential order. Either I love a hymn so much that I want it sung every Sunday until I die and then at my funeral, or I don’t. Period.
My criteria for hymnodic goodness are singability (as satisfying to sing while washing the dishes or putting the children to bed as with organ, brass, and eight-part choir), poetic language (to update or inclusivize it is to un-write it), and catechetical soundness. Hymnody ought, I think, to suggest to the faithful some uniquely compelling reason or other for being in church on Sunday morning and not someplace else. Some weeks back, when I found myself singing a hymn in which the voice of Jesus is made to ask, “Do you love the ‘you’ inside,” I think I might have shut the hymnal, sat down, and waited for help to arrive, except that I sing in the choir, and there are six of us, and we were the only people singing.
Here are my personal top ten hymns:
via The Common Room
It’s hard to know what to say about the Reverend Dr. Katharine Ragsdale, the new president of the Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Actually, the problem is not that there’s nothing to say, but that Rev. Ragsdale says it all herself. Here’s an excerpt from a sermon entitled “Our Work Is Not Done”:
When a woman wants a child but can’t afford one because she hasn’t the education necessary for a sustainable job, or access to health care, or day care, or adequate food, it is the abysmal priorities of our nation, the lack of social supports, the absence of justice that are the tragedies;the abortion is a blessing.
And when a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion—there is not a tragedy in sight—only blessing. The ability to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality without compromising one’s education, life’s work, or ability to put to use God’s gifts and call is simply blessing.
These are the two things I want you, please, to remember—abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Let me hear you say it: abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.
Not a tragedy in sight. Nope, not one.
Read more here.
My teenager was reading the Lego catalog. Not that she herself would ever be interested in her brothers’ geeky obsessions, mind you—she had some Latin sentences waiting to be parsed.
So she was idly turning pages and clucking dismissively over the Mindstorms NXT and the Star Wars Exo-Force and the Bionicles, all of which make the boys in this house hyperventilate with longing, and saying, “What boring person would want the ‘Trade Federation MTT, ages 9-14, 1,326 pieces,” when suddenly from the other room—I think I might have been taking laundry from the dryer, or possibly putting some in—I heard her screech.
“Dude!” she said. You make them parse Latin sentences, and this is how they talk. “I thought they only made dude Lego. But look at this.” I came and looked. And sure enough—”It’s pink girly Lego,” she said.
The Lego you love now comes in two great flavors: “Everything,” including Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Lego City, Knights vs. Skeletons, Undersea Adventures, Star Wars, Bionicles, and Lego Creator; and “Just for Girls,” including the Sunshine Home and Horse Stable, a pink Lego-brick-shaped backpack, and a “New! Lego Pink Brick Box: Build a house, pony, or anything else you can imagine with this special box filled with LEGO bricks in colors you love.”
“Wow,” the teenager said.
Of course, I remember when Lego came in one flavor: primary-colored. They came in a big box with a jumble of accessories, windows, doors, wheels, and so on, and were given to your brother for Christmas. At least, ours were given to my brother, though we both played with them, as we played with his Lionel trains and my dollhouse.
Now, presumably in the new Lego dispensation girls can play with whatever they want, though I haven’t met many girls who find Star Wars riveting enough to want to put together the Ultimate Collector’s Milennium Falcon (5,195 pieces). As I look at the picture of this item, here at my desk at home, the telepathic effect is such that my ten-year-old son, at choir practice right now, feels his heart rate go up inexplicably; while the teenager, sitting beside him, merely experiences a brief frisson of apathy and then swats him with her Voice for Life workbook and hisses, “Would you please not breathe so loudly?” Such is the telepathic effect of their behavior, that I can read it from a mile away.
Even my four-year-old, who likes to play Star Wars because she thinks Leia is pretty, and who also likes putting Legos together because that’s what there is to do around here, gives the Lego catalogs only a passing glance before her brothers seize them up in fevered hands and paw them to pieces. All those machines, she clearly thinks. And not a rabbit or a fairy or a pair of ruby slippers among them. Of course, she’s just this minute stomped with great purpose on some kind of Star Wars ship—it had a lot of clone troopers on it, that’s all I know—which her five-year-old brother undoubtedly left for a reason on the floor in the doorway to this room. This leads me to think that Lego has missed its mark with the ponies and the Sunshine House. What they really need is a line of Terminator Princesses who fight everybody.
I am the last person in America to have heard of Walter the Farting Dog. My cousin is the next-to-last, and she heard about Walter from her son, who came home from kindergarten one day recently and actually told her for a change what he had done at school. They had had story time, he said, and teacher had read them a funny book about a farting dog.
“A what?” said my cousin. While neither of us is exactly a lace-encrusted Victorian holdover, we shared a grandmother who could not bring herself to mention the name of any bodily function whatsoever and therefore spent our childhoods being ordered to wash our hands before long car journeys and church. Our more up-market great-aunt used routinely to inquire of us as seven-year-olds whether our noses needed powdering. None of this particularly mystified us; it was how people talked in the South. We assumed it was how all people talked, everywhere.
“A farting dog,” my cousin’s son repeated through a mouthful of sandwich. Thinking about it, he started to laugh again, spraying the table with crumbs.
My cousin, however, was not as amused as she might have been, and with her husband’s help she tried to procure a copy of this book in order that they might see for themselves just how funny it was, and then perhaps have a word with Teacher about it. The school library didn’t have a copy; their local branch library didn’t have a copy; the central library didn’t have a copy. In the end, they found an obscure branch all the way across town which could, just possibly, obtain the book for them via inter-library loan.
At last they held a copy in their hands. Here is a plot summary:
1. Some kids bring home a dog from the pound.
2. You know the title, so already you know what’s wrong with the dog.
3. Dad wants to get rid of the dog.
4. The very night before the dog goes back to the pound, some burglars break into the house.
5. The dog overpowers them, to put it with nose-powdering delicacy.
6. Hooray, we love Walter, Walter can stay, the end.
Hearing about this book, I was intrigued. It was not necessarily that I was surprised by anything about my cousins’ story, because when I was a public-school teacher myself, I worked hard at the art of being surprised by nothing, and then when my own children went to school, as they briefly did, I found I had to work at it all over again. I still remember the first chapter book my oldest daughter ever read: it was about a cat afraid to walk through a cat flap. Eleven chapters of “Do I? Don’t I?”—characteristic for a cat, but as adventures go rather tiresome, I would have thought—enlivened only by the cat’s doing, in Chapter Nine, what cats are wont to do on the floor when the exit is barred to them. My daughter’s teacher had given it to her, and she read it with evident pleasure, but I remember glancing over her shoulder at it and thinking, “This is what there is to read?”
So it was not that I was shocked, exactly, to learn of the existence of a children’s book about a farting dog—merely interested, you understand. I looked it up on Amazon, and there it was, not only a book about Walter, but a series: Walter at a yard sale, Walter on the beach, Walter on a cruise. As far as I know, there’s not yet an installment featuring Walter on a crowded elevator stuck at the thirty-ninth floor, but that can’t be far behind.
There’s even a stuffed toy: “Walter the Farting Dog from the Katzwinkle and Murray childrens book. Just squeeze Walter and he will make numerous farting sounds. Measures over 8 inches in length. A Great gift for any occasion. Watch their reaction when they give Walter a squeeze.”
I’m trying to think on what occasion I might give a stuffed Walter—”numerous farting sounds?”—as a gift. I’m also thinking of the stuff we used to see on the shelves at Stuckey’s, fake vomit, toilet ashtrays, tasteful table-top-sized hillbilly outhouses with a little half-dressed hillbilly man who squirted you if you opened the door, and that what my mother always said was, “You don’t need those awful things.”
But then, we must be the kind of people to whom the approximately 104 customer reviews, of a total 171, are addressed when they begin, “If you are not an open-minded person, you won’t like this book.” Others merely exhort the reader to “Lighten up!!!” I lost count of the number of reviews entitled “What a Gas,” as well as the number of adults who report that they “laughed till I peed my pants.” One city librarian boasts of buying the book to shelve over the objections of—or maybe under the radar of—his supervisor. At least five teachers bought it for the express purpose of reading it to their classes; one wound up reading it to her entire school. Another man bought it to bring cheer to the residents of his father’s nursing home. Vast numbers of uncles seem to be buying this book to give to nieces and nephews. Several mothers admit to disliking the book intensely themselves, but praise it nevertheless as the first, if not the only book their children have been willing to read. Before Walter, books were boring, &c. One hundred thirty-six reviews, at a rough estimate, contain the sentence, “Children think bodily functions are funny,” or some variation thereof.
About six people give the book poor reviews, using words like “shame,” and “politeness,” and “poor taste,” but are swiftly shouted down by the rest as repressive nitwits. One woman—why do I think this reviewer is a woman?—deplores the fact that the book conveys the message that “rescued” animals are “disposable.” About six more people point out that Walter the Farting Dog, in both concept and plot, is almost virtually identical to another series of books about a dog with halitosis—which apparently are much, much funnier and not offensive in the least.
In the end, my cousin and her husband met with the teacher, who was forced to admit, albeit reluctantly, that she had made an “error of judgment” in choosing this book to read to the kindergarten. There are probably forty-five different conclusions which one might draw from all this, but I think I’m going to go read Edith and Mr. Bear again instead.
Well, Jody, you should, indeed, let the Sussex Carol console you for the Georgetown Hoyas’ defeat by the Memphis Tigers. But I’m afraid that all I can add is:
(The teams of the college I attended amount, as one friend put it, to a really great library. So, living here in Tennessee, I have to root for my hometowners.)
As far as the Sussex Carol goes, however, that’s one of my favorites, too—I’ve been going around singing those two lines you quote for days:
Then why should men on earth be sad,:
Since our Redeemer made us glad?
That’s easier to sing on one’s own than my real favorite, “In Dulci Jubilo,” which really requires four separate choirs. When that one gets stuck in my head, I have to go around singing:
O Jesu Parvule, I yearn for thee alway—
O, that we were there—
O, that we were there—
O that we were there,
until somebody throws a shoe at me.
I’ve never understood all the fuss about Santa Claus. Not the believing part: We have no problems in that department, being a happily credulous lot at our house. Two of us, after all, are under the age of six, and the rest of us read fiction without stopping every other sentence to say to ourselves, “But of course this is a lie.”
Actually, with regard to Santa Claus, it’s the worries about lying that I don’t understand, and the need to establish some moment of revelation, like a birds-and-bees talk, wherein a child learns that Santa Claus doesn’t exist.
My niece learned the truth at eight, which seemed awfully young to me at the time. It’s been some years now, and I’m not sure how my sister-in-law went about engineering this epiphany for her daughter, but her rationale was that she had learned at eight, and so her daughter would, too. A friend of mine told her eight-year-old daughter about both Santa Claus and sex, if not in the same conversation, at least in the same year. Hello, third grade; goodbye, childhood. Again, it was what her mother had done before her.
I’ve been thinking about Santa lately, not only for the obvious reasons — “Oh, when is he coming?” my four-year-old asked on rising this morning — but also because “doing” or “not doing” Santa is making its seasonal rounds as a topic of conversation, here, for example, and here.
Also, my 10-year-old son has lately been trying to work out a theology of Santa Claus that he can live with, taking the reasoning-from-Saint-Nicholas approach. “Okay,” he said to me the other day, “I get that he doesn’t have reindeer, because there are no reindeer in Turkey. And he was a bishop, so there’s no Mrs. Claus. This whole fat-guy-down-the-chimney thing — it’s basically — ”
He stopped. I waited. Better a listener than a lecturer be.
“And I know you and Dad painted my model aerodrome when I was five. So — so —” He hesitated again. “I know Saint Nicholas was real —”
“Well,” I began. Better a lecturer be, sometimes. “Think about it this way. We say God fills the hungry with good things, right? But who goes down to deliver Meals on Wheels?”
“Grammy,” he said.
“So there’s no God? It’s just your Grammy doing what everybody says God does?”
“No,” he said. Duh.
“Well, then,” I said, as if I had proven something. And I left him to think about it.
It occurs to me that maybe we’ve been doing our children a grave misservice, leading them on this way, exhorting them to pay no attention to the Mom and Dad behind the curtain, avoiding the moment of speaking plainly, not using any figure. But then, without the figure, it’s harder to get around to talking about the truth. You can see the figure as obfuscation, or you can see it as icon, a window onto something which can’t itself be framed by the human mind. In the case of Santa Claus, I like to think of Father Christmas, as he appears in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: a harbinger of the end of the long, cruel winter, a sign of Aslan’s coming.
The saints live with God, we tell our children, and they live to point to God. There’s a certain convenient logic in moving from All Saints into Advent and Christmas: it’s useful to have been talking so recently about the Communion of Saints and the fact that we, too, the faithful, belong to that company.
“So —” The 10-year-old waylaid me again. “Saint Nicholas. I know he’s real. But —”
“Look, son,” I said — I was doing my fourteen-gazillionth load of laundry that day, and tired of philosophizing. “He has many servants, all right?”
It’s true. He does. He has many servants. Santa Claus, Mom and Dad — we’re a conspiracy, all right. And all of us, great and small, wait with joy for His coming.