Worthwhile Links: December 2014

While in Sri Lanka I finally watched the excellent Twenty Feet From Stardom on DVD on a giant screen, and once back in Houston (and after watching multiple movies on the flights there, including particularly The Book of Life) I went to local cinemas to take in Big Hero 6, Mockingjay, Princess Kaguya, Unbroken, and The Imitation Game, all of which I can recommend. In addition, I survived the 3rd Hobbit movie.

And what would the Christmas season be without Sugar Plum Fairies? Try these, a capella:


Christmas 2014 occurred precisely a century after Christmas 1914, the first Christmas of the First World War. During November 1914 the end of First Battle of Ypres ensured, along with the Battle of the Marne, that there would be no quick end to the “War to End All Wars”. During December 1914 the Western Front stabilized into a 450-mile-long series of interlocking trench fortifications on both sides stretching from the coast southward through Belgium and Eastern France into Switzerland. The 600-mile Eastern Front extended from the Baltic Sea through East Prussia and Austria to the Carpathian Mountains. Giant armies were then locked into a struggle that would last for four more years and cost the lives of ten to eleven million soldiers and roughly seven million civilians.

This brutal war was not without its share of curiosities:





Possibly the most curious incident of the entire was was the Christmas truce that occurred on December 25, 1914 between German and British soldiers in northern France. All shooting stopped as the soldiers exited their trenches, exchanged gifts, sang carols and engaged in a soccer game. This would be the only Christmas truce of the war, as Allied commanders subsequently forbid fraternization with orders to shoot any violators; but for that one day the men on both sides of the conflict could make their way into No Man’s Land and enjoy a precious day of peace.

What tragically ironic that all the belligerents in this conflict believed God to be on their side, and invoked Providence to preserve themselves & smite their foes; one is reminded of G. K. Chesterton’s comment in What’s Wrong with the World:

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

That ideal, though, remains with us, ready to be tried by whomever can gather the fortitude to try it. In honor of that ideal, and of He Who lived it Himself, here is Night of Silence: