CSotD: Peace On Earth to Someone or Other

Martyn Turner protests the lack of peace at this Yuletide, and he’s right that universal peace has not descended upon the Earth, but, then again, he’s given us a lot to unpack and quarrel over.

The phrase itself — from Luke 2:14 — is open to a number of translations and interpretations, starting with the King James version, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men,” and the Duoay-Rhiems translation a lot of Catholics grew up with, “Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.”

It seems, poking through the various translations at that link, that receiving peace was dependent on deserving it, largely by being obedient and part of “us” rather than “them,” which — at least up to that point in the Book — was a consistent theme, though the little fellow whose birth was being marked had a disturbing tendency to embrace Samaritans and other outsiders, many of whose descendants are listed by Turner among those who get no peace.

Patrick Henry quoted Jeremiah in his famous Mel Gibson speech, saying “Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms!”

But his source is worth quoting at greater length for clearer context:

For from the least of them to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; from prophet to priest, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people with very little care, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace at all. Are they ashamed of the abomination they have committed? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.

Turner singles out the Taliban as depriving women of peace, and he’s correct, except that, if you apply the “men of good will” translation, it reverses things, making the women the wounded and villains out of the men who know not how to blush, bringing us to our first …


Juxtaposition of the Day

Ann Telnaes

Patrick Hudson

This is a particularly interesting juxtaposition, in that Telnaes emphasizes the desire of women to be equal, while Hudson suggests — hardly unfairly — that the resistance to establishing this inequality is a fear of upsetting the paternalistic imbalance of an extremist culture.

The two concepts are clearly linked, but the former is closer to what’s happening in Iran, where women who possess a level of respect and professional status are casting off an outdated cultural tradition, contrasting sharply with the plight of Afghan women who got a taste of that level of equality under the occupation and are now being ordered back into medievalism.

And it should be noted that there are plenty of modern, educated, professional Muslim women who embrace the hijab and the more modest flowing robes of the culture, but as a choice, not under orders, and who wear that clothing to their work, not simply in the forced isolation of purdah.

It’s also important to recognize that other Muslim nations have strongly criticized the Taliban for their treatment of women. This is not a “Muslim” issue but, rather, a Taliban issue, and an issue of the Taliban breaking a pledge upon which the bulk of their foreign aid is based.

“Men of goodwill” seem a little hard to come by, thereabouts.


Juxtaposition of the Day #2

(Adam Zyglis)


(Nick Anderson)

Not that we can’t find plenty of men lacking in goodwill hereabouts, starting with the spokesman for Russian imperialism, who — as Zyglis and Anderson point out — is so adept at parroting Putin’s propaganda that excerpts of his rants are broadcast in Russia to help calm any doubts about their adventurism in Ukraine.

We used to joke, back in the days of the Obama administration, that if he told people to breathe, stubborn Republicans would die of asphyxiation.

It was funny then, but we now have a growing body of the GOP so dedicated to undermining our elected government that they are willing to overlook rape, executions of prisoners and mass murder of civilians and declare it none of our business, perhaps knowing that, if it becomes impossible to resist by proxy, the children of rich and powerful Americans will not have to bear the burden of the war.

Tucker Carlson is one of the top-rated cheerleaders for Russian aggression and war crimes.


There was a time not long ago when Americans generally opposed Soviet aggression, and a time not far before that when they were at least willing to support Churchill’s stance against Nazi expansionism in Europe. Pat Bagley isn’t the only person who knows this, but, then again, Pat Bagley hasn’t just won a majority in the House where he can vote whether or not to help prevent the next world war.

One of the pitfalls of democracy being that you can’t simply blame your leaders when you helped select them, either by your activism or by your lack thereof.

Meanwhile, as Ann Telnaes points out, with an appropriate cinematic reference, we’re learning of attempts to intimidate and coach Cassidy Hutchinson into “forgetting” things she remembered and declining to testify frankly and honestly about the attempted coup.

It’s part of a major, deliberate effort to end the pesky practice of the American people voting to choose their leaders, and the release of the Jan 6 Committee Report offers a window into this extended, ongoing attempt.

Not that we should expect everyone to read it. If you go into a secondhand bookstore,  you can probably find more than one copy of the Pentagon Papers, purchased in good faith but never opened.

Still, men (and women) of goodwill made an effort to find what was in that massive text, as well as what was in the Church Committee Report that followed, and they didn’t have to do much because a fair-minded, balanced media reported on it.

Perhaps you had to be there.

Today, those who get their information from Fox, and from Carlson, will never hear what the Committee found, and, worse, will be assured that nothing in it is true.

In light of all this, if you still think we deserve peace, I know another thick book you’ve never read.


4 thoughts on “CSotD: Peace On Earth to Someone or Other

  1. Not to mention all the rightwing Requblicans shouting today that we have no business interfering with Russia’s aggression in Ukraine who will blame Joe Biden if China sees their cries as a green light to put an end to Taiwanese autonomy once and for all.

  2. Another interpretation of “Peace on Earth” is not lack of strife but internal peace to believers. This, I think, is more in line with the idea of idividual salvation that Christ was promising as opposed to the Warrior Messiah that the people of Judea were expecting.

  3. Peace be with you. A recommendation to others and not so easy to attain or even work on as an individual let alone a society.

  4. As a stoic, I find “peace be with you” a particularly challenging concept, between the ideal and the human. I do what I can.

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