Ah, Valentine's Day. Yesterday I was pondering the meaning of it all. For hopeless romantics, it's a day of chocolates, flowers, cards, skimpy underclothes, and possibly jewelry. For the lonely, it's a reminder of their status. For everyone else, it runs somewhere between obligation and annoyance. If you wanted to go to your favorite restaurant last night for a regular dinner - forget it. They likely had a special "fixed price" menu, which means less choice and more cost for you... and you better have reservations. We went to our favorite sports pub, where the food is great, the prices fair, and there's always something interesting to watch. There were also a lot of single guys without dates.
Most people know in the back of their minds that the day was originally St. Valentine's Day. It was decreed in 496 AD by the Catholic Church in honor of a priest who was martyred in Rome in 269 AD. He was not declared the patron saint of romance or love or any such thing. That didn't come until the late 14th century with what is possibly a misattributed poem by Chaucer
. Over the years, it has evolved into a day to supposedly celebrate love, and bestow honor upon one's romantic partner.
It's an interesting juxtaposition that during the weeks leading up to the Big Day yesterday, with stores filled with pink and red heart-coverd and heart-shaped boxes, balloons, and every other marketing gimmick for a day ostensibly honoring a Catholic martyr, that we've been subjected to fake outrage over Catholic dogma and the birth control pill, and a greater more general complaint of war on Christian belief itself.
Never mind that the day honoring the birth of Christ is celebrated by wanton consumerism and honoring a fictitious fat man in a red suit... Never mind that the day honoring Christ's death is celebrated with a candy, chocolate, and an anthropomorphic bunny delivering said goods, Santa-style... Never mind that another Catholic honoree - St. Patrick, who brought Christianty to northwest Europe - is celebrated with excessive drinking and singing songs about drinking. The previously mentioned St. Valentine is now obscured by - once again - consumerism.
Politicians can posture, and pundits can pontificate, but this is not Big Government stepping on people's religious rights. The "compromise" - as put forth by the Obama Administration - is to have insurance companies provide the Pill free of charge, something the insurance companies were more than happy to do (it saves them money in the long run). This frees institutions from paying for birth control, and leaves it up to the employees to decide whether to use it. That is the ultimate in religious freedom - choice.
No, it would seem the war on Christians - and the war on Christian tradition - is coming squarely from a place near and dear to Republicans' hearts: business. Every year it seems that the advertising becomes more intensive and pushes the envelope a little further. Hallmark and Zales live for Valentine's Day. Guinness has countdown clocks for St. Patrick's Day, sales and advertising for Christmas start a little earlier each year, until Dec 25 is more like a relief that the relentlessness of it all is finally over.
So as you hear and see more fauxtrage over "shocking" "destruction" of the "Constitution" by "Catholic-hating" Democrats, remember this: "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel" - Samuel Johnson
"The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause. A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business." -Eric Hoffer, philosopher and author (1902-1983)
Hope you enjoyed your chocolate and/or flowers...