Posts Tagged ‘frank’

By: Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I am a one-holiday-at-a-time sort of person; don’t talk to me about Christmas until Thanksgiving is over!

But…Thanksgiving is now over; my neighbors were out this weekend hanging lights on their homes and posting pictures of their Christmas trees on social media. On our Christian calendar it is Advent season. The hangings on the altar change color and the Advent wreath appears.

This time of year we are counting the days until Christmas. Our schedules are filled with parties, shopping, finding the perfect gift. The kids pen letters to Santa while adults wrap gifts, plan menus, and hide presents. The children are filled with expectation and energy. As adults we may feel some pressure, some sentimentality, and maybe some stress.

The word “advent” is derived from a Latin word that means “coming.” Yes, Christmas, (and Santa) is coming; the nativity of our Lord is coming, but we also know that Christ is coming again, and we wait for that.

I’ll be honest; I love Christmas, but I’m always glad when it is done. I put up a live tree and I take it down on December 26. I’m one of those people who finds the whole thing stressful. I never have enough money to buy what I want to for people, and I feel a self-imposed pressure about that. I decorate my house, put up a tree, and do the baking because it is expected. I love a pretty tree, but who sees it? We have a very small family, and they all live in another state. My parents are gone, and we no longer have a family Christmas party. It’s all just rather sad and sentimental to me.

So this year I make a vow: I will make a solid effort to enjoy everything that is good about the season. I will attend events at my church, enjoy the children’s Nativity Pageant; I will look at the pretty lights in the neighborhood and I will put up a dang tree.

Years ago, we had a maiden aunt in the family who was on a teacher’s pension and didn’t ever have much money. She purchased what she could for those on her gift list; we called them “Aunt Maude presents.” She would give you a pair of socks. Or a coffee mug. A bottle of maple syrup with a big red bow. A package of hair barrettes. Each gift was thoughtfully selected with love. If she ever felt pressure to spend beyond her budget it never showed.

I might be purchasing Aunt Maude Gifts this year, and I’ll probably still be glad when the season is over, but I am going to make every effort to enjoy the spirit of the season and the true reason for the season!

And a Merry Christmas to you all!

By:  Pat Austin

HOCHATOWN, OK – We are in Oklahoma this week, in a mountain “cabin” enjoying the great outdoors and visiting with family.

Hochatown is a small, unincorporated community in southeast Oklahoma, near the Texas border. The signs says population here is about 250 people, but with 2,500 luxury cabins in the area, and more in development, this area feels more like Branson, Missouri. The two lane highway is a constant stream of traffic as tourists check in and check out of these mountain homes.

There are multiple companies that rent these places out and the images you see make them look so secluded, so remote, but once here, you see you are in a congested, developed area. Even though as I type this and look out the cabin window I see woods, just behind that tree line is another huge cabin and next door I can see another. Driving through the neighborhood it is just that, a neighborhood.

The homes are lovely; they have open floor plans, lots of windows, fire pits, covered porches for sitting outside, and all the amenities. The one we are in has a hot tub outdoors, a shuffleboard inside, and an arcade machine with a dozen games on it. There’s a sleeping loft and two bedrooms; this one sleeps ten. The décor is your basic Hobby Lobby rustic.

I can’t help but wonder what the actual locals think, those who have lived here for decades. How do they feel about this development boom? This area has always been known for being beautiful for hiking, fishing, camping, and all things outdoors. In the past few years it has become the playground for people in Texas, specifically the Dallas area, to get away from the city for a while. With recent low interest mortgage rates, development has exploded here.

And now the Choctaw Nation is developing a huge casino (on that congested two-lane highway). The casino will bring even more tourists. It will feature 100 hotel rooms, restaurants, bars, a live music venue, and a shopping area.

So the question becomes, is all of this destroying the natural aspect of the area, destroying what people are actually looking for? I mean, you are not secluded or remote at all. And even as there are woods around us, and other “cabins,” we see deer daily in the yard. They have nowhere else to go. We are all over their natural habitat.

Because Hochatown is unincorporated, some developers play fast and loose with the building rules and some of these developments are better than others. Again, something the locals worry about. On the flip side, property values have risen some 65% in the past few years. There is no question that it is pretty country here.

For now there are still many beautiful hiking trails and we spent the afternoon watching people fly fishing in the Lower Fork River, just minutes from the house. Even in these woods we are literally two minutes from the highway, from two breweries, a couple of wineries, a petting zoo, several t-shirt shops, an axe-throwing place, and lots of restaurants and bars. Seclusion is relative.

It’s still a lovely place to get away and recharge. At least until they pave over the pines and hardwoods to build more cabins.

By: Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT –  I didn’t want to write about election results, BUT, since all politics are local, I will say that here in Louisiana, John Kennedy handily won re-election with 62% of the vote so, there’s that. And even more locally, our ridiculous mayor here in Shreveport was soundly defeated, coming in at a lame fourth place. There will be a runoff in December between an attorney and a career politician. Meh.

As for Kennedy, the state political world is on the edge of their seats waiting to see if he will announce a run for governor next year.

The Advocate speculates:

Kennedy is in the pole position after waltzing to reelection with nearly 62% of the vote in a 13-candidate field. A Republican in a GOP-dominated state, he has nearly $15 million in the bank, according to sources close to the campaign, that he could shift to an outside super PAC for the governor’s race… Kennedy is so formidable that political analysts believe U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, Treasurer John Schroder, state Sen. Sharon Hewitt and other Republicans are waiting for Kennedy to announce his plans before deciding whether to run themselves.

Louisiana State Attorney General Jeff Landry has already jumped in the race. No Democrats have declared. Speculation has it that as the Democrats now control the Senate, a gubernatorial bid may be more attractive to Kennedy. When asked his intentions, Kennedy refuses to comment at this time, opting instead to savor his current election win.

Here in Shreveport, back to our mayoral election, we are faced with a choice between Greg Tarver who is 74 years old and been in politics since 1984 or Tom Arceneaux who is an attorney and has served in local city politics. Tarver is in the funeral home business too, and a local radio station had a good time with Tarver’s revelation that on occasion he sleeps in a coffin at work. This one will clearly come down to party lines. The runoff is in December.

Stay vigilant folks.

By: Pat Austin

Photo by David Menidrey on Unsplash

SHREVEPORT – Today is Halloween, of course and who doesn’t love the fun of it all, and seeing the little children dressed up in their costumes?

We attend the Episcopal church along with two other Episcopal churches in the area, we have a group performing The Witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28), The Valley of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37) and the War in Heaven (Revelation 12) in the cemetery this evening. There is a bit of side-eye going on amongst those who think this is purely a pagan holiday. To clarify this, I’d like to share a post from a Catholic priest friend, Fr. Clinton Sensat:

In 726, Emperor Leo the Isaurian issued a decree banning all religious images.

He had been fighting the Umayyads, and influenced by Muslim claims, regarded images as idolatrous. That seemed plausible to him. He didn’t consult learned theologians. He didn’t study the history. He didn’t hesitate to believe that countless souls had been led astray with nary a peep from heaven.

He believed a lie told by the enemies of the Church, and so in the name of the Church (but really according to his own personal judgment) he lifted his hand to destroy something the people held dear. Countless images of sacred art precious to the hearts of his people were destroyed by Leo’s zeal – a zeal that came from believing an enemy’s lie.

The same thing happens to Halloween today. Zealous Catholics, believing the lies of an enemy, raise their own hands to savage something people love.

When we hear that Easter is really a pagan celebration of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, we rightly scoff. When we’re told Christmas is really a feast of Mithras, we roll our eyes and move on with our lives. But as soon as people are told Halloween is really a Celtic feast of the dead, we’re all wide-eyed credulity. And being credulous, people become zealous to destroy that which they don’t understand.

How can this be? The same age, the same liars, the same pseudohistory that claim Easter and Christmas are pagan claim Halloween too! But we know the first two are silliness and believe the third?!

Let’s have some facts. Halloween started in Italy, not Ireland. The date has to do with an eighth century pope consecrating a church to all the saints. The date has exactly nothing to do with Samhain.

The folk practices of Halloween came from a variety of different countries, not from secret Celts meeting for midnight covens. Moreover, they’re exactly the kinds of folk practices Catholics spontaneously associated with other major feasts.

In Catalunya they dress up as dragons and giants and fairies for Eucharistic processions. Are the people of northeast Spain secretly Irish druids?? Throughout northern Europe they burn enormous bonfires in honor of the birth of John the Baptist. Are they really worshipping Lugh of the Long Hand? I can promise you that the vast majority of Scandinavian people have never even heard the name.

Please, please stop repeating the lies our enemies invented against us as if they’re good Catholic truth. For CENTURIES anti-Catholics have claimed that Catholic practices, Catholic devotions, and Catholic folk traditions are really pagan. For CENTURIES Catholic priests and theologians have fought a bitter fight proving this is in no way, shape, or form the truth. To have Catholics themselves, even some Catholic clergy, take up the arms of our enemies against the Catholic holidays is disheartening in the extreme.

The Church loves the spooky. The Church honors the dead. The Church is not afraid of death. The Church mocks the powers of hell. All of these attitudes spontaneously gave rise to the folk practices of Halloween as we know it today. Don’t give any credence to the apostles of anxiety. Halloween has nothing to do with paganism, and everything to do with good Catholic humor.

I think highly of Fr. Sensat and think he is a wonderful priest, and he has a brilliant mind. I also think Halloween is fun for kids and adults alike.

Happy Halloween to you and have some candy! 😉