So this is Thingymas.

There has been an outbreak of blatant Christianity according to the Telegraph.  Or as they put it, two prominent Anglican bishops have urged Christians to turn back the tide of political correctness by wearing religious symbols during the Christmas  period. Actually I have to agree. Don’t you really hate that pagan midwinter festival thing that left wing councils do?

The Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill, the Bishop of Lichfield, told worshippers to wear crosses or fish symbols to demonstrate that Christmas is a religious holiday.

He also criticised “politically-correct” companies and local councils who sought to make the period a secular celebration.

Bishop Gledhill said: “Companies’ sacking those who want to wear a cross or fish lapel badge and councils rebranding Christmas out of fear of offending ethnic minorities are decisions made out of sheer ignorance.

“I think it wouldn’t be a bad thing if in December all Christians wore a fish badge or cross necklace and sent out a loud message that Christians aren’t going to disappear quietly from the Christmas market place.”

His intervention has been welcomed by other bishops and comes only one week after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that crucifixes should not be displayed in Italy’s schools.

The landmark judgment could force a Europe-wide review of the use of religious symbols in state-run schools. A panel of seven judges in Strasbourg said the display of Christian crosses violated the principle of secular education.

Only last week Dundee City Council renamed its Christmas Lights switch-on the ‘Dundee Winter Light Night’ in apparent fear of offending members of other religions. The traditional telling of the Christmas story has also been dropped from the council’s festive programme.

Many Nativity plays have been banned and Christ’s birth is often celebrated as “Wintermass’’ rather than Christmas.

Rt Rev John Hind, the Bishop of Chichester, called for Anglicans to speak up more loudly for their faith and religious traditions. He said: “Our faith cannot avoid being a public matter as it affects every aspect of our lives including our social and political attitudes.

“In other words, we can’t keep it to ourselves. There is growing hostility in the public towards witnessing our faith in society and this has been shown in a number of recent attempts to marginalise the meaning of Christmas or to suppress the rights of believers. I hope all Christians respond enthusiastically both by wearing external symbols of our faith.”

Rabbi takes other services.

I suppose we all enjoy stories which involve a holy person’s fall from grace. Lucifer Star of The Morning springs to mind. This story – again brought to my attention by the noble Richard Dean – ran in today’s Times. I was going to make some politically incorrect remark about having a nose for a toot, but as I am going to invite my Manchester Jewish friend Kevin to read this story, perhaps not.

An eminent rabbi was so exhausted after three days of constant cocaine-fuelled partying with escorts that his pimp grew worried and cancelled that day’s supply of girls, a jury was told.
Rabbi Baruch Chalomish, 55, who has a £6 million fortune, was a scholarly academic, an accomplished businessman, a charity giver and a dutiful family man until his first wife died of cancer and his world fell apart.
He turned to alcohol in his depression, then took refuge in cocaine, spending up to £1,000 a week. He lived in squalor, seeking comfort from prostitutes, Manchester Crown Court was told.
The prosecution said that Chalomish was the financier in a commercial cocaine supply business while Nasir Abbas, 54, a convicted drug dealer, provided the drugs and the customers.
The pair rented a luxury flat in Manchester and for ten days over the new year enjoyed a non-stop party. Mr Abbas admitted to police that he procured a supply of girls from an agency called Pure Class. They were also offered cocaine.
The court was told that on the ninth day, and after the rabbi had stayed up for three straight days, Mr Abbas was so concerned about his health that he scrapped that day’s supply of prostitutes. In a text message to a woman called Clio he wrote: “Hi Clio, I have tried to wake Shel up but I don’t want to wake him. He was very tired because he had no sleep for three days, needed to rest, because he is going to his office to work on Monday at 8. Please cancel the party today.”
Michael Goldwater, for the prosecution, said that at 9am on January 5 police raided the flat finding evidence of a substantial drugs operation including cocaine, cutting agents and scales. Officers found an equal amount of the drug at Chalomish’s home in Prestwich, in the heart of Manchester’s Orthodox Jewish community, as well as cutting agents and more than £15,000 in cash.
Chalomish denies supplying the drug but admits having it. Mr Abbas, who said that he was too scared to attend the trial after the rabbi “sent around some heavies” to threaten him, faces charges of having cocaine with intent to supply.
Jonathan Goldberg, QC, for the defence, said that the rabbi’s fall from grace was a tragedy. He said that his client never supplied the drug but hoarded large supplies of pure cocaine to evade “unscrupulous dealers” known to use rat poison and other dangerous mixing agents. The trial continues.

The wounded surgeon plies the steel. Kills 12. Wounds 31.

Fort Hood, 60 miles north of Austin, is the largest Army base in the United States. More than 53,000 troops are stationed there, and more than 17,000 family members live on the base. An army psychiatrist went on a shooting spree there yesterday. His aunt talks about him and his life below, from the Washington Post, home of proper and good reporting since forever.

He prayed every day at the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring, a devout Muslim who, despite asking to be discharged from the U.S. Army, was on the eve of his first deployment to war. Yesterday, authorities said Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, a 39-year-old Arlington-born psychiatrist, shot and killed at least 12 people at Fort Hood, Tex.
In an interview, his aunt, Noel Hasan of Falls Church, said he had endured name-calling and harassment about his Muslim faith for years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and had sought for several years to be discharged from the military.
“I know what that is like,” she said. “Some people can take it, and some cannot. He had listened to all of that, and he wanted out of the military, and they would not let him leave even after he offered to repay” for his medical training.
An Army spokesman, Lt. Col. George Wright, said he could not confirm that Hasan requested a discharge.
As authorities scrambled to figure out what happened at Fort Hood, a hazy and contradictory picture emerged of a man who received his medical training from the military and spent his career in the Army, yet allegedly turned so violently against his own. Hasan spent nearly all of his professional life at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the District, caring for the victims of trauma, yet he spoke openly of his deep opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Hasan, who was shot while being taken into custody, was reported in stable condition at a hospital Thursday night, authorities said.
The Associated Press reported that Hasan attracted the attention of law enforcement authorities in recent months after an Internet posting under the screen name “NidalHasan” compared Islamic suicide bombers to Japanese kamikaze pilots. “To say that this soldier committed suicide is inappropriate,” the posting read. “It’s more appropriate to say he is a brave hero that sacrificed his life for a more noble cause.”
He steered clear of female colleagues, co-workers said, and despite devout religious practices, listed himself in Army records as having no religious preference.
A longtime Walter Reed colleague who referred patients to psychiatrists said co-workers avoided sending service members to Hasan because of his unusual manner and solitary work habits.
Hasan is a 1997 graduate of Virginia Tech who went on to get a doctorate in psychiatry from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda. From 2003 through last summer, he was an intern, resident and then fellow at Walter Reed, where he worked as a liaison between wounded soldiers and the hospital’s psychiatry staff. He was also a fellow at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Bethesda military medical school.
He had been affected by the physical and mental injuries he saw while working as a psychiatrist at Walter Reed for nearly eight years, according to his aunt. “He must have snapped,” Noel Hasan said. “They ignored him. It was not hard to know when he was upset. He was not a fighter, even as a child and young man. But when he became upset, his face turns red.” She said Hasan had consulted with an attorney about getting out of the service.
On the rare occasions when he spoke of his work in any detail, the aunt said, Hasan told her of soldiers wracked by what they had seen. One patient had suffered burns to his face so intense “that his face had nearly melted,” she said. “He told us how upsetting that was to him.”Hasan “did not make many friends” and “did not make friends fast,” his aunt said. He had no girlfriend and was not married. “He would tell us the military was his life,” she said.
The psychiatrist once said that “Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor” and that the United States shouldn’t be fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place, according to an interview with Col. Terry Lee, a co-worker, on Fox News.
At the Muslim Community Center, Hasan stood out because he would sometimes show up in Army fatigues, said Faizul Khan, the former imam there.
“He came to mosque one or two times to see if there were any suitable girls to marry,” Khan said. “I don’t think he ever had a match, because he had too many conditions. He wanted a girl who was very religious, prays five times a day.”
In search of a partner in marriage, Hasan wrote in an application filed with a local Muslim matching service that “I am quiet and reserved until more familiar with person. Funny, caring and personable.”
“He was a very quiet and private person. I can’t say that people knew him very well other than attending prayers,” said Arshad Qureshi, chairman of the board of trustees at the Muslim Community Center of Silver Spring. “You didn’t see him attend anything — school for children or celebrations. He did not go out of the way to engage people. We have thousands of people who come through to pray; he was just one of them.”
A co-worker at Walter Reed said Hasan would not allow his photo to be taken with female co-workers, which became an issue during Christmas season when employees often took group photos. Co-workers would find a solo photo of Hasan and post it on the bulletin board without his permission.
Lee told Fox News that Hasan “was hoping that President Obama would pull troops out. . . . When things weren’t going that way, he became more agitated, more frustrated with the conflicts over there. . . . He made his views well known about how he felt about the U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
And when he talked about fighting “the aggressor,” he said that his fellow soldiers “should stand up and help the armed forces in Iraq and in Afghanistan,” Lee said.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) told reporters after a briefing on the shootings that Hasan was born in Virginia to parents who emigrated from Jordan. The congressman said that Hasan “took a lot of advanced training in shooting.”
Hasan was polite and respectful, according to 1st Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside, who was treated by the psychiatrist at Walter Reed while recovering from a gunshot wound suffered in Iraq.
Whiteside remembers Hasan as serious. During his initial evaluation of her, she tried to make light when he coughed by saying, “Bless you.” Hasan replied that he had coughed and not sneezed.Hasan was “like my sons,” his aunt said, spending holidays and free time at her house. Born at Arlington Hospital, Nidal Hasan graduated from high school in Roanoke, where his parents had moved. He enlisted in the Army after high school and attended Virginia Tech, majoring in biochemistry.
Hasan’s parents died about 10 years ago. He had joined the military over their objections, Noel Hasan said. She said he has two brothers, Eyad, a businessman in Sterling, and Anas, a lawyer in Jerusalem.
When Army officials called Eyad Hasan to relay the news from Fort Hood on Thursday, Noel Hasan said, the brother “fainted when he heard it.” Initially, she said, Eyad was told his brother was injured and in surgery and later was erroneously told he had died.
Hasan was an avid Redskins fan. “That was his main entertainment,” his aunt said. “He was not a movie watcher. He worked hard and had been studying for years. He buried himself in his work.”
Noel Hasan was unaware of her nephew’s pending deployment. “He didn’t call or send an e-mail saying anything like that,” she said.
His last e-mail to her, she said, was a little more than a week ago “and it was just, “Hi, Aunt Noel. How are you doing?’ “

The dead walk in Brazil.

Thanks once again to Richard Dean for this story, It appeared in today’s Guardian – and gives a lovely account of a Brazilian chap turning up alive at his own funeral. Who was the other guy? That’s what I want to know.

A Brazilian bricklayer reportedly killed in a car crash shocked his mourning family by showing up alive at his funeral.
Relatives of Ademir Jorge Goncalves, 59, had identified him as the victim of a car crash on Sunday night in Parana state in southern Brazil, police said.
As is customary in Brazil, the funeral was held the following day, which happened to be the holiday of Finados, when Brazilians visit cemeteries to honour the dead.
What family members didn’t know was that Goncalves had spent the night at a truck stop talking with friends and drinking a sugarcane liquor known as cachaca, his niece Rosa Sampaio told the O Globo newspaper. He did not hear about his own funeral until it was already happening on Monday morning.
A police spokesman in the town of Santo Antonio da Platina said Goncalves rushed to the funeral to let family members know he was not dead.
“The corpse was badly disfigured, but dressed in similar clothing,” said the police spokesman, who talked on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorised to discuss the case. “People are afraid to look for very long when they identify bodies, and I think that is what happened in this case.”
Sampaio told O Globo that some family members were not sure the body was Goncalves.
“My two uncles and I had doubts about the identification,” she told O Globo. “But an aunt and four of his friends identified the body, so what were we to do? We went ahead with the funeral.”
The police spokesman confirmed there were doubts: “His mum looked at the body in the casket and thought something was strange. She looked and looked and couldn’t believe it was her son,” Sampaio said. “Before long, the walking dead appeared at the funeral. It was a relief.”
The body was correctly identified later on Monday, the police spokesman said, and had been buried in another state. He declined to release the actual victim’s name.