Joseph Avenue Christmas is the story of one man's journey to the true meaning of Christmas. Not just the birth of the babe, but the salvation of the soul. Set on the wintry streets of Rochester, NY it is a visit to the heart of that city and the hearts of some of its best and bravest people. From their good example, and the simple lessons of their own lives and faith, a troubled man finds on a dark Christmas Eve an escape from an increasingly failed life.
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There’s a classic story about President Lincoln and General Grant.
General Grant was the president’s best commander, but critics came bearing word that Grant was a drunk, that he drank whiskey all day.
As the story goes, Lincoln turned to the critics and asked them to find out what brand of whiskey the general drank. Once they found out, he said, he wanted to order a barrel of it for each one of his generals.
The message was clear: I’ll take this man, vices and all.
That was 150 years ago.
Today, things are different.
In today’s castrati military, it’s all Marquis of Queensbury and anyone who doesn’t meet some ascetic standard gets thrown to the wolves. It is a gospel of disqualification.
It doesn’t matter how many years. It doesn’t matter how many wounds. It only matters that you have been discovered to be flawed.
Then you are thrown away.
We select the most alpha of alpha males, men of the unusual constitution necessary to be lifelong warriors, and we are shocked when, amidst the complexity and diversity of human character, some of them act like alpha males.
In 2012, America is at an interesting intersection of immorality and self-righteousness. We are simultaneously the least moral we have ever been, and the most judgmental. We are a popular culture bereft of morals which stands ready to crucify at a moment’s notice others for their presumed failings.
Yes, I’m talking about the generals and the girls. One general at the head of the CIA and another general at the head of our forces in Afghanistan. One tied up with one whacked chick and another tied up with another whacked chick. One did some of this and the other did some of that.
And it’s blasted all over the television.
One has lost his career and his reputation, the other is poised to lose this command and the next.
Nobody broke the law, nobody violated procedure, nobody really did anything that tens of millions of people across this Republic don’t do every day.
But it’s scarlet letter days all over again and between gay-themed sitcoms on the networks the news breaks tell us about these two fallen warriors.
Don’t get me wrong. Neither one of these guys was right. They went wrong. But that’s between them, their wives and their God.
It’s none of our damn business. Bedrooms have doors for a reason and we should stop trying to find out what goes on behind them. We are a bunch of peeping Toms getting our jollies from the passions, failings and foibles of others.
We who, by and large, aren’t worthy to pick up the first stone have already thrown them by the millions. We who, by and large, sit on our arses and hide behind the brave men and women who wear our uniform, opine self-importantly about higher standards and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Let’s face some facts. People have passions and desires. These do not abate. They are almost universal. People act on these passions and desires. They sometimes do so in an embarrassing or inappropriate manner. They sometimes do so in a manner outside the norms of traditional values.
That’s not good.
But it’s also not our business.
That’s why we believe people have private lives and an expectation to be left alone. Our sex lives, like our toilet lives, are essential and part of our nature. Yet when observed by others, both can seem base and shameful.
And that’s as true for me and you as it is for the generals.
Yet we very happily condemn and throw away these men who have given their entire adult lives to the service of our country, flag and Constitution.
Unfortunately, there is no Lincoln today to weigh the totality of these men’s lives and talents. No Lincoln to speak for their strengths and to recognize their contributions.
We don’t care how well you do leading the CIA, or what role you have played in our national defense, we only care that you banged the chick with the implants. It doesn’t matter that you are the battlefield commander of our force in the field, or that you are headed to our most important alliance, we only care that you swapped kissy-face notes with the chick with the bigger implants.
We are ignoring what counts in order to focus on what doesn’t. We have made the meaningless trump the meaningful.
If you needed a surgery to save your life, and you found out the only surgeon who could perform the surgery had cheated on his wife, would you chase him out of the operating room? Before you drop your taxes off at your accountant, do you demand certification that she has never sent a picture of her breasts to a man other than her husband? Would you be nervous if your airline pilot had a woman in every city?
Or could you separate those people’s personal and moral lives from their professional lives?
And if you can do it for them, why can’t you do it for these generals?
Would you kick adulterers out of Arlington?
Could you be so confused about what really counts and what is really your business that you think the e-mail of two strangers is any of your concern?
How can we be so blind?
The issue with the Marine general is not how many e-mails he sent to whom, it is whether or not we are winning the war. The issue with the Army general is not who he was sleeping with last winter, it is whether or not he is leading the CIA effectively.
Are these men defending America?
And are we looking at the right things?
The issue in Afghanistan is why are we loosing. The issue at the CIA is what happened in Benghazi.
Those are the real issues.
This stuff with the sex is just a distraction.
And we are too stupid to realize that.