A Christmas message of freedom from a Pennsylvania minister and Paul Revere.
The story begins just as you would imagine.
There’s the minister. The bell ringers. And that iconic piece of Americana called The Mall.
In this case the minister is the Reverend Phil Cockrell, the minister of music and worship at Country and Town Baptist Church. The bell ringers are the handbell choir from Country and Town. And the part of The Mall is played by Capital City Mall, a piece of American malldom that sprawls over a piece of suburban acreage over the river and through the still occasional woods of the Pennsylvania state capital of Harrisburg.
You know what’s coming here, don’t you?
Reverend Cockrell and his musical flock have spent Christmas Past spellbinding shoppers with surefire controversial pieces like Silent Night and Joy to the World. For years. But as the Season approached and the chimes were warming up there was something different about Christmas Present. Explained the Reverend to the Harrisburg Patriot-News: “This year, we were asked to sign an addendum to the contract that we would only perform secular music.”
Ahhh yes. The Addendum. But of course. To borrow a phrase, here we go again.
But wait! This time the story gets better!
Reverend Cockrell, displaying a wonderful American commitment to freedom, the telltale American trait called individuality and the stubbornly American refusal to do the popular thing simply — refused.
“Our handbell choir has played traditional Christmas carols like ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Joy to the World’ at the mall for years,” he said. And his response? “We said we couldn’t abide by that.”
Word spread. The story made the local news. One could feel the blood pressure of an entire community begin to rise. The Reverend stood his ground. And then…
“It has always been our policy and remains our policy to allow community organizations to perform the music of their choice in our center,” said a mall spokeswoman who doubtless was surprised, as were her employers, to find the mall on the front page of the local paper. This was just a “simple error” in what the paper described as “interpreting the mall performance policy.”
And? “We apologize for the confusion this has caused.”
At last report the mall is working with Reverend Cockrell to re-schedule the bell ringing choir’s performance. There will be Joy to the World, or at least in this particular American slice of it.
What’s to learn from this small episode of American life this Christmas season of 2009?
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online