In an Over-Communicated, Intrusive World, Simple is Better
Ed

Yes, Virginia, There
Is a Santa Claus

 
Copyright © 2007
by Ed Bagley

(Editor’s Note: The following editorial by Francis P. Church was first published in The New York Sun in 1897 in response to an
8-year-old girl’s letter to the editor, and is arguably the most famous editorial ever written in an American newspaper. This incredible piece of writing happened when newspapers were the primary means of communication. In 1897 there was no mass communication by radio, television, computers, cell phones and the associated technical goodies we have today. Readers actually believed and trusted in newspapers. Now we do not believe and trust in newspapers anymore than we do in politicians.)

Here is how Francis P. Church responded to Virginia O’Hanlon’s letter:

“We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor—
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except (in what) they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.

All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.

Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove?

Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal (supernal means “of exceptional quality or extent”) beauty and glory beyond.

Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

About the Exchange
Francis P. Church’s editorial, “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” was an immediate sensation, and went on to became one of the most famous editorials ever written. It first appeared in The New York Sun in 1897, more than a hundred years ago, and was reprinted annually until 1949 when the paper went out of business.

Thirty-six years after her letter was printed, Virginia O’Hanlon recalled the events that prompted her letter:

“Quite naturally I believed in Santa Claus, for he had never disappointed me. But when less fortunate little boys and girls said there wasn’t any Santa Claus,
I was filled with doubts.
I asked my father, and he was a little evasive on the subject.

It was a habit in our family that whenever any doubts came up as to how to pronounce a word or some question of historical fact was in doubt, we wrote to the Question and Answer column in The Sun. Father would always say, ‘If you see it in the The Sun, it’s so,’ and that settled the matter.

‘Well, I’m just going to write The Sun and find out the real truth,’ I said to father.

He said, ‘Go ahead, Virginia. I’m sure The Sun will give you the right answer, as it always does’.”

And so Virginia sat down and wrote her parents’ favorite newspaper.

Her letter found its way into the hands of a veteran editor, Francis P. Church. Son of a Baptist minister, Church had covered the Civil War for The New York Times and had worked on the The New York Sun for 20 years, more recently as an anonymous editorial writer.

Church, a sardonic man, had for his personal motto, “Endeavour to clear your mind of cant.” When controversial subjects had to be tackled on the editorial page, especially those dealing with theology, the assignments were usually given to Church.

Now, he had in his hands a little girl’s letter on a most controversial matter, and he was burdened with the responsibility of answering it.

“Is there a Santa Claus?” the childish scrawl in the letter asked. At once, Church knew that there was no avoiding the question. He must answer, and he must answer truthfully. And so he turned to his desk, and he began his reply that was to become one of the most memorable editorials in newspaper history.

Church married shortly after the editorial appeared. He died in 1906, leaving no children.

Virginia O’Hanlon went on to graduate from Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts degree at age 21. The following year she received her Master’s from Columbia University, and in 1912 she began teaching in the New York City school system, later becoming a principal. After 47 years, she retired as an educator.

Throughout her life she received a steady stream of mail about her Santa Claus letter, and to each reply she attached an attractive printed copy of the Church editorial. Virginia O’Hanlon Douglas died on May 13, 1971, at the age of 81, in a nursing home in Valatie, N.Y.

Clason’s “The Richest Man in Babylon” Part 2 – The 7 Cures for a Lean Wallet and The 5 Laws of Money

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Part 1 of this 2 Part series ends the synopsis of George Clason’s book “The Richest Man in Babylon,” but Clason raises an important question: Why should
so few men be able to acquire so much gold?

The answer is because they know how.

One may not condemn a man for succeeding because he knows how. Neither may one with justice take away from a man what he has fairly earned, to give to men of less ability.

And so it was that the good king of Babylon sought out the richest man in Babylon to teach to others in his kingdom the secrets of his success.

This is a synopsis of what the richest man taught to the people
of Babylon:

The Seven Cures for a Lean Wallet

1) Start your wallet to fattening. Save one-tenth of all you earn. Remember that a part
of all I earn is mine to keep. Do this faithfully. Do not let the simplicity of this escape you.

When I ceased to pay out more than nine-tenths of my earnings,
I got along just as well.
I was not shorter than before, and, money came to me more easily than before.

2) Control your expenses. How is it that all do not earn the same yet all have lean wallets? Here is the truth: That which each of us calls our “necessary expenses” will always grow to equal our incomes unless we protest to
the contrary.

Confuse not necessary expenses with desires. We all have more desires than our earnings can gratify. Examine which of the accepted expenses of living can be reduced or eliminated. Let your motto be 100% of appreciated value demanded for every dollar spent.

Budget your expenses so that your actual necessities are met without spending more than nine-tenths of your earnings.

3) Make your money multiply. Protect your growing treasure by putting it to labor and increasing. Money in your wallet earns nothing. Money that we earn from our money is but a start; it is the earnings generating earnings that builds fortunes.

When the richest man in Babylon loaned money to the shield maker to buy bronze, he said this: “Each time I loaned money to the shield maker, I loaned back also the rental he had paid me. Therefore not only did my capital increase, but its earnings likewise increased.”

4) Guard your money from loss. Everyone has an idea of how to make quick money; few, however, have the evidence of making money to justify their idea, scheme or offer of quick riches. The first sound principle of investment is security for your principal.

Before you loan your money to any man assure yourself of his ability to repay your loan, and of his reputation to do so. Make no one a present of your hard-earned treasure.

Consult the wisdom of those experienced in handling money for profit. Such advice is often freely given for
the asking, and may possess more value than the amount you
are about to invest.

5) Make your home a profitable investment. When you can set aside only nine-tenths of what you earn to live, and can use a part of that nine-tenths to improve the investment in your housing, do it; owning your own home is also an investment that grows with your wealth.

Your family deserves a home they can enjoy and call their own. It builds a sense of stability and well-being.

6) Ensure a future income. Build income-producing assets that do not require you to work forever. We will all grow old and die.

You should prepare a suitable income for the days to come when you are no longer younger and cannot work as hard, and to make preparations for your family should you no longer be with them to comfort and support them. Provide in advance for the needs of your growing age, and the protection of your family.

7) Increase your
ability to earn.
Desire precedes accomplishment, and the desire must be strong and definite. When you have backed your desire for saving $1,000 with the strength and purpose to secure it, you can then save $2,000.

Desires must be simple and definite. Desires defeat their own purpose when they are too many, too confusing, or too difficult to accomplish. Cultivate your own powers to study and become wiser, more skillful, and more productive.

Here is more sage advice from Clason’s masterpiece on financial matters:

The 5 Laws of Money

If you had to choose, would you choose tons of money or wisdom? Most men would take the money, ignore the wisdom, and waste the money. Here is the wisdom:

1) Money comes gladly and in increasing quantities to any man who will put aside not less than one-tenth of his earnings to create an estate for his future and the future of his family.

2) Money labors diligently and contently for the wise owner who finds for it profitable employment, multiplying unto itself in infinity if kept working diligently. Money multiplies itself in surprising fashion.

3) Money clings to
the protection of the cautious owner who invests it with the advice of men wise
in its handling.

4) Money slips away from the man who invests it in businesses or purposes that he is not familiar with, or which are not approved by those skilled in its keep. The inexperienced handler of money who trusts his own judgment, and puts his money in investments which he is not familiar, always pays with his money for his experience.

5) Money flees the man who would force it to impossible earnings, or who follows the alluring advice of tricksters and schemers, or who
trusts it to his own inexperience and romantic desires in investment.

Here is the hard lesson of the 5 Laws of Money: You cannot measure the value of wisdom in bags of money. Without wisdom, those who have it quickly lose money, but with wisdom, money can be secured by those who have it not.

This ends the condensation.

(Ed’s Note: I originally wrote this review in 2007.)

Camelot – 4 Stars (Excellent)

“Camelot” is a wonderful Broadway musical that garnered Oscars for Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and Best Music, and Oscar nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Sound.  It other words, Camelot was a superb technical triumph in its day.

Camelot also won Golden Globes for Richard Harris for Best Actor (as King Arthur), Frederick Loewe for Best Original Score, and both Frederick Loewe (music) and Alan Jay Lerner (lyrics) for Best Original Song “If Ever I Should Leave You”.

Golden Globe nominations also went to Camelot for Best Picture, to Vanessa Redgrave for Best Actress (as Guenevere) and to Franco Nero for the Most Promising Newcomer (as Lancelot Du Lac).

The cast was superb and included David Hemmings (as Mordred, who looked as slimy and cunning as possible), Lionel Jeffries (as King Pellinore) and Laurence Naismith (as Merlyn, the Magician).

Joshua Logan directed this film like a beautiful flower coming into blossom where it is planted only to be destroyed by fire.

Camelot, released in 1967, celebrates its 40th anniversary this October, and was based on the 1960 musical play Camelot written by Alan Jay Lerner with music by Frederic Loewe.

The play was based on the King Arthur legend as adapted from the T. H. White novel “The Once and Future King” and ran on Broadway for 873 performances. To say the least, it was well received.

The original cast for the play included Richard Burton as King Arthur, Julie Andrews as Queen Guenevere, Robert Goulet as Sir Lancelot, Roddy McDowell as Mordred, Robert Coote as King Pellinore and David Hurst as Merlyn with Moss Hart as the Director.

Camelot became a modern day legend when it was immortalized—after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963—by revealing that the show’s original cast recording had been the favorite bedtime listening in the White House. Kennedy’s favorite lines were in the final number (when King Arthur knights a young boy and tells him to pass on the story of Camelot to future generations):

Don’t let it be forgot,
That once there was a spot,
For one brief, shining moment
That was known as Camelot.

Since then, Camelot has been associated with the Kennedy administration, and the glory and the tragedy of the Kennedy family. Kennedy was the youngest elected President, the first Roman Catholic President, and the youngest President to die.

The following synopsis of Camelot from wikipedia.com is important in setting the stage for what I am about to reveal to you (the songs to accompany the scene are in parentheses):

“Guenevere arrives in Camelot on a wintry morning to marry King Arthur (of England) and is greeted festively by the Court. Arthur, shy and nervous, hides in the nearby woods (“I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight?”).

“Guenevere comes to the woods, uncertain about herself and her future (“The Simple Joys of Maidenhood”). She stumbles into Arthur, who tells her about life in Camelot (“Camelot”), and then discloses his identity. They are each happily charmed by the other.

“Arthur learns from Merlyn the wisdom of peace and brotherhood, and is inspired to establish the Round Table. The news of this reaches young Lancelot in France, who is determined to come to Camelot and join Arthur’s knights (“C’est Moi”).

“A May Day celebration takes place on the castle grounds (“The Lusty Month of May”), where Arthur introduces his wife to Lancelot. Guenevere takes an instant dislike to the cocky young man and (challenges) him to engage three knights of the Round Table in a jousting match (“Then You May Take Me to the Fair”). Arthur is dismayed by this and (is) at a loss to understand a woman’s way (“How to Handle a Woman”).

“In the jousting match Lancelot easily defeats all three knights, drawing the admiration of them all, including Guenevere. Lancelot falls in love with (Queen) Guenevere and is torn by the conflict between this love and his devotion to Arthur. He asks permission to leave Camelot for foreign conquests.

“Returning two years later, Arthur makes him a Knight of the Round Table. Arthur is painfully aware of the feelings between Lancelot and Guenevere but remains silent to preserve the tranquility of the Camelot.

“Lancelot reveals his feelings to Guenevere (“If Every I Would Leave You”). Nevertheless, she remains faithful to Arthur, and helps him in carrying out the affairs of State (“What Do Simple Folks Do?”).

“Mordred, Arthur’s illegitimate son, comes to Camelot to dishonor the King and try to gain the throne for himself. He schemes . . . to trap Arthur in a forest one night. During the night, Lancelot visits Guenevere in her chambers, where she reveals her love for him (“I Loved You Once in Silence”).

“Mordred and some of the Knights of the Round Table interrupt, accuse Lancelot of treachery, and imprison him. Lancelot escapes, but Guenevere is sentenced to burn (“Guenevere”). At the last moment, Lancelot rescues her and takes her off with him to France.

“For the sake of his own honor and that of Camelot, Arthur must now wage war on France. Just before the final battle, he meets Lancelot and Guenevere, and forgives them both.

“In camp, Arthur meets a young stowaway who wants to join the Round Table. Arthur knights him on the field of battle and sends him back to England to grow up there and pass on to future generations the ideals of Camelot.”

Two side notes and then my revelation.

First, the song “If Ever I Would Leave You” (erroneously called “If Ever I Should Leave You” in the Golden Globe citation) was nominated and won in the category Best Original Song Written for a Motion Picture, even though it was not written especially for the film.

It was written for the original stage production of Camelot, and all the other nominees were songs especially written for films. This is the only instance in the history of the Golden Globe Awards that this has happened.

Second, even though Richard Burton won a Tony for Best Actor in the stage play and was offered the same part as King Arthur in the film, he turned it down. Richard Harris was magnificent in his performance as King Arthur in the film.

And the revelation? Camelot the play and Camelot the film were both truly inspirational musical productions, but I submit that the story Camelot was much more.

I felt in my heart that Camelot was also a primer in civilized human relationships and personal growth as well as a step forward for humanity. Let me explain.

When King Arthur realizes the relationship between his Queen and his chief knight, he says this, reacting like a man:

“I love them and they answer me with pain and torment. Be it sin or not sin, they betray me in their hearts and that’s far sin enough. I can feel it in their eyes. I can feel it when they speak, and they must pay for it and be punished. I shall not be wounded and not return it in kind! I’m through with feeble hoping! I demand a man’s vengeance!”

Then he calms down and says this, reacting like a king: “Proposition: I’m a king, not a man. And a very civilized king. Could it possibly be civilized to destroy the (ones) I love? Did they ask for this calamity? Can passion be selected?”

In the end, King Arthur takes the high road. He would not punish either of them given his druthers, he realizes he still loves Guenevere and loves his best friend and knight, Lancelot, as a brother.

He cannot, however, stop Guenevere from burning at the stake for her indiscretion. He enlists his confidant King Pellinore to watch and see if Lancelot will attempt to rescue her in time. Thankfully, Lancelot does.

King Arthur sees the wisdom of the Round Table, bringing the knights of the kingdom together to protect the weak rather than fight among themselves at the expense of the weak.

King Arthur sees the wisdom of a legal system that gives the accused his day in court rather than fighting for his life in a duel whether the accused is guilty or innocent. Poor King Pellinore does not understand or accept this precursor to rule by law rather than rule by might.

King Arthur uses his love to overcome his pain and suffering and ultimately loses not only the love of his life but his best friend.

And, most important, despite going into a battle he may well lose and perhaps even die, he has the presence of mind to knight a young man to carry his hope into the future, so his vision will continue.

Is Alan Jay Lerner a great writer of screenplays? Perhaps the best, ever. You decide. Camelot has been on my Top 10 Favorite Movie List for 40 years. Now you know why.

Leave a Reply

The First Time I Had Witnessed a Miracle

 

(Ed’s Note: This article was written in 1976, 44 years ago, on the occasion of my daughter’s birth, and was first published in The Lacey Leader, the newspaper
I owned and operated for
8 years. As a Christian,
I celebrate the Resurrection of Christ rising from the dead this Easter Sunday so that all who believe might have eternal life. It is a joy for me to recount this miracle with you, recognizing that the birth of life is both a miracle and mystery to be cherished among all of our living experiences.)

Copyright 1976
by Ed Bagley

I have lived on this Earth 31 years, but Saturday night was the first time
I had ever seen a miracle.

It started in the dead of sleep at 5 a.m. For four hours I slept on like a newborn baby. It was nothing unusual for me—
the freight train that cuts Patterson Lake in two could detour through our bedroom, and I would probably not wake up.

Inside Annette—while I cut through zees like rewrite copy—a slow stirring began. Soon it became sharp pains. Finally I woke at 9 a.m. to greet the new day and found out Annette had been up at 5 wondering if her time had come. It had.

We checked into St. Peter Hospital at 11 a.m. and began an even longer wait. Soon it was 1 p.m., then 3 and 5 and 7 and 9 and her labor continued. The baby was not in the right position, and Annette spent a good deal of time figuring out how to push when the contractions came.

It was a struggle we went through together, her frank cries of anguish and my dispassionate encouragement. I could not have become emotionally involved, or it would have been all over for me. I wanted to see everything.

Finally monitors were put on her to play out the frequency of the contractions and the frequency of the baby’s heartbeat. A steady blip, blip, blip played across the face of the machine and, to the right, numbers changed every few seconds, telling the baby’s heartbeat per minute. Eventually medicine was used to help induce the contractions.

After 17½ hours, Annette went to the delivery room and I was right behind her. Inside, as Dr. Krug exhibited a totally calm, professional demeanor, I watched as the baby’s head pushed into the new world.

Dr. Krug noted that the cord had a knot and then, with one final push, Kristin Ann came into the world and nothing could hold back Annette’s elation and tears, and Kristin’s cry for survival.

Kristin was bright and alert to the momentous occasion; she immediately opened her eyes and let us know she was here—it must have been a tremendous struggle for her too.

I sat stunned, not giving in to instant joy. I wanted to note, with the patience and calm of a craftsman, every detail of this glorious moment.

Kristin looked blue and—had it not been for her crying—you might have thought she was not alive. Her eyes, if not her voice, said otherwise. I felt like
I could have reached out and touched the Hand of God.

Later, in the nursery, I was astounded that Kristin looked a healthy pink only minutes after her arrival. Her eyes were still open and her mouth was constantly moving.

When Annette came out of the delivery room and the nurse wheeled her up to the window, I was sure I saw Kristin smile. As if to test this observation against reality, I asked the nurse if she had smiled. I could not believe it.

The nurse replied yes and then, when the nurse, Annette and I once again focused on the wonder before us, Kristin Ann smiled again.

(Ed’s Note: Family is the fundamental core unit of our culture, from the unity of many comes the strength of the family to fulfill its destiny, with each generation experiencing the life cycle, and the joys and challenges of realizing our individual and group potential. The gift of life is only our first gift, it is up to us—as individuals and as a family unit—to love and support each other as we develop our unique gifts as children of God. Regrettably, more than 62 million babies have suffered abortion and been killed in their mother’s womb because of the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973 by the United States Supreme Court. It obviously never occurred to the majority of the 7 of 9 setting Justices that they would have not been alive on Planet Earth if their mothers had aborted them. And many of us thought that those 7 Supreme Court Justices that ruled in favor of the motion were kind, thoughtful and sensible students of the United States Constitution, a document whose authors never, and I mean never, would have approved the motion. I say this because our great nation ensured us that were endowed by God with the fundamental tenet of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. The majority decision by those
7 misguided Justices have resulted in the killing of 62+ million babies and counting, as more are killed every day in America. It is easy to see why liberal progressives are happy with kicking God out of our schools. These are the same Pro Choice believers who would like to kick God out of our country and kick Christianity out of our nation, then we could become a socialist nation (or Communist or a Dictatorship) without a need for God or religion. Non-believers have some other ideas about this same topic. That’s OK. I believe our universe is big enough to accommodate everyone.)

Financial Thoughts
on Investing
by Warren Buffett

 

(Ed’s Note: The following condensation is from The Tao of Warren Buffett, written by Mary Buffett and David Clark and available for sale at Amazon and bookstores nationwide. I am always impressed by what Warren Buffett has to say and am doing this condensation to help promote their book.)

On Investing: Never be afraid to ask too much when selling offer too little when buying.
(Ed’s Note: How much you get from a sale or how much you have to pay when making a purchase determines whether you make or lose money and how rich you ultimately become.)

(Ed’s Note: For more of Warren Buffett’s advice go to the menu bar above and click on Financial Thoughts.)