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.

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

As a former record-setting championship runner, it is normal and natural for me to proclaim “Chariots of Fire” as simply the greatest running movie ever made. What is strange is famed movie critic Roger Ebert’s reaction to this film classic.

“I have no interest in running and am not a partisan in the British class system,” says Ebert. “Then why should I have been so deeply moved by ‘Chariots of Fire’, a British film that has running and class as its subjects? Like many great films, Chariots of Fire takes its nominal subjects as occasions for much larger statements about human nature.”

Ebert is drawn to Chariots of Fire like a bee to honey. He cannot resist the powerful presentation of this true story about two men of principles and integrity that use running as a magnet to attract followers to their cause.

One is Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), a British man to the core and a Jew whose father is an immigrant and financier from Lithuania. The other is Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a Scot who is the son of missionaries in China. Both have the God-given gift of speed and seek to bring home medals from the 1924 Paris Olympics.

Abrahams feels the sting of discrimination because of his Jewish heritage and runs for the glory of Britain and the acceptance that he believes will make him whole; there is no question he is worthy. Aubrey Montague (Nicholas Farrell) is his close friend and confidant.

“You, Aubrey, are my most complete man,” says Abrahams. “You’re brave, compassionate, kind: a content man. That is your secret, contentment. I am 24 and I’ve never known it. I’m forever in pursuit and I don’t even know what I am chasing.”

Abrahams is driven by his quest for a gold medal in the 100-meter dash. He will let nothing come between him and his goal, even the love of his life Sybil Gordon (Alice Krige). He enters Cambridge University and quickly becomes a campus standout by becoming the first person to successfully run around the Trinity Great Court from the first toll until the clock strikes 12. His competition is Lord Andrew Lindsay (Nigel Havers) who pushes him to glory.

Abrahams tells his friend Aubrey Montague that he has never been beaten in competition. When he faces Eric Liddell for the first time he loses, and his immaturity surfaces when he declares to Sybil Gordon that “If I can’t win, I won’t run!” Sybil replies, “If you don’t run, you can’t win.”

Fortunately, the famous trainer Sam Mussabini (Ian Holm) is at the race and tells Abrahams he is over striding and points out that over striding is the kiss of death for a sprinter. He reluctantly agrees to coach Abrahams so he can beat Liddell in the 100 meters.

Sam Mussabini tells Abrahams that Liddell is a fast gut runner who digs deep, but reminds him that a short sprint is run on nerves, and then adds that it’s tailor-made for neurotics.

Eric Liddell is more than fast, he is one of the fastest runners anywhere, a fact that is about to be demonstrated to the world in the Olympic games. Liddell is self-assured and confident and unlike, Abrahams, runs for the greater glory of God.

When his missionary sister Jennie Liddell (Cheryl Campbell) fears his focus will be lost on running, Eric replies that “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure.”

In the Olympic games, both Abrahams and Liddell will clash with two very fast Americans, Charles Paddock—the world record holder in the 100 meters—and Jackson Scholz—a 200-meter sprinter.

When Eric Liddell learns that the preliminaries for the 100-meter dash will be run on Sunday, he refuses to compete. When confronted by the British Olympic Committee and Lord Cadogan reprimands him for his impertinence, Liddell replies that “The impertinence lies, sir, with those who seek to influence a man to deny his beliefs!”

At the 11th hour and 59th minute, Lord Andrew Lindsey intervenes with a solution: Since he has already won a bronze medal in the 200-meter race, let Liddell replace him in the 400-meter dash.

Liddell is then seen at church delivering a guest sermon and quotes the Bible prophetically from Isaiah, Chapter 40, Verse 31: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (King James Version).

Chariots of Fire has an unknown cast with spectacular photography and music as well as many running scenes.

Roger Ebert keys in on the musical score, calling it “one of the most remarkable sound tracks of any film” with music by the Greek composer Vangelis. “His compositions . . . are as evocative, and as suited to the material, as the different but also perfectly matched scores (as) ‘Zorba the Greek’.”

Vangelis’ use of an electronic score may have been ill-suited to a period piece like Chariots of Fire, but it worked beyond anyone’s expectations, creating a new style in film scoring. He played all of the instruments, including synthesizers, acoustic piano, battery and percussion.

Against this nostalgic backdrop the movie opens with Lord Andrew Lindsey delivering the eulogy for Harold Abrahams funeral:

“Let us praise famous men and our fathers that begat us. All these men were honored in their generations and were a glory in their days. We are here today to give thanks for the life of Harold Abrahams. To honor the legend. Now there are just two of us—young Aubrey Montague and myself—who can close our eyes and remember those few young men with hope in our hearts and wings on our heels.”

From this incredible opening follows the flashback and the narration that recounts the challenges and glory of Great Britain’s athletes at the 1924 Olympic Games. The next scene is the athletes running along the beach to what has become known as the Chariots of Fire theme that would later be released as a single in 1982 and top the charts in the United States.

In the end, Harold Abrahams would win the 100-meter dash, and would also win a silver medal as the opening leg (runner) on the 4×100 relay team. Eric Liddell—the Flying Scotsman—would win the 400-meter dash in an Olympic record 47.6 seconds, and also picked up a bronze medal in the 200-meter dash, won by Jackson Scholz with Charles Paddock second.

Among many poignant moments in Chariots of Fire is Eric Liddell at the starting line of the 400-meter dash and Jackson Scholz, who was not competing in the race, hands him a written note of text from the Bible. The quotation was from 1st Samuel, 2nd Chapter. Verse 30, “Those who honor me I will honor.” Liddell ran the 400 meters with the note in his hand and set an Olympic record.

Abrahams would marry his sweetheart and become the elder statesman of track and field in Britain. Liddell would return to China as a missionary with his physician brother Rob and ultimately be imprisoned during the Chinese-Japanese War in 1942.

Winston Churchill arranged for a prisoner exchange to get Liddell out of the camp (his family had left China before the hostilities started) but Liddell—ever faithful to the end in serving others—gave up his place to a pregnant mother. He died of a brain tumor in 1945, 5 months before the camp was liberated. Even today, 64 years later, he is honored as Scotland’s greatest athlete.

If you have a shred of integrity, principles, ethics, morals, honor, sensitivity or patriotism, you will love Chariots of Fire and be moved by its message.

If you do not, I cannot do anything for you but let you know that Chariots of Fire is more than the greatest running movie ever made, it is also one of the greatest films ever made.

Chariots of Fire, released in 1981, was a British film written by Colin Welland and directed by Hugh Hudson. It would draw moviegoers everywhere by winning 4 Oscars at the Academy Awards for Best Picture (Producer David Puttman), Best Original Screenplay (Colin Welland), Best Original Music Score (Vangelis) and Best Costume Design (Milena Canonero).

Chariots of Fire was also nominated for Oscars for Best Supporting Actor (Ian Holm as Sam Mussabini), Best Director (Hugh Hudson) and Best Film Editing (Terry Rawlings). It also had 12 other wins and 15 more nominations, including Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globe Awards.

Chariots of Fire remains among my list of the Top 10 films ever made. It passes my most stringent test of asking myself after seeing a film: Am I a better person for having seen this film? The answer is yes, a thousand times yes!

Even today, 26 years after seeing Chariots of Fire for the first time, I get goose bumps whenever I see it again.

Every time I see it I pull down my Cambridge Factfinder from my library shelf and stare at the 1924 Paris Olympic results. There I see three gold medal winners—Harold Abrahams of Great Britain in the 100-Meter Dash (10.6), Eric Liddell of Great Britain in the 400-Meter Dash (an Olympic record 47.6) and Douglas Lowe of Great Britain in the 800-Meter Run (1:52.4). Lowe was not in Colin Welland’s script.

I think of that glorious time when some few ran with hope in their hearts and wings on their heels.

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.)