A Waverly Concert Christmas is absolutely the best Christmas / New Year recording ever. A rare and priceless treasure, I tell you truly. Play it all year ’round, each time leaving behind modernity and all its pomps and works and ways.

I think I’ve figured it out. The religion of the masses, that is. It is Comfort. All the strange and seemingly disconnected ideologies, from vegetarianism to pacifism to socialism to fascism to capitalism to environmentalism and all the rest, the common denominator is Comfort – that is, Comfort for the elect, whomever or whatever the elect happens to be.

Pulling into the driveway one evening, I knew my 8-year-old daughter had country in her genes:

Amy: “Do you know what, Daddy?”

Me: “What’s that, Amy?”

Amy: “I like the sound of gravel under the tires.”

Me: “Me too, Amy. Me too.”

The Distributists, following Plato, say that no town ought to have a population of more than 13,000. I don’t know about that. The idea makes the geographical dispersion of families over time an absolute requirement, and that doesn’t seem very Catholic to me. Nevertheless there is something very special about small town living. Something can be said about a small town, whereas nothing definitive or especially unique can be said about a big city. A lady at the fairgrounds Christmas light display told us, “Everyone in Orland is related. If you badmouth someone, it is probably a relative of the person you are talking to, so be careful!” Indeed, even I have relatives in this town, and practically everyone I meet knows my parents or their relatives. Both my father and stepfather have lived here and have friends here. It feels like home.

Orland must be the exception to the famous “Godless I-5 cities” from Sacramento to the Canadian border. I’ve never lived in a more religious town. Even our real estate agent – a convert to Catholicism – gave us a St. Francis birdbath for a housewarming gift. Our piano tuner has 6 children, homeschools 2 of them, and invited us to attend his Mennonite church. After five minutes of conversation with an Orlander you find out which church he attends.