Author: Mildred Rhodes

Backpage CEO's Arizona sentencing for conspiracy pushed back to July

Carl Ferrer, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy was set to be sentenced Jan. 17. But a judge recently sided with a government request to move it to July.




Late storm brings a white Christmas to parts of northern Arizona

Light to moderate showers were forecast late Tuesday evening in the Valley, according to a weather service forecast.




A bear, a chase and a 'Christmas Miracle' that captured our attention

Several days before Christmas 2014 a bear on the loose captured the Valley’s attention.




Tax-reform changes probably will affect you. Here's a look at how.

Most people might be surprised by the high number of taxpayers affected by certain provisions — and how few are affected by others.




DPS identifies 4 people killed – 3 from same family – in 6-vehicle crash on I-10 northwest of Tucson

A DPS spokesperson said 44-year-old David Gonzales was in the eastbound lanes and crossed the median to the other side, striking an SUV head-on.




A Carol for the Despairing

Penned during the Civil War, Longfellow’s “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is a carol for our age.

The word apocalypse in the Greek means “uncovering,” and 2018 has been a year of uncoverings, of pulling back the curtain to reveal the worst things that people can do to one another. It has uncovered abuse and corruption at every level—spilled blood, separated families, failure of justice after failure of justice, each headline hitting so quickly that it feels impossible to give anything the attention it deserves. There will be more before the end of the year; there will be more before you even finish reading this piece.

It’s hard to rejoice in an atmosphere like this. “The most wonderful time of the year” does not seem wonderful; shopping, twinkle lights, hot chocolate, ice skating and the bright bombardment of advertisements fill the space like cotton candy, too sweet and flimsy.

Like we do every year, my parents took my brother and me to see “A Christmas Carol” on stage to get everyone into the Christmas spirit (which is no small feat at the end of November). The story is familiar and heartwarming, but the song they ended their production with struck me: “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Set to music a few decades later, this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was written over Christmas of either 1863 or 1864, in the middle of the bloodiest war in American history.

The carol is not cotton candy; it is a beating heart, laid bare in seven stanzas with simple language. At the second-to-last verse, I noticed dimly that I had begun to cry; by the end of the song, my face was wet with tears.

“And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’” …

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Keep the X in X-Mas

The abbreviation offends 6 in 10 evangelicals, but its history is deeply Christian

Though the demand for “more Christ in Christmas” seems to be losing momentum, most evangelicals still believe the holiday—and its seasonal greetings—should more explicitly reference the Savior.

Overall, the number of Americans who say Christmas should be more about Jesus has dropped from 79 percent in 2014 to 65 percent in 2018, according to LifeWay Research.

“Saying Christmas should be more about Jesus is a little like saying Thanksgiving should be more about giving thanks. It’s in the name of the holiday,” said Scott McConnell, LifeWay Research’s executive director. “Yet, it appears there is less cultural expectation for celebrations of the Christmas holiday to include the religious aspect.”

American nones and those of other faiths account for the bulk of the shift. In LifeWay’s 2014 report, 63 percent of members of non-Christian faiths and nearly half of the country’s nones (46%) said Christmas should be more about Jesus. Four years later, those percentages dropped to 35 percent and 28 percent, respectively.

Even Christians are slightly less likely to want to see a greater emphasis on Jesus, with 8 in 10 agreeing this year compared to 9 in 10 in 2014. But nearly all evangelicals by belief, 97 percent, still insist on more Jesus.

A majority of evangelicals (65%) say they take offense when someone says, “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” though fewer than half of Christians (42%) and a third of Americans (32%) agree.

Over the years, LifeWay found the abbreviation “X-mas” to be just as controversial as “Happy holidays” or more, with 42 percent of Christians and 33 percent of Americans saying it was …

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Top Arizona political stories 2018: John McCain, Kyrsten Sinema, Martha McSally and more

The largest teacher walkout in the U.S. A Senate race that ended with a Democrat winning. The death of an icon. And that barely scratches the surface.




House ethics panel expands investigation into Rep. David Schweikert

A House Ethics Committee panel tasked with investigating possible misspending authorized by U.S. Rep. David Schweikert will expand its inquiry.




Melancholy Angels

God’s messengers can be both bombastic and surprisingly subdued.

In my years of writing, I’ve not paid much attention to angels. I’ve never knowingly encountered one—knowingly, I say, for how could I tell for certain? Supernatural go-betweens, angels operate in the invisible world, rarely revealing themselves to those of us who occupy the material world.

I think of angels as something like the dark matter that physicists are still trying to understand. Our familiar world of matter—the Earth, stars and planets, everything that we can see—represents only 5 percent of the universe. Dark matter, which doesn’t interact with “normal” matter, comprises some 27 percent, according to the latest estimates. We know dark matter exists due to its effect on gravitation but can’t easily detect it since it doesn’t absorb, reflect, or emit light.

Evidently angels have the ability to cross over between darkness and light, spanning the invisible and the visible worlds. They may act in subtle ways, through dreams, whispers, and mysterious coincidences—witness the many accounts of “guardian angel” experiences. Or, as in the Bible accounts, they may manifest themselves so dramatically that they must begin with the words “Fear not!”

As Christmas approaches, you can’t avoid angels. They turn up in such places as Christmas carols in the mall, greeting cards, wrapping paper, Nativity sets, and the tops of decorated trees. These cute, cuddly depictions have little in common with the angels of the Old Testament, who often came as warriors to dispense judgment.

Puzzled by this abrupt change in style, during Advent I took a closer look at the dozen accounts of angels in the four Gospels.

Entertaining Angels

In the four centuries …

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