As we move toward New Year's Eve and the inevitable consumption of a considerable volume of alcoholic beverages by a considerable volume of adults (and some short of adulthood), today is an excellent time to remember Carry (sometimes "Carrie) Nation and her religious war on alcohol. (I like to think of the photo of her here as her high school graduation picture, but only because I have a weird sense of humor.)
For it was on this date in 1900 that she smashed up the bar at the Carey Hotel in Wichita, Kan. Her actions got her arrested and jailed -- and certainly not for the last time.
Carry mostly grew up just south of Kansas City in Belton, Mo. As a young woman she was briefly married to a man who turned out to be a raging alcoholic.
Carry decided it was her divinely appointed task to save other men from demon rum.
As the Wikipedia biographical entry on her (I've linked you to it above) notes, she once said that she is "a bulldog running along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what He doesn't like." (This, remember, is the same Jesus who once made gallons and gallons of wine for a wedding party.)
She began her work, Wikipedia says, "in Medicine Lodge (Kansas) by starting a local branch of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and campaigning for the enforcement of Kansas' ban on the sale of liquor." (I've never understood the use of the word "temperance" in the title of that organization. The right name would be the Woman's Christian Abstinence Union.)
In fact, I have a book that says she wrecked her first saloon in Medicine Lodge on this date in 1899, but I can't find any other source to verify that, and it's possible the author of that book simply mixed up that with the Dec. 27, 1900, raid on the hotel bar in Wichita.
At any rate, one of the times she was arrested was in Kansas City after smashing bars along 12th Street. That would have been intriguing to cover as a reporter for The Kansas City Star, but she did her deed in April 1901, almost 70 years before I got to The Star. Darn.
One reason to remember Carry Nation is to acknowledge that people from many different religious traditions over the centuries have felt that they've been called by God to commit violence.
Any time to you see that, run the other way. Or do what you can to prevent the violence and help the perpetrators see that they are religiously delusional.
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AND HAPPY KWANZAA, TOO
Kwanzaa has been around since 1966, but lots of Americans still don't understand much about it. Here's your chance to figure it out. CNN has done this explanation of the season celebrating African-American culture. Read it and learn something today, even if you think you know all about Kwanzaa.