Saturday, October 31, 2015

THYME Magazine: Crescendo

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume X, Issue XIII: The final movement of Beethoven's 9th

The Final Movement

Discordant notes... 
...ruin the symphony.


What if you embrace the discordant note?

And use it to start a new melody..."

A powerful short film by Jason Jones and  Eduardo Verástegui.

Monday, October 26, 2015

THYME Magazine: Woodlawn

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume X, Issue XII: Tony Nathan at Woodlawn

The Real Jesus Revolution

The Movie Woodlawn came out last week. Although it is having a rather limited distribution, you really should go see it. The movie tells the real life story of athlete Tony Nathan and the very real Faith that brought healing to the racial tension of Birmingham, Alabama in the 1970's.

The film has a great message about how the Divine can indeed use our gifts and talents to bring healing and redemption into our world. Several times during the film the 'other' weekly news magazine's cover THE JESUS REVOLUTION is shown. TIME presents a very psychedelic illustration of the 'Jesus Freak' movement. Woodlawn tells the real story.

Indeed the character of Hank, portrayed by Sean Patrick Astin (Samwise Gamgee in the Rings Trilogy) tells a great story of how many of us came to Faith in that period and the impact of lives touching lives. His hopes of a baseball career dashed by a steel mill accident, Hank nonetheless becomes a great influence in the lives of countless young people!

That is the true story of the work of the Divine in human lives. It goes on in many quiet ways today!
(to be continued)


Special Book Section

Several weeks ago we began the serial presentation of "Pontifus, The Bridge Builder's Tale in Three Parts." [1.] This week we present the second chapter of the third book: "Little House at the End of the World" Here [click to read]. This special book section will continue through the Summer. The full publication of THYME will resume in the Fall. Look for a new installment of Pontifus each Wednesday morning.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

THYME Magazine: Gifted

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume X, Issue X

Benjamin S. Carson MD

There is no such thing as an average human being. If you have a normal brain, you are superior." -- Dr. Benjamin Carson

Many of us first learned about Dr. Benjamin S. Carson when he addressed the National Prayer Breakfast. He was straightforward then with his prescription for America and presented it unflinchingly as President Obama became visibly unsettled by it. Carson's story is an amazing one. His illiterate Mother pressed him to read as a child. She put a check mark on his book reports, so that he would think she had read them. Although he was not a stellar student, he found his passion and became a great Neurosurgeon. He went on to lead his department at Johns Hopkins Hospital, one of the Nation's premier medical centers.

His story is told in the book: Gifted Hands, and although his calm demeanor has many dismissing him as a Presidential candidate, he recently reminded us of the stuff he is made of. The loaded question was this: "Should a Muslim be elected President?" Carson stated the viewpoint that one who embraced Shariah Law could not pledge to: "Uphold and Defend the Constitution." The media was all over it, pretty much trying to force Carson to recant his position... but Carson wouldn't budge. He clarified the issue and stuck to his guns. In doing so, he proved that he has the fortitude and the knowledge necessary for the job.

Here is an Interview [click to read] with Dr. Carson which should serve as an inspiration to many young people. That it is not more heralded has me asking the media: "What's wrong with you?" In this special double issue of THYME we will examine a possible reason our culture misses the greatness of men like Ben Carson.

Dr. Carson addresses the National Prayer Breakfast.

Elites and Intellectuals
Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume X, Issue XI

The Vacuum at the Top

There was a time when the "elite" truly seemed to be better than most people. For example, Leonardo da Vinci was an architect, cartographer, engineer, painter, sculptor, writer and legendary inventor among other things. Socrates was a superb stonecutter, soldier, politician and philosopher. Galileo studied medicine, mathematics, physics and has been referred to as "the father of modern science." For much of human history even the lesser "elites" from noble families had a tremendous advantage over the average man in a time when an education was hard to come by and their wealth and position in society provided them with opportunities to acquire skills that the general populace couldn't." writes John Hawkins. In an article entitled: Elites Are No Longer Elite [click to read], Hawkins explores the reason this is so. Essentially, Hawkins says that there are no more Renaissance men and women, as people tend to become highly proficient in one area of expertise while remaining woefully ignorant of the world outside of their area of expertise. That was not always so.

There was a time when brilliant people like Claudius Crozet and Isambard Kingdom Brunel needed to know a broader range of knowledge in order to do the works they were able to accomplish. They needed to know more than engineering tables. They needed to understand commerce and markets. These men built railroads, but their work ultimately built communities as they provided avenues of commerce and prosperity. Crozet and Brunel seem far closer in stature to da Vinci than their modern counterparts. Hawkins continues: "Today, in a world where there is a nearly infinite supply of news sources, there are far fewer shared activities than there used to be; college educations are commonplace and people can become extraordinarily wealthy based on a terribly narrow skillset." Indeed, my own experience often included such exercises as drawing for architects who couldn't draw and sometimes in the presentation process, creating design for designers who couldn't. Indeed, I was sometimes amazed that by simply stepping back and taking in a larger picture, the resulting contribution to a work would be better than imagined.

The Académie des Beaux-Arts taught through the process of drawing. The advent of computer drafting led to a whole era of designers who's drawings, though they guided the mouse, where essentially drawn by someone else! The art once deemed so essential to design remains as a brief portion of the course, but it is no longer something a designer immerses oneself in every moment. One feels at times, watching the process, as if the designer is connecting lines and templates. The window manufacturer provides the cuts which are pasted into the drawing on screen. To be sure, the computer has opened up new vistas for the exploration of complex forms, but the buildings we live our everyday lives in do not require complex forms. Before the Second World War, in the early Twentieth Century, there existed a beautiful Classicism that made small houses noble. There was a sense of scale and proportion. There was a sense of shadow and texture. I learned much copying the styles of the renderers of those days.

On a far larger scale, Hawkins observes that our leaders often emerge having shown little or no expertise beyond their small sphere. Virginia boasts an 'elite' Senator who's 'expertise' consists of making a fortune by buying cell phone licenses. His good fortune in acquiring wealth is his credential. He does not know what it is like to struggle for years, paying your employee but not yourself to build a business. That might not be such an issue but for his stated derision of those who do: ""you’re going to see a coalition that has just about completely taken over the Republican Party in this state and if they have their way, it’s going to take over state government. It’s made up of the Christian Coalition, it’s made up of the right to lifers, it’s made up of the NRA, it’s made up of the homeschoolers, it’s made up of a whole coalition of people that have all sorts of different views that I think most of us in this room would find threatening to what it means to be an American." -- Mark Warner [1.]

There was a time when Beauty, Truth, Virtue and Nobleness were seen to spring from a Divine origin. The problem with Senator Warner's statement is that he summarily dismisses a whole group of people who embrace that. The Right to Life springs from the concept of IMAGO DEI, that belief that mankind is created in the Image of G-d. The Second Amendment acknowledges the belief that government serves the people and that power remains with the people. The ability to engage in self-defense is simply an expression of that greater principle. Homeschoolers simply acknowledge that the parent is the first one responsible for training up a child. They extend that responsibility in providing instruction in a broader body of knowledge than early language. Here Hawkins swerves into a greater truth. Modern relativism has rendered obsolete the concept that there is an ultimate source of Wisdom and Truth. The Academy, believing this, no longer teaches it.

Until recent times the Divine underpinning was foundational to learning. By its very nature it invited exploration of a broader world. Design had its inspiration in nature. Flawed human nature was continually challenged by a Divine benchmark. Relativism states that "all truths are equally valid," resulting in a diminished sense of the need to pursue absolute truth. Indeed, there is NO need to pursue absolute truth, for it doesn't exist in their thinking. This immediately serves to narrow one's experience. The celebration of 'Diversity' does NOT serve to broaden because it rails against the notion that there is an absolute. One steps up to the human experience like a consumer of a buffet, sampling interesting dishes but learning nothing about the creation of a meal! Indeed, Hawkins notes that one phenomenon inherent in this mindset is that now we have people who are famous simply for being famous. They need not present a resume of accomplishment. Hawkins cites the example of our President, who was elected despite the conspicuous absence of a resume of accomplishment.

As his election was sealed and his inauguration began, news anchors remarked: "We know VERY LITTLE about him!" A colleague of mine lamented the general lack of investigative journalism in our day, remarking that they must not have the resources for it. NO!, all you needed to do was READ HIS BOOK and you would come away with a strong sense of his Anticolonialist Socialist sentiments. But such is the Modern Age, that we can style the blank canvas of a Presidential candidate to be whatever we want him to be. Because many in our day are unfamiliar with true accomplishment, we fail to look for it!

That is why this publication has recently presented a series of stories of great accomplishment. Neil Armstrong and President Kennedy show us something of it. They showed us how to lift our eyes to the horizon. Kennedy, though a flawed man like most of us, did heroic things in the Pacific War and wrote a book called Profiles in Courage. I read it in Middle School... not as an assignment, mind you, but because it sat on Dad's voluminous bookshelves. Those people assigned to find counterfeit money do not spend a lot of time studying counterfeit money. Instead, they study real money in GREAT DETAIL. By doing so they develop a sense for what the true currency looks like. Even when presented with a very skillful counterfeit they can "feel" it. That is why THYME Magazine has become, if you will, Profiles in Faith! Indeed, there is a real vacuum of true stories of accomplishment that, if we knew them, would inspire us to set our vision higher.

Da Vinci was in fact the illegitimate son of a peasant woman. Nobles in Eighteenth Century England were often useless "idle rich," yet there is a greater nobility that is recurring in the human experience. The First Earl of Mansfield, William Murray, might never have understood fully the depravity of slavery without the presence of his great-niece, Dido Elizabeth Belle in his life! She was an illegitimate child of a slave but because of her father's love, she was accorded the status of a noblewoman. Like Esther of old, she became in a way a representative for the humanity of her people. George Gist was derided by his neighbors, but he created a language for his people. Such is the true nobility that a free society is able to nurture in its people. America has been such an incubator for human brilliance for over two centuries! Those who would cast her aside in the pursuit of their Socialist solutions would do well to reconsider!

The Magician's Twin
C. S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism

C. S. Lewis explores the modern tendency to elevate science to the status of religion.


Special Book Section

Several weeks ago we began the serial presentation of "Pontifus, The Bridge Builder's Tale in Three Parts." [1.] This week we present the second chapter of the third book: "Little House at the End of the World" Here [click to read]. This special book section will continue through the Summer. The full publication of THYME will resume in the Fall. Look for a new installment of Pontifus each Wednesday morning.

Friday, October 2, 2015

THYME Magazine: Lighted Windows

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume X, Issue IX

Lighted Windows

One of the Pastors who led the community prayer meeting at Basic United Methodist Church last night reflected: "I was excited to see the windows of the church illuminated as I drove up tonight. You used to see a lot of church windows lit up on a Wednesday or a Sunday night." He lamented the sad reality that that is no longer the case. Indeed many within the church are resigning themselves, it seems, to her 'inevitable' demise. Yet here in a historic sanctuary in Waynesboro,Virginia we are a small group proclaiming otherwise. The Pastor goes on to envision a whole countryside full of church buildings illuminated from within. Much like Jeremiah Lanphier in the Nineteenth Century, there are those who hold fast to the Divine in Faith and pray for better.

J. Lanphier's Journey of Prayer
How A Nation Was Turned to G-d and Restored

Jeremiah Lanphier discovered the power of prayer in his own life.

By the middle of the Nineteenth Century, America found herself at a crossroads. Wild speculation and greed had built a house of cards. While a few became incredibly wealthy, the gap between haves and have-nots grew ever wider.   The economic crash had put 30,000 men out of work on the streets of New York City.  Churches languished as people explored Spiritism and other "new" ideas. We, of the Twenty-first Century, would find the condition of the culture strangely familiar.

Political corruption, shady dealings in business and a general moral decline were the norm.  "Atheism, agnosticism, apathy and indifference to God, to the church, and its message abounded on every hand. The decline was fourfold: social, moral, political and spiritual." -- Tom Shanklin

Then came the crash! Factories were shuttered. Banks failed and merchants were ruined. Thousands were destitute. Winkie Pratney, who chronicled the great revival, says: "A near socio-economic collapse jolted America away from her apathy into a national cry for spiritual reality." Chuck Balsamo presents a wonderful concise history of this revival in his book Make Me a Legend [click to read]. The story does not begin with a mighty move and thousands of conversions, rather it begins in a rather small way.

Jeremiah Lanphier was a middle-aged businessman caught in the crossroads. Having no children and no family, he was drawn to minister to the needs of those living in the dark slums of Hell's Kitchen. Leaving his business, he became a lay missionary with the North Dutch Church in Manhattan. Pouring his life into the lives of those he saw caught in hopelessness, he soon came to the end of his own strength. Physically and mentally exhausted, Lanphier discovered that just as the body needs food, the soul and spirit of a man need to be nourished in prayer.[1.]

Each day at midday, Lanphier would seek solace in the Church Consistory Building, where he would cry out to G-d for spiritual strength. He experienced G-d in a mighty way in these times and felt that others would benefit from prayer as well, especially the city's businessmen. He printed up and distributed 20,000 flyers advertising his first noontime prayer meeting, on September 23, 1857.

That day he prayed alone for thirty minutes before six others joined him. The next week there were twenty. The week after that forty people showed up. In time over 100 churches had noonday prayer meetings going throughout the city. G-d's powerful move was felt far beyond New York City. Newspaperman Horace Greeley wanted to get a count of the number of men  praying in New York so he sent a reporter out to the meetings. Racing around the city in a horse-drawn buggy, the reporter was only able to get to twelve meetings in the noon hour, but he counted 6,100 in attendance.

Spiritual awakening followed and Americans found strength in G-d for the turbulent days that followed. This Third Great Awakening not only revitalized the spirit of America's people, but led to missionary outreach around the world.  [2.]

The Prayer Meeting 
that Touched the World
Moravians Prayed Around the Clock for 100 Years

The village of Herrnhut in Saxony.

The Moravian Brethren Church was born in the 1720's when Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf gave refuge to persecuted Hussites from Moravia and Bohemia. The village of Herrnhut, Saxony, now a part of Germany, was built by them.

Count Zinzendorf started a round-the-clock prayer meeting in 1727. It lasted one hundred years. People in Herrnhut signed up to pray for an hour a day.

What G-d did as a result of that prayer meeting is amazing. In an era when travel was difficult and dangerous the Moravians became a major force in reaching the world with the Gospel. Their ministry took them to many parts of the world. Moravians settled in the new world in Pennsylvania. The cities of Bethlehem and Nazareth are Moravian settlements. Count Zinzendorf secured a large tract of land in North Carolina where the Moravians established Bethabara. From here they began outreach to the Native Americans around them.

In 1753, Moravians from North Carolina travelled into the Cherokee Nation, which extended into North Georgia and Alabama from Western North Carolina. The nonacquisitive Moravians eventually developed a long standing ministry among the Cherokee. Since unmarried Moravian men and women lived in communal houses, one house for men and another for women, they may have been philosphically closer to a long house people than other Europeans. The New Georgia Encyclopedia states of them:

Generally, the accomplishments of the Moravians lay in the fact that their missions not only opened their doors to all visitors, including African slaves from nearby Cherokee plantations, but also functioned as model farms for European agricultural techniques. Particularly, the Spring Place Mission served as an exemplar for other missionary enterprises to emulate."

The Moravians certainly were lovers of innovation in agriculture and craftsmanship. Visit the restored Moravian settlement in Salem, North Carolina today and you will see some of the first water pipes in America -- hollowed logs with metal couplings -- that carry water inside the Single Brothers' House.

The Light Within

It has been said that: "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." As the country mourns the victims of another senseless violent rampage, let us not forget that there are young people at an Oregon college who were willing to die for their Faith. A friend of mine, only a bit older than the victims, writes: "A Christian martyr is a person who is killed for following Jesus and never denies Jesus as Lord, to the point of death. Praise God for these witnesses of faith, even today!"

Yes, these young saints, they are among these mentioned in Revelation 6: “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”
-- Revelation 6:9-11

So, even in the midst of this terrible rampage, G-d shines on in His work and purpose. I find in this moment a personal challenge... to catch the torch from the hands of the slain, and live as one illuminated from within by the Love of Christ myself. It is not an easy one, but the G-d who seeks to make all things new asks no less. May we, His people, prayerfully step up to the challenge.