Friday, November 27, 2015

Special Advent Edition

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume X, Issue XV

The Forgotten Season

The turkey leftovers were still cooling when the much media hyped 'Black Friday' events began. In a Long Island Wal Mart, a young associate was trampled to death as bargain hunters literally broke down the doors. A young man had to die because twenty dollars could be saved on flatscreens. Managers closed the store and someone actually was irate that he couldn't get in. Come on, if a colleague has died, its 'Game Over' on the shopping frenzy. Close the store and try to help the poor man's significant others. To hell with reopening for the remainder of the day! Management reopened the store at one o'clock that afternoon. Satirical publication 'The Onion' came out with a story where thousands were 'reported' to have died in Black Friday shopping. I did not find it funny. One death to satisfy the greed gods is too many. Our prayers go out to the family and friends of this young man. May they find comfort.

Lost in the madness of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and yes, even Small Business Saturday is the wonderful celebration of Advent. The high churches still celebrate it. It is a time of waiting and preparation for the miracle to come. It is so un-modern! It ties us to history. The traditions of Judaism are full of waiting. Abraham and Sarah saw the child of promise when they were way past the age of child bearing. I sometimes think of one-hundred year old Sarah as a preschool parent and join her in her laughter! Then there was Joseph and his imprisonment, followed by hundreds of years of exile in Egypt. We often think about the Promised Land, but we forget that all Promised Lands seem to require a prep!

In fact, there came a time when people forgot the lessons of the brick kilns and lost the Promised Land to the Babylonians and the Persians. The Temple, center of worship, was destroyed. But it was in this time of living as expats that the community of the Synagogue strengthened the people anew. Ezra and Nehemiah presided over a return to the land of promise. Again, the promise required a prep. As the exiles built the prosperity of Persia, they prepared themselves for the time when they would build their own.

A second Temple was built. The exiles returned. Then came the great empires of the Greeks and the Romans. The Temple was rebuilt, but the heavy hand of Roman rule presided over a time of trouble. Many looked to the future Messiah to put things aright. Indeed, there were many who claimed to BE Messiah. They came and went. But in a time when Heaven seemed so distant, there came another child of promise... to a couple way past child bearing. John the Baptist, a "Voice crying in the wilderness," came saying: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." At the same season of history, his mother Elizabeth's cousin Mary came to visit.

Mary had been visited by an angel and told that she, a virgin, would bear the child of promise. Though this was an incredible blessing, she faced the prospect of unwed motherhood... in a culture that stoned you for it. Her betrothed, however, had also been given a message from Heaven, that he should take her for his wife. What incredible faith and love! When I chose my Confirmation name, as a boy, I took the name Joseph. It was not that I ever thought I could match such selfless love, but that I so admired it! Even to this day, some of the people I admire the most are those men who have stepped into the lives of children they did not physically father, and yet have earned the name Dad nonetheless! These men live as both an example and a challenge to me. Some of them are my juniors in years, but they far surpass in their maturity!

Such are the lessons we miss if we merely content ourselves with instant gratification. There is an old saying: "Rome wasn't built in a day." Indeed our own nation cast off from its sure position as an English colony to pursue an uncertain future. In 1812 England returned to burn the young country's capital. The White House is so called because its sandstone outer walls had to be painted after the burning left them permanently blackened. By the middle of the Nineteenth Century, however, Isambard Kingdom Brunel was building great ships to strengthen Bristol's trade with America. A hundred years after barely surviving her revolution, the nation we know had taken her place as a world power.

Why Advent is Important to Artists [click to read]

Advent is a celebration of the incarnation. It is perhaps the greatest of Christian mysteries, that the Creator G-d would voluntarily and willfully become Man. The Infinite would clothe Himself in the finite. G-d would love us to such a degree that He would become one of us, G-d with Us, Emmanuel." -- Manuel Luz

We do well to celebrate Advent, though it is largely forgotten in the popular narrative, because it causes us to pause and prepare. In a world where preparation is limited to four years it does us good to remember the lessons of centuries. Advent allows us to step back from our busy lives and ponder timeless truths... like the man that the Bethlehem baby grew to be. He too died, some say on a Friday, but his death was not just his own. Did He indeed carry the sins of the world? The account of His Resurrection causes us to ponder mysteries far greater than ourselves and our puny wants. We should indeed consider the life of this man.

Art is incarnational by nature. Art is the incarnation of concepts and ideas and emotions onto a canvas or a page or a stage or a screen. The act of art is to take these ideas and flesh them out in our artistic mediums—the visual arts, the literary arts, dance and movement, cinema and videography, music, theater. In the same way, our Artist G-d takes His love for us and fleshes it out by entering into the universe by becoming human. Jesus, “through Him all things were made,” becomes man." -- Manuel Luz

Photos Around Staunton

Snow highlights this house in Staunton, Virginia, designed by noted architect T. J. Collins. Photo by Bob Kirchman

The firm of T. J. Collins also designed The Church of the Good Shepherd which was built in 1924. The sanctuary originally had oil lamps. Photo by Bob Kirchman

Isn't this a great message! When I saw this, I smiled back!  
Photo by Bob Kirchman

Paul Smith's Typewriter Art

A man with severe cerebral palsy creates amazing compositions on a typewriter!


Special Book Section

Several months ago we began the serial presentation of "Pontifus, The Bridge Builder's Tale in Three Parts." [3.] The entire work may be found  Here [click to read].

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Special Thanksgiving Issue

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume X, Issue XIV

Thanksgiving is Good for You

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” -- Psalm 100:4-5 NIV

The 'other' Weekly News Magazine [click to read] once featured the story: "Why ANXIETY is Good for You." We at THYME see this one a bit differently. In the Bible, Philippians 4:6 exhorts us NOT to be anxious. Rather we are to view our needs in light of our relationship to a loving G-d. Indeed, our requests are presented in light of the gratitude we feel as we consider the goodness and provision to be found in the Divine.

Fitting thoughts as we celebrate the feast of Thanksgiving. These are indeed anxious times, and it is easy to become overwhelmed by the general angst of the period we live in. History tells us of Divine promise and fulfillment. The Patriarchs piled up stones to remind them of G-d's faithfulness in the past and to keep them faithful as they waited to see His faithfulness in their present lives.

And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaister them with plaister: And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee." -- Deuteronomy 27:2-3
Indeed, one must recount the stories of how G-d met needs in times past. One must also tell of the promises of G-d. Faith needs fuel, and Gratitude is the substance that makes our faith burn bright, even in the darkest of times.

Standing on the Promises [1.]

Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
through eternal ages let his praises ring;
glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
standing on the promises of G-d.
Standing, standing,
standing on the promises of Christ my Savior;
standing, standing,
I'm standing on the promises of G-d.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
by the living Word of G-d I shall prevail,
standing on the promises of G-d.

3. Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
bound to him eternally by love's strong cord,
overcoming daily with the Spirit's sword,
standing on the promises of G-d.

4. Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
listening every moment to the Spirit's call,
resting in my Savior as my all in all,
standing on the promises of G-d.

The staff of THYME wish you a most blessed Thanksgiving!

The 'Common Course and Condition' 
America's First Experiment with Socialism

When the Pilgrims first set up their economic system in Plymouth they opted for a system where all the results of their labor were held in common. All of the colonists then drew from the common store what they lived on. The Common Course and Condition, as this system was called, resulted in some bad feelings on the part of those who produced effectively and some lack of initiative on the part of those who were happy to have the food without the work.

The system produced constant shortages and a man who rose early and worked diligently came quite naturally to resent his neighbor who slept in and contributed less effort. Friction was high among the colonists and in 1623 Governor William Bradford declared the common course a failure.

The colonists were next assigned plots by families. Larger families were given larger plots. Everyone was responsible for the production of his own land and growing food for his own family. The results were notable. Far more crops were planted and tended. There was plenty instead of shortage and all in response to this new sense of ownership.

First Thanksgiving in Virginia

On September 16, 1619, 38 English colonists lead by Captain John Woodlief set sail from Britian aboard the ship: Margaret. Ten weeks later they landed at Berkeley Hundred. The settlers, sent by the London Company, established Berkeley Plantation. In a message from the company that accompanied the settlers were the following instructions:

We ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty G-d." 

On December 4, 1619 Woodlief and the settlers celebrated what may very well be the first Thanksgiving in America. [2.]

Church Found where 
Pocohantas was Married

Her eyes meet yours as you enter the Virginia Executive Mansion. A young girl from days long ago, yet her presence in the foyer immediately captured my attention. There are two portraits of Pocahontas in the room, one in English clothing (below) and the more familiar rendering seen above.

Pocahontas's formal names were Matoaka (or Matoika) and Amonute. Pocahontas is a childhood name that perhaps referred to her playful nature. After her marriage to John Rolfe, she was known as Rebecca Rolfe.

Archeologists say that they have Discovered the Church [click to read] where Pocahontas married Jamestown planter John Rolfe.

Harvest Hymn Written 
in 1844 by Henry Alford

“Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” is a harvest hymn written in 1844 by Henry Alford. It is often sung to the tune “St. George's Windsor” by George Job Elvey. So I created this in light of Thanksgiving to remind us of what we should really be thankful for. Two of my photos are overlayed with the text of the hymn added." -- Kristina Elaine Greer Photo Graphic by Kristina Elaine Greer

View Larger Image [click to view].


Special Book Section

Several months ago we began the serial presentation of "Pontifus, The Bridge Builder's Tale in Three Parts." [3.] The entire work may be found  Here [click to read].

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Power of Prayer

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume X, Issue XIIId

The Power of Prayer

Monday, November 23, 2015

Books to Inspire Young Hearts

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume X, Issue XIIIc

The Power of True Stories

When I was thirteen, my uncle gave me a copy of Endurance to read one Summer. The heroic story of Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton and his men surviving the entrapment by ice and crushing of their ship riveted me. The men pile supplies into lifeboats and drag them like sleds across the ice, then set to sea in the hopes of reaching land hundreds of miles away. Finally the men reach land... but it is a harsh land, and they live under the shelter of the lifeboats as they ponder what to do next. The story of the aptly-named Endurance is one EVERY thirteen year old boy should have handed to him. In it are many lessons for life ahead.

Unbroken, the story of Olympian Louie Zamperini and his wartime comrades was written by Laura Hillenbrand. Her telling of Louie's story was as riveting as Endurance had been so long ago. Unbroken follows Louie through his troubled childhood to a place where he finds purpose in running. It follows him through the trials and terrors of the great war in the Pacific, to a place where he finds a far greater place of redemption. The story deals with the powerful theme of human dignity... given and taken away. It deals with the place of hopelessness and resources unseen.

It is a story that must take its place in literature for young adults and indeed for all of us. I am sure that I am not alone in seeing much of myself in Louie Zamperini. His turbulent youth, his disappointments and his struggle will resonate with a lot of us. Follow this great story to this conclusion and you will indeed find a 'Pearl of Great Price.' -- Matthew 13:45-46

B-24 Liberator
B-24 cockpit.

B-24 Liberator
Ball turret.

The plane's radio.

Louis Zamperini Honored

Greg Laurie interviews Louis Zamperini.

The Power of Forgiving

The paradox of vengefulness is that it makes men dependent upon those who have harmed them, believing that their release from pain will come only when they make their tormenters suffer." -- Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken, p. 373.

Ouch! Louis Zamperini delivers a blow to the ego. Having suffered the most dehumanizing and degrading treatment at the hands of his captors, he finds the strength to forgive. In doing so, he reflects the best in humanity... IMAGO DEI, and the inference is powerful! Any of us can find that place of strength that Zamperini discovered. The freedom Louie Zamperini found is there for the taking! Here is a story where the end is truly the beginning.

The Power of Giving

The story of Dr Prajak Arunthong. ht/Kristina Elaine Greer.

Sir Ernest H. Shackleton

Glass plate photo of Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton.


Special Book Section

Several months ago we began the serial presentation of "Pontifus, The Bridge Builder's Tale in Three Parts." [3.] The entire work may be found  Here [click to read].

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Alien Among You, The Invader at the Gate

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume X, Issue XIIIb:


In the late 1970's my mother went back to school. To put it more clearly, she became a physics instructor at the local community college. In 1979 she made a friend. He was one of her lab students, a young man from Iran and as the radical clerics took control and our ambassadors were taken hostage, a young man who had embraced the American lifestyle now feared for his life.

Mom assured him that he was known by his friends on campus for who he was. He was not to be confused with those who had taken over his country, and indeed her friendship, as well as that of his classmates, saw him through.

Mom was living out the message of Leviticus 19:34: "The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God." Today you are likely to hear that verse, along with Leviticus 19:33, 19:9-10, Deuteronomy 10, 18-19 and Ezekiel 16:49 given as reasons that we must take in Syrian refugees. Those who quote these scriptures miss a key point: These scriptures refer to those aliens who choose to live among the Chosen people, or who have been brought there in servitude. They are NOT, as some would suggest, an admonition to create open borders. [1.]


In no way does the Scripture suggest that this compassion means we tear down the walls protecting the city. In fact, an honest study of Scripture puts a high priority on providing for our own households (and yes, that would extend to PROTECTING them)! 1 Timothy 5:8 says: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” I speak now to the more pacifist members of my own Faith community. When soldiers came to Jesus asking what He required of them... these were Roman soldiers, mind you... He said simply: "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely--be content with your pay." -- Luke 3:14 He did NOT tell them to quit the service. Indeed, He alludes to their service being worthy if they go about it honestly. 

Europe already suffers from the unmentionable crimes committed by some of their 'refugees' and  although it is not politically correct to say so, it is the Truth that Shariah Law is not compatible with our Constitutional form of government. Compassion says that we should send aid and supplies to these refugees as they sojurn in lands that are more compatible with their ways. We are not 'evil' for doing it this way, just prudent.

Liberal defenders of mass Syrian immigration are quick to point out the mistake our country made by not granting asylum to Jews in the 1930's. True, this is a terrible sin of our nation... but they need not look back so far. Iraq's Christian communities, some of the oldest in the world, were being wiped out by radical Islamic militants in very recent times and to date there has been precious little help extended to them by our government. In fact, few Christians have been granted asylum as the Administration opens the floodgates for Islamic refugees.

Defenders of this policy are quick to scold anyone seeking to define the difference, decrying a 'religious litmus test,' but remember two things: First, it IS appropriate to ask if a refugee seeking to come here intends to live in a way that is compatible with our Constitutional Republic. There is no evil in seeking harmony. Second, denying entry into the United States does NOT mean that there is no mandate to provide assistance. We can do it as they are housed in tent cities that ALREADY EXIST in nations that they should be more comfortable in.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Managing the Media

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume X, Issue XIIIa: "Tear Down this Wall


It is no surprise that the mainstream media is no friend of Conservative candidates. Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump have both experienced this recently. President Bush had an incident where Dan Rather presented a fabricated letter from his National Guard commander questioning his integrity and fitness.I knew it was a fraud because the letter was unquestionably produced on a modern word processor, something that wasn't even invented at the time.

An adversarial media is nothing new. Ronald Reagan had few friends in the press corps, but he had a knack for getting his message out in spite of them. To be fair, there's more media now and it is all too easy to get caught up in a feud with Megyn Kelley, something that probably wouldn't even have been an issue for Reagan, but still, the Great Communicator can still offer us great wisdom in dealing with the current gaggle of media inquisitors.

Reagan, it might be said, stepped too easily into the trap, fielding questions when he should have kept on moving, but he was not easily cornered. He could, in fact, move on and announce that something was a matter for another day. Ronald Reagan, though the press defined him, never let their definition stick. He used humor and candor skillfully to ultimately own the game. He'd already been cast as a "dangerous hawk" when he stated: "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."

Actually, Reagan never said this over the airways, but was parodying the public announcement he'd made that morning about signing legislation allowing student religious groups the same access to school facilities after hours as other clubs. The media leaked this and had a field day... or so they thought. Reagan stayed on message. The press writhed as he spoke of the "Evil Empire," but ultimately the Berlin Wall came down. Reagan never lost sight of the fact that he was playing a bigger game... and he eventually put points on the board. Today's Conservative candidates would do well to study his game book. "Let's win this one for the Gipper!"


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 will present the fifth 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.