Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The 'Fear Industry' and Why I Have Faith

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XII, Issue V 

Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing." -- 1 Timothy 2:8

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." -- Isaiah 41:13

There are souls perplexed with doubt, burdened with infirmities, weak in faith, and unable to grasp the Unseen; but a friend whom they can see, coming to them in Christ's stead, can be a connecting link to fasten their trembling faith upon Christ." -- E. G. White, The Desire of Ages

An Alaska bush pilot flies above the Misty Fjords.

An Alternative to Despair

I really shouldn't read so many marketing articles. Recently I read one about "the way to sell alternative financial strategies and precious metals." The author pointed to the fact that in financial news reporting, fear gets you to read the article and the article gets you to buy the gold! He said: "Looming Economic Collapse" is a headline that puts you at the top of the results every time. Design your book with an exploding atomic bomb on the cover and you are pretty much guaranteed sales.

Some people will pretty much ignore you (including, I've found, a lot of real experts who are quite aware of and acknowledge  very real and serious problems), some will turn up their music and avoid the issue all together... but some will buy the books, go to the seminars and become 'experts,' ready to lead you into your own personal panic attack... but here's why I pretty much avoid the tawdry tabloids and happily devour City Journal and American Conservative instead.

I see a mandate in Holy Writ, not to spread the stuff. The world has serious problems, it needs the Hope of a Solid Gospel. Here the Church is often seen by those around us in the wrong light. Some see the simplistic presentation of the prosperity message and go away because it is unrealistic, but some see the bringers of bad news and are equally repulsed. Wait a minute! The Gospel is Good News! Why do we need Good News? Because at face value the world of things seen tells us to despair.

We are at odds over so many things right now, and frankly, there are those who profit from dividing us... but our national motto: E Pluribus Unum actually describes an action: Many uniting into one. An accurate translation of the motto is "From Many, One" or "Out of Many, One" – a phrase that captures the symbolism on the shield of the United States. When our nation was first brought forth, there were many factions and nationalities. The first committee charged with creating a shield design in 1776 originally entertained a design that recognized our diverse roots.

It contained the rose (England), thistle (Scotland), harp (Ireland), fleur-de-lis (France), lion (Holland), and an imperial eagle (Germany),accompanied by the motto: E Pluribus Unum. One needs to recognize the significance of this in light of the bloody wars that the European Continent had experienced in the Centuries prior to our founding. Catholic Maryland could join with Puritan New England in the common good. Diversity of a good sort could indeed exist while the common defense and the common good were tended to.

In the 1830's it could have accepted a Cherokee State in the mountains of Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee. Sadly, immoral gain is not excluded even in the best crafted institutions, and greedy speculators brought the demise of this great experiment. Through bloody war, the enslaved people of African descent were granted citizenship and the issue of Federal powers overshadowed those of the individual states as the following generations would grapple with what Constitutional restraints prohibited.

In the Twentieth Century, the unity of our diversity allowed us to win global wars and maintain the peace which so many of us take for granted. The Navajo Nation gave us our best code for winning the war in the Pacific.

So, in the Twenty-first Century, with the world as it is, should we be concerned? Indeed we should. Concerned, Yes!, but despairing?, No! We do indeed need to fight against those who would tribalize us for their own political gain. We need to look to core basic functions of good government again, eschewing sweeping attempts to 'fundamentally transform' our nation from Washington. Yes, we need to weed out a few bad cops, but we need to open our eyes and see that across the nation, local police forces have become quite diverse. An officer and his or her partner can be of a variety of ethnicities and they take care of each other. Don't listen to the merchants of fear and distrust, there are many good people in public safety roles!

We need to beware of the merchants of fear and distrust who want to re-craft our institutions to 'protect' those that THEY identify as 'oppressed.' They are all too ready to scrap TRUE Liberty, such as Religious Liberty, in their quest to transform. The merchants of fear and distrust populate the academy, and it bears mentioning that they were telling us that we would run out of oil in the 1970's as the world descended into its next great Ice Age! Still, their foggy spectacles are the portal through which too many view the world today.

Global Warming' is preached in the academy (and by way of them through the media) with religious imperative!, though their data is far from complete or conclusive. At the same time, the role of Christian thought is marginalized, though there is much documentation of our Nation's institutions being founded upon it. [1.] But in addition to acknowledging the existence of lofty ideals, we must remember that this Nation was built by some terribly flawed men.

A pet store sign in Staunton, Virginia asks G-d to protect our police officers.

A Call to Action

There is a perpetual parade of celebrities who have stated that they will leave the country if Donald Trump is elected President. I say: "good riddance." They are the merchants of fear and distrust in entertainment. One needs to understand that Washington promoted an agenda while ignoring the will of the people. THEY created the problem that led to the rebellion. Indeed, there is a general frustration with the political establishment right now and here there are a few points worth noting.

1. The Government has created the problem. Indeed their reckless borrowing and policies that strangle real economic growth add to the damage caused by bad trade deals that undermine legitimate protections for American industries. We're losing our middle-class and we need to stop doing so. Also, activist judges have used the courts to create legislation, circumventing the will and good of the people. It is imperative that we elect leaders who will NOT appoint activist judges... it is imperative that we elect legislators who take seriously the checks and balances prescribed in our Constitution. They are there for our protection.

2. The party in power has effectively neutralized legitimate opposition through voter fraud, executive orders and plain out misrepresentation to the media of their honest opposition. In eight years they have had little or no opposition as they created massive financial bailouts and took over the health insurance market, but there is no evidence that they have actually fixed anything. Health insurance is more expensive. The economy is stagnant. They look out of their windows in Washington at projects they have funded with borrowed money and declare that "all is right with the world." They're even replacing the grass on the National Mall. Construction cranes fill the Washington Skyline, but 'Flyover Country' languishes. That's most of America.

3. They want us to think our vote doesn't count. They WANT us to think that we need to give them more power. These merchants of fear and distrust want us to believe that they are putting things aright and just need more power (and money) in order to do so. They want us to overlook the travesty of Benghazi while telling us that their opponent is unfit to lead! They WANT us to stay home or vote a 'protest' (third party) vote.

But we must not believe them. History tells us this Nation has been in peril before. History tells us that the right man to build a Transcontinental Railroad may have feet of clay (as Thomas Clarke Durant indeed did), but in the wake of the railroad came the Gospel. America was so built. [2.] That is not to say we shouldn't desire moral men and women to lead us, but we need to understand the place of historical figures like Cyrus, the Medo-Pesian Ruler who provided for the rebuilding of Israel and her Temple [3.] The text says of this heathen king: “...who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,”and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’ “This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me. I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other.” -- Isaiah 44:28-45:6 [4.]

Though there are many IN the household of Faith who will quickly caution me that you can't compare a specific prophecy of Israel to America today (even as a few devour the latest work of a well publicized novelist who mixes Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism, with scripture to do just that). But I am not looking for prophecy... I am looking for principles, to guide me as I participate in the upcoming election. The principle I find is this: A leader who gives place for the Divine is always preferable to one who does not. Cyrus materially participated in the restoration of Israel. Donald Trump has promised to work to repeal the Johnson Amendment, effectively giving people of Faith a place at the table. [5.] One candidate brings Mike Pence and Ben Carson to the table, the other does not and brings the same group who have been there for eight years.

So, I see a clear choice in the upcoming election. I will vote for Donald Trump, Mike Pence and a host of good State and Local candidates. I do not look for a Saviour in a candidate... but I DO look for a BUILDER. [6.] Specifically, I look for a Bridge Builder [click to read]. We need a robust plan to rebuild our economy and bring our diverse people together again. [7.] We need to ignore the merchants of despair and division. We need to prove that they are wrong!

As I write this, I realize that I have dear friends who will abstain from voting or vote third party because they feel that Trump is not morally fit to hold the office. I would ask them if Mrs. Clinton, with her many scandals, is? Moreover, I would point out that John Kennedy was no paragon of virtue. He had a terrible temper, and an incredibly foul mouth when the press were absent. Children from a local school were invited to the White House for a ceremony of some sort and they were, I was told, treated to some rather rough language from Kennedy, who was unaware that they had entered the room. Yet we see him as a great President. He cut taxes to unleash private economic development, bolstered our national defense and gave us collective vision.

Who can forget the stirring charge: "Ask NOT what your country can do for you, but what YOU can do for your country!" Also, Kennedy deftly placed the need for technological parity with the Soviet Union into a civilian program with a mandate to put a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth. Like Winston Churchill, who won the Battle of Britain, Kennedy was a man with faults he did not apologize for. C.S. Lewis admired Churchill, acknowledging his faults. Lewis praised Churchill and supported him (though he turned down a titled potential appointment to government service).

Lewis feared his quest for Christian Vision would be watered down in an attempt to debunk Socialism, though he himself had no desire to PROMOTE the ideology. That is why he refused Churchill's offer. Here I think Lewis leads us in seeing a greater vision for the person of Faith... that of building the unseen Kingdom. History tells us that the heathen Romans built the roads. The First Century evangelists traveled them. Isimbard Kingdom Brunel [8.] built the railroad that revitalized Bristol, but it was George Müller who revived the city's spirit as he lifted the abandoned children of a needy city and gave them hope and a future in Christian Love. We need a BUILDER of the America we love and want to preserve,  [9.] but we must, as people of Faith, fill that land with the work of the Divine Kingdom.

Firefighter, Charlottesville, Virginia.

Finding the Permanent in the Political
[click to read]

John G. West, Jr.Senior Fellow, Discovery Institute

The year was 1951, and England was embroiled in a bitter general election campaign. Six years earlier the Conservative Party of Winston Churchill had been thrown out of power. Now the same party, still led by the same indomitable Churchill, was attempting a comeback. The conventional wisdom was that the attempt would fail. The conventional wisdom was wrong. Voters went to the polls on October 25, and the next morning the whole world knew that the the Conservative Party had recaptured control of Parliament and Churchill had regained the post of Prime Minister. (read more)

Winston Churchill
[click to read]

How a Flawed Man Became a Great Leader
— By John Simpson

In 2002 the BBC broadcast a series called 100 Greatest Britons. After each programme in which particular figures were proposed and examined - they were mostly but not exclusively the usual suspects, such as Darwin, Shakespeare and Elizabeth I - viewers were invited to vote. In the end, there was no doubt about their verdict - Sir Winston Churchill was the greatest Briton. The case for him is a powerful one, of course. He was first a government minister in 1908, and occupied most of the top jobs in politics during half a century. He finally retired in 1955, having served as prime minister for a total of nine years. But it was his extraordinary leadership in World War Two that marked him out. Bold, brave and tireless in his resolve to take on the might of Nazi Germany, he inspired a nervous and hesitant Britain through his sheer energy and force of personality to defy stark odds and never give in. The entire world's history would have been different if he hadn't come to power in Britain in 1940. Still, Churchill made huge mistakes in his long political life. (read more) 

The America I Love

McCormick Mill
Mill at the Cyrus McCormick Farm. Birthplace of the reaping machine that revolutionized agriculture.

Fir Trees on Elliott Knob
Fir trees on Elliott Knob. Once thought to be the highest mountain in Virginia until Mount Rogers was found to be taller.

Elliott Knob
Tree on North Mountain.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What Makes a Nation Great?

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XII, Issue V

What Makes a Nation Great?

The 'other' Weekly News Magazine [click to read] once asked: "What makes a school great?" THYME asks: "Why stop there, what makes a NATION great?" As we seek to teach our children the foundations of our Nation, we can agree with the 'other' magazine that it takes great teachers.

No doubt, some will insist that it is a simple matter of perfecting institutions. Some will venture so far as to address the character of man himself, but it is quite evident that those who crafted the original documents our nation is founded on saw a need for a hand greater than their own to guide them. Their own writings give us a clear indication that they did,  so here are some thoughts from our Founding Fathers:

John Adams and John Hancock:
We Recognize No Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus! [April 18, 1775]

John Adams:
“ The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principals of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of G-d.”
“[July 4th] ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”
–John Adams in a letter written to Abigail on the day the Declaration was approved by Congress

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." --October 11, 1798

"I have examined all religions, as well as my narrow sphere, my straightened means, and my busy life, would allow; and the result is that the Bible is the best Book in the world. It contains more philosophy than all the libraries I have seen." December 25, 1813 letter to Thomas Jefferson

"Without Religion this World would be Something not fit to be mentioned in polite Company, I mean Hell." [John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, April 19, 1817]

Samuel Adams: 
He who made all men hath made the truths necessary to human happiness obvious to all… Our forefathers opened the Bible to all.” [ "American Independence," August 1, 1776. Speech delivered at the State House in Philadelphia]

“ Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age by impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls, inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity… and leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system.” [October 4, 1790]

John Quincy Adams:
“Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day [the Fourth of July]?" “Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity"?
--1837, at the age of 69, when he delivered a Fourth of July speech at Newburyport, Massachusetts.

“The Law given from Sinai [The Ten Commandments] was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code.”
John Quincy Adams. Letters to his son. p. 61

Elias Boudinot:
“Be religiously careful in our choice of all public officers . . . and judge of the tree by its fruits.”

Charles Carroll - signer of the Declaration of Independence
" Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure...are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments." [Source: To James McHenry on November 4, 1800.]

Benjamin Franklin:
“ G-d governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel” –Constitutional Convention of 1787 original manuscript of this speech

“In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered… do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?” [Constitutional Convention, Thursday June 28, 1787]

In Benjamin Franklin's 1749 plan of education for public schools in Pennsylvania, he insisted that schools teach "the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern."

In 1787 when Franklin helped found Benjamin Franklin University, it was dedicated as "a nursery of religion and learning, built on Christ, the Cornerstone."

Alexander Hamilton:
Hamilton began work with the Rev. James Bayard to form the Christian Constitutional Society to help spread over the world the two things which Hamilton said made America great:
(1) Christianity
(2) a Constitution formed under Christianity.
“The Christian Constitutional Society, its object is first: The support of the Christian religion. Second: The support of the United States.”

On July 12, 1804 at his death, Hamilton said, “I have a tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a sinner. I look to Him for mercy; pray for me.”

"For my own part, I sincerely esteem it [the Constitution] a system which without the finger of G-d, never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests." [1787 after the Constitutional Convention]

"I have carefully examined the evidences of the Christian religion, and if I was sitting as a juror upon its authenticity I would unhesitatingly give my verdict in its favor. I can prove its truth as clearly as any proposition ever submitted to the mind of man."

John Hancock:
“In circumstances as dark as these, it becomes us, as Men and Christians, to reflect that whilst every prudent measure should be taken to ward off the impending judgments, …at the same time all confidence must be withheld from the means we use; and reposed only on that God rules in the armies of Heaven, and without His whole blessing, the best human counsels are but foolishness… Resolved; …Thursday the 11th of May…to humble themselves before God under the heavy judgments felt and feared, to confess the sins that have deserved them, to implore the Forgiveness of all our transgressions, and a spirit of repentance and reformation …and a Blessing on the … Union of the American Colonies in Defense of their Rights [for which hitherto we desire to thank Almighty God]…That the people of Great Britain and their rulers may have their eyes opened to discern the things that shall make for the peace of the nation…for the redress of America’s many grievances, the restoration of all her invaded liberties, and their security to the latest generations.
"A Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, with a total abstinence from labor and recreation. Proclamation on April 15, 1775"

Patrick Henry:
"Orator of the Revolution."

This is all the inheritance I can give my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed.”
—The Last Will and Testament of Patrick Henry

“It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” [May 1765 Speech to the House of Burgesses]

“The Bible is worth all other books which have ever been printed.”

John Jay:
“ Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” Source: October 12, 1816. The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, Henry P. Johnston, ed., (New York: Burt Franklin, 1970), Vol. IV, p. 393.

“Whether our religion permits Christians to vote for infidel rulers is a question which merits more consideration than it seems yet to have generally received either from the clergy or the laity. It appears to me that what the prophet said to Jehoshaphat about his attachment to Ahab ["Shouldest thou help the ung-dly and love them that hate the Lord?" 2 Chronicles 19:2] affords a salutary lesson.” [The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, 1794-1826, Henry P. Johnston, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1893), Vol. IV, p.365]

Thomas Jefferson:
“ The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend to all the happiness of man.”

“Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern which have come under my observation, none appears to me so pure as that of Jesus.”

"I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus."

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.” (excerpts are inscribed on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial in the nations capital) [Source: Merrill . D. Peterson, ed., Jefferson Writings, (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., 1984), Vol. IV, p. 289. From Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, 1781.]

Samuel Johnston:
“It is apprehended that Jews, Mahometans (Muslims), pagans, etc., may be elected to high offices under the government of the United States. Those who are Mahometans, or any others who are not professors of the Christian religion, can never be elected to the office of President or other high office, [unless] first the people of America lay aside the Christian religion altogether, it may happen. Should this unfortunately take place, the people will choose such men as think as they do themselves.
[Elliot’s Debates, Vol. IV, pp 198-199, Governor Samuel Johnston, July 30, 1788 at the North Carolina Ratifying Convention]

James Madison:
“ We’ve staked our future on our ability to follow the Ten Commandments with all of our heart.”

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of G-d.” [1778 to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia]

• I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare the unsatisfactoriness [of temportal enjoyments] by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ; and I wish you may give in your evidence in this way.
Letter by Madison to William Bradford (September 25, 1773)

• In 1812, President Madison signed a federal bill which economically aided the Bible Society of Philadelphia in its goal of the mass distribution of the Bible
“ An Act for the relief of the Bible Society of Philadelphia” Approved February 2, 1813 by Congress

“It is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.”

• A watchful eye must be kept on ourselves lest, while we are building ideal monuments of renown and bliss here, we neglect to have our names enrolled in the Annals of Heaven. [Letter by Madison to William Bradford [urging him to make sure of his own salvation] November 9, 1772]

At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, James Madison proposed the plan to divide the central government into three branches. He discovered this model of government from the Perfect Governor, as he read Isaiah 33:22;
“For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver,
the LORD is our king;
He will save us.”
[Baron Charles Montesquieu, wrote in 1748; “Nor is there liberty if the power of judging is not separated from legislative power and from executive power. If it [the power of judging] were joined to legislative power, the power over life and liberty of the citizens would be arbitrary, for the judge would be the legislature if it were joined to the executive power, the judge could have the force of an oppressor. All would be lost if the same … body of principal men … exercised these three powers." Madison claimed Isaiah 33:22 as the source of division of power in government
See also: pp.241-242 in Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History: The Principle approach by Rosalie Slater]

James McHenry – Signer of the Constitution:
Public utility pleads most forcibly for the general distribution of the Holy Scriptures. The doctrine they preach, the obligations they impose, the punishment they threaten, the rewards they promise, the stamp and image of divinity they bear, which produces a conviction of their truths, can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability and usefulness. In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong entrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses, and at the same time enjoy quiet conscience.

Jedediah Morse:
"To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. . . . Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all blessings which flow from them, must fall with them."

John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg:
In a sermon delivered to his Virginia congregation on Jan. 21, 1776, he preached from Ecclesiastes 3.

Arriving at verse 8, which declares that there is a time of war and a time of peace, Muhlenberg noted that this surely was not the time of peace; this was the time of war. Concluding with a prayer, and while standing in full view of the congregation, he removed his clerical robes to reveal that beneath them he was wearing the uniform of an officer in the Continental army! He marched to the back of the church; ordered the drum to beat for recruits and over three hundred men joined him, becoming the Eighth Virginia Brigade. John Peter Muhlenberg finished the Revolution as a Major-General, having been at Valley Forge and having participated in the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, Stonypoint, and Yorktown.

Thomas Paine:
“ It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences, and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles: he can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.”
“ The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools, in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only, has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of his existence. They labour with studied ingenuity to ascribe every thing they behold to innate properties of matter, and jump over all the rest by saying, that matter is eternal.” “The Existence of God--1810”

Benjamin Rush:
• “I lament that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes and take so little pains to prevent them…we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government; that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible; for this Divine Book, above all others, constitutes the soul of republicanism.” “By withholding the knowledge of [the Scriptures] from children, we deprive ourselves of the best means of awakening moral sensibility in their minds.” [Letter written (1790’s) in Defense of the Bible in all schools in America]
• “Christianity is the only true and perfect religion.”
• “If moral precepts alone could have reformed mankind, the mission of the Son of God into our world would have been unnecessary.”

"Let the children who are sent to those schools be taught to read and write and above all, let both sexes be carefully instructed in the principles and obligations of the Christian religion. This is the most essential part of education”
Letters of Benjamin Rush, "To the citizens of Philadelphia: A Plan for Free Schools", March 28, 1787

Justice Joseph Story:
“ I verily believe Christianity necessary to the support of civil society. One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that Christianity is a part of the Common Law. . . There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying its foundations.”
[Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States p. 593]
“ Infidels and pagans were banished from the halls of justice as unworthy of credit.” [Life and letters of Joseph Story, Vol. II 1851, pp. 8-9.]
“ At the time of the adoption of the constitution, and of the amendment to it, now under consideration [i.e., the First Amendment], the general, if not the universal sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship.”
[Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States p. 593]

Noah Webster:
“ The duties of men are summarily comprised in the Ten Commandments, consisting of two tables; one comprehending the duties which we owe immediately to G-d-the other, the duties we owe to our fellow men.”

“In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed...No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.”
[Source: 1828, in the preface to his American Dictionary of the English Language]

Let it be impressed on your mind that G-d commands you to choose for rulers just men who will rule in the fear of God [Exodus 18:21]. . . . If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted . . . If our government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the Divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws. [Noah Webster, The History of the United States (New Haven: Durrie and Peck, 1832), pp. 336-337, 49]

“All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.” [Noah Webster. History. p. 339]

“The Bible was America’s basic textbook
in all fields.” [Noah Webster. Our Christian Heritage p.5]

“Education is useless without the Bible” [Noah Webster. Our Christian Heritage p.5 ]

George Washington:
Farewell Address: The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion" ...and later: "...reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle..."

“ It is impossible to rightly govern the world without G-d and Bible.”

“What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ.” [speech to the Delaware Indian Chiefs May 12, 1779]

"To the distinguished character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian" [May 2, 1778, at Valley Forge]

During his inauguration, Washington took the oath as prescribed by the Constitution but added several religious components to that official ceremony. Before taking his oath of office, he summoned a Bible on which to take the oath, added the words “So help me G-d!” to the end of the oath, then leaned over and kissed the Bible.

Nelly Custis-Lewis (Washington’s adopted daughter):
Is it necessary that any one should [ask], “Did General Washington avow himself to be a believer in Christianity?" As well may we question his patriotism, his heroic devotion to his country. His mottos were, "Deeds, not Words"; and, "For G-d and my Country."

“ O Most Glorious G-d, in Jesus Christ, my merciful and loving Father; I acknowledge and confess my guilt in the weak and imperfect performance of the duties of this day. I have called on Thee for pardon and forgiveness of my sins, but so coldly and carelessly that my prayers are become my sin, and they stand in need of pardon.”
“ I have sinned against heaven and before Thee in thought, word, and deed. I have contemned Thy majesty and holy laws. I have likewise sinned by omitting what I ought to have done and committing what I ought not. I have rebelled against the light, despising Thy mercies and judgment, and broken my vows and promise. I have neglected the better things. My iniquities are multiplied and my sins are very great. I confess them, O Lord, with shame and sorrow, detestation and loathing and desire to be vile in my own eyes as I have rendered myself vile in Thine. I humbly beseech Thee to be merciful to me in the free pardon of my sins for the sake of Thy dear Son and only Savior Jesus Christ who came to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Thou gavest Thy Son to die for me.”
[George Washington; from a 24 page authentic handwritten manuscript book dated April 21-23, 1752
William J. Johnson George Washington, the Christian (New York: The Abingdon Press, New York & Cincinnati, 1919), pp. 24-35.]

"Although guided by our excellent Constitution in the discharge of official duties, and actuated, through the whole course of my public life, solely by a wish to promote the best interests of our country; yet, without the beneficial interposition of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, we could not have reached the distinguished situation which we have attained with such unprecedented rapidity. To HIM, therefore, should we bow with gratitude and reverence, and endeavor to merit a continuance of HIS special favors". [1797 letter to John Adams]

James Wilson:
Signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution
Supreme Court Justice appointed by George Washington
Spoke 168 times during the Constitutional Convention

"Christianity is part of the common law"
[Sources: James Wilson, Course of Lectures [vol 3, p.122]; and quoted in Updegraph v. The Commonwealth, 11 Serg, & R. 393, 403 (1824).]

Source: Quotes of the Founding Fathers.

Photo by Nick Page.

School Starting Age: The Evidence
by David Whitebread

Earlier this month the "Too Much, Too Soon" campaign made headlines with a letter calling for a change to the start age for formal learning in schools. Here, one of the signatories, Cambridge researcher David Whitebread, from the Faculty of Education, explains why children may need more time to develop before their formal education begins in earnest.

"In the interests of children’s academic achievements and their emotional well-being, the UK government should take this evidence seriously" -- David Whitebread

In England children now start formal schooling, and the formal teaching of literacy and numeracy at the age of four. A recent letter signed by around 130 early childhood education experts, including myself, published in the Daily Telegraph (11 Sept 2013) advocated an extension of informal, play-based pre-school provision and a delay to the start of formal ‘schooling’ in England from the current effective start until the age of seven (in line with a number of other European countries who currently have higher levels of academic achievement and child well-being).

This is a brief review of the relevant research evidence [1.] which overwhelmingly supports a later start to formal education. This evidence relates to the contribution of playful experiences [2.] to children’s development as learners, and the consequences of starting formal learning at the age of four to five years of age

There are several strands of evidence which all point towards the importance of play in young children’s development, and the value of an extended period of playful learning before the start of formal schooling. These arise from anthropological, psychological, neuroscientific and educational studies. Anthropological studies of children’s play in extant hunter-gatherer societies, and evolutionary psychology studies of play in the young of other mammalian species, have identified play as an adaptation which evolved in early human social groups. It enabled humans to become powerful learners and problem-solvers. Neuroscientific studies have shown that playful activity leads to synaptic growth, particularly in the frontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for all the uniquely human higher mental functions.

In my own area of experimental and developmental psychology, studies have also consistently demonstrated the superior learning and motivation arising from playful, as opposed to instructional, approaches to learning in children. Pretence play supports children’s early development of symbolic representational skills, including those of literacy, more powerfully than direct instruction. Physical, constructional and social play supports children in developing their skills of intellectual and emotional ‘self-regulation’, skills which have been shown to be crucial in early learning and development. Perhaps most worrying, a number of studies have documented the loss of play opportunities for children over the second half of the 20th century and demonstrated a clear link with increased indicators of stress and mental health problems.

Within educational research, a number of longitudinal studies have demonstrated superior academic, motivational and well-being outcomes for children who had attended child-initiated, play-based pre-school programmes. One particular study of 3,000 children across England, funded by the Department for Education themselves, showed that an extended period of high quality, play-based pre-school education was of particular advantage to children from disadvantaged households.

Studies have compared groups of children in New Zealand who started formal literacy lessons at ages 5 and 7. Their results show that the early introduction of formal learning approaches to literacy does not improve children’s reading development, and may be damaging. By the age of 11 there was no difference in reading ability level between the two groups, but the children who started at 5 developed less positive attitudes to reading, and showed poorer text comprehension than those children who had started later. In a separate study of reading achievement in 15 year olds across 55 countries, researchers showed that there was no significant association between reading achievement and school entry age.

This body of evidence raises important and serious questions concerning the direction of travel of early childhood education policy currently in England. In the interests of children’s academic achievements and their emotional well-being, the UK government should take this evidence seriously.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. [1.] The original article appears Here [click to read].

C.S Lewis Life Story with a Purpose

Twisting Interpretations
[click to read]

by Lela Markham

Ray Bradbury is one of my favorite writers whose name is synonymous with one book, Fahrenheit 451, a novel set in a twisted future version of America where books are banned and burned. My dad made me read it when I was 11.The book is well-regarded as a literary classic and it has been studied by academics for decades. I remember reading it in high school and getting an interpretation that I had not gotten when I read it at age 11. It turns out that I may have understood Bradbury better than the scholars do.

Under “Makes you say ‘hmmm’, some would-be scholars once told Bradbury that he was wrong about his own book. It has long been believed by people studying the novel that it is a clever commentary on censorship. There have been thousands of articles and dissertations written on the subject and I’m not going to dust-off my inner geek and bore you with the details about how academics have interpreted the novel over the years, because they all say the same basic thing. Fahrenheit 451 is a novel about censorship. Except Ray Bradbury claimed the book wasn’t about censorship at all. You’d think he’d know what the book was about because he wrote it. And, yes, he wrote it during any era when actual book burnings had occurred within recent memory. Still, he always insisted that the main theme of the book is the role of the mass media and its effect on the populace, in particular television and how it makes people less able to digest more complex forms of media, like books. I find it odd that scholars ignore this as the true theme of the novel, even though the author says that is what he meant. Bradbury himself experienced this slavish adherence to a false doctrine while giving a lecture on the novel to a class of college students. He casually mentioned that the theme of the novel was the dangers of television and someone loudly exclaimed “no, it’s about censorship!“.

Bradbury then tried to correct the student, pointing out that he wrote the novel and ought to know the message he meant to convey, but the rest of the class chimed in and agreed that the novel was about censorship. Bradbury became so pissed off at the sheer pig-headedness of the students that he walked out of the lecture and vowed he’d never give another lecture on the book. (read more)

The America I Love

Mount Airy Window
Window at Mount Airy, the Augusta County home of the artist known as 'Grandma Moses.'

House at Mount Airy
Anna Mary Robertson Moses and her husband, Thomas, purchased Mount Airy after renting several farms in the area.

Mount Airy Farm
Mrs. Moses did not begin painting until her seventies, but her work was influenced by her life as a farm wife. Here is a view of the road to the house at Mount Airy.


Saturday, August 20, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XII, Issue VIa: Tony Nathan at Woodlawn

The Real Jesus Revolution

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." -- John 4:35

I just watched the movie Woodlawn again. Although it is having a rather limited distribution, you really should watch 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!

Birmingham Alabama was being torn apart by racial tensions. The city experienced fifty bombings in the era and it seemed impossible for there to be healing. Then a young group of football players found Faith (and brotherhood) in Christ. The rest is history. Tony Nathan went on to play college ball at Alabama under Bear Bryant, at a school that was once off limits to him.

That is the true story of the work of the Divine in human lives. It goes on in many quiet ways today! We need to be part of it. All of us have young people in our lives. Are we being an instrument for the Divine to work in their lives?
(to be continued)


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

"Elites and Intellectuals"

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XII, Issue IV

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.

Why Christians Should Paint,
[click to read]

Dance, Quilt, Act, Compose Music, Write Stories,
Decorate Cookies, and participate in the Arts
by Mark Altrogge

When I was little my aunt said she loved how I sang all the time. In grade school my teachers let me spend extra time in the library drawing. My parents got me my first oil painting lesson when I was 12. And when I was 14 the Beatles invaded America and I had to get a guitar and get in a band. In college I majored in art ed and got a Masters in painting.

But when Jesus saved me in my early 20s, I began to wonder if art was a waste of time. I could be evangelizing or praying or doing something spiritual instead of dabbing oil paint on a canvas. And besides that, everything is going to burn up anyway at the end, so what’s the use of creating things? Or if I do paint a painting does it have to be a Christian theme? Does it have to have a cross in it or be a scene from the Gospels?

Here are a few reasons why Christians should play banjo and decorate cakes, knit sweaters and make movies, do photography and write poems: (read more)

The Future of America is at Stake
[click to read]

If You're On Fence About Your Vote
by Dr. Jim Garlow/Skyline Church, San Diego

Dr. Jim Garlow is pastor of Skyline Church in San Diego. He is also co-founder of The Jefferson Gathering, a weekly worship service for members of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

I have been asked "the question" so many times regarding Trump or Hillary. By way of background, I have followed every national convention—Republican and Democrat—from the time I was age 9, and have attended most of the GOP Conventions from 1984 to the present. I have watched the news virtually every day from the age of 8. I have never seen anything like what we are observing.

In spite of the unprecedented nature of this election cycle, I will attempt to respond to "the question." I am not demanding that anyone else share my view. But I was asked. Here is my best attempt to answer as I am able to see things at this time: (read more)

The America I Love

The cornerstone of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad bridge across Main Street and the Tiber River in Ellicott City. This is not the cornerstone of the railroad, which was laid by the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence, Charles Carroll, on July 4, 1828. That historic cornerstone resides in the Baltimore and Ohio Museum in Baltimore.

B and O Station
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad station in Ellicott City, Maryland.

B and O to Lexington
In the late Nineteenth Century, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad ran as far as Lexington, Virginia over this fine stone bridge.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Story in a Painting

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XII, Issue III

Belle, A Story in a Painting

The Eighteenth Century painting is intriguing! Its subjects appear to be an English noblewoman and a mysterious princess. But this is not some flight of fantasy, the women depicted are actually cousins who lived together at Kenwood House under the care of William Murray, First Earl of Mansfield. Dido Elizabeth Belle, the woman on the left, was the daughter of Captain John Lindsay, Murray's nephew, who fathered the girl when he was stationed in the West Indies. Lindsay was knighted and promoted to Admiral and left his daughter in the care of Murray in 1765. The daughter of a slave woman, she was nonetheless brought up as a free gentlewoman along with William's niece, Elizabeth Murray who is depicted on the right.

When my wife and I watched the movie Belle, which is the story of Dido and William Murray, the painting seemed familiar. It was a bit later that it came to me that that was an image my Art History professor had had on one of her slides. I've often asked fellow artists if they enjoyed Art History? They often reply that they did not, seeing it as a torturous process of memorization. They did not have the privilege of studying under Penny Griffith. She was an adjunct professor who obviously loved her material. She told us what to memorize for the test and then proceeded to weave spellbinding lectures about the story found in the art! Francisco Goya came alive as we learned his keen observations of Spanish nobility and his depiction of the darkness of war and the darkness of the human soul!

Yet the painting by Johann Zoffany, executed in 1779, remained a mystery. Perhaps it was a bit of romanticism as noblewomen might enjoy, but it would be years later that I would learn the amazing history contained in that canvas. It is the story of how Belle's relationship with William Murray led to significant advances in the fight against slavery. Belle's mother was a slave, but Belle, living at Kenmore, was accorded all the rights of a free person, including a sizable inheritance! Her great-uncle, acting in his capacity as Lord Chief Justice, made two significant rulings on the issue.

In 1772 Murray, the Earl of Mansfield, was called upon to rule in the case of an escaped slave who's owner wanted to take him back to the West Indies for sale. The Chief Justice called the slave to court. This action let it be known that the court considered him a person! Murray declared in his ruling: "The state of slavery is of such a nature, that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political; but only positive law, which preserves its force long after the reasons, occasion, and time itself from whence it was created, is erased from memory: it's so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it but positive law. Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from a decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England."

The effect of this ruling was the recognition that English common law did not support the institution of slavery. Years before William Wilberforce campaigned to end the institution in the legislature; Murray, in his capacity as Chief Justice ruled that the institution had no basis in English law. In another case, that of the Zong massacre of 1781, he again dealt the institution of slavery a solid blow. The ship Zong, dangerously overcrowded when she left Africa with her human cargo, 442 souls in all, saw an epidemic break out among them. The slavers decided to throw one third of the slaves overboard. They then presented a claim to their insurers, arguing that they did not have enough water and needed to do so. The insurance company refused to pay.

The captain had reasoned that rather than have the slaves get sick on board and be rendered worthless, he would kill them and collect the insurance money. He would then argue that the slaves sacrificed for others when there was not enough water. It was proved beyond doubt that water was adequately available, making clear the dark intent of the slave ship captain! The UK Daily Mail writes: "Insurance was Lord Mansfield’s speciality, and he concluded that the insurers were not liable. The breathtaking brutality of the murders and the fact that drowned human beings could be reduced to an insurance claim brought home the urgency of abolishing the slave trade."

The America I Love

Dolls in a Window
Dolls in a Window on Main Street, Ellicott City, Maryland. I took this photograph the last time I was in Ellicott City to deliver the water-powered sawmill model to the museum there. This venerable old storefront had endured scores of floods, but something made me want to linger and savor the moment. I only wish I had lingered longer!

High Water Marks
High Water Marks, Ellicott City, Maryland.

Patapsco Hotel
The Patapsco Hotel, Ellicott City, Maryland.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Neil Armstrong Interview II

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XII, Issue II

"We Choose to Go to the Moon..."

Last week we presented a rare Interview with Neil Armstrong [click to view]. If you have not had a chance to watch it in its entirety, please do so. It is a refreshing look at the fulfillment of great human aspiration from the perspective of the very humble man who did it! Alex Malley is refreshing in his open style of interview and he allows Neil Armstrong to be seen as the man he is. There is no drive to sensationalize or twist the story, rather one sees how Armstrong rose from a little boy who was uneasy with the concept of death to a man capable of taking great risks in a well reasoned manner. That was a quality he would need in his journey to the moon.

Alex Malley converses with Commander Neil Armstrong.

Indeed, his story is one to remember, but he is not the first brave man who did not appear so in our first glimpse of him. The morning of my birthday I found myself reading from the Book of Judges in my daily reading. The story was that of Gideon. When we first meet him in Judges chapter 6 he is threshing grain while hiding in a winepress. Normally grain was threshed on a hill in the open so the chaff will blow away, but Gideon fears the Midionites, who raid the land and steal the grain. Hence, he is hiding in the winepress.

An angel of the Lord appears to him saying: "The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour."

Gideon's answer is anything but valorous, he replies: "Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites."

And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?

And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.

And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.

And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.

Gideon might have been the 'least in his father's house.' He indeed asked for a lot of confirmation but then he boldly stepped out and trusted G-d, who did mighty things through him. He went on to win a decisive victory over the Midianites with just 300 men! The time Gideon lived in was one of great despair for the people, as the Midianites had robbed and disheartened them. At times like that (and times like our own),we often find ourselves crying out for extraordinary leaders.We forget that extraordinary things are often done by very ordinary men and women in the face of extraordinary challenges.

Listening to Armstrong, one is struck by his humility and matter-of-fact description of the incredible events he participated in. He does not like to talk about himself and though he is a man of high accomplishment, he is reluctant to take any more of his share of the credit for it. I am incredibly blessed to know young men and women cast in the same mold who live in our times. What will the Divine accomplish through their lives, I ask? I think of President John F. Kennedy's setting the bar: "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too." [1.] The challenge before us in our times is great indeed!

I step out of the tent and gaze up at the stars. In my lifetime I saw mankind reach for them. My father was an engineer with NASA in its golden age and he developed a device known as the Launch Phase Simulator. [2.] Framed in the trees in the night sky I see the constellation Orion. That was one of the first ones my father taught me to recognize... the mighty hunter with his dagger and his distinctive belt! Generations must have been inspired by the sight before me this night! I think of the young people I have been priviledged to work with. I have seen them grow into people capable of being used to change the world (for the better), and I am humbled to think that I might have somehow been used to influence their lives. And so I plead; we NEED to leave them a country that challenges them as those before us were challenged... to dare and do great things!

Man's First Act on the Moon:

Buzz Aldrin describes, in his own words, the first act of men visiting another world, to honor G-d: “In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the Scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.’ I had intended to read my communion passage back to earth, but at the last minute [they] had requested that I not do this. NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle with Madelyn Murray O’Hare, the celebrated opponent of religion, over the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis while orbiting the moon at Christmas. I agreed reluctantly. …I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility. It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”

Eric Metaxas writes: "And of course, it’s interesting to think that some of the first words spoken on the moon were the words of Jesus Christ, who made the Earth and the moon — and Who, in the immortal words of Dante, is Himself the “Love that moves the Sun and other stars.” [3.]

The America I Love
Photos by Bob Kirchman

Wright Brothers' Memorial
The Wright Brothers' Memorial, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington, Virginia.

William Moffatt Grier: Citizen, Soldier, Educator, Servant of Christ. Born Feb. 11 1843; Died Sept. 3, 1899. President of Erskine College from 1871 to 1899. His service is measured not by years but by results. He still lives in hundreds of useful lives to which he gave inspiration and guidance - "life's work well done, life's race well run, life's crown well won, now comes rest."

Grier lost a leg in the Civil War Battle of Williamsburg and later became an educator and president of a seminary.

Next Week in THYME:
A Story in a Painting

Meet Belle, her real life story is the story behind an intriguing Eighteenth Century Painting. It has recently been made into a fascinating movie and tells the story of how her family's love for her compelled them to stand against the beast within; the human depravity that would enslave and destroy her people!