Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Interview with Neil Armstrong

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XII, Issue XIII

A Repeat of One of Our Favorite Issues

Interview with Neil Armstrong!

The first man to set foot on the moon!

In this rare series of interviews, Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, tells the story of the historic mission from his own perspective. [1.] Alex Malley of Australia's EvoTV's The Bottom Line looks at the life and leadership of the lunar mission's commander. Fascinated by aircraft, even at a very early age, Armstrong obtained his pilot's license at the age of fifteen!

He went on to fly combat missions during the Korean War and later became a test pilot. He then became an astronaut as NASA geared up to meet President John F. Kennedy's challenge to put a man on the moon in the decade and return him safely to earth.

The Russians had already orbited the first satellite, Sputnik, on October 4, 1957 and subsequently orbited cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin as the Americans struggled to develop a dependable booster. After Alan Shepard's short suborbital flight in 1961, President Kennedy challenged the fledgeling space agency to go to the moon.

Armstrong is refreshingly honest in his discussion with Malley. The interview is presented in four parts and is worth watching to the very end. Neil Armstrong expresses very real concern that the space agency lacks the vision and sense of purpose it had in those early years. He ends with a challenge that we as a people would do well to heed and pursue in our own time!

Forty-seven years ago two human beings changed history by walking on the surface of the moon. But what happened before Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong exited the Lunar Module is perhaps even more amazing, if only because so few people know about it.

Solving an Age Old Problem

At Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, items left on a plane are returned quickly as Sherlock sniffs out their owners!


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Special Advent Edition

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XII, Issue XVII

A Repeat of One of Our Favorite Issues

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!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Special Thanksgiving Issue

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XII, Issue XVI

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.

Not be anxious? In today's world? That is precisely the direction given the believer. We live in a stress-filled world and we are not commanded to shut ourselves away but rather to interact with it... becoming a conduit for G-d's Love to reach it. Indeed History shows us people of Faith fighting plagues, caring for the helpless and generally DOING things, often navigating the best course we can in unclear situations. We are NOT helpless, though we often seem to labor in insufficient light.

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.

Church Found where 
Pocahontas 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]

The First Thanksgiving... in VIRGINIA!

It wasn't a grand feast, but rather a time of giving thanks! on December 4, 1619, almost 2 years before the pilgrims held the feast with their Native American benefactors, Captain John Woodlief came ashore near the present site of the Berkeley Plantation. He had sailed from Bristol, England in the Good Ship Margaret with 35 men. They had survived a harrowing storm on November 29th and felt great gratitude for their deliverance. Here is Their Story [click to read].

Lessons from Squanto for Today

The Man Who Taught the Pilgrims Offers Wisdom

Squanto teaching
In this 1911 illustration, Tisquantum teaches the settlers how to plant maize.

Here is an interesting ebook: Squanto's Garden [click to read] from Off the Grid News. Most of us know some snippets of Squanto's story... how he taught the settlers how to successfully cultivate the soil of their new home, but Bill Heid actually shares some practical gardening tips and garden layouts that Squanto might have shared with the Pilgrims. He also fills out Tisquantum's story, giving us insight into a man who's unusual life uniquely equipped him to teach others.

The Sun burns through a morning mist on Thanksgiving Eve.

A Native American's Amazing Story

" ... a special instrument sent by God for their good beyond their expectations ..." -- William Bradford

Today millions of Americans will dine on turkey and celebrate Thanksgiving. Most people will realize that it has some connection to the Pilgrims in Massachussetts, but the story of G-d's provision and the reason for the celebration seem to have faded in our collective memories.

The Pilgrims came to the New World for their kids. They were a Christian group who sought to live for G-d rather than be seduced by the culture around them. They lived in Holland for a while but they saw their children falling away from the faith.

So they moved. They sought passage on a ship bound for Virginia. The ship went off course and they landed in Massachussetts instead. They had a rough time of it their first winter and almost half of them died. Still, when offered the chance to return to Europe, they declined. Then one of the indigenous people walked into camp and spoke to them in English!

The man's name was Samoset, and he introduced the Pilgrims to Squanto, who taught the Pilgrims many things to help them survive in the new world. Squanto spoke even better English than Samoset. His story is amazing.

Squanto had first met Europeans around 1605 when Captain John Smith made his famous voyage. He travelled to England with him but when he returned to America he was captured into slavery and returned to Europe. Spanish monks bought his freedom and sent him to England where he found passage back to America. Sadly, his village was now gone, the people wiped out by disease. He found people nearby to live with but one day heard that a new group of people were living where his old village had stood. What's more, they spoke that funny new language that he had learned.

Samoset made the introduction and the rest, you might say, is history. Thanks to Squanto the Pilgrims survived and began to do quite well in the new world. Their relations with the Native people were quite good and their Thanksgiving was for the amazing provision they found in Squanto, of whom it was said:

" ... He desired honor, which he loved as his life and preferred before his peace ..."

Factory stacks in Waynesboro, Virginia. Photo by Bob Kirchman.

Something to Think About
[click to read]

Hate Didn’t Elect Donald Trump; People Did
By Victoria Sanders

Over the summer, my little sister had a soccer tournament at Bloomsburg University, located in central Pennsylvania. The drive there was about three hours and many of the towns we drove through shocked me. The conditions of these towns were terrible. Houses were falling apart. Bars and restaurants were boarded up. Scrap metal was thrown across front lawns. White, plastic lawn chairs were out on the drooping front porches. There were no malls. No outlets. Most of these small towns did not have a Walmart, only a dollar store and a few run down thrift stores. In almost every town, there was an abandoned factory.

My father, who was driving the car, turned to me and pointed out a Trump sign stuck in a front yard, surrounded by weeds and dead grass. “This is Trump country, Tori,” He said. “These people are desperate, trapped for life in these small towns with no escape. These people are the ones voting for Trump.”

My father understood Trump’s key to success, even though it would leave the media and half of America baffled and terrified on November 9th. (read more)

Corridor H, U. S. 48 through the mountains of West Virginia, promises to bring commerce and jobs to the region. Photo by Bob Kirchman.

A billboard between the towns of Thomas and Davis in West Virginia asks: "Got Faith?" Photo by Bob Kirchman.



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Mandate in IMAGO DEI

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XII, Issue XV

What Imago Dei Tells Us

Strangers are just family you have yet to come to know."
- The Blue Man, pg. 49, The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

For the past few days it seems the world around us has gone mad. There is violence in the streets and there are death threats and death wishes expressed toward our President-elect. Most of us recoil at the thought of taking another life. Most of us extend the courtesy of human dignity to those who are different from us -- and yet, I recall when taking my car to a new garage in the town I used to live in, the mechanic said something that shocked me. He was a good mechanic and appeared to be a decent guy. He had served in Korea and was relating the experience to another worker in the shop. He talked about them having a black guy in the unit. They hated him for some reason. The mechanic used the more vulgar term for describing this man and I think I heard him say that they put him in a position to get killed.

I thought of that man's mother. Perhaps there was a wife or girlfriend. Children? I was in no mood for a confrontation that day, so I did not ask for a clarification. The mechanic's tone indicated he was pretty set in his ways. Clarification was not likely to be pleasant. I never went back there. I have not told the story before, but now the garage is gone. We are shocked by such stories but every day people kill people for being in the 'wrong' group around the world. ISIS kills Christians, Hutus and Tutsis are rivals though most outside of their lands cannot tell them apart. I recently made a new friend, a refugee from Rwanda who happens to be related to both. One of my friends from school went to Northern Ireland in the 1970's to study the situation there. A car exploded in the street while he walked in Belfast. He actually got an interview with Bernadette Devlin. We awaited his report eagerly.

He said he had met Catholics, Protestants and a few people in both churches who said that they related intimately with G-d, like children of their Father. These were the ones who extended forgiveness and the gift of recognition to those outside their cultural church. They were the 'Blessed Peacemakers.' -- Matthew 5:9 These people had a vision for their country not unlike that of Dr. Martin Luther King in our own. They saw a day in the future when Protestants and Catholics would share their land without oppression or conflict.

The 'Blessed Peacemakers' of Northern Ireland have a lesson for us in our own time. We can see outside the parameters of our own group (and wrongs done to it) and embrace the larger family of G-d's Children. That means we mourn EVERY child's death by violence, be he like us or not. We see the travesty of lives destroyed because they are precious to their Creator. Genesis says that each is made in His Image. To miss this truth is to go the way of destruction like that seen in Rwanda, where the Hutu majority slaughtered the Tutsi and moderate Hutus. [1.]

The Trump You Don't Know
[click to read]

This has been one wild ride of an election cycle. This morning many of us woke up relieved, many of us woke up elated. Some of us woke up in fear. This is directed to those of you who woke up in fear. (read more)

America's Division is Ideological
[click to read]

Red and Blue America
By Dennis Prager

It is time to confront the unhappy fact about our country: There are now two Americas. Not a rich one and a poor one; economic status plays little role in this division.

There is a red one and a blue one.

For most of my life I have believed, in what I now regard as wishful thinking, that the right and left wings have essentially the same vision for America, that it's only about ways to get there in which the two sides differ. Right and left share the same ends, I thought. (read more)

'Trumped Up' Charges
[click to read]

A lot of incidents reported in the wake of the Trump victory are proving to simply not be true. (read more)

Was 09/12/09 the Beginning?
[click to read]

By Lynn R. Mitchell in Bearing Drift

There are many reasons why Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election but some could say that his rise to power began on September 12, 2009, when hundreds of thousands of Americans peacefully marched on Washington, D.C. and gathered at the nation’s capitol to show their disappointment in President Barack Obama’s desire to implement Obamacare.

I emphasize peacefully because it was a genial crowd facing the very real possibility of the government taking away their control of their health insurance and, indeed, three months after the march that fear became reality. Congress, in a late-night session, basically jammed the bill down the throats of Americans who, while researching the contents of the legislation, were told by then-House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi that it had to be passed before they could find out what was in it. (read more)

Corbels and Carillons

Grace United Methodist Church in Middletown, Virginia. [2.]

Photo by Bob Kirchman

Stephens City United Methodist Church [3.]... Photo by Bob Kirchman

...contains this Shulmerlich Carillon, probably built in the 1960's. The instrument was played by punched rolls (like a player piano), and each note was struck on a small rod and amplified electronically. The sound was broadcast from speakers in the belfry.
Photo by Bob Kirchman.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Donald Trump You Don't Know

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XII, Issue V

The Trump You Don't Know

This has been one wild ride of an election cycle.  This morning many of us woke up relieved, many of us woke up elated. Some of us woke up in fear. This is directed to those of you who woke up in fear.

A Black Conservative's Perspective
[click to read]

By Kevin “Coach” Collins

Kevin Jackson, a Black conservative talk show host and writer, has a strong opinion about why Donald Trump is succeeding. He believes Trump is engendering such fear and hatred among those who recognize the threat he presents to their monopoly on power that they are unable to clearly see why he is where he is at this late stage of the primary cycle.

Clearly even those who hate Trump the most see that he resonates with many Americans; but what they don’t get is why. They KNOW he is a racist so how can he be appealing to as much as 20% of African Americans?

They KNOW Trump has no idea about foreign policy so they don’t understand how he garners majority support amongst thinking people.

They KNOW he hates Hispanics and embarrasses people with his talk of building a wall that Mexico will pay for, so the roughly 35% of Latino support he is getting puzzles them.

They KNOW Trump is an evil, slave-driving capitalist so they pity the foolish union workers who are rejecting their union boss’s calls for them to shut up and vote Democrat – it stupefies them.

And this confusion is not limited to those in the Republican establishment. Democrats in the media don’t see the obvious answer either.

Trump haters are not able to pick up the pieces and rearrange them into a clear picture. If they were they would understand that it is a wide base built on diversity that is propelling Trump toward the Republican nomination.

They are trying to constantly slam a round peg into a square hole and blaming geometry for their failures.

Their “investigations” start with a conclusion constructed out of their own prejudice toward Republicans in general and conservatives in particular so they never get to an honest end product.

The New York Times recently did a drop-in “inspection” of a Trump volunteer campaign worker and found nothing like they thought they would find. To its credit the Times posted the story.

It is not hard to imagine that the Times reporter believed he would find a bunch of White men with beer bellies and NRA hats talking in slight Southern drawls.

To the contrary, the workers manning the phones consisted of a Filipino immigrant, an American Indian, a Peruvian immigrant a Russian and a Mexican.

There went the racist narrative. The number of females on hand took the stream out of the vicious War on Women lie.

Tying the Trump hater’s racist-bigoted-anti-Hispanic lie in a nice neat box, the Times found Mireya Linsky a Cuban – born Jewish woman who said “I think we’ve come to the conclusion that our country is falling apart and we have to take care of it.”

Kevin Jackson, the Black man and Trump supporter is right: The diversity of Trump’s base is what they don’t want to get and won’t get until it is too late for them to do anything but watch. (read more)

Mike Pence introduces the 45th president of the United States.

The First 100 Days
[click to read]

At the end of October, Donald Trump spoke in Gettysburg, Pa., and released a plan for his first 100 days in office.

The plan (below) outlines three main areas of focus: cleaning up Washington, including by imposing term limits on Congress; protecting American workers; and restoring rule of law. He also laid out his plan for working with Congress to introduce 10 pieces of legislation that would repeal Obamacare, fund the construction of a wall at the Southern border (with a provision that Mexico would reimburse the U.S.), encourage infrastructure investment, rebuild military bases, promote school choice and more. (read more)

Who We Are As a People
[click to read]

The Syrian Refugee Question
by Edward J. Erler

Edward J. Erler is professor emeritus of political science at California State University, San Bernardino. He earned his B.A. from San Jose State University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in government from the Claremont Graduate School. He has published numerous articles on constitutional topics in journals such as Interpretation, the Notre Dame Journal of Law, and the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. He was a member of the California Advisory Commission on Civil Rights from 1988-2006 and served on the California Constitutional Revision Commission in 1996. He is the author of The American Polity and co‑author of The Founders on Citizenship and Immigration. This fall he is a visiting distinguished professor of politics at Hillsdale College. (read more)

A Trump Presidency Changes the World
[click to read]

Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential contest could change America's relationship with the rest of the world in some important ways. Here are six of them. (read more)

Shane Windmeyer and Dan Cathy
[click to read]

Their Dialogue: An Example for Us All

In the end, it is not about eating (or eating a certain chicken sandwich). It is about sitting down at a table together and sharing our views as human beings, engaged in real, respectful, civil dialogue. Dan would probably call this act the biblical definition of hospitality. I would call it human decency. So long as we are all at the same table and talking, does it matter what we call it or what we eat? (read more)

Urban Violence and Platitudes
[click to read]

The Danger of tha Black Lives Matter Movement
By Heather Mac Donald

Who are some of the victims of elevated urban crime? On March 11, 2015, as protesters were once again converging on the Ferguson police headquarters demanding the resignation of the entire department, a six-year-old boy named Marcus Johnson was killed a few miles away in a St. Louis park, the victim of a drive-by shooting. No one protested his killing. Al Sharpton did not demand a federal investigation. Few people outside of his immediate community know his name. (read more)

The Next Supreme Court Justice
[click to read]

By Scott Pruitt

When Justice Antonin Scalia passed away this February, talk turned almost immediately to who would replace him—although in a large sense he is irreplaceable. Even those who disagreed with Justice Scalia acknowledge his profound impact. His scholarship and judicial opinions, through brilliance and wit, transformed how we think about the law and the Constitution. He inspired a generation of law students and lawyers. He provided a foundation for the work of judges and legislators, as well as attorneys general like myself. And all who knew him personally will attest that his brilliance was matched only by his warmth, cheer, and grace. He will be deeply missed. In thinking about the kind of person who should take his seat on the Court, it is worth reflecting on Justice Scalia’s principles of jurisprudence. (read more)

Repeal the Johnson Amendment
[click to read]

When Donald Trump addresses the Values Voters Summit on September 9th, he will tell the assembled Christians that it is time to get the IRS out of the pulpit. And he will encourage the assorted evangelical and Catholic activists, who have gathered in Washington, D.C. for this event, to surge out of their churches and reoccupy the public square. Trump understands what holds them back: a clever piece of legislation named after its sponsor, Lyndon Baines Johnson. (read more)

Protection for the Unborn
[click to read]

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump today announced the leaders of the new pro-life coalition dedicated to helping him expose the radical pro-abortion position of Hillary Clinton. The new Coalition of pro-life leaders reads like a who’s who of the pro-life movement with people like Marjorie Dannenfelser, Gary Bauer, Sam Brownback, Dr. Alveda King, Father Frank Pavone, Tony Perkins and many others who have been spearheading pro-life efforts for decades. These pro-life leaders all believe Donald Trump will govern as a pro-life president if elected in November. (read more)


Monday, November 7, 2016

Redeeming America, Some Thoughts

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XII, Issue XIV

The Divine Plan for Our Redemption

If my people, which are called by my name shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." -- 2 Chronicles 7:14

The Great Depression of the 1930's in America...

What does redemption really look like? "The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph" -- Mr. Mendez.

What this world needs is a little Wonder!" -- Mr Mendez

The Great Depression of Modern America...

Politicians won't save us. Economic vitality won't save us. Indeed we have seen conditions in our nation move ever more from difficult to impossible. The great nation that nurtured us in my youth appears to be disappearing forever. As another election was approaching, my depression over the situation was obvious. I'd gone to the September 12, 2009 rally on the National Mall and come away hopeful back then. The 2010 elections seemed to indicate that the wind was shifting. Solid principles would once again govern us. In 2011 I cautiously laid foundations for my little architectural visualization business to grow again.

But as 2012 rolled along, the work dried up. One of my clients simply stopped paying me for work already performed and I was living off of my 'second job' and some part-time teaching. The 2012 elections brought many of our worst fears to a depressing reality. The country was being 'fundamentally transformed,' and many of us saw that transformation taking us away from our foundations and into dystopia. 2013, whatever the experts said, saw a stagnation I don't think any of us could imagine. Our parents talked of the Great Depression and what I saw in my own business life seemed to be a revisiting of that dark era.

Those who had railed at the much lower unemployment statistics of the previous administration seemed all to content with the "new normal." Unemployment was far higher, but the figures did not even include situations like mine -- still technically 'at my desk' but seeing only a trickle of small jobs, if that. The nation that put men on the Moon couldn't even keep the shuttle flying. The victory in Iraq that stablized the Middle-East for a time was being squandered as the administration pursued an unclear course in Afghanistan. Debt soared to 17 Trillion dollars as government spending was the ONLY sector of the economy that was growing.

Eventually required payments such as Social Security and other entitlements would be squeezed by debt service to the point that there would be not enough money to meet these required obligations. Meanwhile, the administration moved decisively to block energy production on our public lands and a vital pipeline that would have helped us wean ourselves of foreign oil. A bleak picture was being painted. When Ted Cruz did what he was elected to do, represent the PEOPLE in the Senate, he was chastized by his own party! When Congress dared to defy the President by funding everything but the so-called "Affordable Care Act," the national media painted THEM as extreme... even though the "Affordable Care Act" would soon prove to be anything but.

But as the administration had its way and launched their $500 Billion Healthcare Marketplace Website, created in an extreme and blatant example of crony capitalism, the fall of that house was disasterous. People who create secure marketplace sites for the commercial marketplace have criticized the website's shoddy design and security lapses. A designer who was a guest on Sean Hannity's show said he could have produced a working site in several months (as opposed to six years), adequately tested it in a month and would have been embarrassed if he asked more than a million dollars for his efforts.

Awarded in a no-bid contract to a Montreal company, CGI Federal, which had bought a subsidiary "beltway bandit" firm in Virginia, turned out to be run by an old college friend of the First Lady! Many are shaking their heads at the blatent sloppiness, not only of the website, but the process. Are these people really to be trusted with one-sixth of the country's economy as they rewrite healthcare?

Add to the list the callous disregard for unborn life, the death of Americans in Benghazi and the general disregard for our national security and there is much reason for concern. Religious freedom is on the line as the appointment of Supreme Court Justices may tip the court for years to come.

Healing for Our Land... Where Will it Come From?

It is days like these that make me think moving to Belize would be a better option than staying put and watching the decline. I wish for the days of the Texas Republic. Was I born in the wrong Century? Some of the great heroes of Texas came from Rockbridge County and were lovers of liberty in their own right. Our nation barely survived the revolution that spun it free from England. What led men to pledge their lives and sacred honor instead of cower in the hopes of "security?" A lot of young people seem all to happy to "take the free stuff" and vote for the "fundamental transformation" that provides it. What's the point in fighting it?

And so I faced the prospect of the upcoming election with some depression. But G-d has a way of breaking through that sort of thing. I know young people who still hold to solid values. The Millenials are not all lost. There is indeed another lap in this race! Voting for the better path is crucial and I believe there are many who are still committed to do so! But this race will not be won by merely prevailing in elections. It will be won by the method revealed in 2 Chronicles 7:14!

Turning G-dward! First of all, we must not be ashamed to call ourselves G-d's. Psalm 91:2 says: "I will SAY of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my G-d; in Him will I trust." Someday they may indeed sandblast the words "LAUS DEO" or "Praise G-d" from the cap of the Washington Monument, but they cannot remove them from my heart! Indeed, I am called by His Name. No amount of politically correct legislation can change my identity... and who I shall identify myself with. Though I am weak, HE is unwavering! My identity in the Lord places me on a firm foundation. Though I bend with the wind, the Rock I stand upon cannot be moved.

Then we must come to our Creator in all humility. Yes, we face situations bigger than our abilities to solve. In Centuries before us others did too. When we seek the face of G-d, we will of necessity check our hubris at the door. He is Lord. He is, as C. C. Lewis says: "Not a TAME Lion!" Our Redeemer is Dangerous! We must acknowledge... I MUST ACKNOWLEDGE... EVIL! Not just some distant evil, like a Hitler or a Terrorist, but that evil that lurks in my own heart. Yes, that evil must be acknowledged and put off. A man alone may deceive himself into thinking he is doing just fine, a man in intentional community knows better. We must learn: "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let us esteem each other better than ourselves" -- Philippians 2:4 by dying to our own default desires. This can only be done by journeying together.

Then G-d says HE will "Hear from Heaven!" HE will forgive! HE will HEAL OUR LAND! Yes, it is the Divine who will save us. Angus Buchan, who's true story inspired the Movie: "Faith Like Potatoes" says: "the condition for a miracle is difficulty. The condition for a GREAT miracle is impossibility!"

Earlier, THYME looked at the life of IsamBard Kingdom Brunel [click to read] and how he was used by G-d to bring new economic vitality to Bristol, England in the time of George Müller and Charles Dickens, Victorian England. Indeed, G-d used the vision of Müller to begin the healing of a people. The emergence of Brunel must be seen as part of that healing as well. History has much to teach us about faith and perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds... and the great miracles that have come in the face of just such times of adversity. History, you see, is not some obscure set of facts to be memorized or dates to be organized; Rather, it is a map to be followed. The paths of others who have walked where we are about to walk are described in its pages.

Learning from the Example of Previous Generations

We are in need of a Great Miracle today. Other generations have faced times like this as well. In previous times of national peril, our LEADERS called for prayer. Today it is necessary for people of faith everywhere to pick up that fallen standard and lift it high. If we will prepare our own hearts, like soil for the planting, HE will plant the seed. If we will cultivate what G-d plants, nurturing it to maturity, HE will provide the bountiful harvest. If we will prepare the land, G-d promises to HEAL it. History (REAL history, that is) is filled with stories of just such promise being realized in the lives of ordinary men and women.

But to participate in promise requires a relationship. G-d is not some abstract concept, but rather He is the Author/Creator of the Universe. He has a NAME... a Name so Holy as not to be uttered lightly on Earth, but a Name, to be KNOWN by. And how shall I find this G-d? There are men and women in this world who converse with Him in prayer. It is through relationship with THEM that we may be introduced to the Magnificent One, the G-d of Redemption. I am at best a poor disciple of His, but I am His disciple. You should not be introduced to Him by some formula in the writings of man, but rather in the Inspired Words of His Own Testimony. That is why I, and many more of His disciples stand ready to open the Holy Scriptures WITH YOU. In them you will find the Life and Light I speak of. The Food Channel cannot actually nourish you. You must step into the room where the meals are served.

An Earthly author cannot see the 'Great Miracle' that you, the reader, desparately need. But we CAN go together to the Master, who indeed knows what will nourish each of us. It is highly likely that you know someone who knows the Master, who can take you to the place where He can meet you with healing and nourishment. As I write this I pray that that person might indeed come to mind. Before I came to faith I was keenly aware that there was a certain brightness and clarity about the lives of certain people I knew. Later I realized that some of them had indeed been praying for me. Yet, you might be reading this and G-d's Holy Spirit may be speaking to you and you are not sure who to go to. If you would like to know G-d as Reedemer,  watch Defining Moments [click to view], or you may contact me at for more information. Your inquiry will be in complete privacy. It is my desire that you be able to find the 'Living Water' that you so deeply desire. A life transformed by G-d is but a heartfelt prayer away:

Dear Heavenly Father, I know that I’m a sinner. And I ask for your forgiveness. I believe your son, Jesus, died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins. I repent of my sins. I invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. In Jesus’ name, Amen

The greatest miracle is not the parting of the sea or the feeding of thousands, it is the transformation of the human heart. That is the miracle that gives us access to G-d. It is in knowing G-d that we will find far more than we were looking for in the first place! A G-d who can part the Red Sea, Create worlds and has power over death is pretty much to be respected. A G-d who changes human lives in intimate communion with his Creation is amazing.

A Caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Nature itself suggests the possibility of miraculous transformation and new life! Rice Paper Butterfly, or Paper Kite Butterfly, Idea leuconoe.
Illustration © 2013, by Kristina Elaine Greer for HOPE Publications, Pvt. ltd.

"Our highest allegiance is to God, but we have a duty to our country as well," wrote the late Adrian Rogers.

The Divine Call to Political Engagement
[click to read]

Our government is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We are some of “the people,” and we are to participate in our government. Jesus said to give to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar and give to G-d the things that belong to G-d (Mark 12:17).

If you do not participate in your government, you have not rendered to your Caesar the things that belong to your Caesar.

If, for example, you do not vote—if you do not inform yourself—in my estimation, you have disobeyed the Lord Jesus Christ. It is inconceivable that God would have ordained human government and then tell His people to stay out of it. If that is true, who does that leave to run it?

We as Christians are to participate, not on the basis of parties or persons or politics, but on principles. Our highest allegiance is to G-d, but we have a duty to our country as well.

We’re not to force our views on anyone else, but we should be persuasive in what we do. Our government is a democracy, and America is based on public opinion. May I tell you, the only hope for America is to change public opinion? Do you know the only thing that can change public opinion? The Word of G-d. (read more)


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Books to Inspire Young Hearts II

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XII, Issue XIII

Imagination and Inspiration

For me, reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning. Imagination, producing new metaphors or revivifying old, is not the cause of truth, but its condition. -- C.S. Lewis, Selected Literary Essays (1969).

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The BBC Production of these classic stories is pretty faithful to the original works.

The story began, C. S. Lewis recalls, with a childhood image he had of a faun carrying a parcel and an umbrella... not so much as a burning desire to write a classic allegory of the Christian Faith. But the work grew in scope and stature (Lewis initially thought it was terrible) and now is considered essential reading for young people. Thankfully Lewis resurrected his manuscript which was inspired by war evacuee children he hosted at his Oxford home and his Goddaughter, Lucy Barfield.

His friend and colleague, J. R. R. Tolkien, also wrote works of modern myth as the 'inklings,' as they called themselves, sought to create a legendary literature for modern times. Lewis once opined to Tolkien that it was a shame the great myths were not true, to which Tolkien responded that they in fact contained great truths. Lewis realized that the desires that could only be satisfied in Faith were expressed in the great stories. Lewis, who had abandoned his Faith as a young man, embraced it again largely as a result of this realization.

Originally intending to become a poet, Lewis would go on to produce serious works of apologetics as well as wonderful fantasies. Today he is probably best known for Narnia, but his Ransom Trilogy and other fiction join with his scholarly works to create a very impressive body of work. Narnia is a good starting point, but his 'Mere Christianity,' a publishing in book form of a series of talks Lewis gave on BBC Radio during the war, is also well worth pursuing.

The Work of Inspiring

In tumultuous times such as ours, it is important to remember that the work of inspiring young people goes on, whatever the state of the culture. C. S. Lewis lived through two great wars, fighting in the first one, and inspiring his embattled people on the radio during the second. We must not neglect this important work in our own era.


Lewis found inspiration in the writings of Scottish writer George MacDonald. A new book by Plough celebrates the spiritual insight of the man C. S. Lewis considered his primary inspiration. The Gospel in George MacDonald brings the work of this important, but now largely neglected writer to serve as an inspiration to a whole new generation of readers. Introducing the work, Marianne Wright writes of MacDonald's clear vision: “I do care to live – tremendously, but I don’t mind where. He who made this room so well worth living in, may surely be trusted with the next!”

Love of life and an uncomplicated trust in its Author: these are the gifts George MacDonald offers his readers. In an age when the daily news seems increasingly complex and terrible, it is high time for many more to discover with him the joy and promise of simple discipleship. As he wrote to a friend near the end of his life: “Then hail to the world with all its summers and snow, all its delight and its aching, all its jubilance and its old age. We shall come out of it the sons and daughters of life, of God himself the only Father.” -- Marianne Wright

Lewis would credit... George MacDonald with having influenced virtually every word he ever wrote.... It began with Phantastes, a dreamlike tale in which a boy wishes to visit fairy-country. He awakes the next morning in an enchanted wood where he encounters profound happiness mixed with perilous adventure — including death and rebirth of sorts.... And so, thanks to the imagination of George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis found his way home." -- Kurt Bruner, Birthing Narnia

Lewis himself said of MacDonald: “The quality which had enchanted me in his imaginative works turned out to be the quality of the real universe, the divine, magical, terrifying, and ecstatic reality in which we all live. I should have been shocked in my teens if anyone had told me that what I learned to love in Phantastes was goodness. But now that I know, I see there was no deception. The deception is all the other way round – in that prosaic moralism which confines goodness to the region of Law and Duty, which never lets us feel in our face the sweet air blowing from “the land of righteousness.”

I regarded George MacDonald as my master: indeed I fancy I have never written a book in which I did not quote from him." --C. S. Lewis


A Vision For Work and the World

Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it." -- Psalm 90:16-17

In the book The Poverty of Nations, A Sustainable Solution [click to read] by Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus. It examines the reasons successful nations are successful and how successful nations can forget the roots of their success and fall into decline. Like Alvin Schmidt's Under the Influence [click to read], the book does not hide the influence of Biblical principles in advancing the state of humanity. As many in the academy and the media today criticize free markets, Grudem and Asmus point out that the flaws are not necessarily a flaw in free markets, but in human morality. If a people have no moral barrier to it, markets will indeed deliver drugs, slaves and a host of evils, but that is not necessarily a fault of a free market. Indeed the attempts of government to control such evils will inevitably cost far more than imagined and have far less effect on curtailing the evils than proponents of such action desire. Thus the authors show how the Rule of Law, Respect for Property and Good Leadership are all essential for national prosperity... these things being rooted in values presented in the Bible.

Markets, influenced by morality, are actually quite fertile for creativity. When the slave trade was ended in England by William Wilberforce, the initial result was the economic decline of the port of Bristol. Creativity responded to the need as Isambard Kingdom Brunel built the Great Western Railway and steamships to link Bristol to America. The heart of George Müller ministered to Bristol's cast off children, but it was possible largely due to the creativity that linked Bristol to the economic pulse of the world. In fact, Grudem and Asmus point out that a wonderful coming together of talents and resources occurs in markets that requires no huge agency of oversight. In a simple little story called I Pencil, the beauty of this phenomenon is wonderfully illustrated.

I Pencil.

No single person on the earth could make a pencil without the help of countless others."

Read, Leonard E., "I, Pencil: My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read." [click to read] 1999. Library of Economics and Liberty. 5 February 2014.

Jimmy Stewart's classic film: Mr.Smith Goes to Washington.

Everyone Should See this Film

This Classic Tale [click to watch] of a man of integrity who finds himself in the United States Senate, and who ultimately has to fight for that integrity, is one that we would do well to heed today!

The film was made in 1939 and  Frank Capra reminds us that human nature in the period preceding the great war was not so different as it is now.

Capra was able to make this film so good because he both believed in the American ideal, and understood how easily it could be co-opted and undermined by the unscrupulous and the greedy. America, he's telling us, should be celebrated because it’s the kind of country that can produce a Jefferson Smith; but at the same time, we must always be on our guard, because it’s also capable of destroying one.” -- Gina Dalfonzo [1.]

  Jimmy Stewart as Senator Smith visiting the Lincoln Memorial.

WONDER Show Opens
[click to read]

To cease to wonder is to fall plumb-down from the childlike to the commonplace-the most undivine of all moods intellectual. Our nature can never be at home among things that are not wonderful to us.”
― George Macdonald
(read more)