Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Christmas Treasury, Story of Joy to the World!

Volume XIII, Issue XXV

A Christmas Treasury

Here are presented some of our favorite Christmas features from all time, collected from past issues.

For Unto Us a Child is Born
Isaiah 9:6,7

Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, Op. 71

A Beloved Christmas Story's Story
With Six Children to Feed, the Author Needed a Miracle

Frances Alexander's 1842 painting of the famous author.

The Year was 1843 and he needed a miracle. With six children to feed and a large house in London to maintain, his slipping sales as a writer were of great concern. His installment novel: Martin Chuzzlewit, was selling poorly, unlike earlier works like Nicholas Nickleby, which had given him some measure of success.
Christmas was coming as he bitterly confided to a friend that his checkbook was empty. Walking the streets, he came up with a 'Ghost of an Idea' and set to work. He published 6000 copies in time for Christmas distribution. They sold out, but because he had splurged on hand-coloured illustrations by John Leech he barely broke even. [1.] Yes, even in Nineteenth Century England, good illustration cost you something! [2.]

Fortunately the little work went on to be a classic. It reinvigorated the career of its creator. Today we still love A Christmas Carol and its author: Charles Dickens, not only as a writer, but as one who helped to bring about much needed social reforms in his day.

Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht
Beloved Carol Inspired by a Broken Organ

The pipes of the Trinity Lutheran Church organ in Crimora.

Lynn [click to read] brings us the wonderful story of how one of our most beloved carols came to be written:

In 1818, a roving band of actors was performing in towns throughout the Austrian Alps. On December 23 they arrived at Oberndorf, a village near Salzburg where they were to re-enact the story of Christ's birth in the small Church of St. Nicholas.

Unfortunately, the St. Nicholas' church organ wasn't working and would not be repaired before Christmas. Because the church organ was out of commission, the actors presented their Christmas drama in a private home. That Christmas presentation of the events in the first chapters of Matthew and Luke put assistant pastor Josef Mohr in a meditative mood. Instead of walking straight to his house that night, Mohr took a longer way home. The longer path took him up over a hill overlooking the village.

From that hilltop, Mohr looked down on the peaceful snow-covered village. Reveling in majestic silence of the wintry night, Mohr gazed down at the glowing Christmas-card like scene. His thoughts about the Christmas play he had just seen made him remember a poem he had written a couple of years before. That poem was about the night when angels announced the birth of the long-awaited Messiah to shepherds on a hillside.

Mohr decided those words might make a good carol for his congregation the following evening at their Christmas eve service. The one problem was that he didn't have any music to which that poem could be sung. So, the next day Mohr went to see the church organist, Franz Xaver Gruber. Gruber only had a few hours to come up with a melody which could be sung with a guitar. However, by that evening, Gruber had managed to compose a musical setting for the poem. It no longer mattered to Mohr and Gruber that their church organ was inoperable. They now had a Christmas carol that could be sung without that organ.

On Christmas Eve, the little Oberndorf congregation heard Gruber and Mohr sing their new composition to the accompaniment of Gruber's guitar.

Weeks later, well-known organ builder Karl Mauracher arrived in Oberndorf to fix the organ in St. Nicholas church. When Mauracher finished, he stepped back to let Gruber test the instrument. When Gruber sat down, his fingers began playing the simple melody he had written for Mohr's Christmas poem.

Deeply impressed, Mauracher took copies of the music and words of "Stille Nacht" back to his own Alpine village, Kapfing. There, two well-known families of singers — the Rainers and the Strassers — heard it. Captivated by "Silent Night," both groups put the new song into their Christmas season repertoire.

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

English translation:

Silent night! holy night!
All is calm, all is bright,
'Round yon virgin mother and Child!
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

The Strasser sisters spread the carol across northern Europe. In 1834, they performed "Silent Night" for King Frederick William IV of Prussia, and he then ordered his cathedral choir to sing it every Christmas eve.

Twenty years after "Silent Night" was written, the Rainers brought the song to the United States, singing it (in German) at the Alexander Hamilton Monument located outside New York City's Trinity Church.

In 1863, nearly fifty years after being first sung in German, "Silent Night" was translated into English (by either Jane Campbell or John Young). Eight years later, that English version made its way into print in Charles Hutchins' Sunday School Hymnal. Today the words of "Silent Night" are sung in more than 300 different languages around the world.

The English version we know today was written by the Episcopal priest John Freeman Young, however the standard English version contains just three verses, whereas the German version contains six. (only verses 1, 6 and 2 from the original Joseph Mohr version are sung in English).

The Story of 'Joy to the World'
A Beloved Hymn Written in Celebration of Advent

Graphic by Kristina Elaine Greer, who writes: "I overlaid the entire picture from photos I took of the music in the most recent United Methodist Hymnal. I simply clipped out the music part and compiled them together then cut and pasted them to the template and changed the opacity."

A Short History of 'Joy to the World'
by Kristina Elaine Greer

Most people think of the wonderful hymn, “Joy to the World,” as Christmas Hymn proclaiming the joy of Christ’s birth, but there is a different history behind this marvelous song. The original words to “Joy to the World” by English hymn writer Isaac Watts were based on Psalm 98 in the Bible. According to Wikipedia “the song was first published in 1719 in Watts' collection; The Psalms of David: Imitated in the language of the New Testament, and applied to the Christian state and worship.” Isaac Watts originally wrote the words of "Joy to the World" as a hymn glorifying Christ's triumphant return stated in the book of revelation, instead of as a song celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. This song was meant more for Advent than Christmas and in some hymnals today you will find it in the holiday concordance of the hymnal under Advent instead of Christmas (which is correct). Interestingly, we only sing the second half of Watts' lyrics when we sing this beloved hymn. The music of this song was adapted and arranged to Watts' lyrics by Lowell Mason in 1839. The melody is said to have been from an older melody, which was then believed to have originated from Handel, partially because of the theme of the refrain (And heaven and nature sing...). This appears in the beloved orchestra opening and accompaniment of the “Comfort ye” from Handel's Messiah, the first four notes match the beginning of the choruses “Lift up your heads” and “Glory to G-d” from the same oratorio. Handel, however, did not compose the entire tune. In fact “Antioch” is the generally used name of the tune. As of the late 20th century, “Joy to the World” was the most-published Christmas hymn in North America. Today we still enjoy it during the holiday seasons of Advent and Christmas time no matter the history it reminds us to be joyful that we have a Savior, who came to earth as a baby, lived among us, died for us, was raised again victorious, and is our Lord who will come again in glorious acclamation.

Unpacking The Twelve Days of Christmas

You Will Never Look at this Song the Same Way Again


I always assumed the song: "The Twelve Days of Christmas" to be a simple frivolous song of celebration. Not so!, this song is instructive in basic truths of the Christian Faith! Here is the explanation by Father Edward Dowling:

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” celebrates the official Christmas season which starts liturgically on Christmas Day and ends twelve days later on the Feast of the Epiphany. “My true love” refers to God, “me” is the individual Catholic. The “twelve lords a leaping” are the twelve basic beliefs of the Catholic Church as outlined in the Apostles Creed. The “eleven pipers piping” are the eleven Apostles who remained faithful after the treachery of Judas. The “ten ladies dancing” are the Ten Commandments. The “nine drummers drumming” are the nine choirs of angels which in those days of class distinction were thought important. The “eight maids a milking” are the Eight Beatitudes. The “seven swans a swimming” are the Seven Sacraments (or the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit) [click to read]. The “six geese a laying” are the Six Commandments of the Church or the six days of creation. The “five golden rings” are the first five books of the Old Testament called the Torah which are generally considered the most sacred and important of all the Old Testament. The “four calling birds” are the Four Gospels. The “three French hens” are the Three Persons in God or the three gifts of the Wise Men. The “two turtle doves” represent the two natures in Jesus: human and divine or the two Testaments, Old and New. The “partridge” is the piece de resistance, Jesus himself, and the “pear tree” is the Cross."

Here is More Historical Background [click to read] from Father Dowling. h/t Kristina Elaine Greer G-d bless you all during the Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany seasons!

Sherando Lake Island and Ice

The island in Sherando Lake. This photo is displayed in the Virginia Blood Services Waynesboro Facility.
Photo by Bob Kirchman

Photos from THYME and The Journey are available through The Kirchman Studio [click to read]. Please contact them directly if you are interested.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Special Christmas Edition II, "Behold the Man,"

Volume XIII, Issue XXIV

"Behold the Man!"

-- John 19:5b

Many years ago I celebrated Thanksgiving with our church family. There I met the first Nepali I have ever had the chance to speak with. His name was Prem Pradhan. This Gurkha warrior had served in Britain's Royal Air Force before returning to his native land. An accident had permanently injured him and he walked with a limp; but walk he did. In a land where foot travel is necessary to reach most of the villages, Prem walked. He had learned something amazing and he felt compelled to travel to the ends of this mountain kingdom to share it!

Walking all day to reach some remote village, Prem would seek out the men and elders of the place and say: "I have heard a NEW THING! I have heard about a man who died and came to life again!" Who would NOT be intrigued? Pradhan would go on to share his fresh vision of the risen Jesus... and many put their faith in Christ through the fresh telling of the old old story. Not everyone was thrilled to hear this 'Good News,' however. Prem had run afoul of the country's anti-conversion laws. He was put into prison, where he languished for seven years.

Nepali prisons are notorious. Prem's enemies sent him there knowing that it was a place to die. Like the amazing man Prem spoke of, he too was basically sentenced to death. But here he was, years later, telling me his story. He didn't die. While he was in prison he had a vision of the risen Lord, and was further strengthened in his resolve to tell the story of redemption. When he left prison he became involved in education and took in a lot of orphans. While proselytizers are discouraged in Nepal, educators are revered. Prem became a leader of his town and never stopped telling the amazing story.

The Babe of Bethlehem became a man. We have heard the Christmas story so many times that we fail to appreciate its audacity! Let us listen again to it with fresh hearing: "I have heard a NEW THING! I have heard about a man who died and came to life again!" Let us follow the grown Jesus to that time of his death. We first meet him on a hillside. An unlikely candidate for leader of a world religion, he attracts multitudes nonetheless. He teaches a simple message that "The Kingdom of G-d is at hand," and then withdraws to a lonely place with his disciples.

Children flock to Him. He is often surrounded by them and his disciples want to shoo them away. Jesus rebukes them. The Kingdom of G-d is meant for such as these. I met an Egyptian woman who had visions of this place. She says that in Heaven Jesus is SURROUNDED by children. This Jesus did not seek out the halls of power, but instead sought out the weak and simple people of this world. He was a carpenter. His disciples were fishermen, zealots and a tax collector. He spoke to women (most rabbis would not). He spoke "as one having authority." Indeed, one of the most amazing parts of the story is when Jesus stands before the Roman ruler Pilate, who's reaction to Jesus is worth noting.

The promises of Messiah were well known and many in Judea hoped for the coming of that leader who would free them from the oppression of Rome. There were many who claimed to be Messiah, looking to fire a zealot rebellion, and Rome was especially good at killing people. So when a maligned and fairly ordinary Galilean was brought before Pilate, why should he hesitate? There was the fact that he was not actually inciting any uprising... but something in Jesus caused this tough old Roman to pause. Pilate knew his job, but he also recognized authority and chain of command. This Galilean was not blustering about rebellion, in fact He was holding the details of His true mission close to His heart. Pilate saw more than met the eye about the man from Galilee. There is more searching than sneering in his question: "Are you a king?"

Pilate finds himself drawn into a higher sort of dialogue with this man... even asking Him: "What is Truth?" Already troubled by the man he sees, he is further troubled by his wife's dream of him. Indeed, he wants to "wash his hands" of this matter. The simple execution of a supposed rebel has become something far bigger. Pilate tries to release Jesus but is pressed to release Barrabas, a real insurrectionist, instead. The death and Resurrection of Jesus became the story that eventually captivated the Gurkha from Nepal.

The modern age brought about a dismissal of the unseen. Science and Naturalism pushed for concentration on what can be observed. The spiritual and invisible dimensions of life no longer dominated great thought... except to perhaps be broad brushed as simply unknowable. Had Pilate limited himself to that which was observable he would have quickly executed this ragged Galilean. There would be no need for angst, for though he SPOKE as one with authority, he had no physical evidence of that authority.

C.S. Lewis was a man of the modern age. He dismissed the faith as a young man, embracing the Naturalism of his day. As an enlightened Medieval scholar, he nonetheless dismissed the power of story to convey unseen truths. His friendship with men like J.R. R. Tolkien led him to become: "the most reluctant convert in all of England." Lewis, along with his friend Tolkien, discovered the power of the story to convey unseen truths. Imagination for them became the key to discover and share: "a NEW THING!"

"When the Pupil is Ready, The Master Will Appear"

CS Lewis-1
"Imagination is the organ of understanding." -- C. S. Lewis

If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” -- C. S. Lewis


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Special Christmas Edition, Astound the Age

Volume XIII, Issue XXII

Glimpses into a World Unseen
The Amazing Photography of Alexey Kljatov

© 2017 The Kirchman Studio, All rights reserved. 
Photographs © Alexey Kljatov, Used by permission.

When I first saw the work of Alexey Kljatov, I was amazed. He takes these stunning images with a simple point and shoot camera rigged with an old macro lens and employing skillful manipulation of lighting. Snowflakes landing on his Moscow window reveal their full wonder and individual beauty through his sublime images. Mr. Kljatov graciously allowed THYME to share his amazing work. You can see more of his photography Here [click to view].

Just imagine the swirling dance of these beautiful shapes in a snowstorm!













Glimpses into a World Unseen
Act II

The electron microscope further reveals amazing patterns.

Vertical section of the human dna.

Evidence of Divine Design, Great and Small
"The Heavens Declare the Glory of G-d;
The Skies Proclaim the Work of His Hands." -- Psalm 19:1

Moth wing pattern.

I saw this little creature outside my studio one morning. It got me reflecting on the creative wonder, both large and small, that surround us.

M 51 Spiral Galaxy, NASA photo from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Detail of the 'X Structure' in M 51, NASA photo from the Hubble Space Telescope.

The artist is amazed. So much beauty and wonder in the very large cosmos and in the very small things as well! Can a G-d who spins galaxies into being be concerned with things small and personal? Such order and grace in the extreme scales of our world, yet often what we see before us is chaotic and makes no sense.

That is why we present here Lee Strobel's Case for Faith and Case for Christ. If you had stepped into that Bethlehem stable many years ago, you would have not necessarily seen beauty and redemption. The smells of animals and the pain of labor and delivery would have overwhelmed contemplation. Yet Christians around the world will contemplate the wonder of that night; for what happened there ultimately made its mark on human history.

The Case for a Creator [click to view] by Lee Strobel
The Case for Faith [click to view] by Lee Strobel
The Case for Christ [click to view] by Lee Strobel

Creche at the National Cathedral
A Particularly Beautiful Representation of the Nativity

Photo by Kristina Elaine Greer.

Astound the Age

Michel Dufrénoy's Guide to Our Past Century
By Bob Kirchman

Copyright © 2017, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved

Chapter Seven

Jean Dumont stepped off the airship in Montréal and greeted Michel Dufrénoy warmly. “I’ve just a few hours before I must catch my train Westward,” he said, “but I am so glad we could at least spend an evening together for old time’s sake.” Dumont’s wife and children would come later after he had established himself in his new position. “The Northwest Corridor Corporation will eventually connect America to Asia,” Jean continued. “You would do well to come with me to that place where opportunity is in such abundance. I could get you on as a clerk in our Calgory office. The great road to Alaska is already in place but we are widening it to a primary route with multiple travel paths just like our autoroutes in Paris. Astounding things are being done and you and your Lucy can have all the success you desire!”

Dufrénoy quizzed his former colleague relentlessly over dinner about the works in Western Canada. Dumont provided an extremely detailed description, adding: “There are untouched regions out there. It’s a chance to literally build a whole new world!” Dufrénoy pondered that statement gravely: “You mean, one would be able to create the culture from the ground up?” “Exactly,” said Jean, “There will be no relics of the past to impede the progress of mankind to that ‘great big beautiful tomorrow!’ Think of it, Michel, a clean slate on which to chart the future into the 21st Century! Antiquated notions no longer will restrain us. It will be a brave new world!”

There is NOTHING in those lands?” Dufrénoy asked, somewhat amazed. “Oh, there are some small farming communities, the local indigenous people and some old Russian Orthodox communities, but they are small and isolated. I imagine when our great corridor is laid out they will remain small and isolated. When the United States built the first gravel track along the route to Alaska, the local natives had never even seen a white man – Europeans were so completely unknown to them. The United States sent a group of Southern soldiers to build the road in the remotest part of that territory. They were the descendants of Africans who had been sold into slavery in that part of the world a Century ago – now free, but still lacking stature in that society. Their 97th Construction Battalion gave them purpose, and eventually stature as they built that most difficult section of the road.” [1.]

Dumont went on to say that the natives had heard reports that the white men were coming building the road. When one of the advance men for the 97th came into that region, a stunned native announced; “The first white man I saw was BLACK!” Jean went on: “The road was built in the days when Russia and America were still strong adversaries. In our day it is seen more as a way to connect those two peoples.”

Chapter Eight

Dufrénoy pondered the possibilities of true frontier and thought long and hard about the opportunity to fund the community’s relocation into someplace like the Yukon Territory where culture would actually be quite content to leave them alone. The men of the 97th had happily returned to warmer climes when the road was opened. One of them was Nehemiah Atkinson, who returned to New Orleans in Louisiana and became a tennis instructor to young people. [2.] Michel came across a small biography of this man. Indeed it seemed that this Northwestern country offered great opportunity for achievement and recognition, but most who came here wanted simply to do the job and go home.

Thousands of miles of vast wasteland, yet those few who lived there would not be moved. Amish folk were able to farm there, making the most of the short growing season. These were people from a simpler time it seemed, content to live a simpler way of life. If asked, they would cite their religious beliefs or their tie to a particular place. Some of their children did indeed go off to the big cities – but it was to be noted that many of them later returned. Such was the draw of warm pre-industrial society and extended family.

The more he thought about it, the more it became clear to Michel that this great road would always remain a conduit, but would not allow modern culture to spread out much past the required service areas. The Orthodox villages seemed especially appealing, as the very term ‘Orthodox’ seemed to imply that some foundation of the old culture would always be present. “What better place,” thought Dufrénoy, “to preserve and encourage the arts until they are strong enough to inform the culture again?”

And when the arts have rejuvenated themselves,” his mind continued, “the modern highways will be there to carry the renaissance to the ends of the earth!”

Chapter Nine

So it was that Michel Dufrénoy found himself traveling to Calgory along with several of the men of the community to take up work in the Northwest Corridor. The men would work and establish the means to bring the rest of their fellows and families West to a place they would find to settle in. The country they rode through seemed so vast and beautiful that it filled young Dufrénoy with its promise! He thought of the New York Fair and shuddered. It was amazing in its own way but in retrospect it seemed like when children place household items out on the floor in play to create a village. It is interesting but is heavy on large forms and lacks in subtle detailing. It is astounding to behold, but over time it does not evoke a higher appreciation.

Here in the American West, there arose a landscape that never ceased to inspire wonder. It seemed so vast as to resist the forces that had homogenized the great cultures of the world. In it the locomotive seemed small, the track but a line, and man was once more aware that there was more! It was that sense of more, Dufrénoy reasoned, that had informed culture in the past to seek the essence of truth and beauty. In modern thought, materialism and pragmatic utilitarianism ruled, but here in the limitless West, those things were not enough. The march of shadows in setting sun drowned out the songs of pistons and turbines. Here was a world too vast to comprehend coming into being.

The ancients had their cosmology firmly rooted in EX NIHILO Creation – the belief that the Divine had created everything from nothing! That implied that the stuff of creation, the laws of physics, and the creation itself were the product of some beautiful Divine Design. The moderns had in the end of the Nineteenth Century decided that they would only believe in what they could see. “Matter,” they said, “always must have existed and just formed itself through random processes.” Though science described the processes, the scientist no longer saw the sublime nature of the process. Another concept thrown to the wind was the concept of IMAGO DEI, that is the belief that mankind is created in the image of the Divine.

Thus it was that Michel Dufrénoy found himself fleeing a world where man was reduced to a cog – to a world where man was indeed heir to something better. His letters to Lucy were full of such thoughts and she cherished the seed that they planted. Together they would give their children everything that had been thought lost.

Remembering a Special Day

photo 11
Winter scene, St. John's United Methodist Church in Staunton, Virginia. The painting celebrates the wedding of Kristina Elaine and Jonathan Greer three years ago! Happy Anniversary!  
Painting by Bob Kirchman.


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Gifts of the Spirit, Astound the Age

Volume XIII, Issue XXII

The Gifts of the Spirit 

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: A spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, A spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD (piety), And his delight shall be the fear of the LORD."
-- Isaiah 11:2,3a

A young friend of mine has been unfolding the Catechism behind the 'Twelve Days of Christmas' and it has been both fascinating and instructive. The 'Partridge in a Pear Tree' being Jesus on the cross and so it goes, most of the imagery referring to numeric imagery very familiar to the modern Church.

Coming to yesterday's 'Seven Swans a Swimming,' two images were provided, one being the Seven Sacraments, with which most of us are familiar, but the other being the Seven Gifts of the Spirit. Most of us are familiar with the Fruits of the Spirit: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." listed in Galatians 5:22-23. 1 Corinthians 12 lists the Ministry Gifts of the Spirit, but the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit are found in Isaiah 11:2 and 3.

They are listed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: [1.]

Wisdom: It is the capacity to love spiritual things more than material ones;

Understanding: In understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as followers of Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live. The gift of understanding perfects a person's speculative reason in the apprehension of truth. It is the gift whereby self-evident principles are known;

Counsel (right judgement): With the gift of counsel/right judgment, we know the difference between right and wrong, and we choose to do what is right. A person with right judgment avoids sin and lives out the values taught by Jesus;

Fortitude (courage): With the gift of fortitude/courage, we overcome our fear and are willing to take risks as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with courage is willing to stand up for what is right in the sight of G-d, even if it means accepting rejection, verbal abuse, or physical harm. The gift of courage allows people the firmness of mind that is required both in doing good and in enduring evil;

Knowledge: With the gift of knowledge, we understand the meaning of G-d. The gift of knowledge is more than an accumulation of facts, it also helps us to choose the right path through life;

Piety (reverence): With the gift of piety/reverence, we have a deep sense of respect for G-d and the Church. A person with reverence recognizes our total reliance on G-d and comes before G-d with humility, trust, and love. Piety is the gift whereby, at the Holy Spirit's instigation, we pay worship and duty to G-d as our Father, Aquinas writes;

Fear of the Lord (wonder and awe): With the gift of fear of the Lord/wonder and awe, we are aware of the glory and majesty of G-d. A person with wonder and awe knows that G-d is the perfection of all we desire: perfect knowledge, perfect goodness, perfect power, and perfect love. This gift is described by Aquinas as a fear of separating oneself from G-d. He describes the gift as a "filial fear," like a child's fear of offending his father, rather than a "servile fear," that is, a fear of punishment. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."

The source of the traditional names of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Septuagint and the Vulgate read “piety” for “fear of the Lord” in its first occurrence, thus listing seven gifts.

The Sower Prepares the Way
Detail from 'The Sower Prepares the Way' by Kristina Elaine Greer.

Astound the Age


Michel Dufrénoy's Guide to Our Past Century
By Bob Kirchman

Copyright © 2017, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved

Chapter Four

After the Wilhelm left the Paris Canal, it sailed briskly for six days to reach New York. Lucy and Michel were married by the captain and enjoyed their ‘homeymoon cruise’ to the new world. The Wilhelm was a smaller vessel than Leviathan IV and carried freight and passengers. The staterooms could be had for a bargain so the group traveled in style compared to steerage in the larger ships. Each cabin had an ample porthole and since there was no class distinction on a freighter, the group enjoyed full access to the deck for daytime recreation. The German working man demands good victuals, so the food was better too. After life in the catacombs it was refreshing to soak in light and sea air for even a few days. The crewmen were friendly and personable.

Richelot was happily surprised at the captain’s ample supply of Rhine wines. He had expected only beer. Here he discovered another irony. The captain had a very fine collection of music discs and played Motzart and other fine composers. Captain Zimmerman remarked to the old scholar: “Funny, but the fine things of the past have been spurned by the intelligentsia but we working stiffs have now embraced them as our own. In government schools they are taught to embrace discordant harmony but you will find that in places such as this, we educate our own children. They often find a taste for the good things quite on their own.” Indeed the mess room, if you would stoop to calling it that, featured some fine Romantic paintings from the likes of Frederic Church and the other Hudson River School painters. Between meals it served as a classroom for the crews’ children. If Leviathan IV was a ‘floating city,’ Wilhelm was in itself a floating community.

Indeed there was a sense of extended family here as wives and children sailed alongside their seafaring husbands, plying artisan trades that enriched their floating village. There were manufacturers of clothing, brewers, carpenters and leatherworkers. Families taught their own children and organized athletic games for them on deck.

1964 New York World's Fair Painting. Artist Unknown.

Chapter Five

All too soon they made landfall in New York City’s harbor. Here towered buildings taller even than those in Paris. The Parisians wandered the Manhattan streets in a sense of awe. A train was engaged to carry them to Long Island’s village of Flushing, where they could stay in accommodations built for the 1964 Word Exposition in Flushing Meadow Park. The fair was about to open and the hotels, fearing a lower attendance at first, offered very inexpensive lodging in an effort to cut their expected losses. That is how Michel and Lucy Dufrénoy found themselves at the Fair.

Joining themselves to the first-day crowds, the young couple entered the ‘world of the future’ presented by the fair. It differed from the great World’s Fairs of the turn of the Century in several ways. First of all, the buildings were no longer in the form of a white classical city, they were generally more utilitarian. Among them was a giant ferris wheel in the form of an automobile tyre that towered above the fairgoers. There was a giant umbrella, representing an insurance company. An enormous egg towering above a forest of metal trees housed an exhibit about modern calculating machines.

There were giant boxes on stilts. Elevated trains ran on a single rail suspended above the fairgrounds. Flying machines landed and took off from the top of a large ‘T’ shaped structure. In the center of it all towered a gigantic model of the earth made from steel panels and struts. The continents were solid and the oceans described only by the meridians, which formed the structure for the massive globe. For three days the French immigrants wandered about the fairgrounds, taking in the wonders of the world. They awaited their journey by train to Montréal in French America. From there they would set out for parts unknown.

1964 New York World's Fair Painting. Artist Unknown.

1964 New York World's Fair Painting. H. L. Klein.

1964 New York World's Fair Painting. Artist Unknown.

Chapter Six

The train made its way to Albany along the much painted Hudson River and the evening light on the water evoked those romantic images anew. From Albany, the next train made its way North to the customs house in Rouse’s Point near Lake Champlain. Then it was but a short journey further into Montréal. The travelers were disheartened to find that Vieux-Montréal, the old French center of the city, had been swallowed up in a sprawling modern metropolis much the same as modern Paris. In some regards it differed from New York only in that the language was different. There was no abundance of lodging here, however and the little group experienced their first tenement housing as they prepared to acquire land for their new settlement.

It seemed now that fortune had turned against the weary band as there was little property to be had in the rich farming lands. What remained was Northern muskeg and permafrost – land that did not promise any kind of existence past subsistence farming. Michel was charged with taking the search further out and found to his chagrin that the cost of anything that would support the colonists far outpaced their limited resources. Montréal offered little in the way of employment opportunities and the group squeaked by doing odd labor jobs as they came up.

Michel had kept correspondence with Jean Dumont, who informed him that he was headed to British Columbia to take a position with a highway builder. He would be presently traveling by airship to Montréal and then heading West by railway. “Would you like to come along, Michel, and seek opportunity for yourself where the world is expanding?”
(to be continued)


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Special Advent Edition, Astound the Age

Volume XIII, Issue XXI

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

Autumn Evening
Autumn Evening. Photo by Bob Kirchman.

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!

Astound the Age


Michel Dufrénoy's Guide to Our Past Century
By Bob Kirchman

Copyright © 2017, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved

In 1863, right after the publication of Five Weeks in a Balloon, Jules Verne presented his publisher Jules Hetzel the manuscript for Paris in the Twentieth Century. Hetzel rejected it. Verne’s great-grandson, Jean Verne discovered the manuscript and published it. The story follows young Michel Dufrénoy through a future world that has forgotten the influence of true art and fallen into a harsh utilitarianism. The story ends with Dufrénoy collapsing in the snow. Here I engage in a bit of ‘fan literature’ as I offer a sequel to Paris in the 20th Century.

So this is what death is like” thought Michel Dufrénoy. His hand turning blue clutching the ruined violets. The demon of electricity no longer tormented his mind. Instead he heard what must have been the voice of an angel. As his life ebbed away the young poet heard a lovely voice… strangely familiar. Something stirred him to a heightened consciousness and the voice grew stronger. Now imperative! “Wake up!” His mind jolted to alertness and Michel thought to himself “this cannot be!” Yet, in the thoroughness of his search, he had stumbled into this precinct most thought deserted… yet there was the voice… again! Begging him to rouse! Dufrénoy struggled to rise and fell unconscious back into the snow.

Consciousness returned and Michel found himself lying on a mat in some sort of subterranean conduit. It was a round tube lined with brick and its walls bore the evidence of seeping water, the stains confirming the young man’s suspicion that he was indeed underground. At this moment, anyway, the tunnel was dry. Michel was wrapped in blankets and surrounded by heated bricks. He was coming back from the dead! A single light dangled from a wire in the tunnel and though it was electric, it was dim – an antiquated device which gave a very limited light to the catacomb in which it shown. As he stirred, an old woman emerged from the darkness to check on him. “How do you feel?” she asked. Michel Dufrénoy could only manage a groan.

So, what had befallen our young protagonist? Though he would not remember it, his new benefactor told him the story as he regained his faculties. Indeed he had fallen in the snow of the cemetery and was almost dead when a member of their group returning to the catacombs found him. This person tried to rouse him but when she could not, convinced some of the community to risk bringing him inside. The tombs of major cities often were places not inhabited – but providing shelter to those outside of the civilization proper. In Rome, the catacombs had provided space for the faithful to worship during the harsh reign of unfriendly emperors. Here in the mausoleum district was a bit of abandoned air and steam tunnel in which lived a community in exile.

The entrance to this place was a well-hidden shaft built for maintenance that was inside the precincts of the cemetery. The falling snow had made it imperative that they refrain from sorties outside the tunnels so as not to leave footprints but one of their members required medicine and so a close relative had volunteered to carefully leave the community and return. She was the one who found Michel. There are many stories, particularly from the great American war a hundred years before, of departed loved ones appearing in dreams to their most cherished as they leave this world and Michel pondered the voice he recalled so clearly in his brief moment of regained consciousness in the snow. Indeed the ruined violets spoke to a love that would sacrifice – a higher love from an abandoned time.

He thought about the modern technocrat’s abandonment of faith in the Divine – and the ‘miracles’ recorded in the past that the moderns derided. Even Michel was no strong believer. The church existed to instill order in society and bury the dead. It was not a good thing to have religious fervor as that was often the stuff of conflict. But the Twentieth Century had experienced great travail as a result of diminishing faith in other ways. True, there were no longer wars over doctrines but the life of family and community had withered as personal satisfaction became the only motivator in society. Michel had never thought much about the Divine, but now he pondered his strange new circumstances and the vision that had preceded them.

Chapter Two

When Michel Dufrénoy regained a bit more consciousness he was delighted to see his old friend Monsieur Richelot! The old professor warmly embraced his pupil and after some amazed pleasantries, told his story. “Indeed I was being evicted for not paying my rent. My tenure as a teacher came to an end with the withdrawal of my last miserable student. One of my old colleagues came to visit me as I was cleaning out my office and let me know of this place. Lucy and I have joined the classics in exile, I fear. You must, however, be extremely grateful that she dared to go out for my much needed medicine, for it was she who found you, almost frozen to death! Be assured she convinced us to go outside at great risk and bring you inside. Thankfully the snow keeps falling and we have other entrances when we need them.”

At that moment Lucy emerged from the darkness, her eyes saying more than any words, even those of a great poet, could ever hope to express. Michel tenderly squeezed her hand, apologizing for not successfully conveying the violets to her. At that she raised her other hand displaying the ruined blossoms. Sweet laughter filled the illuminated space in the tunnel!

What followed was a long and slow period of healing. The three friends discussed their cherished literature and read aloud from volumes Richelot had been able to bring into the catacomb. Meals were bland, assembled from a forgotten cache of survival grains, primarily rice, that had been discovered in a forgotten shelter from times when men still waged war. Mushrooms, grown in the tunnels, provided flavor and some additional nourishment but alas, there was no way to create the richness of flavor that most had enjoyed above ground. Michel asked about Quinsonnas. Was there any news of his old colleague? Richelot knew nothing. Would the pianist emerge to ‘Astound the Age?’ No one knew. Gradually Michel met the other members of the community. There were poets, painters, musicians and dreamers. Misfits all!

As the young man grew stronger, it was time for him to enter into the life of the community. Richelot’s recommendation was all that it required. Now he was party to the deeper discussion of what would become of them. It was already decided that modern France held no place for them, but the plan was to immigrate to French America. How would they pay for passage in steerage of some vessel like Leviathon IV, the young man wondered? Richelot explained, “There are others, who you will not see. They are still in the employ of industry and commerce, but their hearts are with us. We have entered into a pact that will take us all to the wilds of Quebec and the acquisition of some land on which we may farm… and create! Will you come with us?”

Dear Monsieur Richelot! You know my answer.”

And so, young Dufrénoy entered into the life of the community. He often ran the dangerous errands necessary to maintain contact with the working members of the resistance. His skill at stealth made him an important agent of the little group and though there was no wealth to the group as yet, he mustered his courage to pursue talk of a future with Lucy. He could make no promise of established wealth, but he could offer the strength of a pioneer. He would work like a dog to provide for his family and in a new world, Hopes would become reality. Though he had lost the manuscript, Michel recalled the best of his words and began to write anew.

The Winter of the great freeze grudgingly came to an end. For the next year the group continued to work and save. Dufrénoy made his way into the outlying suburbs of Paris and secured employment as a clerk. He was able to rent a bunk in a modest dormitory and so contribute more to the cost of passage. With the blessing of the community he purchased some new clothes as well. His trips to the catacombs were of necessity few, but one day he appeared in his new clothes with a bouquet of local violets and a basket of nice foods and wine. “Monsieur Richelot,” he began, “I have to ask you a very important question.”

So began the engagement of Monsieur Dufrénoy and Lucy. The wedding would take place on the first day the ship was in international waters!

Chapter Three

Dufrénoy returned to his work a man with a mission. His employers thought him ambitious and seeking advancement. He soon rose to the level of the management he despised but kept to his simple lodgings. This required no small feat of stealth in itself, for an upwardly mobile young man was expected to live in the high opulence of self-indulgence he was entitled to. Michel deftly acquired a set of house plans and spent a bit of break-time in marking them up, changing room dimensions and moving walls. Possibly the dwelling so rendered could be built in Quebec. On weekends he sometimes went to look at land. His coworkers, convinced of his energies being expended in pursuit of the perfect dwelling, wondered not at his current economy of living.

His closest comrade at work was a Monsieur Jean Dumont, a clerk as he was, who had some interest in the arts, though he professed no talent. They occasionally discussed literature together though Dumont’s tastes disturbingly favored such works as ‘Song of the Turbines.’ Still, he was eclectic enough in his tastes that he possessed some of the old volumes. His reading included the works of the great engineer Claudius Crozet, who had built railroads in America and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Rather than a crass fascination with industrialism in itself, Dumont admired these engineers of French descent for the poetry of their designs. Brunel’s bridges, though works of infrastructure, were works of art as well. Often his bridges incorporated Egyptian themes and his arches were graceful to behold. His Clifton Suspension Bridge was so beautiful it became the Iconic symbol of an English City.

Dumont and Dufrénoy worked for a large company that specialized in building bridges and highways. They both lamented the utilitarian nature of the projects they built in 1962. They also seemed to share a more frugal outlook in personal matters than their colleagues and often enjoyed a drink together, eschewing the lavish evenings enjoyed by their fellows. Jean had a modest house near the company which he lived in with his wife and children. Eventually he offered Michel a very reasonable rental of his extra bedroom. Since it was not much more than the dormitory and there was no commuting expense, it was a deal quickly sealed. On the occasional weekends when he went to see Lucy, there was nothing at all suspicious about it, save he simply disappeared from view for a few days.

The next year progressed rapidly and soon it would be time to sail. Since he lived ‘above ground,’ there was nothing unusual about Michel’s resignation and announcement that he was off to the Americas. Surely he would find employment with those audacious companies proposing even bigger motorways and a bridge from America to Asia! The future was bright indeed and Monsieur Dufrénoy would be there to take part in it! Passage was secured on a German vessel, the Wilhelm, for the Spring of 1964.
(to be continued)

In 1961, Russian engineer Peter Borisov proposed a dam across the Bering Strait that would carry a superhighway between Siberia and Alaska. The dam was planned as a climate modifying proposal that Borisov believed would warm Siberia. [1.]


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Special Thanksgiving Issue, Jules Verne

Volume XIII, Issue XX

A Repeat of One of Our Favorite Issues

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 ..."

Jules Verne’s ‘Lost’ Novel
Imagine a World without Art

By Bob Kirchman


Jean Verne is the great-grandson of the famous author and futurist Jules Verne. In 1989 Jean was getting ready to sell a family home and made an amazing discovery. There was a huge bronze safe that the keys to had long since been lost. Although it was believed to be empty, the young Verne opened it with a blowtorch anyway. There in the safe was a manuscript. It was a novel called ‘Paris in the Twentieth Century,’ which Verne had submitted to his publisher Jules Hetzel right after the success of his first novel: Five Weeks in a Balloon.’ Hetzel had rejected it in 1863 saying “It’s a hundred feet below ‘Five Weeks in a Balloon.’ Hetzel went on to say “No one today will believe your prophecy!”

Verne’s vision of a modern Paris in 1960 indeed predicts skyscrapers and technology that came to be, but it is even more amazing to note that Verne’s dystopia predicts a future world where the great art, literature and music – the rich fruits of centuries of Western culture – have been all but forgotten! Instead, the culture of the day celebrates technology and commerce. ‘Old’ things have nothing to say to us anymore! The hero of the story, young Michel Dufrénoy, goes into a modern bookstore and asks if they have anything by Victor Hugo. The clerk responds by asking “what did he write?”

Jules Verne predicts most damningly our society’s modern intoxication with ugliness. Go to any modern art school or venue and you find more of a cold mechanical sort of art aimed more at ‘expression.’ Roger Scruton has written on this phenomenon and how the great works of the past have been pushed aside. [2.] Scruton opines: “The current habit of desecrating beauty suggests that people are as aware as they ever were of the presence of sacred things. Desecration is a kind of defense against the sacred, an attempt to destroy its claims. In the presence of sacred things, our lives are judged, and to escape that judgment, we destroy the thing that seems to accuse us.”

Thus Michel and his friends, artists of the ‘old’ school, are faced with the challenge of preserving the old and instructive culture in the face of a modern world that distains it. Verne’s work finds itself specifically troubling in its prediction of modern society’s distaste for a past that would inform it! And so, much like Dufrénoy’s friend and colleague Quinsonnas, we find ourselves as artists frustrated by the modern culture. We long, as he did to somehow ‘astound the age!’

Early industrialization did not of itself produce bad art. The Brooklyn Bridge, the Eiffel Tower and classicized ironfront buildings all carried forward a certain sense of beauty and proportion. The revolt against the traditions of the past was more intentional as in 1917 when Marcel Duchamp sought to parody traditional art’s over-concern with technique. He signed a plumbing fixture ‘R. Mutt’ and entered it in an exhibition. What he meant as a paradoxical statement, however, the art intelligentsia took for a serious movement. Ever since Duchamp’s urinal the world of art has itself destroyed the place of beauty.

For its part, industrialization has had a mixed effect. The 1962 Seattle World’s Fair’s ‘Hall of Science’ is as beautiful as the Eiffel Tower. It is in its own right quite a contrast to Frank Gehry’s ‘Experience Music Project.’ The 1964 New York World’s Fair was the ‘great cathedral’ of modern progress. In fact, it featured a ‘Carousel of Progress’ which had its own hymn: “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.” Men were headed to the moon. Technology was indeed going to end want and darkness.

But this new world, secured by ‘mutually assured destruction,’ created questions of its own. Technology created pollution. The promise faded into disillusionment and forced upon us a new conundrum. We had discarded ‘antiquated’ notions such as EX NIHILO creation – science was still our new god – but now science informed us that technology was a source of evil. Thus the Twentieth Century inherited a new Cosmology and has found it wanting!

The problem is that we have discarded the Wisdom of Centuries, even as we lean unapologetically on ‘modern’ science to inform us. We seek naturalistic answers or philosophical ones. We shun the truly transcendent ones. Indeed, Paris in the Twentieth Century looks at our present time and asks the hard questions.


Around the World in 80 Days
By Jules Verne, Chapter XXXV

In which Phileas Fogg Does Not have to Repeat His Orders to Passepartout Twice

The dwellers in Saville Row would have been surprised the next day, if they had been told that Phileas Fogg had returned home. His doors and windows were still closed, no appearance of change was visible.

After leaving the station, Mr. Fogg gave Passepartout instructions to purchase some provisions, and quietly went to his domicile.

He bore his misfortune with his habitual tranquillity. Ruined! And by the blundering of the detective! After having steadily traversed that long journey, overcome a hundred obstacles, braved many dangers, and still found time to do some good on his way, to fail near the goal by a sudden event which he could not have foreseen, and against which he was unarmed; it was terrible! But a few pounds were left of the large sum he had carried with him. There only remained of his fortune the twenty thousand pounds deposited at Barings, and this amount he owed to his friends of the Reform Club. So great had been the expense of his tour that, even had he won, it would not have enriched him; and it is probable that he had not sought to enrich himself, being a man who rather laid wagers for honour’s sake than for the stake proposed. But this wager totally ruined him.

Mr. Fogg’s course, however, was fully decided upon; he knew what remained for him to do.

A room in the house in Saville Row was set apart for Aouda, who was overwhelmed with grief at her protector’s misfortune. From the words which Mr. Fogg dropped, she saw that he was meditating some serious project.

Knowing that Englishmen governed by a fixed idea sometimes resort to the desperate expedient of suicide, Passepartout kept a narrow watch upon his master, though he carefully concealed the appearance of so doing.

First of all, the worthy fellow had gone up to his room, and had extinguished the gas burner, which had been burning for eighty days. He had found in the letter-box a bill from the gas company, and he thought it more than time to put a stop to this expense, which he had been doomed to bear.

The night passed. Mr. Fogg went to bed, but did he sleep? Aouda did not once close her eyes. Passepartout watched all night, like a faithful dog, at his master’s door.

Mr. Fogg called him in the morning, and told him to get Aouda’s breakfast, and a cup of tea and a chop for himself. He desired Aouda to excuse him from breakfast and dinner, as his time would be absorbed all day in putting his affairs to rights. In the evening he would ask permission to have a few moment’s conversation with the young lady.

Passepartout, having received his orders, had nothing to do but obey them. He looked at his imperturbable master, and could scarcely bring his mind to leave him. His heart was full, and his conscience tortured by remorse; for he accused himself more bitterly than ever of being the cause of the irretrievable disaster. Yes! if he had warned Mr. Fogg, and had betrayed Fix’s projects to him, his master would certainly not have given the detective passage to Liverpool, and then —

Passepartout could hold in no longer.

My master! Mr. Fogg!” he cried, “why do you not curse me? It was my fault that —”

I blame no one,” returned Phileas Fogg, with perfect calmness. “Go!”

Passepartout left the room, and went to find Aouda, to whom he delivered his master’s message.

Madam,” he added, “I can do nothing myself — nothing! I have no influence over my master; but you, perhaps —”

What influence could I have?” replied Aouda. “Mr. Fogg is influenced by no one. Has he ever understood that my gratitude to him is overflowing? Has he ever read my heart? My friend, he must not be left alone an instant! You say he is going to speak with me this evening?”

Yes, madam; probably to arrange for your protection and comfort in England.”

We shall see,” replied Aouda, becoming suddenly pensive.

Throughout this day (Sunday) the house in Saville Row was as if uninhabited, and Phileas Fogg, for the first time since he had lived in that house, did not set out for his club when Westminster clock struck half-past eleven.

Why should he present himself at the Reform? His friends no longer expected him there. As Phileas Fogg had not appeared in the saloon on the evening before (Saturday, the 21st of December, at a quarter before nine), he had lost his wager. It was not even necessary that he should go to his bankers for the twenty thousand pounds; for his antagonists already had his cheque in their hands, and they had only to fill it out and send it to the Barings to have the amount transferred to their credit.

Mr. Fogg, therefore, had no reason for going out, and so he remained at home. He shut himself up in his room, and busied himself putting his affairs in order. Passepartout continually ascended and descended the stairs. The hours were long for him. He listened at his master’s door, and looked through the keyhole, as if he had a perfect right so to do, and as if he feared that something terrible might happen at any moment. Sometimes he thought of Fix, but no longer in anger. Fix, like all the world, had been mistaken in Phileas Fogg, and had only done his duty in tracking and arresting him; while he, Passepartout. . . . This thought haunted him, and he never ceased cursing his miserable folly.

Finding himself too wretched to remain alone, he knocked at Aouda’s door, went into her room, seated himself, without speaking, in a corner, and looked ruefully at the young woman. Aouda was still pensive.

About half-past seven in the evening Mr. Fogg sent to know if Aouda would receive him, and in a few moments he found himself alone with her.

Phileas Fogg took a chair, and sat down near the fireplace, opposite Aouda. No emotion was visible on his face. Fogg returned was exactly the Fogg who had gone away; there was the same calm, the same impassibility.

He sat several minutes without speaking; then, bending his eyes on Aouda, “Madam,” said he, “will you pardon me for bringing you to England?”

I, Mr. Fogg!” replied Aouda, checking the pulsations of her heart.

Please let me finish,” returned Mr. Fogg. “When I decided to bring you far away from the country which was so unsafe for you, I was rich, and counted on putting a portion of my fortune at your disposal; then your existence would have been free and happy. But now I am ruined.”

I know it, Mr. Fogg,” replied Aouda; “and I ask you in my turn, will you forgive me for having followed you, and — who knows? — for having, perhaps, delayed you, and thus contributed to your ruin?”

Madam, you could not remain in India, and your safety could only be assured by bringing you to such a distance that your persecutors could not take you.”

So, Mr. Fogg,” resumed Aouda, “not content with rescuing me from a terrible death, you thought yourself bound to secure my comfort in a foreign land?”

Yes, madam; but circumstances have been against me. Still, I beg to place the little I have left at your service.”

But what will become of you, Mr. Fogg?”

As for me, madam,” replied the gentleman, coldly, “I have need of nothing.”

But how do you look upon the fate, sir, which awaits you?”

As I am in the habit of doing.”

At least,” said Aouda, “want should not overtake a man like you. Your friends —”

I have no friends, madam.”

Your relatives —”

I have no longer any relatives.”

I pity you, then, Mr. Fogg, for solitude is a sad thing, with no heart to which to confide your griefs. They say, though, that misery itself, shared by two sympathetic souls, may be borne with patience.”

They say so, madam.”

Mr. Fogg,” said Aouda, rising and seizing his hand, “do you wish at once a kinswoman and friend? Will you have me for your wife?”

Mr. Fogg, at this, rose in his turn. There was an unwonted light in his eyes, and a slight trembling of his lips. Aouda looked into his face. The sincerity, rectitude, firmness, and sweetness of this soft glance of a noble woman, who could dare all to save him to whom she owed all, at first astonished, then penetrated him. He shut his eyes for an instant, as if to avoid her look. When he opened them again, “I love you!” he said, simply. “Yes, by all that is holiest, I love you, and I am entirely yours!”

Ah!” cried Aouda, pressing his hand to her heart.

Passepartout was summoned and appeared immediately. Mr. Fogg still held Aouda’s hand in his own; Passepartout understood, and his big, round face became as radiant as the tropical sun at its zenith.

Mr. Fogg asked him if it was not too late to notify the Reverend Samuel Wilson, of Marylebone parish, that evening.

Passepartout smiled his most genial smile, and said, “Never too late.”

It was five minutes past eight.

Will it be for to-morrow, Monday?”

For to-morrow, Monday,” said Mr. Fogg, turning to Aouda.

Yes; for to-morrow, Monday,” she replied.

Passepartout hurried off as fast as his legs could carry him.
(to be continued)

Gateway Arch, St. Louis, MO. Painting by bob Kirchman 1985

The Longest Structure on Earth

Around the World in 80 Days
By Jules Verne, Chapter XXXVI

In which Phileas Fogg’s Name is Once More at a Premium on ‘Change

It is time to relate what a change took place in English public opinion when it transpired that the real bankrobber, a certain James Strand, had been arrested, on the 17th day of December, at Edinburgh. Three days before, Phileas Fogg had been a criminal, who was being desperately followed up by the police; now he was an honourable gentleman, mathematically pursuing his eccentric journey round the world.

The papers resumed their discussion about the wager; all those who had laid bets, for or against him, revived their interest, as if by magic; the “Phileas Fogg bonds” again became negotiable, and many new wagers were made. Phileas Fogg’s name was once more at a premium on ‘Change.

His five friends of the Reform Club passed these three days in a state of feverish suspense. Would Phileas Fogg, whom they had forgotten, reappear before their eyes! Where was he at this moment? The 17th of December, the day of James Strand’s arrest, was the seventy-sixth since Phileas Fogg’s departure, and no news of him had been received. Was he dead? Had he abandoned the effort, or was he continuing his journey along the route agreed upon? And would he appear on Saturday, the 21st of December, at a quarter before nine in the evening, on the threshold of the Reform Club saloon?

The anxiety in which, for three days, London society existed, cannot be described. Telegrams were sent to America and Asia for news of Phileas Fogg. Messengers were dispatched to the house in Saville Row morning and evening. No news. The police were ignorant what had become of the detective, Fix, who had so unfortunately followed up a false scent. Bets increased, nevertheless, in number and value. Phileas Fogg, like a racehorse, was drawing near his last turning-point. The bonds were quoted, no longer at a hundred below par, but at twenty, at ten, and at five; and paralytic old Lord Albemarle bet even in his favour.

A great crowd was collected in Pall Mall and the neighbouring streets on Saturday evening; it seemed like a multitude of brokers permanently established around the Reform Club. Circulation was impeded, and everywhere disputes, discussions, and financial transactions were going on. The police had great difficulty in keeping back the crowd, and as the hour when Phileas Fogg was due approached, the excitement rose to its highest pitch.

The five antagonists of Phileas Fogg had met in the great saloon of the club. John Sullivan and Samuel Fallentin, the bankers, Andrew Stuart, the engineer, Gauthier Ralph, the director of the Bank of England, and Thomas Flanagan, the brewer, one and all waited anxiously.

When the clock indicated twenty minutes past eight, Andrew Stuart got up, saying, “Gentlemen, in twenty minutes the time agreed upon between Mr. Fogg and ourselves will have expired.”

What time did the last train arrive from Liverpool?” asked Thomas Flanagan.

At twenty-three minutes past seven,” replied Gauthier Ralph; “and the next does not arrive till ten minutes after twelve.”

Well, gentlemen,” resumed Andrew Stuart, “if Phileas Fogg had come in the 7:23 train, he would have got here by this time. We can, therefore, regard the bet as won.”

Wait; don’t let us be too hasty,” replied Samuel Fallentin. “You know that Mr. Fogg is very eccentric. His punctuality is well known; he never arrives too soon, or too late; and I should not be surprised if he appeared before us at the last minute.”

Why,” said Andrew Stuart nervously, “if I should see him, I should not believe it was he.”

The fact is,” resumed Thomas Flanagan, “Mr. Fogg’s project was absurdly foolish. Whatever his punctuality, he could not prevent the delays which were certain to occur; and a delay of only two or three days would be fatal to his tour.”

Observe, too,” added John Sullivan, “that we have received no intelligence from him, though there are telegraphic lines all along is route.”

He has lost, gentleman,” said Andrew Stuart, “he has a hundred times lost! You know, besides, that the China the only steamer he could have taken from New York to get here in time arrived yesterday. I have seen a list of the passengers, and the name of Phileas Fogg is not among them. Even if we admit that fortune has favoured him, he can scarcely have reached America. I think he will be at least twenty days behind-hand, and that Lord Albemarle will lose a cool five thousand.”

It is clear,” replied Gauthier Ralph; “and we have nothing to do but to present Mr. Fogg’s cheque at Barings to-morrow.”

At this moment, the hands of the club clock pointed to twenty minutes to nine.

Five minutes more,” said Andrew Stuart.

The five gentlemen looked at each other. Their anxiety was becoming intense; but, not wishing to betray it, they readily assented to Mr. Fallentin’s proposal of a rubber.

I wouldn’t give up my four thousand of the bet,” said Andrew Stuart, as he took his seat, “for three thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine.”

The clock indicated eighteen minutes to nine.

The players took up their cards, but could not keep their eyes off the clock. Certainly, however secure they felt, minutes had never seemed so long to them!

Seventeen minutes to nine,” said Thomas Flanagan, as he cut the cards which Ralph handed to him.

Then there was a moment of silence. The great saloon was perfectly quiet; but the murmurs of the crowd outside were heard, with now and then a shrill cry. The pendulum beat the seconds, which each player eagerly counted, as he listened, with mathematical regularity.

Sixteen minutes to nine!” said John Sullivan, in a voice which betrayed his emotion.

One minute more, and the wager would be won. Andrew Stuart and his partners suspended their game. They left their cards, and counted the seconds.

At the fortieth second, nothing. At the fiftieth, still nothing.

At the fifty-fifth, a loud cry was heard in the street, followed by applause, hurrahs, and some fierce growls.

The players rose from their seats.

At the fifty-seventh second the door of the saloon opened; and the pendulum had not beat the sixtieth second when Phileas Fogg appeared, followed by an excited crowd who had forced their way through the club doors, and in his calm voice, said, “Here I am, gentlemen!”
(to be continued)

Around the World in 80 Days
By Jules Verne, Chapter XXXVII

In which it is Shown that Phileas Fogg Gained Nothing by His Tour Around the World, Unless it Were Happiness

Yes; Phileas Fogg in person.

The reader will remember that at five minutes past eight in the evening — about five and twenty hours after the arrival of the travellers in London — Passepartout had been sent by his master to engage the services of the Reverend Samuel Wilson in a certain marriage ceremony, which was to take place the next day.

Passepartout went on his errand enchanted. He soon reached the clergyman’s house, but found him not at home. Passepartout waited a good twenty minutes, and when he left the reverend gentleman, it was thirty-five minutes past eight. But in what a state he was! With his hair in disorder, and without his hat, he ran along the street as never man was seen to run before, overturning passers-by, rushing over the sidewalk like a waterspout.

In three minutes he was in Saville Row again, and staggered back into Mr. Fogg’s room.

He could not speak.

What is the matter?” asked Mr. Fogg.

My master!” gasped Passepartout —“marriage — impossible —”


Impossible — for to-morrow.”

Why so?”

Because to-morrow — is Sunday!”

Monday,” replied Mr. Fogg.

No — to-day is Saturday.”

Saturday? Impossible!”

Yes, yes, yes, yes!” cried Passepartout. “You have made a mistake of one day! We arrived twenty-four hours ahead of time; but there are only ten minutes left!”

Passepartout had seized his master by the collar, and was dragging him along with irresistible force.

Phileas Fogg, thus kidnapped, without having time to think, left his house, jumped into a cab, promised a hundred pounds to the cabman, and, having run over two dogs and overturned five carriages, reached the Reform Club.

The clock indicated a quarter before nine when he appeared in the great saloon.

Phileas Fogg had accomplished the journey round the world in eighty days!

Phileas Fogg had won his wager of twenty thousand pounds!

How was it that a man so exact and fastidious could have made this error of a day? How came he to think that he had arrived in London on Saturday, the twenty-first day of December, when it was really Friday, the twentieth, the seventy-ninth day only from his departure?

The cause of the error is very simple.

Phileas Fogg had, without suspecting it, gained one day on his journey, and this merely because he had travelled constantly eastward; he would, on the contrary, have lost a day had he gone in the opposite direction, that is, westward.

In journeying eastward he had gone towards the sun, and the days therefore diminished for him as many times four minutes as he crossed degrees in this direction. There are three hundred and sixty degrees on the circumference of the earth; and these three hundred and sixty degrees, multiplied by four minutes, gives precisely twenty-four hours — that is, the day unconsciously gained. In other words, while Phileas Fogg, going eastward, saw the sun pass the meridian eighty times, his friends in London only saw it pass the meridian seventy-nine times. This is why they awaited him at the Reform Club on Saturday, and not Sunday, as Mr. Fogg thought.

And Passepartout’s famous family watch, which had always kept London time, would have betrayed this fact, if it had marked the days as well as the hours and the minutes!

Phileas Fogg, then, had won the twenty thousand pounds; but, as he had spent nearly nineteen thousand on the way, the pecuniary gain was small. His object was, however, to be victorious, and not to win money. He divided the one thousand pounds that remained between Passepartout and the unfortunate Fix, against whom he cherished no grudge. He deducted, however, from Passepartout’s share the cost of the gas which had burned in his room for nineteen hundred and twenty hours, for the sake of regularity.

That evening, Mr. Fogg, as tranquil and phlegmatic as ever, said to Aouda: “Is our marriage still agreeable to you?”

Mr. Fogg,” replied she, “it is for me to ask that question. You were ruined, but now you are rich again.”

Pardon me, madam; my fortune belongs to you. If you had not suggested our marriage, my servant would not have gone to the Reverend Samuel Wilson’s, I should not have been apprised of my error, and —”

Dear Mr. Fogg!” said the young woman.

Dear Aouda!” replied Phileas Fogg.

It need not be said that the marriage took place forty-eight hours after, and that Passepartout, glowing and dazzling, gave the bride away. Had he not saved her, and was he not entitled to this honour?

The next day, as soon as it was light, Passepartout rapped vigorously at his master’s door. Mr. Fogg opened it, and asked, “What’s the matter, Passepartout?”

What is it, sir? Why, I’ve just this instant found out —”


That we might have made the tour of the world in only seventy-eight days.”

No doubt,” returned Mr. Fogg, “by not crossing India. But if I had not crossed India, I should not have saved Aouda; she would not have been my wife, and —”

Mr. Fogg quietly shut the door.

Phileas Fogg had won his wager, and had made his journey around the world in eighty days. To do this he had employed every means of conveyance — steamers, railways, carriages, yachts, trading-vessels, sledges, elephants. The eccentric gentleman had throughout displayed all his marvellous qualities of coolness and exactitude. But what then? What had he really gained by all this trouble? What had he brought back from this long and weary journey?

Nothing, say you? Perhaps so; nothing but a charming woman, who, strange as it may appear, made him the happiest of men!

Truly, would you not for less than that make the tour around the world?