Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Apollonius, Around the World in 80 Days

Volume XIII, Issue VII

By Bob Kirchman
Copyright © 2017, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved

Chapter 1: The Challenge of Moon and Mars

The first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, was reported to have said: “I went up into space, but I didn’t encounter God.” That story was often repeated by the Atheistic Soviet Regime that sent him there and by the Western powers as they refuted the claims of the Soviet regime. His friend, General Valentin Petrov, a professor at the Russian Air Force Academy had a different story. He said of his personal friend the Cosmonaut: “He always confessed God whenever he was provoked, no matter where he was.” Gagarin was a baptized member of the Orthodox Church. Petrov remembered Gagarin saying something quite different in fact: “An astronaut cannot be suspended in space and not have God in his mind and his heart.” It was actually Nikita Khrushchev who had mockingly said: “Why don’t you step on the brakes in front of God?” In the Cold War days the U.S. President, John F. Kennedy, deftly created the civilian space agency, NASA. The struggle to control the high ground of space became recast as a race to the moon and it captured the imaginations of millions. When Gagarin orbited the Earth, the Atheist Empire was dominating. The Russians were depending on immense boosters to go beyond low Earth orbit and when they created the larger multi-engined rocket they needed they couldn’t make it work dependably. Jim Lovell commanded Apollo 8 on a mission to orbit the moon on Christmas Eve in 1968. He read from the Biblical story of Creation. “And God saw that it was good!” The Russians had been lapped.

Apollo 11 landed on the moon and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to set foot on another body in space!, fulfilling Jules Verne’s vision in “From the Earth to the Moon.” They actually celebrated the Lord’s Supper there in the lunar lander before they set foot on the lunar surface! It was an amazing time to be alive. Technological advances created as part of the space program enriched and saved lives as space technology found its way into other areas such as medicine. But the moon itself held no great riches. Men had come, but after Apollo 17 they never returned. Futurists often wrote about colonizing the moon or Mars as a way to ensure mankind survived. NASA, having inspired millions and having brought together incredible talents in the sciences, became another federal bureaucracy and even gave up the capacity to launch men into space. They had to buy rides to the International Space Station from their old competitors, the Russians! After the new world of the North opened up in the wake of the Bering Strait Bridge, mankind again looked to the stars. As money and goods flowed through the new world that had been opened up, there Billionaire George Apollonius was alarmed. His plans for one-world government had been thwarted by the free men and women of the North Country and in his alarm he began to lobby for the nations of the world to terraform Mars, that is make it fit for human habitation. He would have his one-world government… even if it meant building a new world!

But he lacked much of the funding necessary to do it and the engineering ability as well. NASA was but a shell of its former glory and the great advances were being made by Alaska Republic and Israel’s joint space launch complex at Cape Lisbon. Here Apollonius would seek an unholy alliance that would build a ship to take him to Mars. The Zimmerman Organization, for its part, was responding to a concern raised by the leadership of the Alaska Autonimous Republic. They wanted a platform for an enhanced version of Israel’s Iron Dome to protect themselves from rogue nations lobbing nuclear warheads. Space Station/Assembly Center 005 was the platform from which incoming missiles could be detected and destroyed. Its components were initially ferried into orbit by U.S. and Russian Boosters, but of late, the supplying of the station was being accomplished by shuttles launched from Cape Lisbon’s newly completed linear accelerator. Apollonius and Zimmerman had an odd connection, through which began their odd partnership… both were members of London’s Reform Club. Both men traveled quite a bit and were drawn to the club by its association with Jules Verne’s fictional Phileas Fogg, who enters into his famous wager there over a game of whist! Both had been recommended for membership by associates who were in the club and both enjoyed the congenial atmosphere and the fine cuisine.

How goes your work at Cape Lisbon?” Apollonius asked Rupert Zimmerman at dinner one night.

We’ve just begun linear induction launches of small shuttles to our space station.” the old man replied. “Research teams will then ascend to Space Station/Assembly Center 005. We plan to send an unmanned probe to Mars straightway. It will be far more sophisticated than Curiosity.”

Men?, will you then send human explorers?”

No, cost is way out of line with the benefits.”

I needn’t remind you, Mr. Zimmerman, that your precious free world will one day conspire to blow itself up! Where will mankind go when that happens?”

Oh, Mr. Apollonius, I don’t presume so as to think that man can thwart the designs of a loving God toward His Creation!”

Come now!, you are a world leader, even as you avoid title and publicity. You know damn well that God is just a fable for the weak. All that you see is all that there is. What would it take to convince you to team up with me to build a manned mission to Mars?”

I would have to see some benefit that made it worth the risk of human life.”

The survival of mankind is not worth the risk!” Exclaimed Apollonius.

But would you acknowledge, dear Apollonius, that there is more to this universe than you or I can see?” Here Zimmerman secretly wished his friend Jonathan Greene present, but the old man was here quite without his mentor in things unseen. It was Greene who had helped open Zimmerman’s eyes to the Truth he now sought to defend. But Greene was on the other side of the Globe, so to speak. He was in the biosphere town on Big Diomede in the Bering Strait. He was making animal pancakes for his daughter’s breakfast as it was the morning of a school day.

If they are unseen, they can be detected in other ways.” Apollonius responded.

Very well then, if you are an honest inquirer, I challenge you! And I invite you to come to Cape Lisbon and see for Yourself!”

The sun had set in London, but it was rising on Big Diomede on a brand new day. To Zimmerman’s surprise, George Apollonius accepted the offer to travel halfway around the world. “…on one condition. If I can convince you that the journey is worth the risk, you will help me organize a manned mission to Mars!”
(to be continued)


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

In which a New Species of Funds, Unknown to the Moneyed Men, Appears on ‘Change

Phileas Fogg rightly suspected that his departure from London would create a lively sensation at the West End. The news of the bet spread through the Reform Club, and afforded an exciting topic of conversation to its members. From the club it soon got into the papers throughout England. The boasted “tour of the world” was talked about, disputed, argued with as much warmth as if the subject were another Alabama claim. Some took sides with Phileas Fogg, but the large majority shook their heads and declared against him; it was absurd, impossible, they declared, that the tour of the world could be made, except theoretically and on paper, in this minimum of time, and with the existing means of travelling. The Times, Standard, Morning Post, and Daily News, and twenty other highly respectable newspapers scouted Mr. Fogg’s project as madness; the Daily Telegraph alone hesitatingly supported him. People in general thought him a lunatic, and blamed his Reform Club friends for having accepted a wager which betrayed the mental aberration of its proposer.

Articles no less passionate than logical appeared on the question, for geography is one of the pet subjects of the English; and the columns devoted to Phileas Fogg’s venture were eagerly devoured by all classes of readers. At first some rash individuals, principally of the gentler sex, espoused his cause, which became still more popular when the Illustrated London News came out with his portrait, copied from a photograph in the Reform Club. A few readers of the Daily Telegraph even dared to say, “Why not, after all? Stranger things have come to pass.”

At last a long article appeared, on the 7th of October, in the bulletin of the Royal Geographical Society, which treated the question from every point of view, and demonstrated the utter folly of the enterprise.

Everything, it said, was against the travellers, every obstacle imposed alike by man and by nature. A miraculous agreement of the times of departure and arrival, which was impossible, was absolutely necessary to his success. He might, perhaps, reckon on the arrival of trains at the designated hours, in Europe, where the distances were relatively moderate; but when he calculated upon crossing India in three days, and the United States in seven, could he rely beyond misgiving upon accomplishing his task? There were accidents to machinery, the liability of trains to run off the line, collisions, bad weather, the blocking up by snow — were not all these against Phileas Fogg? Would he not find himself, when travelling by steamer in winter, at the mercy of the winds and fogs? Is it uncommon for the best ocean steamers to be two or three days behind time? But a single delay would suffice to fatally break the chain of communication; should Phileas Fogg once miss, even by an hour; a steamer, he would have to wait for the next, and that would irrevocably render his attempt vain.

This article made a great deal of noise, and, being copied into all the papers, seriously depressed the advocates of the rash tourist.

Everybody knows that England is the world of betting men, who are of a higher class than mere gamblers; to bet is in the English temperament. Not only the members of the Reform, but the general public, made heavy wagers for or against Phileas Fogg, who was set down in the betting books as if he were a race-horse. Bonds were issued, and made their appearance on ‘Change; “Phileas Fogg bonds” were offered at par or at a premium, and a great business was done in them. But five days after the article in the bulletin of the Geographical Society appeared, the demand began to subside: “Phileas Fogg” declined. They were offered by packages, at first of five, then of ten, until at last nobody would take less than twenty, fifty, a hundred! Lord Albemarle, an elderly paralytic gentleman, was now the only advocate of Phileas Fogg left. This noble lord, who was fastened to his chair, would have given his fortune to be able to make the tour of the world, if it took ten years; and he bet five thousand pounds on Phileas Fogg. When the folly as well as the uselessness of the adventure was pointed out to him, he contented himself with replying, “If the thing is feasible, the first to do it ought to be an Englishman.”

The Fogg party dwindled more and more, everybody was going against him, and the bets stood a hundred and fifty and two hundred to one; and a week after his departure an incident occurred which deprived him of backers at any price.

The commissioner of police was sitting in his office at nine o’clock one evening, when the following telegraphic dispatch was put into his hands:

Suez to London.

Rowan, Commissioner of Police, Scotland Yard:

I’ve found the bank robber, Phileas Fogg. Send with out delay warrant of arrest to Bombay.

Fix, Detective.

The effect of this dispatch was instantaneous. The polished gentleman disappeared to give place to the bank robber. His photograph, which was hung with those of the rest of the members at the Reform Club, was minutely examined, and it betrayed, feature by feature, the description of the robber which had been provided to the police. The mysterious habits of Phileas Fogg were recalled; his solitary ways, his sudden departure; and it seemed clear that, in undertaking a tour round the world on the pretext of a wager, he had had no other end in view than to elude the detectives, and throw them off his track.
(to be continued)

Art of Design Communication
Workshop Presented at the AIBD Convention

The Art of Design Presentation
Participants in the workshop I presented at the American Institute of Building Design Summer Convention in Atlanta Georgia. Robert Browne of Cadworks Consulting, originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, especially enjoyed the drawing exercise in 'traditional media.'

The Brookwood Designs
The Kirchman Studio's Own Neighborhood

Double Rainbow over the studio window.




In the studio, Mr. Kirchman sought to create an environment that was conducive to inspiration.

The Kirchman Studio Brookwood Designs are of note because they are projects in the vicinity of and including the studio space. In addition to renovations to the existing house for aging in place, Mr. Kirchman designed the studio, a residence next door and a shop/work-van garage in the form of a barn. The designs are of note because they attempt to honor the region's agricultural heritage and a very nice stone church by the firm of T. J. Collins, visible from the neighborhood. The residence draws from the simplicity of German stone architecture. The stonework itself is by mason: Lewis Wright.

The Patterson Residence




The Barn (Shop and Garage)




The Studio










House in a House

Here the garage is converted into a small house within a house with its own discreet separate entrance. It also has its own kitchenette. The perfect solution for multi-generational living.

Barbour Colonnade

Barbour Portico

Barbour Portico

This was a planbook house built on the highest point in Brookwood. The builder turned the house so that the 'back' faced the road and the deck was sitting on skinny 4" x 4" posts. This is my design to add presence to the elevation facing the neighborhood.


Residences in Albemarle County
Greenwood Residence

This was also developed as a house within a house concept to house the client's elderly mother.

Crozet Addition

Substantial space and a garage are added to a small house. The massing is hidden in the trees and invisible from the front of the original house.

Staunton, Virginia Commercial Work
Enterprise Centre


Here an old strip shopping center was given a new parapet and a new trussed roof. The original flat roof was not salvageable so it was trussed over.

Law Offices from Gas Station

An old 'box' style gas station at the corner of Greenville Avenue and Richmond Road received a new facade and an office wing added to the rear.


Creating Connection with History
A Sense of Place

Stonework on the facade creates a sense of connection...

...with the historic architecture of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church by the firm of T. J. Collins.

Copyright © 2017, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved.

Building Bridges II

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 will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14

Our nation needs healing. I really believe that most people want healing. This Scripture is a wonderful blueprint for beginning the hard work of true change and healing. It begins with a change that is inward. Humility and reliance on the Divine happen in the quietness of heart that is not so easily seen – until it results in change. We turn from our old ways. We learn how to respect people because we learn how to see IMAGO DEI, the fact that they are made in the image of G-d! The important thing here is that old prejudices cease to inform our reactions, rather our actions are informed by our knowledge of G-d.

We need to look to the example of Angus Buchan in South Africa. He brought people together not to protest, but to pray. When Buchan began his ministry, his country sorely needed reconciliation and rain. Angus gathered people to pray for both.

The Scripture concludes with the wonderful promise that the Divine will indeed hear from Heaven. He will forgive our sin. He will heal our land. If I have but a small shard of Faith in a Loving Divine, don’t I want to see that come to pass?

The Magic Garden
Magic Garden Morning.

Once, I looked up and I saw Heaven, a world above me brightly shining. My heart cried for wings. I looked around me and saw pain and suffering. The world was grey. I looked down and I saw a child with tear stained cheeks I reached out and grabbed his hand he looked at me and smiled. I saw a flower bloom red and full of life. The child picked the red flower and turned to his mother. She stood alone sad and cold. The child gave the red flower to his mother and her hard face softened I looked and saw a blue rippling stream. The mother saw an old crippled man, who could not move his legs to get a drink. She carried the man to the stream and gave him water to drink. He cried tears of joy. I saw a yellow bird sing. The old crippled man learned the yellow bird’s song and shared it with all he could see and everyone who heard it would feel happy. I saw rainbows shoot across the sky. I went on my way reaching out, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, seeing for the blind, hearing for the deaf, befriending the friendless, singing to bring happiness, and loving the loveless. Then one day I looked back and realized I had wings all along. My wings had been the love reached out to heal others who were broken. My heart burst with joy.

-- Kristina Elaine Greer

The Road Less Traveled
A Story of Gracefully Overcoming Barriers

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
– Robert Frost

In the past months a truly great film was released. Hidden Figures tells the story of three very real women who faced some very real obstacles. Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan were ‘computers.’ In the days before machines, humans performed the calculations for engineering departments. My mother did similar work at the Martin Company in the 1940’s. Remembering conversations with Mom, I am pretty sure she knew about these women who worked at Langley.

They were recruited from the ranks of highly talented mathematicians. Had they not been tapped to go into engineering departments, they would have likely spent their entire careers as schoolteachers. But since male engineers hated the large task of performing calculations, they were happy to assign the task a ‘clerical’ role and bring in the ‘computers.’

Langley was unique in that its position in high speed aircraft research created an unusual demand for these talented people and they couldn’t find enough of them. Here is where the door of opportunity opened when Langley created its ‘Colored Computer Division.’ They recruited black women with strong mathematics backgrounds and as they transitioned into a space agency, these women broke all kinds of barriers.

Katherine Johnson calculated trajectories for Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. Dorothy Vaughan became NASA’s first African-American woman supervisor, overseeing the operations of Langley’s large IBM computer. Mary Jackson pushed the boundaries to become NASA’s first Black woman engineer. She went to night school and had to seek permission to attend the classes which were held in an all-white high school.

Author Margot Lee Shetterly discovered the stories of these women through church circles. She knew them growing up as members of her church. There were a lot of people in her community of Hampton who worked at NASA but she did not know how amazing their stories were. Shetterly does all of us a great service by giving them a proper place in history. They need to serve as an inspiration to all young people.

Rage is All the Rage
...and the middle classes love it
By Cosmo Landesman
[click to read]

Last weekend, I got into a conversation with the son of an old friend. He’s a nice middle-class boy, mid-twenties, who plays in a band and has lots of tats and piercings. We got into a conversation about summer festivals. I was telling him about a wonderful one I’d been to — the Curious Arts Festival — and then I asked him, ‘You been to anything exciting?’ ‘Yeah,’ he said with a grin, ‘I went to a riot in east London.’ (read more)

Frederick Douglass Remembered
By Breana Noble
[click to read]

Frederick Douglass returned to Hillsdale College permanently on Friday.

College President Larry Arnn unveiled the “fierce,” 7-foot-tall bronze statue of the famous freed slave and abolitionist orator — who spoke at the college on Jan. 21, 1863 — to a standing ovation of around 300 college students, staff, faculty, and visitors packed into Kresge Plaza between Lane and Kendall halls.

We think of him as a wrathful man too much,” Arnn said. “Really, he was a persuasive, thinking, talking man…[The statue] shows the emotion that drove that man, and that emotion was not hate. That emotion was love.” (read more)

Responding to Darkness with the Light
A G-dly Response to Racism and Hatred
By John Stonestreet
[click to read]

The nation is reeling from Saturday’s chaos in Charlottesville. The Church cannot sit this one out.

The book of Revelation, chapter 7, gives us an extraordinary vision from God of the Kingdom of Heaven in its fullness: “a great multitude … from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne of God and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God/who sits on the throne/and to the Lamb.’”

What we saw this past weekend in Charlottesville was the exact, fiendish opposite. Crowds filled with hate, bent on violence. We saw not dazzling robes of white washed in the blood of the lamb, but the stains of red from human blood spilled in demonic anger.

I learned of what happened Saturday afternoon after landing in the Dominican Republic, where I’ll be teaching this week. Yesterday on BreakPoint, we promised part two of our series on the American suicide epidemic, and we will pick that up tomorrow. But today, facing the specter of racism in our country, it’s time for moral clarity.

And here it is: As my BreakPoint co-host Eric Metaxas tweeted over the weekend, racism is the very antithesis of the love of Jesus for all. I’ll expand on that thought: every racist ideology, including the white nationalism and neo-Nazi rhetoric and images displayed by the so-called alt-right in Charlottesville, is rooted in the pit of hell. There’s no defending it. It’s not Christian. It’s not American. And it ought not even be associated with conservatism. (read more)


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Apollonius, Around the World in 80 Days

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XIII, Issue VI

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

In which Phileas Fogg Astounds Passepartout, His Servant

Having won twenty guineas at whist, and taken leave of his friends, Phileas Fogg, at twenty-five minutes past seven, left the Reform Club.

Passepartout, who had conscientiously studied the programme of his duties, was more than surprised to see his master guilty of the inexactness of appearing at this unaccustomed hour; for, according to rule, he was not due in Saville Row until precisely midnight.

Mr. Fogg repaired to his bedroom, and called out, “Passepartout!”

Passepartout did not reply. It could not be he who was called; it was not the right hour.

Passepartout!” repeated Mr. Fogg, without raising his voice.

Passepartout made his appearance.

I’ve called you twice,” observed his master.

But it is not midnight,” responded the other, showing his watch.

I know it; I don’t blame you. We start for Dover and Calais in ten minutes.”

A puzzled grin overspread Passepartout’s round face; clearly he had not comprehended his master.

Monsieur is going to leave home?”

Yes,” returned Phileas Fogg. “We are going round the world.”

Passepartout opened wide his eyes, raised his eyebrows, held up his hands, and seemed about to collapse, so overcome was he with stupefied astonishment.

Round the world!” he murmured.

In eighty days,” responded Mr. Fogg. “So we haven’t a moment to lose.”

But the trunks?” gasped Passepartout, unconsciously swaying his head from right to left.

We’ll have no trunks; only a carpet-bag, with two shirts and three pairs of stockings for me, and the same for you. We’ll buy our clothes on the way. Bring down my mackintosh and traveling-cloak, and some stout shoes, though we shall do little walking. Make haste!”

Passepartout tried to reply, but could not. He went out, mounted to his own room, fell into a chair, and muttered: “That’s good, that is! And I, who wanted to remain quiet!”

He mechanically set about making the preparations for departure. Around the world in eighty days! Was his master a fool? No. Was this a joke, then? They were going to Dover; good! To Calais; good again! After all, Passepartout, who had been away from France five years, would not be sorry to set foot on his native soil again. Perhaps they would go as far as Paris, and it would do his eyes good to see Paris once more. But surely a gentleman so chary of his steps would stop there; no doubt — but, then, it was none the less true that he was going away, this so domestic person hitherto!

By eight o’clock Passepartout had packed the modest carpet-bag, containing the wardrobes of his master and himself; then, still troubled in mind, he carefully shut the door of his room, and descended to Mr. Fogg.

Mr. Fogg was quite ready. Under his arm might have been observed a red-bound copy of Bradshaw’s Continental Railway Steam Transit and General Guide, with its timetables showing the arrival and departure of steamers and railways. He took the carpet-bag, opened it, and slipped into it a goodly roll of Bank of England notes, which would pass wherever he might go.

You have forgotten nothing?” asked he.

Nothing, monsieur.”

My mackintosh and cloak?”

Here they are.”

Good! Take this carpet-bag,” handing it to Passepartout. “Take good care of it, for there are twenty thousand pounds in it.”

Passepartout nearly dropped the bag, as if the twenty thousand pounds were in gold, and weighed him down.

Master and man then descended, the street-door was double-locked, and at the end of Saville Row they took a cab and drove rapidly to Charing Cross. The cab stopped before the railway station at twenty minutes past eight. Passepartout jumped off the box and followed his master, who, after paying the cabman, was about to enter the station, when a poor beggar-woman, with a child in her arms, her naked feet smeared with mud, her head covered with a wretched bonnet, from which hung a tattered feather, and her shoulders shrouded in a ragged shawl, approached, and mournfully asked for alms.

Mr. Fogg took out the twenty guineas he had just won at whist, and handed them to the beggar, saying, “Here, my good woman. I’m glad that I met you;” and passed on.

Passepartout had a moist sensation about the eyes; his master’s action touched his susceptible heart.

Two first-class tickets for Paris having been speedily purchased, Mr. Fogg was crossing the station to the train, when he perceived his five friends of the Reform.

Well, gentlemen,” said he, “I’m off, you see; and, if you will examine my passport when I get back, you will be able to judge whether I have accomplished the journey agreed upon.”

Oh, that would be quite unnecessary, Mr. Fogg,” said Ralph politely. “We will trust your word, as a gentleman of honour.”

You do not forget when you are due in London again?” asked Stuart.

In eighty days; on Saturday, the 21st of December, 1872, at a quarter before nine p.m. Good-bye, gentlemen.”

Phileas Fogg and his servant seated themselves in a first-class carriage at twenty minutes before nine; five minutes later the whistle screamed, and the train slowly glided out of the station.

The night was dark, and a fine, steady rain was falling. Phileas Fogg, snugly ensconced in his corner, did not open his lips. Passepartout, not yet recovered from his stupefaction, clung mechanically to the carpet-bag, with its enormous treasure.

Just as the train was whirling through Sydenham, Passepartout suddenly uttered a cry of despair.

What’s the matter?” asked Mr. Fogg.

Alas! In my hurry — I— I forgot —”


To turn off the gas in my room!”

Very well, young man,” returned Mr. Fogg, coolly; “it will burn — at your expense.” 
(to be continued)


By Bob Kirchman
Copyright © 2017, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved

Introduction: A Bit More Reckless Engineering

The establishment of the Alaska Republic in the mid-Twenty-first Century opened up a time of new growth and prosperity for mankind. Tundra farms, biospheres and determination tamed the world's Northernmost frontiers and created homes for millions. Rupert Zimmerman had been one of the initial visionaries but his daughter Elizabeth, his son-in-law Martin and his granddaughter would go even further. The Summer sun never set on the gleaming tower taking shape on Cape Lisbon and crews were working round the clock to complete the gigantic linear accelerator launch complex... a bridge, as it were, to other worlds. On drawing screenpads in Wales, the schematics for the Great Northern, a space ship of epic proportions were being developed. Since the days of Jules Verne, people dreamed of traveling into space and exploring her riches. The American space program set men on the moon in 1969 but there was no economic reason to go further. Great Northern would be built slowly, and the completed ship would be able to make the nine month long journey to the orbit of Mars. There the technology developed to tame the Earth's North; greenhouses and biospheres, would be tested as a means of beginning to terraform the red planet. There were always those thinkers who felt that mankind needed to extend their presence to other worlds to assure survival. Though Zimmerman felt the survival of mankind was in the hands of Someone much higher, he welcomed the investment of such people in the space program.

Indeed; Rupert saw it more as the same need he had first identified in his seven month old granddaughter... the need to go further. The need to move forward! He noticed that the girl was fussy as an infant, but as she learned to push herself up, to roll, and eventually scoot along the floor, she became quite content in her quest for adventure! Humankind seemed created with an almost insatiable need to reach out and that was reason enough for Rupert Zimmerman.
(to be continued)

This composite image of Earth and its moon, as seen from Mars, combines the best Earth image with the best moon image from four sets of images acquired on Nov. 20, 2016, by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. NASA Photo

The Linear Induction Launch System at Cape Lisbon. [1.]

Terraforming Mars
National Geographic

For some time there has been a fascination with the idea of colonizing Mars.

In 1952, Wernher von Braun wrote a book called "Project Mars" [1.] which imagined that human colonists on Mars would be led by a person called "Elon." Starting with A Princess of Mars [2.] in 1917, Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote eleven novels that portrayed an arid world he called Barsoom made habitable by an “atmosphere factory” (these books were the basis for the recent Disney movie John Carter). The stories in Ray Bradbury’s 1950 collection The Martian Chronicles [3.] were set on a desert planet crisscrossed with canals built by an alien civilization to distribute water from the polar caps. Arthur C. Clarke’s 1952 novel The Sands of Mars [4.] also presents a transformation of the Red Planet to support human life. Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars/Green Mars/Blue Mars trilogy was published in the period of 1992-1996. [5.]

Chasma Boreale, a long, flat-floored valley, cuts deep into Mars' north polar icecap. Its walls rise about 4,600 feet, or 1,400 meters, above the floor. Where the edge of the ice cap has retreated, sheets of sand are emerging that accumulated during earlier ice-free climatic cycles. Winds blowing off the ice have pushed loose sand into dunes and driven them down-canyon in a westward direction. NASA Image

The Orb of Mars. NASA Photo

This is a screen shot from a high-definition simulated movie of Mojave Crater on Mars, based on images taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. A 3-D surface model was created using stereo pairs from the HiRISE camera. Mojave Crater has a diameter of 60 kilometers (37 miles). NASA Image

My Cathedral in Four Seasons
Photos by Bob Kirchman

Church Window Sunrise

Oak Leaves

My Cathedral, Summer


O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth.

Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.

Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people.

For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.

For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens.

Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength.

Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts.

O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.

Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice

Before the Lord: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.” -- Psalm 96

Beauty and Desecration
By Roger Scruton
[Click to Read]

At any time between 1750 and 1930, if you had asked an educated person to describe the goal of poetry, art, or music, “beauty” would have been the answer. And if you had asked what the point of that was, you would have learned that beauty is a value, as important in its way as truth and goodness, and indeed hardly distinguishable from them. Philosophers of the Enlightenment saw beauty as a way in which lasting moral and spiritual values acquire sensuous form. And no Romantic painter, musician, or writer would have denied that beauty was the final purpose of his art. (read more)

Paradigm Shift
Should Christ’s Followers be Futurists?
By Bob Kirchman

Roger Scruton points to a time when the transcendent informed the direction of the present. The disciplines of Art, Music and Design in particular sought to lift our existence. Cathedrals aspired to Heaven in their very design, warping stone into a visual depiction of the intersection of nature and Supernatural. Modern thought has usurped all of that.

The Faithful, for their part, seem to have surrendered.

A George Barna poll suggests that only a single digit percentage of those who profess to be believers actually have a Biblical worldview. Read between the lines and that statistic suggests that something else informs them. Another statistic says that most people get their news from the big three networks in spite of the recent profusion of alternative sources which question the narrative being put forth both by the academy and popular media. I want to look specifically at the church, and how it has possibly abdicated its role as a shaper of the human experience.

Without being overly critical, and mainly as a point of discussion, I would like to look at the modern interaction of church and culture. First of all, the secular society has in so many ways told the Faithful that while they are free to worship, they are not welcome in the public square. The church, for its part, has too quickly and quietly left the shaping of culture to the Barbarians, so to speak. In order to be ‘relevant’ we take on the music and trappings of the society around us more often than we offer alternative. Our architecture, once rich with transcendent imagery, has become increasingly metal buildings with a theater inside. We have to find older structures to be inspired by stained glass and pipe organs.

We rationalize this on the basis of stewardship (metal buildings are cheaper) and evangelism (most people today don’t listen to Handel and movies/music are the language and literature of the young). The reaching out into our culture is not a bad thing at all and we should not be extravagant in our building programs, but I would suggest that our modern paradigm has left us with a noticeable poverty in illuminating the pathway to things Divine.

Some of our brothers are too quick to jump into eschatology and too slow to practice practical economic development. We sometimes seem too preoccupied with apocalyptic visions and ‘getting out of here.’ As Christ’s ambassadors, we cease to man the embassy. The sad thing is that only reinforces the view of many around us that we are irrelevant. We want to be raptured; they can't wait for us to go!

If in centuries past, the call of Transcendent Truth shaped how we built things as well as how we thought about them, can we not find value in that today? If I should drop dead this moment, will not my unrealized visions still have inspired someone to ‘look up?’ I sincerely hope so. To that end, should we not seek to fulfill our calling on this Earth well, knowing that the call to ‘come higher’ is not an end but a beginning? That calling might indeed drive us to envision great things… not from hubris but rather from a sense that we serve a great Master. We are here creating our sample work. One day we shall stand in His studio. Will he indeed say: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Then might He not continue: “Come see what I am working on!”

While I am obviously not advocating an over-zealous Asceticism that creates a very utilitarian culture aimed at simply doing our job here, surviving this horrible world and getting out; neither is it a call to the opulence that has characterized some television ministries. It is possible to offer our best, within our means, and create things that are in themselves an expression of worship. I think of the many country churches with their fine craftsmanship and simple lines. Can we find that elegance again? I believe we can. I believe we can create works in keeping with our profession of the richness of the Divine. I believe we will do the world a great service by doing so.

Yes, we should dream dreams and inspire our young people to do so as well. We should help revitalize communities on other continents. We should offer beauty and purpose to our own. Young people need to stand in our churches and sing beautiful solos that move us to tears. We should remember the lessons of times past, where the hope of Heaven fueled our passion to make our world a better place as a testimony to that hope. We, of all people, should indeed be ‘Futurists.’


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Around the World in 80 Days, Angus Buchan

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XIII, Issue V

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

In which a Conversation Takes Place which Seems Likely to Cost Phileas Fogg Dear

Phileas Fogg, having shut the door of his house at half-past eleven, and having put his right foot before his left five hundred and seventy-five times, and his left foot before his right five hundred and seventy-six times, reached the Reform Club, an imposing edifice in Pall Mall, which could not have cost less than three millions. He repaired at once to the dining-room, the nine windows of which open upon a tasteful garden, where the trees were already gilded with an autumn colouring; and took his place at the habitual table, the cover of which had already been laid for him. His breakfast consisted of a side-dish, a broiled fish with Reading sauce, a scarlet slice of roast beef garnished with mushrooms, a rhubarb and gooseberry tart, and a morsel of Cheshire cheese, the whole being washed down with several cups of tea, for which the Reform is famous. He rose at thirteen minutes to one, and directed his steps towards the large hall, a sumptuous apartment adorned with lavishly-framed paintings. A flunkey handed him an uncut Times, which he proceeded to cut with a skill which betrayed familiarity with this delicate operation. The perusal of this paper absorbed Phileas Fogg until a quarter before four, whilst the Standard, his next task, occupied him till the dinner hour. Dinner passed as breakfast had done, and Mr. Fogg re-appeared in the reading-room and sat down to the Pall Mall at twenty minutes before six. Half an hour later several members of the Reform came in and drew up to the fireplace, where a coal fire was steadily burning. They were Mr. Fogg’s usual partners at whist: Andrew Stuart, an engineer; John Sullivan and Samuel Fallentin, bankers; Thomas Flanagan, a brewer; and Gauthier Ralph, one of the Directors of the Bank of England — all rich and highly respectable personages, even in a club which comprises the princes of English trade and finance.

Well, Ralph,” said Thomas Flanagan, “what about that robbery?”

Oh,” replied Stuart, “the Bank will lose the money.”

On the contrary,” broke in Ralph, “I hope we may put our hands on the robber. Skilful detectives have been sent to all the principal ports of America and the Continent, and he’ll be a clever fellow if he slips through their fingers.”

But have you got the robber’s description?” asked Stuart.

In the first place, he is no robber at all,” returned Ralph, positively.

What! a fellow who makes off with fifty-five thousand pounds, no robber?”


Perhaps he’s a manufacturer, then.”

The Daily Telegraph says that he is a gentleman.”

It was Phileas Fogg, whose head now emerged from behind his newspapers, who made this remark. He bowed to his friends, and entered into the conversation. The affair which formed its subject, and which was town talk, had occurred three days before at the Bank of England. A package of banknotes, to the value of fifty-five thousand pounds, had been taken from the principal cashier’s table, that functionary being at the moment engaged in registering the receipt of three shillings and sixpence. Of course, he could not have his eyes everywhere. Let it be observed that the Bank of England reposes a touching confidence in the honesty of the public. There are neither guards nor gratings to protect its treasures; gold, silver, banknotes are freely exposed, at the mercy of the first comer. A keen observer of English customs relates that, being in one of the rooms of the Bank one day, he had the curiosity to examine a gold ingot weighing some seven or eight pounds. He took it up, scrutinised it, passed it to his neighbour, he to the next man, and so on until the ingot, going from hand to hand, was transferred to the end of a dark entry; nor did it return to its place for half an hour. Meanwhile, the cashier had not so much as raised his head. But in the present instance things had not gone so smoothly. The package of notes not being found when five o’clock sounded from the ponderous clock in the “drawing office,” the amount was passed to the account of profit and loss. As soon as the robbery was discovered, picked detectives hastened off to Liverpool, Glasgow, Havre, Suez, Brindisi, New York, and other ports, inspired by the proffered reward of two thousand pounds, and five per cent. on the sum that might be recovered. Detectives were also charged with narrowly watching those who arrived at or left London by rail, and a judicial examination was at once entered upon.

There were real grounds for supposing, as the Daily Telegraph said, that the thief did not belong to a professional band. On the day of the robbery a well-dressed gentleman of polished manners, and with a well-to-do air, had been observed going to and fro in the paying room where the crime was committed. A description of him was easily procured and sent to the detectives; and some hopeful spirits, of whom Ralph was one, did not despair of his apprehension. The papers and clubs were full of the affair, and everywhere people were discussing the probabilities of a successful pursuit; and the Reform Club was especially agitated, several of its members being Bank officials.

Ralph would not concede that the work of the detectives was likely to be in vain, for he thought that the prize offered would greatly stimulate their zeal and activity. But Stuart was far from sharing this confidence; and, as they placed themselves at the whist-table, they continued to argue the matter. Stuart and Flanagan played together, while Phileas Fogg had Fallentin for his partner. As the game proceeded the conversation ceased, excepting between the rubbers, when it revived again.

I maintain,” said Stuart, “that the chances are in favour of the thief, who must be a shrewd fellow.”

Well, but where can he fly to?” asked Ralph. “No country is safe for him.”


Where could he go, then?”

Oh, I don’t know that. The world is big enough.”

It was once,” said Phileas Fogg, in a low tone. “Cut, sir,” he added, handing the cards to Thomas Flanagan.

The discussion fell during the rubber, after which Stuart took up its thread.

What do you mean by ‘once’? Has the world grown smaller?”

Certainly,” returned Ralph. “I agree with Mr. Fogg. The world has grown smaller, since a man can now go round it ten times more quickly than a hundred years ago. And that is why the search for this thief will be more likely to succeed.”

And also why the thief can get away more easily.”

Be so good as to play, Mr. Stuart,” said Phileas Fogg.

But the incredulous Stuart was not convinced, and when the hand was finished, said eagerly: “You have a strange way, Ralph, of proving that the world has grown smaller. So, because you can go round it in three months —”

In eighty days,” interrupted Phileas Fogg.

That is true, gentlemen,” added John Sullivan. “Only eighty days, now that the section between Rothal and Allahabad, on the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, has been opened. Here is the estimate made by the Daily Telegraph:

From London to Suez via Mont Cenis and
Brindisi, by rail and steamboats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 days
From Suez to Bombay, by steamer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 ”
From Bombay to Calcutta, by rail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 ”
From Calcutta to Hong Kong, by steamer . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 ”
From Hong Kong to Yokohama (Japan), by steamer . . . . . 6 ”
From Yokohama to San Francisco, by steamer . . . . . . . . . 22 ”
From San Francisco to New York, by rail . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 ”
From New York to London, by steamer and rail . . . . . . . . 9 ”

Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 days.”

Yes, in eighty days!” exclaimed Stuart, who in his excitement made a false deal. “But that doesn’t take into account bad weather, contrary winds, shipwrecks, railway accidents, and so on.”

All included,” returned Phileas Fogg, continuing to play despite the discussion.

But suppose the Hindoos or Indians pull up the rails,” replied Stuart; “suppose they stop the trains, pillage the luggage-vans, and scalp the passengers!”

All included,” calmly retorted Fogg; adding, as he threw down the cards, “Two trumps.”

Stuart, whose turn it was to deal, gathered them up, and went on: “You are right, theoretically, Mr. Fogg, but practically —”

Practically also, Mr. Stuart.”

I’d like to see you do it in eighty days.”

It depends on you. Shall we go?”

Heaven preserve me! But I would wager four thousand pounds that such a journey, made under these conditions, is impossible.”

Quite possible, on the contrary,” returned Mr. Fogg.

Well, make it, then!”

The journey round the world in eighty days?”


I should like nothing better.”


At once. Only I warn you that I shall do it at your expense.”

It’s absurd!” cried Stuart, who was beginning to be annoyed at the persistency of his friend. “Come, let’s go on with the game.”

Deal over again, then,” said Phileas Fogg. “There’s a false deal.”

Stuart took up the pack with a feverish hand; then suddenly put them down again.

Well, Mr. Fogg,” said he, “it shall be so: I will wager the four thousand on it.”

Calm yourself, my dear Stuart,” said Fallentin. “It’s only a joke.”

When I say I’ll wager,” returned Stuart, “I mean it.” “All right,” said Mr. Fogg; and, turning to the others, he continued: “I have a deposit of twenty thousand at Baring’s which I will willingly risk upon it.”

Twenty thousand pounds!” cried Sullivan. “Twenty thousand pounds, which you would lose by a single accidental delay!”

The unforeseen does not exist,” quietly replied Phileas Fogg.

But, Mr. Fogg, eighty days are only the estimate of the least possible time in which the journey can be made.”

A well-used minimum suffices for everything.”

But, in order not to exceed it, you must jump mathematically from the trains upon the steamers, and from the steamers upon the trains again.”

I will jump — mathematically.”

You are joking.”

A true Englishman doesn’t joke when he is talking about so serious a thing as a wager,” replied Phileas Fogg, solemnly. “I will bet twenty thousand pounds against anyone who wishes that I will make the tour of the world in eighty days or less; in nineteen hundred and twenty hours, or a hundred and fifteen thousand two hundred minutes. Do you accept?”

We accept,” replied Messrs. Stuart, Fallentin, Sullivan, Flanagan, and Ralph, after consulting each other.

Good,” said Mr. Fogg. “The train leaves for Dover at a quarter before nine. I will take it.”

This very evening?” asked Stuart.

This very evening,” returned Phileas Fogg. He took out and consulted a pocket almanac, and added, “As today is Wednesday, the 2nd of October, I shall be due in London in this very room of the Reform Club, on Saturday, the 21st of December, at a quarter before nine p.m.; or else the twenty thousand pounds, now deposited in my name at Baring’s, will belong to you, in fact and in right, gentlemen. Here is a cheque for the amount.”

A memorandum of the wager was at once drawn up and signed by the six parties, during which Phileas Fogg preserved a stoical composure. He certainly did not bet to win, and had only staked the twenty thousand pounds, half of his fortune, because he foresaw that he might have to expend the other half to carry out this difficult, not to say unattainable, project. As for his antagonists, they seemed much agitated; not so much by the value of their stake, as because they had some scruples about betting under conditions so difficult to their friend.

The clock struck seven, and the party offered to suspend the game so that Mr. Fogg might make his preparations for departure.

I am quite ready now,” was his tranquil response. “Diamonds are trumps: be so good as to play, gentlemen.”
(to be continued) 

National Cathedral
National Cathedral. Photo by Bob Kirchman

William Desmond
on Beauty and Being
[click to read]

It makes no sense to confront the possibility of radical evil without raising, as an equally astonishing perplexity, the possibility of radical good.” – William Desmond
(read more)

The National Cathedral
Photos by Bob Kirchman

National Cathedral

National Cathedral

National Cathedral

National Cathedral

National Cathedral

National Cathedral Gardens
Photos by Bob Kirchman

National Cathedral

National Cathedral

National Cathedral

O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.

The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.

For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice,

Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.

Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways:

Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.” – Psalm 95

Angus Buchan

God's Farmer, Great Miracles

The condition for a miracle is difficulty, however the condition for a great miracle is not difficulty, but impossibility." -- Angus Buchan

Last night we watched the movie Faith Like Potatoes which is based on the true story of Angus Buchan, a Scottsman by ancestry born in Zambia who was forced to leave his large farm there because of the unrest. He moved to the land of the Zulu in South Africa and bought another farm where he struggled to build it up from scratch. The place he bought didn't even have a house on it so he lived in a little camping trailer with his wife Jill and their three children.

With grit and determination, he built up the new farm and established himself in the community. But something was missing in his life. He was working long days and fighting depression. The doctor gave him pills but there was an emptiness to his life that medication could not make go away.

Angus and Jill visited the local Methodist Church and it happened to be a Lay Witness Sunday. When Angus heard building contractors, businessmen and farmers talk about the work of God in their lives, he wanted what they had. The tough Scott walked forward at the invitation, given by one of the men and prayed to receive Jesus into his heart.

Angus began to read the Bible. He was not a college graduate and he simply studied the Bible like he'd study a publication from the local extension office on planting potatoes or corn. He found that this study, honestly pursued, led him to change his life and give his heart and energy to the one who redeemed him.

He discovered the power of prayer. More accurately, you could say he discovered the power of God through prayer. He found a Faith that carried him through times of great triumph and great tragedy, such as the death of his little four-year old nephew Allistair, who was run over by a tractor.

Angus saw Scripture speaking to the racial tension in his country. As farmers in South Africa were being hammered by a prolonged drought, he organized prayer meetings to pray for Rain and Reconciliation. He found new strength in his relationship with his farm manager, Zulu Simeon Benghu, who became a true brother to him. "His Children are mine, my children are his," Buchan says of his dear friend who is more than a friend.

Today, his farm is known as 'Shalom,' and includes a home for about 25 AIDS orphans who live in houses with housemothers. Buchan takes seriously this promise from 2 Chronicles 7:14:

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 will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Magic Mountain
A decaying stump becomes a magical mountain in miniature.  
Photo by Bob Kirchman

Paradigm Shift
The Call to Build a Better World

A fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions."

As I write this it is the eve of another popular novelist's latest book release. [1.] His message, no doubt, will be the same. His previous works all consist of laying out 'prophecy' that essentially says our world is a terrible place. Repent and hunker down... "God's gonna judge us!"

Oh, I believe in Divine judgement all right, but I don't believe we have to look so far to find it. We're losing our children. Six decades ago we accepted the values of the Divine as the pillars of our society. I do not believe that everyone then was necessarily a believer but the culture was shaped by the values held by believers. When we decided to create a 'secular' society, our children suffered. They were given moral relativism in place of moral absolutes and the results have not been healthy. We taught them to laugh at sexual restraint and do what they felt like. The results were an explosion in teen pregnancy and STDs, not to mention a lot of unnecessary emotional damage.

We replaced a sense of duty to God with self-actualization. The result has been a generation that is more confused than ever. We have cities that are war zones. Young people are dying in the crossfire of their own communities and the media ignores it -- unless it classifies as a 'hate crime.'

The incarceration rate is out of control. Politicians want to build more prisons.

I believe the Divine is actually going to ask us "What did YOU do about it?"

Our church helps a community in Zambia as it struggles to renew itself. We've provided resources so ladies can buy treadle sewing machines and learn to be tailors. Tim Keller says that Economic Development is a Deaconate Ministry. I agree with him. When I see youth struggling and wondering what to do with their lives -- often settling for an endless cycle of 'entry level' situations and I hear Dr. John Downey of Blue Ridge Community College in Virginia say "We can't get enough students interested in our career track programs." I feel compelled to seek a solution.

But I would go so far as to say we cannot 'build a better world' without Divine help. We need to build HIS Kingdom and let the fruits of it flow into our society around us. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says:

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 will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Bejeweled Daisy
Photos by Bob Kirchman

Bejewelled Daisy

Bejewelled Daisy

Bejewelled Daisy