Wednesday, July 23, 2014

THYME Magazine: Seeking Solutions

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

THYME0804
Volume VIII, Issue IV

Let's Try Solving REAL Problems

This is an open letter to everyone who aspires to leadership in the political process. Let's talk about America's REAL problems for a change. It is time to face real issues with real resolve and restore the very REAL promise of this great land. Let me explain. The last political cycle began with the proclamation of one party that the other party was guilty of waging a so-called "war on women." Never mind that women in America enjoy far more opportunity and freedoms than their sisters in places like Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia, there's a "war on women," and we'd better make it a priority to fight it. Most telling was the poster child of this so-called "war," a Georgetown University law student who claimed she was having an undue hardship placed upon her because her school, run by the Jesuits, wouldn't pay for her recreational contraceptives!

Come on! This woman will make more money in a year, upon graduation, than I make in several. Seriously? She can't afford nine dollars a month at Wal Mart? Ahh, such must be the burden of student debt. That a national party would have her as a featured speaker at their national convention makes my point: We are being manipulated to respond to manufactured crises while true dangers lie neglected. The true crisis is the very real fact that structural flaws in our economic situation remain unaddressed while people likely to vote for the party "get their goodies." This cannot go on. It is the road to Greece, economically speaking and we're careening down it at a dangerously fast clip! Politicians are notorious for telling us: "You don't understand it. We HAVE to do something and you have to trust that we know how to do it best."

That was essentially the argument used to force the 2000+ page so-called: "Affordable Care Act" down our throats. The grain of truth is that healthcare spending and insurance premium costs ARE a very real problem. Pre-existing conditions do not fit the definition of "insurance," yet a compassionate society needs to find a way to provide care for these individuals. In many cases market forces could lower costs and make healthcare more affordable. Tort reform and other legislative means could as well. But rather than openly address these individual issues, Congress was pressed to ram through the bill that: "we had to pass so we can see what's in it," per Nancy Pelosi. Altough we were promised by the President himself that: "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan!," the results of this legislation to date have actually been quite disruptive.

Included in the legislation was the creation of staggering new bureaucracies, a 600 MILLION dollar "Marketplace" website that didn't work, contracted to an old school chum of Mrs. Obama! and the very real cancellation of thousands of plans that didn't meet the "standards" of Obamacare. Rather than promote "Choice and Competition," the new law actually regulated minutia about what an "acceptable" plan would cover. Fortunately for some people, older individial plans that were "grandfathered" in were not affected. But the legislation ran afoul of the Constitution when it REQUIRED employer provided plans to cover abortion inducing drugs. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Products sucessfully mounted a challenge that was decided by a narrow margin in the Supreme Court.

While the law MANDATES coverage of contraceptives and a number of issues considered important to young voters, it provides for bureaucracies making decisions about when to end care for older people. It empowers the IRS to 'fine' people for not having insurance. Many analysts see it as simply a preliminary framework for a future single-payer system like they have in Great Britain or Canada. It has already had the very real effect of ELIMINATING coverage for many responsible people who kept their insurance and needed it to pay for cancer treatment or heart problems. Sure, a few individuals have been able to obtain subsidized policies (with much regulated coverage and fewer options than what they replaced), but that begs the question: "Couldn't that have been accomplished with tax credits without taking apart the whole system?"

In fact, we SHOULD have been having a discussion of high deductable policies, medical savings accounts, tax credits, competition and true portability all along. Each of these issues, coupled with an understanding of how insurance companies negotiate discounts with hospitals and doctors, could STILL give us the means to give Americans access to the best health care system in the world. We NEED to repeal Obamacare, but we need to REPLACE it with a system that utilizes TRUE market forces to provide for most people while providing real protection for those who fall through the cracks. We've done this as a society before, and if we will place the discussion of PROBLEMS over POLEMICS, we will do so again. Make no mistake, Obamacare is not "too big to fail," it is too cumbersome to work. There needs to be a trustworthy replacement crafted in the open by honest statesmen.

We need to limit the size and scope of government to its Constitutionally mandated functions and allow for economic opportunity if we are to survive. We need to exploit our own energy resources as a part of a strategy to maintain our national security in a very volatile world. We need to secure our borders and maintain an orderly immigration policy that favors those seeking the freedom and opportunity of this great land. We do not need to use illegals to dilute the vote of the people who have built this country!

We need to stop legislating away "being offended." If you don't like the fact that there are Christians and Jews openly living in the dictates of their Faith in the public square (alongside Sikhs, Hindus Muslims and people who have no faith), you have options. If you desire to be bound by Sharia Law, there are options. If you want to live in a totally secular state, simply migrate to Europe and choose the degree. We began this nation with "An Appeal to Heaven."[1.] The First Amendment was crafted in light of that freedom. We cannot create a state church, but we cannot stop our citizens from BEING the Church. We, as a nation, have always respected CONSCIENCE. That overrides your "offense" at some baker or photographer refusing the job of your wedding!

We face some very real problems. We need to become energy independent and produce our own goods again. We need to strengthen our dollar with real value. We need to train our own replacements and render obsolete a University system that tears down the fabric of our culture. We need to protect the environment from REAL threats and produce good food. We need to pass along to our children and grandchildren the great nation that was given to us.

The Middle East Problem

Dennis Prager Explains the Region's History



The Biggest Obstacle to Peace

In The Nakba Obsession [click to read] Sol Stern in City Journal presents a clear-headed analysis of the Palestinian problem and why it needs to be better understood.

"There is only one just compensation for the long history of suffering, say the Palestinians and their allies: turning the clock back to 1948. This would entail ending the “Zionist hegemony” and replacing it with a single, secular, democratic state shared by Arabs and Jews. All Palestinian refugees—not just those still alive of the hundreds of thousands who fled in 1948, but their millions of descendants as well—would be allowed to return to Jaffa, Haifa, the Galilee, and all the villages that Palestinian Arabs once occupied.

Such a step would mean suicide for Israel as a Jewish state, which is why Israel would never countenance it. At the very least, then, the Nakba narrative precludes Middle East peace. But it’s also, as it happens, a myth—a radical distortion of history." --Sol Stern

Read More [click to read]

Apollo 11: The Untold Story

Forty-five years ago men landed on the moon. Neill Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins faced a few unforseen challenges in their mission. Aldrin, at one point, used a ball point pen to repair a broken fuse on the Lunar Excursion Module. Without that inventive repair, the crew might not have been able to leave the lunar surface to return home.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

THYME Magazine: What Makes a Nation Great?

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

thymerrrrrr
Volume VIII, Issue III

What Makes a Nation Great? II

In the end, the state of the Union comes down to the character of the people. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there. In the fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there. In her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits, aflame with righteousness, did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.
-- Attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville, though it is not a direct quote from his work: Democracy in America.

In the quest to restore and revitalize our great land, one often hears great solutions proposed but often very little in the way of addressing the real problem. We can create all the great economic models we want to, but if we allow greed and self-serving policies to prevail, we will see ever more of the type of destruction we saw in the mortgage crisis. If we attempt to spend our way out of our problems by creating more money, we will end up as a vassal to China. We need Revival! THYME has looked at the problem of Restoring the American Dream [click to read] before. Whether or not we can definitively find the quote in de Tocqueville's writings, the work of Alvin Schmidt [1.] and others documents well the evidence for Faith as a force in making better the human condition.

That is not to say that we don't need to seek and consider better ways to conduct our affairs. There is a practical side to problem solving that cannot be ignored. Consider how George Müller changed the lives of thousands of orphans in Bristol, England. First let us set the stage. The elimination of the slave trade by William Wilberforce in the Nineteenth Century destroyed not only a vile institution, but as an unintended consequence the city of Bristol, a major slave port, was thrown into decline. G-d had two chosen instruments to revitalize Bristol. There was Isambard Kingdom Brunel, [2.] who built bridges, railroads and great steamships to link Bristol to the world! But Bristol needed more than just economic development!

The city's decline had led to thousands of children either losing their parents or being put out on the streets by their desperate parents. George Müller was G-d's next instrument in the revitalization of Bristol. Young Müller came to the city as a minister of the Gospel. As he sought to minister to the soul of a great city, the plight of her orphans tugged at his heart. He, depending on G-d alone, was able to provide five large houses for these unwanted children. He apprenticed all the boys in various trades but took great pains to educate the young women as office workers, nurses, teachers and housekeepers. They stayed at the homes until they were seventeen. This was a practical policy that kept them from being exploited by those engaged in viler trades.

Those who seek to revitalize our own nation would do well to do no less. We must first address the poverty of our national soul before we set into the very necessary business of restoring her fortunes!

A Case for Faith 

On page 563 of his latest biography — John Quincy Adams: American Visionary — author Fred Kaplan (biographer of Abraham Lincoln, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and Gore Vidal among others) cites this insight of the sixth president:

Christianity had, all in all, he believed, been a civilizing force, “checking and controlling the anti-social passions of man.”

That insight is pretty much all an American needs to know in order to understand why the American Founders considered religion — specifically ethical monotheism rooted in the Hebrew Bible — indispensable to the American experiment; and why the America we have known since 1776 is in jeopardy." -- Dennis Prager.

In an article entitled: America Won't be Good without G-d [click to read] Prager lays out a pretty compelling argument. He writes:

"It is easy to respect secular Americans who hold fast to the Constitution and to American values generally. And any one of us who believes in God can understand why some people, given all the unjust suffering in the world, just cannot believe that there is a Providential Being.

But one cannot respect the view that America can survive without the religious beliefs and values that shaped it. The argument that there are moral secularists and moral atheists is a non sequitur. Of course there are moral Americans devoid of religion. So what? There were moral people who believed in Jove. But an America governed by Roman religion would not be the America that has been the beacon of freedom and the greatest force for good in the world."

Here Dennis Prager is spot-on in his analysis of the nature of man. The academy may tell us that we can effectively control the passions that drive us, but history, honestly pursued, tells us otherwise. Prager points out that: "Our prisons are filled with people whose consciences are quite at peace with their criminal behavior. As for reason, they used it well — to figure out how to get away with everything from murder to white-collar crime.

But our prisons are not filled with religious Jewish and Christian murderers. On the contrary, if all Americans attended church weekly, we would need far fewer prisons; and the ones we needed would have very few murderers in them."

Prager goes on to describe the wreckage of the great socialist experiments of the Twentieth Century, and the wreckage of "anything goes" philosophies that encourage casual sex and tell us that fathers are "unnecessary!" Indeed, if the academy would produce more honest studies of the results of the philosopies they have espoused, they might recoil at the burden they have placed on society.

Prager concludes with this sobering thought: "For proof of the moral and intellectual consequences of the secularization of America, look at what has happened to the least religious institution in America, the university. Is that the future we want for the whole country?"

The film: 'Expelled' is a pretty powerful documentary. G-d is getting some pretty bad press these days from esteemed writers such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. The Intelligent Design movement, though it is not specifically theistic, is uniformly vilified in the academy. Why is an inquiry into the observable order of the universe so dangerous, especially when open inquiry is such a cherished part of scientific investigation? Perhaps such 'open inquiry' inevitably leads to the 'wrong' conclusions.

Theodore Dalrymple writes in City Journal: "What the New Atheists are Missing." Himself a non-believer, he points to a time when a teacher's hypocrasy led him to question. Dalrymple does not, however, reject the realm of faith as a force in creating and ordering societies. He see's naturalistic explainations and philosophies quite insufficient for dealing with all of human existence. Richard Dawkins' assertions that religious education is tantamount to child abuse, for example seem to Dalrymple no more than the rebellious ranting of a child who's just learned that his parents are not perfect. All of us have experienced some sort of disillusionment in our youth. I remember a time when a nun of the 'Sisters of Mercy' punished me for some infraction I had not [at least in my recollection] committed. I too questioned a lot of things. The Cuban missle crisis fueled more unanswered anxiety as I careened into adolescence.

But something happened in my teenaged years that is etched firmly in my memory. It was a dark and stressful winter day when I decided to walk in the woods near Triadelphia Reservoir. Something spoke to me that afternoon that was more eloquent than the ranting of hormones and the perceived unfairness of life. The buds of the trees were growing fat. here was the hope of spring and new life. Clearly spring would come. The buds gave evidence of an event hoped for. They were indeed the substance of something yet unseen!

"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:" -- Romans1:20 KJV

Holy writ makes the point that the order and beauty of the creation speaks eloquently of the creator. Thus Intelligent Design, though it merely points out the complex mechanisms of nature, leads one to seek the source of such wisdom. I look to that time in the trees as an affirmation of personal faith in a creator. Though at that point it was pretty detatched and intellectual at best.

"...for he that cometh to G-d must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligenly seek him." Hebrews 11:6b KJV

As a young adult I embraced faith in Christ as redeemer and rewarder. The journey of faith had begun with the fat buds years before though.Therefore I must conlude that those who consider the design of the universe dangerous information have good reason if they fear that others may follow the path I have walked. Dawkins would prefer me to credit space aliens with seeding life to this planet and thus push the hard questions of origin to another world.

Darwinism, in its purest form, rejects the idea that this world is some sort of intentional creation. Of course this leads to the rejection of theism and ultimately the rejection of certain absolutes. 'Expelled' takes a good look at 'eugenics' and how it is supported by a darwinian world view. In the first half of the Twentieth Century certain proponents of eugenics sought to speed evolution along by eliminating the reproduction of certain undesirable types of persons. The results were forced sterilization of the mentally ill and the holecaust. Contrast that movement with Dorethea Dix and others who, motivated by Christian faith, improved conditions for the mentally ill.

Alvin Schmidt makes a good case in his book 'Under the Influence' that faith is a builder of society rather than a force to destroy it. Dalrymple the non-believer would concur. Thus the danger of Intelligent Design leading to dangerous conclusions is much inflated. One might even conclude that the free discussion of order and design,wherever it is found, is wholesome. Certainly there is no basis for its exclusion from the academy.

The argument will no doubt be made: "what about the crusades, what about jihad, religion is dangerous?" Yes, it is certainly something that may be misused, but that must be countered with an honest look at how the so-called "good" science of evolution was the foundation of eugenics. Millions of people were killed in this misguided attempt to improve humanity. Ironically, such brilliant men as Albert Einstein met the criteria for elimination. We reduce the world to only naturalistic explainations at our own peril. The argument for open inquiry stands.

Leaves
Autumn Leaves. Photo by Bob Kirchman

"When through the woods,and forest glades I wander,
and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
when I look down,from lofty mountain grandeur,

and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze"
-- "How Great Thou Art" Verse 2

A Case for Summer Vacation
By Bob Kirchman

How does one nurture the creative genius of a Brunel, or the vision of a Wilberforce or a Müller? I would suggest that men and women of that ilk are often found walking on the "road less traveled!" Walking home alone from a prayer meeting along a quiet street, the great designer, R. G. LeTourneau says he was inspired with the design for a rather complex machine that had stymied his most brilliant designers for weeks. Could it be true that not only should we hold off on 'formal' education a bit, but we should make sure children are not scheduled to the point of losing free, creative time.

If indeed the creative muse shows up in the quiet times, if problems are indeed solved through the exploration of play, wouldn't it make sense for us to esteem these times in the sense their descriptive originally suggests: re-creation?! The 'other' Weekly News Magazine [click to read] once argued that Summer Vacation is over romanticized and merely stands in the way of the kids retaining all that book-learning they'll need so they can work for the Chinese some day. OK, I'll give you the point that a certain amount of knowledge is 'lost' as kids pursue other activities... but as one who's life and career was shaped by Summers of 'other activities' I'll raise a clear protest: "Not so fast!"

I spent my Summers drawing, building things, going to camp and playing for hours in the woods. I was Lewis and Clark when I set off to explore the woods surrounding Triadelphia Reservoir... with no Sacajawea to help with directions. Mom got a big bell to ring when it was time to come in for dinner. Sometimes I actually heard it. More often than not my appetite finally brought me back to a plate of cold food. Now I loved my groceries as much as any young boy, but didn't Simon Kenton eat cold biscuits while he was exporing the Ohio Valley?

When my younger siblings were old enough, Dad loaded us in Mom's VW Microbus [Mom was there first when it came to the minivan] and we took road trips. Man, I loved road trips. We'd go to places like Gettysburg and crawl into sniper's nests. We'd imagine what it must have been like rushing up the hill in Pickett's Charge. Then we'd go to Antietem and wonder some more. When I turned sixteen, Dad actually let me drive on the trips. Oh the white-knuckle thrill of the Capital Beltway! The endless perspective of NC Route 12 heading to Hatteras and the rollercoaster ride down US 29 to Grandma's. Life was good in the Summer. I hired myself out to the local farmers to bale hay and other jobs. Hot, nasty work is good for the teenaged soul.

One farmer had a wife who'd make us grape juice and lemonade. I've never found sweeter refreshment in all my life.

One Summer Dad decided I needed to build a greenhouse. He let me draw up the plans and he took them to the county... I was thirteen at the time. He gave me a budget and set me loose. I learned to lay block, build walls, buy old storm windows and pretty much whatever it took. The guys at Talbott's Lumber Yard in Ellicott City gave me lots of free advice. They pretty much convinced me I could do it. I wonder how much Dad was paying them?

I was not a licensed electrician... that presented a problem for hooking up the power. Dad said it wasn't a problem. He had a buddy who was licensed and came out and did the whole job in exchange for a bottle of Jack Daniels [Black Label] that Dad cheerfully 'donated' to the building fund. In addition to the electric heater, we got the brilliant idea that it would benefit the plants with both heat and moisture if we ran the dryer vent in there.

What to do about lint? Well, here's where it got really interesting. When we discovered that a discarded nylon stocking fit over the vent and caught the lint while allowing air to flow, we had our problem solved. Dad enjoyed the 'conversation piece' that resulted too.

The greenhouse, built of redwood, served our family for many years. Finally it succumbed to termites after I was gone and married. It's lessons are still with me today.

Cover Photo: Dark Hollow Falls Rainbow by Bob Kirchman.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

THYME Magazine: What Makes a Nation Great?

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

THYME0802
Volume VIII, Issue II

What Makes a Nation Great?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


Patrick Henry:
"Orator of the Revolution."

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Source: Quotes of the Founding Fathers.

bars
Photo by Nick Page.

School Starting Age: The Evidence
by David Whitebread

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

THYME Magazine: Independence Day Issue

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

july22014
Volume VIII, Issue I

Reverend Richard's Prayer
From Homer Hickam's Book: 'Sky of Stone'

I was reading Homer Hickam's book: Sky of Stone when this passage riveted me with its profound wisdom, succinctly stated. Hickam describes a 4th of July celebration in Coalwood where the Reverend gave this invocation: [1.]

"Dear Lord, we are gathered here to celebrate not just the independence of our great land, but also the document on which it stands. There is much to admire in that document but what we best remember is this: We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

To prepare for this invocation today, I have pondered long and hard these words. Most of you know that I rarely go anywhere without my Bible. It is an old Bible. It belonged to my grandfather. What you don't know is that inside this book, I have always kept a copy of the Declaration of Independence. It also belonged to my grandfather. He believed it to be as Holy as his Bible.

When I was a boy, somebody once asked me if my grandfather had been a slave. I couldn't imagine that could be true so I went to him and asked him: Grandfather, were you a slave? He said, Child, a man called me that but I was never a slave and you know why? Because I could read. My mama, she taught me when that man wasn't looking, just as her mama taught her.

When he became officially a free man, my grandfather purchased this Bible and a copy of the Declaration of Independence. He kept them both until the day he died. He left them to me.

I have come to understand my grandfather was right. No man or woman can be a slave if they can read. Especially if they can read the Bible and the American Declaration of Independence.

But that means there are still slaves in this land. There are slaves who do not know that they have inalienable rights given to them by God, and that they also have, by the grace of the Lord, life, liberty, and the right to pursue their happiness and the happiness of their families.

They are slaves to their own ignorance. Ignorance is the ultimate slave owner.

So on this 4th of July, I pray a special prayer.I pray for the day when the tyranny of ignorance will be banished all across this great land and every man, woman, and child can read and understand what they read.

I pray for that day.I pray every day for that day."

The good Reverend had planted in me a renewed vision of the mission before us. That is the mission of educating ourselves and our children.

Capitol
The U.S. Capitol.

A Victory for Religious Freedom

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that certain "closely held" for-profit businesses can cite religious objections in order to opt out of a requirement in the so-called "Affordable Care Act" to provide free contraceptive coverage for their employees. Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority opinion of the 5-4 decision that the contraceptive mandate was unlawful. The big winners, besides Amendment One, are Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Products. Obamacare exemptions have already been negotiated for a number of religious institutions.

Although White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday afternoon that the decision: "jeopardizes the health of women who are employed by these companies," it is clear that all that is decided by this ruling is that companies run by people of Faith don't have to pay for abortificants. It does not stop employees from obtaining them on their own. There was a fair amount of "discussion" about the "problems" this legislation could cause, like a company run by Jehovah's Witnesses might not want to pay for blood transfusions. Mrs. Clinton said she found the ruling: "Deeply disturbing!"

Most of the scenarios presented fail to acknowledge the long tradition of religious tolerance this country has practiced. Horse drawn buggies with reflective triangles operate safely on modern highways to accommodate the needs of the Amish and Old Order Mennonites. Religious accommodation is actually something we as a people are quite good at.

Mr. Earnest and Mrs. Clinton would do well to address the very real plight of thousands of women who's health is truly jeopardized because they can no longer receive life-saving cancer treatments or heart procedures. The reason, loss of coverage as a result of implementation of the so-called: "Affordable Care Act!"

A growing culture of respect for life in the womb is taking place in America today. Clearly those of us who see the sanctity of unborn lives will see this as a victory for an even more fundamental right... that of life itself!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

THYME Magazine: Special Senate Race Edition

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

THYME0727
Volume VII, Issue XXVIII

Restoring Senate Representation

We must elect Ed Gillespie to the United States Senate; here's why. Most Virginians are NOT represented by the two Senators presently in office. Though many of us trekked to his office and made phone calls, pleas to Senator Mark Warner to vote against OBAMACARE fell on deaf ears. I went there with a large group opposed to this terribly bungled legislation. We were herded into a conference room and lectured by staffers on why we "had to pass it." We can ill-afford the effects of this poorly crafted legislation in our current fragile economy. We need leadership, not men who blindly follow the President. Please consider the following statements by Mr. Gillespie himself. I'm sure you will find him a welcome alternative to the present one-party representation in our Senate. Mark Warner [click to read] has been the subject of previous THYME pieces, so we will not discuss his positions at length here. Mr Gillespie helped to craft the Contract with America in 1994, which was instrumental in the election of a Republican majority to Congress for the first time in forty years.

Ed Gillespie Has a Plan for Jobs and the Economy

"By moving us away from our Constitutional principles of limited government and personal liberty, President Obama, Harry Reid and Mark Warner have enacted policies that have killed jobs, reduced take-home pay, and increased health care and energy costs. We can do better.

Conservative, pro-growth policies promoting lower taxes, less government spending, and ending excessive regulation create jobs, raise take-home pay, and reduce health care and energy costs by unleashing private investment and allowing working Americans rather than political appointees in Washington to make decisions about the best way to allocate their resources. Americans want and deserve intelligent policies to promote job creation, expand opportunities for recent high school and college graduates, and make career advancement a reality again for the many Virginians who have found themselves trapped in a weak economy.

The Obama-Reid-Warner economic policies are not only destroying jobs; they are undermining the American work ethic. There is not just economic value in labor, there is human dignity in work. We must enable more people to have that dignity. If elected I will promote a pro-growth economic agenda to create good-paying jobs for families, foster upward mobility, help those currently employed to keep more of what they earn, and enable people to lift themselves out of poverty.

Too many Virginians are living paycheck-to-paycheck—if they’re fortunate enough to have a paycheck. The U.S. labor force participation rate is at its lowest level in more than three decades, hovering somewhere around 63%. The Congressional Budget Office reported in February that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will mean millions fewer in the fulltime workforce. More people will be working only part-time and we will see the equivalent of 2.3 million fewer jobs over the next decade (nearly 64,000 in Virginia alone).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 92 million people are out of the labor force entirely, and 7 million Americans are working two or more jobs to make ends meet. That’s wrong, and policymakers must make a top priority of solving this problem, which I would do as our senator."

Priorities for All Levels of Education

"K-12

Every child deserves a high quality education, and I believe parents should be empowered to make the educational choices that are in their children’s best interests. Opportunity is enhanced by competition and choice, which is why I support public schools, charter schools, private and parochial schools, magnet schools, and home schooling. All Virginia children should have an opportunity to receive a world-class education, and no child should be forced to remain in a failing or unsafe school by the constraints of his or her zip code. That is why I support school choice programs that help ensure that all families have access to meaningful and accountable educational options.

Education policies and curriculum are state and local prerogatives. Virginia is rightly among a handful of states that have not adopted Common Core standards. We know that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work, and I will always support efforts to empower students, families and teachers, not political appointees at the Department of Education, to make these important educational decisions.

Higher Education

A. Virginia boasts some of the best public colleges and universities in the nation, and a strong system of community colleges, but for many Virginians, college tuition remains out of reach. There is work to do in making higher education more accessible and affordable. Higher education is an economic engine for the Commonwealth. The business community has documented the value of higher education through the “Grow By Degrees” effort, estimating that one dollar of investment produces over seventeen dollars in increased GDP and returns more than a dollar in new tax revenue to the Commonwealth.

I support the empowerment of higher education students by increasing transparency of higher education programs with information on earnings of graduates, by institution and degree, to be readily available to all potential students as they make choices to pursue their studies. Working Virginians require the resources to tailor their skills to the changes of a dynamic economy. That is why I applaud Virginia’s efforts to turn our community colleges into engines of workforce development, and why I will support intelligent workforce investment policies in the Senate, like those embodied in the SKILLS Act. There is no better program of social welfare than a good-paying job, so I will advance policies to help Virginians, and all Americans, develop the skills and expertise they need to compete in a global economy."

Supporting Basic Tenets of the Bill of Rights

"As Virginia’s senator, I will oppose efforts to infringe upon our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, which is an individual right. I would not vote in favor of treaties that would cede firearm regulation to international bodies like the United Nations, in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Senator Warner voted against the Senate rejection of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, which could undermine our Second Amendment rights and infringe on U.S. sovereignty. I would have voted for the amendment."

Repeal and Replacement of OBAMACARE, a Priority

"Virginians are concerned about having access to quality, affordable health care—and they know that Obamacare is making things worse. Everywhere I go, I hear from Virginians who face skyrocketing insurance premiums and stand to lose the coverage they like and the doctors they trust. We understand that Obamacare is not the solution, and that the problem with it is a lot more than just “a failed website launch.” It is harmful legislation that must be replaced with policies that make insurance more affordable, let us keep our doctors and insurance, and allows businesses to grow and hire.

Virginians know that a quality health care system empowers doctors and patients, not politicians and political appointees. We know that the way to reform health care isn’t to kill jobs, reduce wages, deny us our choice of doctors and cancel health care plans that Virginians like, cut $700 billion from Medicare, impose new taxes, and increase our deficit.

Sadly, Obamacare would not be the law today if Senator Warner had voted in the interests of Virginians instead of with his party line. As Virginia’s Senator, I would vote to replace Obamacare with policies that put patients first, provide more affordable options, and do not include a mandate. We need health care reform that works—and that means repealing Obamacare and replacing it with market-based reforms that take health care decisions out of the hands of political appointees.

We also need to focus on ways to keep Virginians healthy, not just treat them when they are sick. As Senator I will focus on medical innovations and finding cures for diseases, reforms that will produce more jobs, and keep America first in health care research. In the course of our campaign, I’ll outline policies in line with these principles."

A Plan to Spur Domestic Energy Production

"With the right policies, Virginia can be the East Coast’s energy leader, creating high-paying jobs here in the Commonwealth, bringing down costs for home heating in the Winter and prices at the gas pump in the Summer, and helping to move our nation closer to energy independence. We need a Senator who shares that vision and will support the growth of a vibrant, responsible energy sector.

Virginia’s energy sector directly employs more than 30,000 workers and indirectly supports as many as 200,000 jobs, making it a crucial component of our economy. With our natural resources, geographic location, and port access, Virginia can and should be a more integral part of America’s energy supply. From clean coal to wind energy to offshore oil and natural gas, Virginia is blessed with abundant natural resources, but efforts to develop these resources are often thwarted by an overreaching Federal Government.

I believe in an energy approach that embraces both traditional and alternative energy resources. I support oil and natural gas production—including responsible deep sea drilling off our coast—because we can protect our environment while ensuring access to the domestic energy resources we need to create new jobs, lower prices at the pump, and keep utility bills affordable.

As Senator, I’ll fight to protect coal jobs, because I understand how important coal is both to our economy right here in Virginia and to our nation’s energy independence, and I’ll stand up to the EPA’s failed policies that are driving up energy costs and imposing unnecessary regulatory burdens on our homes and businesses. Protecting public health and safety does not require duplicative regulations, needlessly complex and costly compliance requirements, or bureaucratic inefficiency. We need to make use of our abundant natural resources to create jobs and lower energy costs for Virginians. I will work to give Virginia the opportunity to lead on American energy independence.

Unfortunately, Mark Warner has voted in lockstep with the Obama Administration’s war on coal. He stood with Barbara Boxer and John Kerry when they released the Senate version of Cap and Trade in 2009, and has said, “The most significant thing we can do is send the market signal that either directly through a carbon tax or indirectly through cap and trade, we are going to put a price on carbon.”

Last year, Mark Warner voted against creating a 60-vote point of order against any budget resolution that includes a tax or fee on carbon emissions. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, a carbon tax could cost up to 21,000 jobs in Virginia. Five Senate Democrats broke ranks to protect their constituents from these job-killing policies—but Mark Warner toed the party line.

Mark Warner voted against an amendment that would have moved the Keystone pipeline project forward over President Obama’s opposition, and the amendment was defeated. He later backed a “non-binding resolution” supporting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in an effort to cover his tracks on the binding amendment. When it mattered, he voted against the Keystone pipeline, and when it didn’t matter he voted for it. That’s political posturing, not real leadership. I will work to get the Keystone XL pipeline approved.

As Senator, I’ll not just focus on developing energy resources, I’ll also work to remove the federal red-tape that slows down the development of energy infrastructure and limits the development of our energy sector and the creation of jobs. Energy projects, like building new pipelines and refineries, are a critical link between production and lower prices for consumers. Unfortunately, Senator Warner and President Obama, have shown no leadership in removing the barriers to job-creating, cost-reducing, energy infrastructure projects."

A Pro-Life Voice for Virginia's Citizens

"I am pro-life, and believe we should foster a culture that respects human life. This means that as a civil society, we must respect and protect the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn, the sick, those with disabilities, and the elderly.

I would oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, and believe it was a mistake to abandon the explicit prohibition in federal law against it, as Mark Warner voted to do with Obamacare.

I understand that women facing an unplanned pregnancy need compassion and support, not judgment or condemnation. I support education and health care to help women avoid unplanned pregnancies, and believe we must offer life-affirming alternatives to women facing difficult decisions, ensuring that they have the opportunity to choose life. I support adoption and believe that government should help both women and children by making it easier, more affordable, and more accessible for both newborns and those in foster care."

A Firm Supporter of a Balanced Budget Amendment

"Mark Warner once endorsed a Balanced Budget Amendment, but when he had a chance to vote for one in the Senate, he voted against it. As your Senator, I will not only support a Balanced Budget Amendment, I will introduce one. I will make it a priority to reduce wasteful, inefficient, and duplicative federal government spending.

At a time when millions of Americans have been forced to make due with less, it is an outrage that government continues to spend taxpayer dollars in such a reckless manner—particularly when profligate government spending is at the root of our economic problems. Deficit spending on the part of government sucks money out of the productive sector, impedes growth, and is a drag on our economy.

Raising taxes on American families and businesses that are already too high would only impede economic growth and make the problem worse. We do not have deficits because taxes aren’t high enough, we have deficits because Federal spending is out of control and our economy is not creating enough jobs. I promise my fellow Virginians I will fight and vote against any efforts to increase marginal income tax rates on individuals and businesses, and oppose any net reduction or elimination of tax deductions and credits unless they are matched by equal reductions in tax rates. Growing our economy and getting spending under control are the keys to resolving our burgeoning federal debt, not further adding to the tax burden on American families and businesses.

Mark Warner has voted to increase taxes by nearly $1 Trillion, and to increase our debt by $7 Trillion. An $18 trillion debt is simply unacceptable, and we cannot afford the consequences of continued inaction. We’re saddling our children with debt to pay for promises made in the past, and new promises President Obama and Mark Warner made in Obamacare.

It’s time we stop spending money we just don’t have."

Secure the Borders, Reform Our Visa System

"I am proud to be the son of an immigrant. My father came to this country through Ellis Island from Ireland as a boy, because his father found work as a janitor. I appreciate the opportunities provided to my father — and by extension to me and my children — by the greatest country ever to grace the face of the earth.

When it comes to immigration reform, I believe we have not only a right but a responsibility to secure our borders. We must also enforce our existing laws. The steps we take to secure our borders would not only enable us to keep out those we don’t want coming into our country illegally, but to allow in legally those we want to welcome here.

An estimated 40% of those in our country illegally now have overstayed their visas, so we clearly need to reform our visa system. If this were a private sector problem, it would have been fixed by now, and our Federal Government needs to fix it. I also believe we can improve the E-Verify program to help employers be sure that anyone they hire is a citizen or a legal resident.

While steps like these would help stop illegal immigration going forward, they do not address the 10-12 million people here illegally now. I do not support amnesty, and oppose granting citizenship to them, which would be unfair to those who have come here legally and played by the rules. And I don’t believe we should give one of the greatest privileges in the world—American citizenship—to those who are here by virtue of having broken our laws.

At the same time, I do not believe that our nation will implement the mass deportation of 10-12 million people, so we need to come to terms with those who are here illegally now. It would be in the interest of both American citizens and those here illegally to be able to come forward and, after a series of processes (i.e., criminal background checks, payment of back taxes, assimilation, demonstration of self sufficiency), be issued new visas to be here legally." [1.]

Time to Awaken a Sleeping Giant

Looking at the percentage of eligible voters who actually vote, and even the percentage of REGISTERED voters who actually vote, one thing stands clear; I believe that if we could motivate substantial participation in the Great Valley of Virginia, we could overcome rampant voter fraud and the "Northern Virginia" blue vote. In the last few elections, we watched the results come in and saw a fairly representative victory for more Conservative candidates... until Northern Virginia precincts reported. They always came in last and suddenly skewed the results to the left. Most Virginians were left without representation!

Another thing to remember is that even though some of us really want to see more candidates like Shak Hill and Jamie Radtke, we dare not sit out any election at this point. We dare not remain unrepresented in the times we cannot support our 'ideal' candidates. The Left knows our tendency to 'sit out' elections and have advanced their agenda through our apathy! Yes, we have every reason to be frustrated at the treatment given a candidate like Mike Farris in the past by the party establishment. Here Jamie Radtke Talks About Cantor's Defeat [click to view]. Now is NOT the time to step back from the process. Now is the time to honestly address the business of representing the people! We can achieve that goal!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

THYME Magazine: Essential Knowledge III

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

thymebear2
Volume VII, Issue XXVII

Essential  Knowledge III

Does the human condition indeed require Faith to sustain it? I write from that perspective in this essay, but there are those who would disagree. Indeed there is fresh argument to the effect that human compassion  can (and indeed DOES) exist apart from Faith. Leaving the Sciences vs science arguements of the past, a new study from the University of California, Berkley, suggests that Compassion Moves the Non-Religious [click to read] more than the people of Faith. A closer look would not necessarily discredit the compassion of the faithful, but identify the top motivator in the life of a person who's life is not characterized by Faith.

"Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not," explained Robb Willer, co-author of the study and UC Berkeley social psychologist. "The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns." -- Laura Saslow, Researcher

Saslow goes on to say that it is more likely that the person of Faith will cite Religious teaching as the reason for his or her actions. The person who professes NO belief will indeed cite compassion by default. Atheists often cite the observed lack or compassion they see in religious people as one reason they chose not to believe. For me the study has deeper implications. I remember Bertrand Russell's wrestling with the meaning of life:

That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair can the soul’s habitation be safely built. -- Bertrand Russell (from A Free Man's Worship, 1903)

In despair, one still reaches out to find an anchor. A soul adrift still seeks safe harbor. Conscience still leads us to the safe waters of compassion... even as we dismiss it as a simple evolution necessary for the survival of the species, that anchor becomes MORE important because we find nothing else to tie our rope to. The first irony implicit in the role of despair is that for many of us this was the point where we began our discipleship IN the Faith. Though those who want to deny Faith will undoubtedly reference obscure similarities to now extinct ancient religions to obfuscate the beacon that I follow, I humbly offer that compassion finds its roots in some very clearly marked repositories. Winston Churchill said it best: "There is no better hope than Christ's principles in the Sermon on the Mount!" Wallace Henley [click to read] writes:

"Everyone on the planet has a worldview. Those who understand reality through a biblical view know transformation is the fundamental issue. "Where do wars come from?" asks James, rhetorically. They come from our lusts and passions. We desire power and possessions, and we enter conflicts to satisfy those perceived needs.

Biblically formed thinkers are the ultimate realists. While many in the world try to find other explanations for "irrational" human behavior whether in the form of nations or individuals, those who embrace the Bible's worldview know the bottom line: "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

Then follows the question: What worldview can really bring human transformation that benefits the rest of the world? Certainly not a belief system that advocates intimidation, manipulation, condemnation, and domination to force global allegiance.

Suddenly the Christ towers in our precarious moment: the Christ who taught us to love our enemies, to be harmless as doves but simultaneously wise as serpents, to lead as servants, the Christ who renews the human mind, and who gives us a whole new way of seeing and living."

Alvin Schmidt concurs with Henley. In his book: Under the Influence [click to read], Schmidt documents well the roots of much of what the world today calls "Compassion," in the revelation of the Divine. The Berkley study first referenced finds two reasons for action: compassion (usually for those one feels empathy with), and doctrine. What if pure doctrine expands compassion? Consider those early Christians who pulled discarded babies out of the Tiber River and cared for them. What about the Righteous Gentiles who risked their own lives to protect their Jewish Neighbors from the Holocaust?

In fact Jesus once asked: "Who is my neighbor?" in Luke chapter 10. The lesson he proceeded to teach did just that... EXPANDED the reach of compassion! Jesus was always embracing lepers and talking with people he wasn't supposed to... like WOMEN. In a world where the (self) righteous man would pray, thanking the Divine that he had not been born a Gentile, a Slave or a Woman, Jesus brought the message of promise to all three, as well as to the House of Israel. IMAGO DEI was a non-negotiable concept  for the carpenter from Gallilee.

A very sad story was seen in the Washington Post recently. It was about a 19th Century home for unwed mothers where the bodies of hundreds of discarded children had been buried. The story went on to explain the distain the surrounding community had for the "home babies." They mainly died from neglect. The picture of the building's exterior bore a chilling resemblance to a Müller home, but here the resemblance ends. Where Müller saw IMAGO DEI, the administrators of this facility saw only the children's unwantedness. Today the household of Faith extends compassion in ministry to unwed mothers and their unborn babies.

Expanding compassion might well take the same reporter who investigated this home to shudder at the case of Kermit Gosnell's abortion clinic in Pennsylvania. Where Gosnell saw only unwantedness, we are challenged to see IMAGO DEI! That is the challenge, and the destination we have arrived at... a personal challenge to expand the vision of compassion, directed by the Divine!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

THYME Magazine: Essential Knowledge II

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

THYME0725
Volume VII, Issue XXVI

Essential Knowledge II

Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man:

And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your G-d into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel:

That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?

Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.

And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the Lord spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.

And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day. -- Joshua 4:5-9

The importance of passing foundational truth from generation to generation is seen not only in the prescribed feasts, but in the history of the people of Israel as well. Add to that the fact that most young people were taught their trade by their parents and you see a pattern that only recent centuries have diverted from. One of my relatives opined recently that we, the Church, do youth ministry wrong. "We create a separate space designed to woo them with 'their' music and amusement." Consider that last word for a minute: A-muse! It could be translated: "without thinking." Are we trying to entertain our children into the Church rather than inviting them into the Sacred Wonders? Last week we saw Maggie transformed as she learned the old hymns. The unique fellowship she found did acknowledge her world, but expanded upon it. Maggie found herself enriched by the depth of Sam's circle of friends.

Young people need to know that the sacred things are theirs as well. They are not the "Church of the Future," they are a part of what G-d is doing now. They need to participate in our worship and ministry now. I love it when young people are able to help take up the offering, sing special music and even share there testimonies in the midst of the congregation. Our culture offers so much AMUSEMENT. In fact, if we major in offering amusement to our youth, they will graduate from the Church as they graduate from high school... and will seek out better AMUSEMENT. But consider for a moment the church full of older Mennonites we looked at last week. They did not offer amusement; instead they offered extended family and that was what the youth in their neighborhood longed for.

It is a well documented phenomenon that young men join gangs because they need family. Their initiation cements a bond with others that is otherwise lacking in their culture. Drugs and violence simply are an extension of this identification with their new brethren. How sad that this exists as such a counterfeit of what is available in the house of Faith! Yet it is obvious that the Church does not seem to do too well at creating such family. Some ignore it all together, but it seems that many churches simply create a program. They may fail miserably in this, or have horrible experiences, concluding that such ministry is not for them. Conversely, they may create a dynamic program that attracts large numbers (at least for a time) and go on to write the book on how they do it better. But there is, perhaps, a better way.

The elderly congregation we looked at last week started with earnest prayer. When G-d seemed to be speaking to them they listened. Then they looked to see what G-d might be doing in their own neighborhoods. When they saw Divine appointments they responded, having prepared themselves with prayer and an understanding of those they sought to minister to. They watched G-d build relationships and the ministry flowed out of that. It was such a work of the Divine that they couldn't write a 'how to' manual. (They COULD, of course, share much information on some of the practical aspects such as maintaining safety and trust).

(to be continued).