Saturday, January 24, 2015

THYME Magazine: The Power of Inspiration III

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

THYME0903A
Volume IX, Issue IIIa

Julian Abele, Architect

The great architects of the Beaux Arts tradition relied heavily on the power of their own drawing ability to visualize their unfolding design process. Julian Albele (1881-1950) was a master of this craft. His surviving drawings of what many consider to be the most beautiful building in the state of North Carolina would be impressive for their archival record alone. Abele  is a man who deserves to be studied further for his accomplishments; for his is one of the great stories of America.

Albele was born in 1881, the youngest of eight children in a Philadelphia family. He showed great abilities in mathematics as a child and attended the Quaker-run Institute for Colored Youth, which later became Cheyney University. He completed a two-year architectural drawing course at the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art, earning the nickname: "Willing and Able." Julian Abele was the first African American student to enroll in the Department of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, and became the department's first black graduate in 1902. His studio partner was Louis Magaziner, the only Jewish student in the department, who was of Hungarian descent. The two became lifelong friends.

In 1906, Abele joined the firm of Horace Trumbauer as assistant to chief designer Frank Seeburger. In 1909 Seeburger left the firm and Abele became the chief designer in his place. He was the second highest paid employee in the firm. During the years of the Great Depression and the World War, commissions were few and far between. but in Durham, North Carolina, the Julian S. Carr and Washington Duke family fortunes would fund the Duke Endowment. A great gothic campus would be build, designed by Julian Albele, in a commission won by the Philadelphia firm.

In the segregated South, the impeccably dressed francophile, Albele, was once reportedly denied lodging by a Durham hotel. In those days attribution was scarcely given to team members so the Trumbaurer firm name was credited as the architect of record. It wasn't until late in the Twentieth Century that proper attribution was accorded Albele and a portrait of the architect was displayed at the university. His legacy is an incredible one. The chapel he designed is considered by many one of the most beautiful buildings in the region!

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Julian Abele's rendering for the tower of Duke University Chapel in Durham, North Carolina.

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Julian Abele's rendering for the interior of the Duke University Chapel.

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Julian Abele's rendering of the Duke University Campus.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

THYME Magazine: The Power of Inspiration II

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

THYME0903
Volume IX, Issue III

A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow?

Is it  Realistic to even think of "Great Big Beautiful Tomorrows?" Certainly much of the promise of the Twentieth Century has not materialized as hoped for. C.S. Lewis was a man of the modern age. He dismissed the faith as a young man, embracing the Naturalism of his day. As an enlightened Medieval scholar, he nonetheless dismissed the power of story to convey unseen truths. His friendship with men like J.R. R. Tolkien led him to become: "the most reluctant convert in all of England." Lewis, along with his friend Tolkien, discovered the power of the story to convey unseen truths. Imagination for them became the key to discover and share: "a NEW THING!"

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

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

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

Visions for Tomorrow

We desire a beautiful world where our children are safe and we have our needs met. Beyond that we desire the influence of art and music and green spaces. For the 1839 World's Fair, industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes created an enormous ride through an amazing architectural model... the General Motors Futurama. Here in 1939, a vision for a bright new world was presented. The Futurama takes the viewer on a trip to the world as it would be in 1960!

A great war would be fought and technology would unleash new terrors before the world would again convene in Flushing Meadow Park to view an even more ambitious Futurama. Presented here are the wonderful visions created for the General Motors exhibits.

The 1939-1940 Futurama


The Futurama at the 1939 New York World's Fair's "To New Horizons" presented the world as it might be in the year 1960.

The 1964-1965 Futurama


The 1964 Futurama presents an even more ambitious vision for the future.

Another Vision for the Future

Throughout the ages mankind has yearned for a peaceful world where  the nations were able to "beat their swords into plowshares." Sadly the Modern age did not end hostilities. Mutually Assured Destruction kept the superpowers locked in a stalemate that resulted in an uneasy peace but in recent times nations with philosophies that do not promote peaceful solutions are growing closer to owning the nuclear bomb. When Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatens to destroy America and Israel, it is more serious than Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev's declaration: "America, we will bury you." Khrushchev was playing by the same rules, so to speak, not wishing the destruction of his nation. An unsteady peace prevailed.

Not so with Ahmadinejad. The radical ideologies that prevail in Iran make the likelihood of an attack all the more realistic. Communism might have removed Faith from the culture, but it didn't erase totally the civility it produced in human interaction. The radicals do not mind sacrificing their innocent civilians (or ours) to meet their desired ends. The world today is indeed a very dangerous place.

So are we to throw up our hands in despair? Shall we try yet another experiment in government as solution to the human condition? Looking at the wreckage of past empires that does not hold great promise. Still, there is historical evidence of Faith's role in remaking societies. Faith also holds promise for the future! Revelation 19:6-9 speaks of the time when people of all nations are joined in communion with G-d:

And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord G-d omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of G-d."

In Isaiah 60 [1.] and in Revelation 21 Believers look to a New Heaven and a New Earth where a Heavenly Jerusalem descends to join the Earth. Here is a Kingdom that needs no temple, needs no sun to light it, for G-d Himself is the force that illuminates it! [2.]

And I saw a new Heaven and a new earth: for the first Heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from G-d out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of G-d is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and G-d himself shall be with them, and be their G-d." -- Revelation 21:1-3

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Journey to Jesus, a mural depicting the nations coming to Jesus in the New Heaven and New Earth described in Revelation 21. Mural by Kristina Elaine Greer and Bob Kirchman

Journey to Jesus [click to view larger images].

Our Christian hope is that we're going to live with Christ in a new Earth, where there is not only no more death, but where life is what it was always meant to be." -- Timothy Keller.

THYMELESS
The hope of Heaven.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

THYME Magazine: The Power of Inspiration

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

THYME0902A
Volume IX, Issue IIa

The Power of Inspiration

The 1964-1965 World's Fair [1.] indeed provided inspirational. As a boy I was fascinated with the shapes modern materials could be formed into. Walking in the woods and meadows, it seemed that the best inspiration for the fair's designers had been nature itself. In fact, the most memorable shapes and images of the fair did not spring from technology so much as from observation of forms that are timeless.

There has not been another New York World's Fair. The closest thing to it in recent times might be Walt Disney's Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. EPCOT is indeed a continual world's fair... but it is not a community (experimental or otherwise), no one LIVES there! Though various pavilions show unfulfilled wonders and extol the power of human imagination (I love the character: 'Figment' who stars in one such show), there is no place in the design of EPCOT for living.

Disney himself wanted to build the community of tomorrow. After his death his organization crafted the fair. Still, the vision persisted and Disney created Celebration, indeed a new community that people could actually live in. Interestingly enough, the town was patterned on 'New Urbanist' ideas rather than those of Twentieth Century designers like James Rouse, who built Columbia, Maryland in the decade following the World's Fair. New Urbanism promises tighter-knit neighborhoods more inspired by Nineteenth Century cities.

The verdict is still out on Celebration. Some residents express frustration over the control the Disney organization maintains over the town. There are the usual frustrations with such things as the school and community services. This was to be expected, however. Real differences and real problems will inevitably occur when you populate a real community with real people. Some of the brilliant exhibits Disney created for the 1964-1965 fair still exist, and you can see them in Disney World. The last time I visited Disney World, a sign announced that the popular exhibit: "It's a Small World" was closed for repairs.

Perhaps it is a fitting metaphor. The world itself is a far different place from the world that seemed to be the promise of the fair. Old-fashioned hostilities have replaced the beautiful legislative process that seemed to be the promise in those many nations represented at the fair fifty years ago.

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Sycamore and Ice, Mint Spring Park near Crozet, Virginia.
Photo by Bob Kirchman

The Power of Inspiration
(under fire)

When twelve people died last week in the attacks on satirical magazine: Charlie Hebdo, the world's journalistic community was moved to bring the world together. Free Speech was under assault. Thousands were inspired to converge on Paris (as they should) in opposition to the violence. In Northern Nigeria, near lake Chad, Boko Haram has destroyed villages and killed thousands. The world is not so greatly moved to outrage. Nigeria's homegrown Sunni terrorist group gets away with murder. Six months ago the group kidnapped 276 girls from a school in Chibok. Most of the girls were Christian. 219 of them are still missing. Hundreds more children are missing as well. Christianity Today estimates that over 1600 Christians have died at the hands of the terrorists. [2.] The number is likely far higher.

Boko Haram is an extremist Islamic organization, which in 1992, expressed its desire, along with the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), to make all of Nigeria a Muslim state. (Nigeria is a member of OIC). Over 90 percent of buildings destroyed by Boko Haram are Christian churches according to Christianity Today. "The Church is strong and vibrant," the magazine reports. Recent attacks in Baga, Near the border with Chad, left 2000 dead. Many more lives have been disrupted. In the Congo, sadly, similar events are taking place. Here is a letter, received around Christmas time from Bishop Unda Yemba Gabriel in that nation:

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

As I write these few lines, my heart is too heavy because of the situation going on in Beni territory, northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is part of my Episcopal Area. The efforts of our army (are) insufficient to protect people.

People there are killed every day in the neighboring villages and we run the risk of losing all our believers. Two weeks ago, a group of Uganda rebels killed people in the villages (of) Kamango, Oicha and Mbawu. A Methodist family (a father, his wife and their two children) were killed with machetes.

Many people are fleeing to Beni. Our local congregations there are crowded with displaced people who flee from villages for their lives. We need your prayers. But, as you know, food and basic needs must be met. Our evangelization should reach people in need.

I am sending this SOS message to all those who may want to help.

May G-d be with us all during Christmas, but let’s keep in mind that our brothers and sisters are dying somewhere because of selfish interests.

Bishop Unda Yemba Gabriel
Resident Bishop, East Congo Episcopal Area [3.]


There will be no 'great big beautiful tomorrow' for these brothers and sisters in Africa provided by technology or Western-styled Constitutions. They hope in the G-d who holds tomorrow... and that is the inspiration that sustains them!

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A Winter's day on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Photo by Bob Kirchman

The 'Carousel of Progress'


Walt Disney himself designed this exhibit for General Electric.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

THYME Magazine: When the World Came to NY

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Thyme0902
Volume XI, Issue II

When the World Came to Flushing

In the Summer of my Thirteenth year, our family braved the perils of the New Jersey Turnpike and Megopolis traffic to visit the New York World's Fair. The fair was a breathtaking assemblage of fanciful architectural creations... IBM housed its exhibit in a Brobdingnagian egg, Travelers' Insurance had an enormous red umbrella and in a bit of unbridled kitsch, a tire manufacturer presented an enormous tire-shaped ferris wheel! The "Big Three" United States auto manufacturers all had sprawling exhibits, the most noteable being the General Motors Futurama.

Futurama was an updated version of a similar General Motors exhibit presented at the 1939 New York World's Fair which was held at the same site. In the final years of the Great Depression, Americans came to the fair and saw modern innovations such as washing machines and refrigerators. Within a few years a terrible World War would consume the energies of American resource, but at its end, the promise of innovation returned. Upon the avenues of the 1939 fair, an even more amazing and ambitious vision for the future was painted. In General Electric's pavilion, Disney robots in chorus sang of a "Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow... shining at the end of every day."

Somehow technology would propel us to a new Utopia. Forgotten for the moment was the new specter of nuclear annihilation. Like the White City on the shores of Lake Michigan so long ago, the wondrous shapes promised a pattern for rebuilding the world of the Twentieth Century. The gleaming aspirations of the free world appeared to offer a clear choice over the dark and oppressive Socialist 'Utopias' and their bread lines. Africa was casting itself free of its colonial rule and beautifully garbed delegates assembled in gleaming new legislative halls to ratify Constitutions that were often based on ours. Some of those nations proudly appeared at the fair.

As a youth, I was inspired. Returning home after the fair, I proceeded to create reams of drawings of fanciful creations of my own. Indeed, this experience propelled me into the world of Architectural Art. But as the world failed to recreate itself, indeed falling into the same depravity of generations past, I wondered where the hopeful vision had disappeared to. We had not overcome human aggression, but held the worst manifestations of it at bay with a policy of mutually assured destruction. Somehow I never forgot the tense moments of the Cuban Missile Crisis, where that or our missiles in Turkey might have triggered the unthinkable.

To be sure, the fair had offered glimpses of more than technology as saviour, I remember the sublime lines of Michelangelo's Pieta, as seen in the Vatican Pavilion. This timeless and beautiful work spoke of things unseen... even to a lad of thirteen! Billy Graham, who had led a young and restless Louis Zamperini to faith in Christ, built a pavilion at the fair where he offered the same hope to all who would listen. At the time, the promise and wonder of technology seemed to drown out the "still small voice" -- [1 Kings 19:11-13] that would come to guide my later life.

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The fair as seen in an aerial view of Flushing Meadow Park.

Books to Inspire Young Hearts II

Zamperini2
Louis Zamperini tells the 'untold' part of his story.

Captured by Grace [click to view]

Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner turned bombardier, survived a plane crash and prisoner of war camps during WWII. He returned a hero, but his greatest battle was yet to come.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

THYME Magazine: Books to Inspire Young Hearts

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

UNBROKEN
Volume IX, Issue Ic

The Power of True Stories

When I was thirteen, my uncle gave me a copy of Endurance to read one Summer. The heroic story of Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton and his men surviving the entrapment by ice and crushing of their ship riveted me. The men pile supplies into lifeboats and drag them like sleds across the ice, then set to sea in the hopes of reaching land hundreds of miles away. Finally the men reach land... but it is a harsh land, and they live under the shelter of the lifeboats as they ponder what to do next. The story of the aptly-named Endurance is one EVERY thirteen year old boy should have handed to him. In it are many lessons for life ahead.

Unbroken, the story of Olympian Louie Zamperini and his wartime comrades was written by Laura Hillenbrand. Her telling of Louie's story was as riveting as Endurance had been so long ago. Unbroken follows Louie through his troubled childhood to a place where he finds purpose in running. It follows him through the trials and terrors of the great war in the Pacific, to a place where he finds a far greater place of redemption. The story deals with the powerful theme of human dignity... given and taken away. It deals with the place of hopelessness and resources unseen.

It is a story that must take its place in literature for young adults and indeed for all of us. I am sure that I am not alone in seeing much of myself in Louie Zamperini. His turbulent youth, his disappointments and his struggle will resonate with a lot of us. Follow this great story to this conclusion and you will indeed find a 'Pearl of Great Price.' -- Matthew 13:45-46

B-24 Liberator
B-24 cockpit.

B-24 Liberator
Ball turret.

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The plane's radio.

Louis Zamperini Honored


Greg Laurie interviews Louis Zamperini.

The Power of Forgiving

The paradox of vengefulness is that it makes men dependent upon those who have harmed them, believing that their release from pain will come only when they make their tormenters suffer." -- Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken, p. 373.

Ouch! Louis Zamperini delivers a blow to the ego. Having suffered the most dehumanizing and degrading treatment at the hands of his captors, he finds the strength to forgive. In doing so, he reflects the best in humanity... IMAGO DEI, and the inference is powerful! Any of us can find that place of strength that Zamperini discovered. The freedom Louie Zamperini found is there for the taking! Here is a story where the end is truly the beginning.

The Power of Giving


The story of Dr Prajak Arunthong. ht/Kristina Elaine Greer.

Sir Ernest H. Shackleton

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Glass plate photo of Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

THYME Magazine: The "Values of THYME"

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

values
Volume IX, Issue I

The "Values of THYME"

Beginning in 2009 as a parody of the 'other' weekly news magazine, THYME has struggled to find its place in the word of citizen journalism as TIME has become less of a force in mainstream reporting. As more and more people find their news in alternative sources, usually through the internet, it has become all too common for badly sourced hysteria to overshadow good solid discussion of information. Here's an example: Last year the following 'petition' circulated the email circuit:

As co-creator of The Simpsons, I can find humor in almost anything. But I’m not laughing at the shocking images of blatant cruelty to animals from inside a Chick-fil-A supplier farm and slaughterhouse that I recently saw. When my friends at Mercy For Animals showed me hidden-camera video footage exposing Chick-fil-A’s foul treatment of chickens, I was sick to my stomach. Now I need your help to stop it." -- Sam Simon

Terrible! But what Sam Simon is protesting is not the truth. Mercy for Animals investigated a grower in Puckett, Mississippi, and a poultry slaughterhouse in Chattanooga, Tennessee owned by Chicago-based Koch Foods. Koch Foods' contract to supply Chick-fil-A was terminated as of April of 2013.Thus they were not even a Chick-fil-A supplier at the time Mercy for Animals investigated them! Could it be that there is some media bias towards Chick-fil-A for their support of traditional values? You be the judge.

Chick-fil-A said of the matter: "As a values-based organization, we strictly partner with suppliers who share in our goal of responsible environmental stewardship, and maintain our values throughout all animal welfare and management practices. We wholly support the humane treatment of all animals and do not condone their mistreatment at any point along the supply chain." [1.]

Certainly there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Chick-fil-A's values are more than window dressing. To honor a fallen police officer in Georgia, they closed the store while his funeral procession passed by, saying: “Chick-Fil-A of Griffin Dwarf House will suspend all transactions as the funeral processional for Officer Kevin Jordan passes our location Monday afternoon, June 9th. Thank you for helping us pay respect to our fallen officer.” When Birmingham Alabama highways were shut down by a massive snowfall, Chick-fil-A passed out thousands of free meals to stranded motorists. [2.]

The larger point here is that modern liberal thought (which drives much of today's so-called 'journalism') does not have a place in the narrative for values, as we in the household of Faith know them. Pointing to a few instances of very real Hypocrisy, they proceed to tell us that very real values are only a pretense! They do a great disservice to humanity by doing so. The void this thinking creates is often filled with things sensational and tawdry. We, as a people, are diminished by that.

That is why THYME has changed direction to present the stories that celebrate the things found in Phillipians 4:8: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."


Dennis Prager discusses good values.

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Staircase to belfry, Mount Vernon United Methodist Church in Danville, Virginia.

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Blue Ridge Parkway Bridge over U. S. Route 60.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

THYME Magazine: Epiphany Edition III

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

epiphany
Volume IX, Issue 1c

The Epiphany, It is Important

The traditional celebration of Christmas lasts for twelve days. It begins on Christmas Day with the celebration of the birth of the Redeemer and ends on Epiphany, which celebrates Christ's revelation to the gentiles. The MAGI, or the Wise Men came from Persia seeking a prophesied King. It is very likely that these were men who had studied the writings of Daniel and now saw the signs of the fulfillment of things he had written: "And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." -- Daniel 7: 27

The revelation of Christ to the Gentiles also fulfills a promise made to Abraham: "By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice." -- Genesis 22:16-18

THYME0701
"Partridge."

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

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

Here is More Historical Background [click to read] from Father Dowling. h/t Kristina Elaine Riley Greer

Monday, January 5, 2015

THYME Magazine: Epiphany Edition II

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

THYME0703
Volume IX, Issue Ib

Faith's Foundations in Christ's Unity
By Donna Lou Shickel - © 2013 Donna Lou Shickel Publishing Co. Distribute freely with permission

If you’ve been with us here at A Place of Grace recently, you’ve heard the series on the deliberate and systematic attacks against our nation’s Christian Judeo values and freedoms. You’ve heard about the horrific goals they’ve stated and accomplished because they believe the Christian/Judeo faith and traditional values hold back progress, not to mention their own rise to totalitarian power. You’ve heard here about the successful influence by socialist and communist sympathizers in our own country in the attack on human life, education, the modern feminist movement and against our free market system. So what could any of us as Christians possibly have in common with these haters of human dignity and freedom? Is it even possible that any believer could be in mutual agreement with them on anything? Well, there is, and you may be surprised.

Welcome to A Place of Grace, I’m your host, Donna Lou. Through all my research, I was most horrified to see that without exception, these leaders have first and foremost sought to destroy not a human institution, but a Divine one – the historic Church - the most powerful voice standing against socialist/communist now called progressive efforts. Look back at the tactics used to malign and subvert our American institutions, and the re-writing of our Christian-Judeo history and Founding Fathers. Think about the repeated magnification of our countries’ failures and all the stories of those who HAVE abused her benevolence. And with what purpose? To present the problem as freedom, and the solution as government control and oppression. And the same tactics continue to be used in an attempt to destroy the historic Church from her beginning; fueling fear-based divisions, inciting blame, vilifying all members for the failures of a few, basically re-writing history. And too often, enemies of the Church have been quite successful in turning people against the very idea of Christianity, and toward intimidating other churches to water-down or eradicate basic controversial teachings. And divided, we fall.

I mentioned before that thousands of communist sympathizers were recruited by individuals like Bella Dodd to infiltrate seminaries, to destroy the Church in the US and Europe. Not to say that the Church hasn’t always had her Judases helping the devil’s cause from the inside, from the time of Christ - Those who would use God, rather than allow Him to live through them. But don’t you wonder why an anti-Catholic view would be the one area some of us might be in agreement with the likes of Marx, Stalin, Darwin, Frederick Nietzche, Margaret Sanger, Hitler, Mao, John Dewey, not to mention Empererors Nero, Dometian, oh don’t forget Napoleon, and now the secular media, and many of our own countries progressive leaders in government and in other churches? I thought here at Advent, where we are to make straight our crooked ways, it would be good to set straight maybe the most controversial teaching of the Catholic Church – Who does the Bible say Mary is? And who Mary is and is not according to Catholic teaching. It’s hard to ignore Mary at Christmas (or Epiphany for that matter).

Many of you know I was raised Catholic, educated in Catholic grade school and high school, minus the middle school education during the cultural revolution of the late sixties, which was chaos, teachers taking us out of school to protest, passing marijuana around, during the “make love not war” era, a statement coined by known communist, Herbert Marcuse. A time when the Catholic Church was ridiculed as the lone voice against abortion and departure from virtue, but stood firm, despite many of her own members being swayed by science and media who convinced people that “it wasn’t a real baby” until months after conception and “you bishops are just oppressing natural behavior”. But the Church stood on the faith of the Apostles which carried forth precepts of the ancient Hebrew blood Covenant God entered into with Abraham which included Abraham’s seed, don’t mess with the seed. And because God became flesh in the Person of Jesus in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the fully Divine Son’s human life began at the moment of conception.

God sanctified human life and we therefore have no right to destroy or tamper with that life or it’s seed which God has created through the sacred union between a husband and wife. Contrary to popular teaching, the nuns were very clear in teaching us that Christ alone is our one, true Mediator, and that you worship Mary or ANY person other than God, family, friend, pastor, pets, if you don’t love God more than these, you do so at the expense of your own soul. I never saw them beat anybody, though I was deserving, but they sure beat that into us, and all other teachings the Catholic Catechisms actually teach. It never crossed my mind that anyone would even think we worshiped Mary until I moved to the peaceful, God-fearing Shenandoah Valley. I learned to stop telling people of my Catholic background, because instead of wanting to talk about Jesus, people seemed to be fixated on Mary and purgatory. I told my Dad once it was like going to a doctor’s convention, and the heart specialists demanding that the endocrinologists explain why they were focused on the thyroid gland. “Why do you worship the thyroid? It’s the heart that gives you life!” But I was never a good Catholic anyway.

I was taught to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and to become a fisher of men, but carnal me had other fish to fry. And when I came back to my senses in my early twenties, I came back to the faith only nominally, then married and moved here, to the Valley. And I did what I hate having done to me. I distanced myself from the Church because it was controversial. Even though I knew that MOST accusations were errant, I cared more about belonging and being accepted. And when you’re making friends with people who were raised to believe that the Catholic Church is the antichrist, but you both are just as passionate about the Word of God, and standing against Satan, well you just focus on what you have in common and hope for the best. Plus, I found precious few people who wanted to hear or bother to look up what the Catholic Church actually teaches, and to their credit, it’s the only Church who has set in stone what is believed, taught and why, citing all of Sacred Scripture, and refuses to change it.

The Catechism I was taught then is the exact same today, used in many non-denominational Christian schools to teach the faith, even here in the Valley, and most of it was complete in early Christianity. The Pope has no authority to change the teachings of Christ and the Apostles, that’s why they seem so rigid in our culture. They only reassert the Sacred Truths to a particular culture when needed for clarification and renewal. But I didn’t like being grilled and interrogated and even blamed for the Crusades, which if you check history, were only begun after 400 years of turning the other cheek to Muslim attacks against the Holy Lands and the Christians, Jews and other Muslims who were making their pilgrimages to the Holy Lands. The call to the Crusades included building monasteries along the routes for all religions to have safe shelter and food on their pilgrimages where they once were being killed or captured as slaves. You’d be surprised to learn that the common myths believed about the Crusades originated, again, by communists and others who hate Christianity. And to learn the only religion calling for forced conversions were the Muslims.

Let’s take a whole show for the Crusades one day, shall we? But back to my litany upon moving here: - “No, we don’t worship Mary and dead saints, we worship God alone, we venerate the saints in Heaven and on earth whom the Scriptures say pray and intercede for us, and there’s no such thing as dead saints, if you’re a saint, you never taste death.” “No, the Pope is not above the Scriptures, He’s a servant TO the Scriptures and to the flock. No, we don’t believe you can pray someone out of purgatory on their way to hell, when you die, you’ve chosen your own destination. No, we don’t believe you can work your way to Heaven, only the redeeming sacrifice of Christ unlocks eternal life for us. “But you wear crucifixes because you think Jesus never got off the cross!” “No, we got the memo on that one too.” I thought people should be relieved to hear this, or at least check out the facts themselves, but again, when you’re raised and taught to stay away from Catholics lest you too become deceived, well I was weak. And that bothered me, being someone who would otherwise get between bullies and victims and defend and take hits for people being maligned. But I would soon become engaged in Bible study with my many good Protestant and Evangelical friends who overlooked my Catholic background, and eventually accepted the invitation to enter my new Church’s three year license to ministry program. And it was by this time that I found it necessary to thoroughly investigate every debated teaching of the Catholic Church.

Now the original Protestant Reformers defended the teaching on Mary’s perpetual virginity, also not to elevate her, but based on what it says about God, Scriptures, AND about the glory Jesus shares with His beloved, John 17 and throughout the New Testament. It wasn’t until centuries later, with near complete detachment from the early Church customs rooted in Old Testament Judaism, that accusations of Catholics worshiping Mary began, at which time the Pope issued a decree to re-state what the Church and the Protestant reformers believed from the beginning. Yes, I yearn for unity, but not at all costs. I have no intentions of proselytizing or in defending any idolaters or wolves in sheep’s clothing, I just want us to honestly consider these things and encourage good Christians to do your own research. I’m sure you trust the authorities who taught you as they trusted theirs, but do your own research. I can attest that nothing will make you as popular as being a disgruntled, ex-Catholic poster child in a crowd of Protestants, but what a shallow honor! And nothing can lose you friends faster than defending or defining Catholic teaching if you’re a well-Catechized Catholic who’s consecrated your life to Christ. But the devil’s had his day. After having spent half of my life in each Church, all I can see is that we need each other, and we have to begin somewhere to dialogue.

In the meantime, we all need to get grounded in our own faith and leave it to others to profess theirs lest we bear false witness and destroy our own Covenant family with God. I understand the objections and the risk, but I also see the openly stated, hell-bent deliberate effort by Communists who hate us all and want to divide and destroy EVERY Church. Did you know that dehumanizing Jews and Catholics was the very tactic Stalin and Hitler used to slaughter millions? They spread mockery and lies that the existence of these people threatened the lives of their other citizens so that by the time the killing began they would support it or at least look the other way, like we’re doing with the ongoing massacre of thousands of Catholics today in the Middle East and elsewhere. The same thing happened in Rwanda two decades ago. The power-hungry government spread propaganda of fear and hatred, calling the Tutsi people “cockroaches”, that led Hutu neighbors to take up government issued machetes to kill nearly a million of their own brethren! And a few weeks ago, I think I heard the straw that broke this camel’s back.

On a Sunday morning radio show, someone was making vulgar jokes about nuns. Nuns! Women who consecrate their lives to Christ, some who are right now being imprisoned, stripped, raped and paraded through public streets in the Middle East, along with the priests who are being beheaded and their churches and thousands of parishioners bombed, butchered or shot! And when one bishop or priest is killed, another takes his place because they gave a sacred oath before God to shepherd Jesus’ flock with their very lives when all other missions have pulled out. Those nuns who taught me would get up to pray at three in the morning to pray for a wretch like me before spending the day giving us an excellent education. Not that I cared then, but when I heard these jokes, I said, “Enough. Open season on nuns and anyone else we’d like to dehumanize is over. This has to stop. What other group of people can you openly mock and slur in such a way but the Catholics, and still call yourself Christian? What race, creed, color – what religion can you do that to and get away with it in our society today? Yet we preach Grace and Mercy for all?

In Matthew chapter 10, Jesus promised His true disciples they would be accused of being the devil. And it wouldn’t be the atheists calling a group of believers the anti-christ, they don’t believe in Christ or the devil. No, it would be other members of the same religious community. Jesus said they will flog you from their synagogues, where the early Christians would assemble. Fellow believers will accuse you of being Beelzebub and drunkards from their very place of worship. Are other assemblies openly accusing your church what Jesus promised? What prophesy are we fulfilling here? So if Catholics are idolaters and actually worshiping Mary, why would you choose someone who said to God, “Be it done unto me according to your Word”? Why choose as your false idol someone whom God’s messenger said, “The Lord is with you” and “with God all things are possible”? A mother who points to her son, Jesus and says, “Do whatever He tells you?” Why a mother who endures mockery, is accused of being the mother of Beelzebub, but doesn’t distance herself from Him but rather stands and gives her ascent at the Cross for her own salvation and for the world’s, rather than saying no and demanding this brutal execution stop as Peter once did?

Because this humble woman, the first Christian, knew that this brutal execution was actually the willing Sacrifice that would save mankind from eternal death, and for cooperating in His Salvific Act, she would be set afire with the Holy Spirit anew at Pentecost. This is a curious idol, indeed, mostly because Jesus went through Mary to come to us. I could say, “I love Mary Magdelene, I love Rahab the prostitute, and you’d say, “Oh yea.” But “I love Mary?” Oh, that means I worship her. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, number 487, it states “What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ.” Likewise, it would say a lot about a God Who would impregnate a young girl and then distance himself from her out of fear others would worship her, and say more about the causes you and I might have given Him to treat us in the same manner. What does it say if Jesus treated Mary with any iota of disrespect, that’s not sinless by Mosaic law. And why would anyone defend the sanctity of human life when God only used Mary as an object?

Yes, what you believe about Mary directly impacts what you believe about our Lord. His Word states, when both women are filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth calls her “Mother of my Lord,” and in the Holy Spirit Mary states, “All generations will call me blessed,” but we don’t call her anything but “a willing vessel”, if that? Is that what you call your mother? So let’s look to what the Israelites would understand from Scripture about the Woman, beginning in Genesis 3 when God said to the serpent who deceived Adam and Eve, verse 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers. Enmity to the Jews meant complete separation, division, nothing in common, in fact enmity meant warfare. The mother of the seed who is Christ would by God’s own Word and redeeming Grace, have no connection whatsoever with the devil.

Revelation 12:13 says that when the devil was thrown from Heaven down to earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. And when he couldn’t touch her, verse 17 says that he was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children. And really, how could the woman from whom the God-man, Jesus, would draw his flesh and blood from and in whose womb would have created a sinless human body, mind and soul, have in her own being the stain of sin? How could the flesh and blood that would redeem the world be drawn from a sinful woman? Mary was indeed saved by the same Grace that saves us all, as she praises God her Savior in the Magnificat in Luke chapter 2. The once for all sacrifice was applied to Mary by God’s design, otherwise Jesus would have carried the stain of original sin. Or, as some argue, that Jesus wasn’t fully human but was incubated within but separately from Mary’s being. That’s a problem, again, not because of what it says about Mary, but what it says about Christ.

First, if Jesus was not fully human, not truly born of a woman and as it says in Hebrews 4:15, like us in every way except for sin, then He’s not the true mediator for mankind and He’s not like us, not the first-born of God and of man, He’s simply God in a human-like shell and God didn’t really want to be that intimately connected with His Covenant people by becoming fully human through Christ with us after all! So therefore, you can’t really trust and relate to Jesus, you have to lean on created people or things. That’s the spirit of anti-christ. 1st John Chapter 4, 2 "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist!"

No one denied the historicity of Jesus’ existence, just His full-divinity or humanity, because without both, you don’t have one true mediator, and you don’t have to make a decision to give Him your whole life. You can just toss around His teachings in the Church of the Good People. But consider the parallels between the Tree of Life in Genesis, on Calvary, and in Revelation, and that in calling Mary “the woman”, Jesus was not being rude. Because when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, he didn’t speak on his own behalf. These were God’s Words in Luke 1 verse 28 as God’s Messenger, and the original text is “Hail, Full of Grace.” God Himself gave a royal greeting to Mary. Hail as a greeting is only used in the Gospels or historically as a royal greeting, remember “Hail, King of the Jews.” And “Full of Grace”, the title Mary was literally greeted which is translated from complete with grace, is only used elsewhere in John one verse 14 which says of Jesus, He was full of Grace. Mary’s a creature, but Grace, as we know, is the life of God living inside of us.

All that Mary is is by God’s doing, and her leading in God’s Word gives us hope and a beautiful example, not an object of worship but a “great sign” as Revelation 12 says, that points to ALL THE MORE reason to worship God! But as we read in Luke chapter one beginning in verse 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ Now, we might miss the significance that the throne of David would have for a devout Old Testament Jewish girl. But Mary wouldn’t have. According to Scriptural genealogy, historical manuscripts and archeological evidence, Mary was the late-life miracle child of Anna and Joachim, and according to Mosaic Law, was the child that opened the womb, referred to as “first born”, whether there were more children or not. God commanded in Exodus 13, the Festival of Unleavened Bread, don’t miss that, The LORD said to Moses: "Consecrate to me all the firstborn; whatever is the first to open the womb among the Israelites, of human beings and animals, is mine." Firstborn in the Bible doesn’t imply there are second born, just as the word “until” in Biblical language didn’t imply mean the cessation of an event would now commence. Psalm 110 quoted in Acts 2 says, The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.", - it doesn’t mean at which point, Jesus you can’t sit here anymore. And in Deuteronomy 34, it says no one knew the location of Moses’ grave “until this present day.” Earlier translations of Matthew 1:25 give a better sense of Mary’s case: "He had no relations with her at any time before she bore a son" or "He had not known her when she bore a son".

The Gospel writers intentionally call to mind Old Testament prefigurements and prophesies to show that Jesus is the Messiah. In 2nd Samuel, David’s wife Michal laughs at and despises David for bringing the Ark of Old into Jerusalem dressed not as a royal king, but in an ephod. 2 Samuel 6:23 says that because Michal despised David, and David rebukes Michal, there was enmity, that “Michal the daughter of Saul had no child until the day of her death. It was understood that because of this enmity, David had no relations with her and gave her no child “until the day of her death.” This is one of literally countless parallels throughout Scripture to validate it’s Divine origin. The ephod was the same garment as Adam, Aaron and other priests wore as did Jesus when He washes His disciples feet, renewing the Old Testament ordination rite with His Apostles. David wasn’t just humbly dressed, he was dressed as a priest of God, leaping and dancing for joy for six steps, sacrificing on every seventh step, and the parallels between David and the Ark of Old and Mary are numerous: David arose and made haste to the hill country of Judea, same written of Mary; David says of the Ark, "who am I that my Lord should come to me?"

Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit says of Mary, who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me, David leaped for joy, Elizabeth says the baby leaped in my womb for joy, the infant John the Baptist who was six months ahead of Jesus, David leaped for joy six steps ahead of the Ark, David offers a prayer, Mary echoes the same prayer in the Magnificat; David and the Ark remained for 3 months at the house of Obed Edom, Mary remained with Elizabeth three months. No Jewish reader would have missed these parallels OR the same patterns and prefigurements occurring where the Ark led the people and the seven trumpets in the Old Testament and the Old Ark seen with the new, THE woman, and the trumpets, and patterns of seven in Revelation. We can argue about linguistics, and translations, like the original Greek texts calling Jesus THE son of Mary, not A son of Mary as was in other cases as with James and John. But far more fundamental than translations of terms are the themes Jewish Christians understood from Sacred Scripture regarding Mary as the New Eve, the Ark of the New Covenant and the New Davidic Kingdom’s Queen Mother.

In the Old Davidic Kingdom, the Queen mother sat at her son’s right hand interceding for the people, no power on her own, but she took the people’s petitions and brought them to her son who highly revered her, Solomon even bowed before Bathsheba. So why wasn’t the king’s wife the queen? Because the Bride was so numerous. The King Jesus, having some as his bride who would also be his blood sisters or brothers and then be consummated to them in the Wedding Feast would be to the Jews, Catholics and reformers an absolute abomination of God’s Laws, beyond consideration. And what we might miss about virgins in Old Testament, or in the parable Jesus told of ten virgins, was that these were more than biological virgins. That went without saying for unmarried Jewish women, or they were stoned to death. So these would have been sort of like Jewish nuns, consecrated wholly to God for life, and when they came of child-bearing age, would either have permission to remain serving as handmaids of the Lord in His Temple, or to be married to an older, righteous man who was perhaps widowed if they had no other male in the family to provide for them.

When Mary asked the Angel Gabriel in Luke 1 verse 34‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?” it wasn’t because she hadn’t had the talk yet. Mary was asking, how could she bear a child since as a first-born, consecrated virgin, she would never know a man in the carnal sense. And if she is the prophesied woman of Genesis, with whom God placed complete enmity between the devil, she could have no such communion with a man born in sin. We have understandable confusion when the New Testament mentions Jesus’ brothers and sisters, but close relatives were brothers and sisters by Jewish terminology, and early Church scholars and historians make many mentions that Joseph was widowed with either his children, or his brothers. But more didn’t need to be stated about this because under Mosaic law, whomever impregnated a woman was to be her spouse until his death. Joseph was clearly told that the child in her womb was of the Holy Spirit, who of course could not die. A Jewish scholar once said that “For Mary to have relations with a mere man after supposedly carrying the Divine Son of God in her tabernacle would have been like using the Ark of the Old Covenant as a wine cooler after God left its presence.” And if “Blessed is the fruit of (Mary’s) womb” as the Word states, wouldn’t those accused of idolizing a creature like Mary also idolize the flesh and blood of anyone sharing the same flesh and blood of Jesus? Wouldn’t they know undisputedly the names of these brothers and sisters, and have shrines to them?

Does God have step-sons? And where are the bones and relics of Mary? The term that the Angel used to tell Mary how she would conceive, was only used one other place in Scripture. Luke 1:35, the Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will Overshadow" you, the word for overshadow was "episkiasei" – only used in Exodus 40:34 – 48, to describe the Ark of Old when Almighty God came upon it and dwelled, or tabernacled with His people! It’s the same term the early Christians used to describe what happens in the renewal of the New Covenant Sabbath Worship! And the term for Shakina glory was a feminine noun, which then made no sense. The Ark of Old led the way in its holiness in scattering enemies and leading God’s people through the Jordan River and to their promised land. It contained the priestly rod of Aaron, the Law on stone tablets, and the Manna which gave life to the Isralites.

Now the New Ark carries the Way and the Truth on a heart of flesh and the Bread of Life Who Himself enters the Jordan River opening the Heavens and the Way for His people to be One with The Father. Do you see the Glory of God we miss, along with the hope we share together, when we’re more inclined to separate and divide rather than give ourselves to our Lord and His prayer that we be One? Today’s program is sponsored by listeners from the Protestant, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Anabaptist and Catholic faith who agree, we want and need revival, and it can’t come until we see, we need each other and a return to common, mutual love and respect for each other. Will you stand with us? Get in touch with me here at A Place of Grace at donnalou.com, or by writing to Donna Lou, PO Box 400, Churchville, VA 24421.

I’ll do whatever I can to help. Let the world one day tell the story, that God brought revival to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, who led the restoration of the entire nation! Because they chose to love, and allowed God to turn their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Let it be said that God heard from Heaven, and healed our land, because in the Shenandoah Valley, where there was repentance, there was renewal and there was God so there was love that could not be stopped! Why not us, beloved? Why can’t it begin here? We’ve heard the problems, what else could be the solution? Who else is with us? Who will commit to a new beginning, in mutual love and respect? I’m sure you have other questions too, and I’ll do my best to answer them, donnalou@donnalou.com. Until then, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will” (Lk 2:14).

Saturday, January 3, 2015

THYME Magazine Epiphany Edition I

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

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Volume IX, Issue Ia

Epiphany, Another Forgotten Season

Celebrated by the Western Church on January 6th, Epiphany celebrates the revelation of Christ to the Nations, as pictured by the visitation of the Magi. Portrayed as three Eastern kings astride camels, they follow the Christmas star to worship the newborn King. Here is a profound telling of truth that is often lost in its cultural wrappings. If ever there was a celebration needed for today, it is Epiphany!

The biblical identification for these pilgrims is Magi. The Magi are an interesting group in temselves, originating in a hereditary priesthood of the Medes (the ancestors of modern day Kurds). They were installed as religious leaders and policy advisors to the Persian court by Darius and here they actually make their first appearance in Holy Writ. Daniel, carried into exile from the fallen kingdom of Judea, is assigned to this group when he surpasses the rest of them in his service to the king. Daniel correctly fortold the return of the exiles seventy years in the future.

Though he served a secular king and kingdom, Daniel never lost his connection to G-d and Jerusalem. His quarters had a window facing Jerusalem and he was 'busted' for praying when the king decreed that all his citizens bow only to him. Daniel's deliverance from this decree's punishment, by a Divine intervention, is an often told story by people of Faith. What must be conjectured, however, is the influence this man of Faith might have had on his fellow wizards.

Daniel never returned to Jerusalem, though he never forgot her. He grew old and died as a stranger in a strange land. Though he walked the halls of power in Persia, his citizenship remained in the Land of Promise. His book ends with descriptions of things far into the future, and is silent about the later life of Daniel himself. One might safely assume that he remained in the company of the Magi and continued to serve the Persian court.

A young spiritually minded person would have sought out men like Daniel as mentors. Thus it is highly likely that the hope of the coming King was wrapped into the fabric of Daniel's life and work in such a way that his apprentices would preserve it. Many years later it propelled some of them on a long and perilous journey to find that King. There is no Scriptural reference saying there were only three. That may be an assumption based on the mention of three specific gifts they brought; Gold Frankincense and Myrr.

And what did they find? A Child and his mother, ordinary in their appearance perhaps, but marked by Heavenly purpose! Picture the scene, if you will, of mighty clerics, who direct the affairs of empire by their counsel bowing before a woman and an infant!

Epiphany compells us to wrap our minds and hearts around ancient truth and promise. Epiphany compells us to fight the myopia of contemporary culture and look for the Hand of the Divine! Epiphany compells us to awaken from our slumber and if we hear the voice of G-d, to LISTEN! Epiphany is that discovery so wonderful it is a sin to conceal it. It is a truth that carries a blessing for ALL who will hear it and heed it.

So, as the world around us marks the beginning of a new year and marks down the merchandise of Christmas past, it is really time to continue unwrapping the wonder of G-d's redemptive relationship with His children. Old truths must be pondered, but the promise we find there demands action. The voice of G-d must be answered. History, you see, is not some endless cycle. It leads us on a journey to find a specific destination. The voice of the Divine speaks of far more than some warm feeling of self-actualization. It calls us to participate in the ushering in of a Greater Kingdom!

C. S. Lewis captured the hope and the message so well in this thought from "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:"

"When Adam’s flesh and Adam’s bone,

Sit at Cair Paravel in throne,

The evil time will be over and done."

Spoken to four rather ordinary children, the extaordinary hope of Aslan's rule creates a feeling of thrilled anticipation. Does the knowledge of the unfulfilled prophecies of G-d's Eternal Kingdom create in us today that feeling as well?

Epiphany's Meaning for Today

Around the world, the hope of Christ's Eternal Kingdom fires the passion of Christians in diverse and difficult situations. Coptic Christians in Egypt share this hope with hidden house church groups in China and North Korea. In Nigeria the faithful watch their churches destroyed, knowing that an Eternal Jerusalem awaits them.

Twelve men hiding in an upper room were propelled outward one Pentecost long ago to share that hope. These reluctant witnesses found themselves empowered by the Holy Spirit as they went. At first glance, history seems to tell us that the church eventually divided into many factions... today many at the tips of these branches hold tight to their distinctives, but miss the branching and rooting of a great tree. Today there are many distinctive groups within Christianity, but has the essential message survived? Next issue we will take a good look at how essential truth has indeed flowed like the lifeblood of this great tree.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Kirchman Studio: Thirty Years

Gothic Towers in Two Seasons, A Sampler of Churches

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This is my painting of University Chapel. When Jefferson created his academic village it did not have a place of worship. In the late Nineteenth Century members of the Charlottesville community raised the money to build this gothic revival chapel designed by Charles Emmet Cassell of Baltimore. The cornerstone was set in 1885, and the completed chapel was dedicated in 1889. The chapel marks a sharp departure from Jefferson's classical forms.

For thirty years now, our studio has produced architectural art. [1.] I started the studio in faith and with some apprehension. My daughter was one year old and I would often finish up a 'rush job' in time to visit Mom and daughter for the 2:00am feeding! Those are sweet memories. When I went out on my own, my boss took me out to lunch and essentially told me I was a fool to do this. I would never make a go of it!

But for three decades the little studio struggled on. Sometimes we did some incredible things! [2.] We raised some great children and they often sat drawing at a little table beside mine. We had our good times and our bad, but looking back there is no way I would have changed my mind. We are who we are as a family because of the way we chose to live. Watching my daughter with her daughter, I have no doubts.

So, while it might have seemed to an observer that I was painting houses, churches and gas stations, I was really creating a celebration of family. That is why I have chosen the two works here... the University Chapel where our family began, and a recent commission (below) that also celebrates the beginning of a family!

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Winter scene, St. John's United Methodist Church in Staunton, Virginia.

Our industry has changed. No longer does every project require a hand-created presentation. Much of our work has been replaced by digital representation. Still there is much to be said for the power of traditional media and I continue to provide this service to a small group of very creative designers who value it. I have also ventured into some fine art projects and look forward to finding new avenues for creative expression and ways to use that creative expression to further the work of a Greater Kingdom:

But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new Heaven and a new Earth, where righteousness dwells." 
 -- 2 Peter 3:13

See, I will create new Heavens and a new Earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind." 
 -- Isaiah 65:17

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

THYME Magazine: Recognizing True Greatness

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

THME0501
Volume VIII, Issue XXVII

Recognizing True Greatness
G-d's Not Dead

What do you do when your faith is challenged? A recent film asks that question as it follows a college student's unexpected 'testing' when his philosophy professor demends that all of the students write "G-d is Dead" on a piece of paper, sign it, and hand it in at the beginning of the first class, or face a failing grade. For most, it is a simple exercise of class compliance, but for freshman Josh Wheaton it is a demand that he deny the very foundations of who he is. Josh nervously refuses to comply, raising the ire of professor Radisson, who counters Wheaton's refusal with a daunting assignment; he must prove G-d's existence by presenting well-researched, intellectual arguments and evidence. He must go head to head with Radisson in a series of classroom debates. If he cannot convince his classmates of G-d's existence, he fails the course.

The movie G-d's Not Dead opened in just under 800 theaters, yet it sold out in many locations and outperformed films with far larger exposure. Directed by Harold Cronk, the film dramatizes what is unfortunately an all too commonly seen antipathy to faith in the modern academic community. But consider this; the universities that the radicals of the 1960's became tenured in during the years that followed owe their beginnings to people of faith who sought to bring truth and order, rooted in faith, to the Americas. Great schools like Dartmouth and William and Mary sought to bring the invigorating element of Faith to the populace of the New World, both Native and European. That initial mission is now reflected only in the aforementioned schools' mascots and Dartmouth's remaining scholarships for people of Native American ancestry.

“G-d’s Not Dead didn’t have a massive marketing budget, a liberal A-list star above the title or even the same number of screens most mainstream movies receive. The film is still on pace to snare the fourth spot in the weekend’s box office chart in a very competitive frame. LA Times: ”The religious drama ‘G-d’s Not Dead’ surprises at box office. The film, which opened on just 780 screens nationwide, took in more than $2.8 million Friday. It’s likely to be the No. 3 movie for the weekend, behind the bigger-budget, wider-released “Divergent” and “Muppets Most Wanted.” - Breitbart

The need to consider the greatness of G-d and His story are nothing new. This is reflected in the hymns of old and the wonder that they still inspire!

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Carl Boberg.

He was 26 years old. The year was 1885. Carl Boberg, a Swedish minister,  wrote a poem entitled, “O Store Gud”. Boberg’s poem was published in 1886. The title, “O Store Gud,” translated into English is “O Great G-d,” translated into English, it reads like this:

When I the world consider
Which Thou has made by Thine almighty Word
And how the webb of life Thy wisdom guideth
And all creation feedeth at Thy board.
Refrain:
Then doth my soul burst forth in song of praise
Oh, great G-d
Oh, great G-d.


Stuart K. Hine, who wrote the hymn "How Great Thou Art" that we recognize today, was an English missionary to Poland in the 1920s. Climbing through the Carpathian Mountains, his entourage was faced with a gathering storm. Inspired by "O Store Gud," he penned the first verse of the hymn we know today. The storm was so severe that the party could not travel further. Reaching a little village, they were given shelter by the local schoolmaster.

Traveling on into Romania and into Bukovina, Hine wandered forest glades with the young people in his company. Thus was born the second verse. The conversion of many people living in the Carpathian Mountains inspired the third verse and the fourth, speaking of Christ's triumphant return to Earth, was written when Hine returned to England.

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Maltbie Davenport Babcock.

 Born in Syracuse, New York in 1858, Maltbie Davenport Babcock was the Pastor of a church in Lockport, New York. He often took long walks along the Niagra Escarpment, where he enjoyed the sweeping views of Lake Ontario. He would say to his wife Katherine: "I am going out to see the Father's World." Indeed, his walks with G-d in the beauty of Upstate New York inspired him to write the poem that became the great hymn. My beautiful wife was born in Syracuse, New York, though her Oklahoma accent, acquired in her childhood, makes that a well kept secret! She often hears me express a sentiment similar to Babcock's as I head for the Blue Ridge Mountains for the "Sunday Afternoon Walk."

Both hymns begin with an awe of G-d revealed in observation of nature. They build to an understanding of Christ's redemptive Love and rise to an expression of the triumphant Messiah establishing his rule and order on this Earth.

I have always loved the hymns these men wrote. The Hymns Project [click to read] was inspired by them. My friend and Colleague, Kristina Elaine Riley Greer actually deserves the credit for first developing graphic expression for great hymns. Her work on Henry Alford's Come Ye Thankful People, Come [click to read] and Joy to the World [click to read] deserve recognition in their own right. The Hymns Project was an attempt to build a visual representation of the rich musical tradition began by Carl Boberg, Stuart K. Hine and Maltbie Davenport Babcock.

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The Hymns Project.





The Testimony of Nature
Evening Light Plays Across the Folds of the Great Valley

valley
Photo by Kristina Elaine Riley Greer.

The heavens declare the glory of G-d; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,

Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.

His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.

Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. -- Psalm 19

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Greetings from Quinhagak, Alaska

A New Twist to Handel's 'Messiah'
 


Here is a unique production of Messiah by the citizens of a small town in Alaska..

Mural at SAC
Journey to Jesus Mural. Kristina Elaine Riley Greer and Bob Kirchman

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Beloved Christmas Story's Story

With Six Children to Feed, the Author Needed a Miracle

Francis_Alexander_-_Charles_Dickens_1842
Frances Alexander's 1842 painting of the famous author.

A Milestone Monday Feature

The Year was 1843 and he needed a miracle. With six children to feed and a large house in London to maintain, his slipping sales as a writer were of great concern. His installment novel: Martin Chuzzlewit, was selling poorly, unlike earlier works like Nicholas Nickleby, which had given him some measure of success.

Christmas was coming as he bitterly confided to a friend that his checkbook was empty. Walking the streets, he came up with a 'Ghost of an Idea' and set to work. He published 6000 copies in time for Christmas distribution. They sold out, but because he had splurged on hand-coloured illustrations by John Leech he barely broke even. [1.] Yes, even in Nineteenth Century England, good illustration cost you something! [2.]

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

Sunday, December 28, 2014

"What Christmas is All About"

Linus Explains the True Meaning to Charlie Brown


"A Charlie Brown Christmas" was always a favorite at our house when I was growing up. We always decorated a "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree" in our family room in addition to our "formal" one.
-- Courtesy: The C.S. Lewis Society of California [1.]

Saturday, December 27, 2014

THYME Magazine: Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Crimora
The pipes of the Trinity Lutheran Church organ in Crimora.

Beloved Carol Inspired
by a Broken Organ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


English translation:

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


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

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

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

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

Newark
After the 1967 riots, Newark, New Jersey struggled for years to restore itself. NASA Photo.

"An Eye for an Eye"

The recent murder of two New York police officers and the incendiary rhetoric of so-called 'leaders' in the wake of the events in Ferguson, Missouri should call for a deeper examination of how we respond to terrible things. First of all, we need to clearly identify those 'leaders' who merely preach a culture of retribution. Theirs is the way of: "an eye for an eye..." and they will ultimately leave their own communities blind and toothless. Their reasoning is flawed on a number of counts. First of all a crime is only worthy of attention if it fits their narrative. Hundreds of young people die each year in inner city neighborhoods, victims of violence within their own communities. Where is the outcry? Where are those leaders when they might lead in mentoring young people to a better way of living?

Police officers come in all persuasions and colors... the ones I know personally have young children. To make their color into a reason to kill them is the ultimate racism. Most officers put their lives on the line to make their communities safe. Most people are glad for their presence as they serve as a defense against the depravity of those who make some places unsafe. They deserve our respect and our prayers. Those who would reduce them to a one-dimensional prop in their narrative would do well to consider the harm their words do to these fine men and women who, for the most part, tirelessly serve their communities. Sure their are 'bad cops,' just as there are misdirected souls who commit crimes. That does not negate the decency and service of the majority.

This new year would be a great time to look to new leadership who might overcome hatred with healing. We need leaders who seek to build and better their communities. THYME has presented a few of them in recent issues:

Star Parker [click to read]
Tim Scott [click to read]
Mia Love [click to read]

Indeed their stories can inspire us toward a place of healing and opportunity instead of an endless cycle of retribution. They are the leaders that media must celebrate.