Saturday, November 22, 2014

THYME Magazine: The Vision of Charles Carroll

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XXIa

The Vision of Charles Carroll

July 4, 1828 the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence took part in an important ceremony as he turned the first spade of earth at the symbolic laying of the first stone of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Fifty-two years after he put his name to the document that began our nation, Charles Carroll of Carrollton participated in an event that looked to her future. Indeed, inspired by the Ellicott Brothers [click to read], Carroll had already diversified agriculture on his large estate in Howard County, Maryland. He had helped build flour mills and limestone mills that in turn helped to create a more sustainable agriculture. The Quaker Ellicotts had migrated to this "picturesque wilderness" from Bucks County, Pennsylvania and partnered with Carroll, a Catholic, to move the region away from single crop plantations and enrich the soil with ground limestone, a practice that continues to this day. Now the ninety year old patriot was breaking ground for the prototype railroad. It was not exactly like the modern rails on cross ties we are familiar with, but rather iron straps laid on top of two continuous granite "curbs." The first motive power was horsepower. Horses actually pulled the carriages along the rails. A wind powered wicker car was even experimented with before the famous "Tom Thumb" steam engine gave challenge to a horse drawn train carriage in the now legendary race. [2.]

I consider this among the most important acts of my life, second only to my signing the Declaration of Independence, if even it be second to that.” Carroll said of the moment. The stone, laid in a field outside Baltimore, was also a time capsule, into which were placed a copy of the company's charter, newspapers of the day and a scroll bearing the words: "This Stone is deposited in commemoration of the commencement of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. A work of deep and vital interest to the American people. Its accomplishment will confer the most important benefits upon this nation, by facilitating its commerce, diffusing and extending its social intercourse, and perpetuating the happy Union of these, Confederated States. The first general meeting of the citizens of Baltimore to confer upon the adoption of proper measures for undertaking this magnificent work, was on the second day of' February 1827…” [1.]

The railroad would eventually do all of these things as a vast nation would be joined together by her steel rails. The Nineteenth Century would see her span from sea to sea to become a country her founders could scarcely have imagined!

Charles Carroll had been born in September 1737 in Annapolis. He attended Jesuit colleges in Maryland and France, before going on to study law in Paris and London. In 1765 he returned to Howard County and took charge of the Carroll family's vast estate there. Catholics in Maryland before independence were not allowed to participate in politics, practice law or vote, but Carroll became influential as a writer of tracts against taxation without representation under the pseudonym "First Citizen." In 1776 he was appointed to the Continental Congress. Although he was not present for the vote for independence, he was one of the first signers. He added the distinct identifier: "of Carrollton" to distinguish himself from a number of relatives having the same name. After independence was won, Carroll became a Maryland State Senator in 1777 and eventually became a United States Senator representing that state.

In 1800 he left political service and was instrumental in building canals and the establishment of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company. His farm in Howard County became a model of improvements in agriculture. He died in Baltimore in 1835 at the age of 95.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

THYME Magazine: Essential Knowledge III

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XXI

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!

America's Foundational Values

Saturday, November 15, 2014

THYME Magazine: The Legacy of Caesar Rodney

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XXa

Caesar Rodney's Midnight Ride

Now one was neither Tory nor Whig; it was either dependence or independence.” Caesar Rodney, after Lexington and Concord.

We all know the famous story of Paul Revere's midnight ride. Virginians celebrate the memory of Jack Jouett, who rode to Monticello to warn Thomas Jefferson of approaching British troops.Jefferson and the Virginia Legislature were able to escape across the Blue Ridge Mountains to Staunton. Still, the most memorable midnight ride that saved the young republic has to be that of Caesar Rodney. Without Rodney's ride, there would not have been a republic at all.

Caesar Rodney was born in 1728 on his family's 800 acre farm, Byfield, on St. Jones Neck in East Dover Hundred, Kent County, Delaware. The family could trace its ancestry to the Adelmare family of Treviso, Italy. Caesar Rodney's farm was a large one, worked by slaves, and it provided wheat and barley to markets in Philadelphia. His brother Thomas described him as possessing a: "great fund of wit and humor of the pleasing kind, so that his conversation was always bright and strong and conducted by wisdom... He always lived a bachelor, was generally esteemed, and indeed very popular." Indeed, his talents found him taking his place in public service. He served as sheriff and in a number of other positions. He joined Thomas McKean as a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765 and was the Brigadier General of the Delaware Militia. He went on to serve in the Continental Congress.

Here is where he made his most courageous contribution to the cause of American independence. In 1776 the vote to adopt the Declaration saw the Delaware delegation deadlocked. This was a problem as the delegates to the convention had decided that an all or nothing approach was essential. Of Delaware's two present delegates Mckean favored independence. The other delegate, George Read, did not. Rodney, who was also qualified to vote, was at home performing his duties as General of the militia when the initial voting took place. Mckean had sent word to Rodney that his vote would be needed in Philadelphia... but the message never got to him. Rodney was a bachelor and his love interest at the time was being used by the Tories to divert his participation! She was intercepting the messages! By the time McKean's message finally got to Rodney, the first deadlocked vote had already taken place and it was well into the evening. Rodney mounted his horse and rode through a great thunderstorm along the muddy road to Philadelphia. Lightning illuminated the wet road as he sloshed along as rapidly as conditions would allow. For seventy miles he rode.

Rodney was not a well man. He suffered from a rare form of cancer that disfigured his face and sapped his strength. No doubt he knew the ride could kill him, but he pressed on. He was committed to an act of treason that might lead to his death if he did survive. But he pressed on through the darkness. He reached Philadelphia by mid-morning. Spattered with mud, he stepped into the chamber just in time to cast his historic vote. Now the votes by all colonies who actually voted was unanimous! The framers rightly considered this essential to the success of the Declaration. Without Caesar Rodney's heroic ride, there would have not been a July 4th for us to celebrate! Rodney served in the war effort, even fighting alongside George Washington, who said of him: “The readiness with which you took to the field at the period most critical to our affairs, the industry you used in bringing out the militia of the Delaware State and the alertness observed by you in forwarding on the troops from Trenton, reflect the highest honor on your character and place your attachment to the cause in a most distinguished point of view.” As a young republic took its place in the world, Rodney continued to serve but his health was now rapidly declining. He died in 1784. [1.]

His legacy lives on today though. My friend Brandy Mason and her four sons are proud descendents of this great patriot and continue his mission to promote the values of this great nation to this day! Special thanks to her for providing additional background for this article.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

THYME Magazine: Essential Knowledge II

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XX

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).

Heaven: Message by Billy Graham

Saturday, November 8, 2014

THYME Magazine: The 2014 Election

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XIXa

The 2014 Election, What It Means

What follows, to be honest, is an open letter to all in public office, and the media as well. The people have indeed spoken. At first glance it may be noted that Republicans now hold the majority in both the Senate and the House. On further examination it becomes clear that Conservative energy has come into play and indeed there has been a sound repudiation of the policies of Barack Hussein Obama. Now that real Americans have seen what is in the bill that according to Nancy Pelosi, "We have to pass to see what's in it," they are rightly concerned. Real people are seeing premiums for health insurance going up and losing their coverage due to the "Affordable Care Act," and they went to the polls.

In Virginia, the race was close. Without a Libertarian candidate who took 53,000 votes, we likely would be celebrating the installation of Senator Gillespie. The Washington Post writes: "Exit polls provide powerful evidence he attracted enough Republican protest votes to swing the election for Democratic Sen. Mark Warner. The Libertarian’s 53,000 voters mostly came from younger voters, particularly white males, unhappy with President Obama’s leadership. They generally leaned independent. Very few (almost none, in fact) were Democrats. But a good chunk did label themselves Republicans." [1.] 

Here there should be powerful evidence that the third party protest vote inevitably becomes a vote for the Democrat Party. Here we must marvel at a party that can hold the vote of both young Gender Feminists and Multiculturalists promoting Shariah Law! (a REAL War on Women). A party who claims to represent the middle class because they are strongly supported by the unions, yet blocks projects like the Keystone Pipeline and offshore energy exploration in Virginia... projects that would create REAL middle class prosperity. Aided by a fawning media, they successfully spin their stories of the so-called "War on Women," while their economic policies actually create more poverty for REAL working single women! With an honest media it is likely that there would be a Democrat protest vote to cancel out the Republican one.

Media, YOU are the big losers in this election. Americans are getting information from other places and more and more of them are concerned with REAL issues, not the made-up ones. Americans want fiscal responsibility and limited government. They want REAL solutions to the rising cost of medical care, but not concentration of power at the Federal level. They want REAL economic prosperity and the opportunity of our country for their children. Americans may prefer to mingle with people of their own background but they LOVE the truth of E PLURIBUS UNUM... Out of Many, One! Thus more and more of them are rejecting the tired old race politics of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. America has long provided opportunity for the minority and the newly-arrived legal immigrant.

We value our Religious Freedom. We value are freedom to speak our mind and we value the essential message of the Second Amendment: Government is NOT the ultimate power, but is only given power by the consent of the people. I wonder how many sixties activists have actually given thought to how the Founders were there first when it came to the thought: "Power to the People?" We do NOT "hate" our gay neighbors, but see no need to be compelled to perform wedding ceremonies for them or bake their wedding cakes if it indeed violates our conscience. Many of us are concerned about the killing of millions of unborn babies by abortion. We are not "Anti-woman" for supporting the right of unborn women to live! For many of us, "In G-d We Trust" is more than a motto, it is the way we live. We resent the marginalization of Faith because someone "might be offended." We think it is actually quite silly to go around trying to remove references to the Divine, especially if you are convinced He doesn't exist!

We humbly ask you in political office and in the media to simply do your job, and honestly represent us!

Mia Love, the first black Republican woman in Congress. Here's what Mia Love said in her victory speech: "President Obama's version of America is a divided one -- pitting us against each other based on our income level, gender, and social status. His policies have failed!"

Tim Scott, the first elected black senator from the South since reconstruction.

Promoting HEALING: Clergy United in Ferguson, Missouri.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

THYME Magazine: Essential Knowledge I

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XIX

Essential Knowledge

Never before in history have we been surrounded by more information. Never before have we wanted so severely for essential knowledge!

It is easy and simplistic to lament the replacement of  "old" communications technology with new. In a way that misses the real point. Yes, I can use a search engine to find just about any published fact I want to know. Yes I can search for and look at thousands of news stories. Still a friend of mine lamented that real investigative journalism is sorely lacking these days. Very little 'reporting' gets very far beneath the surface. "There's not the money for it;" he opined. We are likely to hear over and over again what a handful of 'experts' think happened to a missing Malaysian airliner while no one bothers to lay out the background of the situation in Ukrania. In fact, on election night in 2008, we hear reporters celebrate the election of 'their' candidate, Obama, and almost in the same breath they admit: "We know very little about him.!"

There is no excuse for that. Bill Ayers helped him write a book and if you really wanted to understand the man who would be President, all you had to do was read it. Read in the context of who his parents and mentors were, it would tell you exactly what anti-colonial principles drove him. Vetting a Presidential candidate, even one who did NOT have an average American childhood, going instead to a Muslim school in Indonesia, is not rocket science. [1.]

But even more disturbing than the inability to investigate a candidate is the inability to pass along to our next generation the foundational truths our society and our great nation were built on.

I watched a little movie this past weekend that nicely packaged a bit of very important truth in an unlikely medium. It spoke of how the Divine is able to speak into a life through a simple interaction between two human beings. The movie, The Letter Writer shows how one person can speak the truth of Imago Dei into the life of another.

The Letter Writer (2011) puts essential knowledge in a new perspective using a most traditional medium.

Lessons from The Letter Writer

I use modern technology for a lot of my communications. This is no Luddite rant against it. The printing press was once new technology and it put the Bible in the hands of the people. I can read the Holy Scriptures on my Iphone now. I also communicate with family using it. FaceTime with my granddaughter is a great blessing. Facebook helps me pray for those close to me. Smugmug is the family photo album we can all share. Yet, when my young friend and colleague and her fiancee graduated from college recently, I felt a REAL card was in order. Clicking the 'LIKE' button does lack the personal touch that paper and ink provide.

This is the wonderful discovery that Maggie Fuller makes as she receives a mysterious letter from someone she does not know. Tracking down the source brings Maggie into a wonderful journey discovering how her life can serve as a beacon to others. The young singer tracks down the letter writer and finds an unlikely community of mentorship in love and servanthood. Her Epiphany comes about as she joins her new friends in singing Henry Alford's famous hymn: Come Ye Thankful People, Come [click to read more]. The story speaks of how truth and values can and should be passed from one generation to another. Unrealistic? A lot of secular critics dismissed the film and its message, but think of how Jewish culture places the transferal of great truth in the context of the Passover Meal. Think of the Redemptive message of the celebration of the Eucharist.

Walking with my little granddaughter on the tree shaded campus of the nearby college, I find myself humming the tune of Come Ye Thankful People, Come. She smiles as I show her squirrels and bright flowers. Is the message of the movie really so unrealistic? Our Pastor shared with us the story of a little church in our denomination (Mennonite) that prayed for a vision of what G-d might do through them... not a program that THEY would do, but the true seeking of an opportunity to allow G-d to work through them. Through much prayer they felt drawn to minister to the youth of their community. There was a problem, however, as the YOUNGEST member of the congregation was in her sixties!

They shared the vision with their Pastor and continued to pray. There was NO WAY this congregation was ever going to pull off the youth coffee house type of outreach or anything of the kind! But a funny thing happened. The older people, now with enlarged vision for the young people in their neighborhoods, found themselves building relationships where once they might have been saying: "Keep off my grass!" Kids started conversing with older neighbors. Gradually they ventured onto the front porch. Eventually they were enjoying warm cookies and milk in the kitchen. These kids didn't need another youth-centered event, they needed some FAMILY!... and that is just what the church was able to give them.

(to be continued)

Monday, November 3, 2014

THYME Magazine: The Lincoln Memorial

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XVIIIa

Inspiration: The Lincoln Memorial

Frank Capra's film: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington [click to view] includes some very powerful and moving scenes shot at the Lincoln Memorial. Here are presented some of my own photos taken one morning at the memorial which are reminiscent of and inspired by Capra's keen eye.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
(19 NOVEMBER 1863)

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate-we can not consecrate-we can not hallow-this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us-that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion-that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain-that this nation, under G-d, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

THYME Magazine: Special Senate Race Edition

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XVIII

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!

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


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.]

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

Everyone Should See This Film

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

“Capra was able to make this film so good because he both believed in the American ideal, and understood how easily it could be co-opted and undermined by the unscrupulous and the greedy. America, he's telling us, should be celebrated because it’s the kind of country that can produce a Jefferson Smith; but at the same time, we must always be on our guard, because it’s also capable of destroying one.” -- Gina Dalfonzo [2.]

Jimmy Stewart as Senator Smith visiting the Lincoln Memorial.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

THYME Magazine: The Voice of C. S. Lewis

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XVIIa

BBC Talks Encouraged Nation

A war-weary nation was once greatly encouraged by the BBC addresses of C. S. Lewis. These talks would later become the basis for his apologetic: Mere Christianity.I found an audio book version of this classic and was impressed at how the work flowed as it was read aloud. There is only one small fragment of BBC audio remaining of C. S. Lewis speaking and here it is presented for your enjoyment!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

THYME Magazine: "Elites and Intellectuals"

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XVII

The Vacuum at the Top

There was a time when the "elite" truly seemed to be better than most people. For example, Leonardo da Vinci was an architect, cartographer, engineer, painter, sculptor, writer and legendary inventor among other things. Socrates was a superb stonecutter, soldier, politician and philosopher. Galileo studied medicine, mathematics, physics and has been referred to as "the father of modern science." For much of human history even the lesser "elites" from noble families had a tremendous advantage over the average man in a time when an education was hard to come by and their wealth and position in society provided them with opportunities to acquire skills that the general populace couldn't." writes John Hawkins. In an article entitled: Elites Are No Longer Elite [click to read], Hawkins explores the reason this is so. Essentially, Hawkins says that there are no more Renaissance men and women, as people tend to become highly proficient in one area of expertise while remaining woefully ignorant of the world outside of their area of expertise. That was not always so.

There was a time when brilliant people like Claudius Crozet and Isambard Kingdom Brunel needed to know a broader range of knowledge in order to do the works they were able to accomplish. They needed to know more than engineering tables. They needed to understand commerce and markets. These men built railroads, but their work ultimately built communities as they provided avenues of commerce and prosperity. Crozet and Brunel seem far closer in stature to da Vinci than their modern counterparts. Hawkins continues: "Today, in a world where there is a nearly infinite supply of news sources, there are far fewer shared activities than there used to be; college educations are commonplace and people can become extraordinarily wealthy based on a terribly narrow skillset." Indeed, my own experience often included such exercises as drawing for architects who couldn't draw and sometimes in the presentation process, creating design for designers who couldn't. Indeed, I was sometimes amazed that by simply stepping back and taking in a larger picture, the resulting contribution to a work would be better than imagined.

The Académie des Beaux-Arts taught through the process of drawing. The advent of computer drafting led to a whole era of designers who's drawings, though they guided the mouse, where essentially drawn by someone else! The art once deemed so essential to design remains as a brief portion of the course, but it is no longer something a designer immerses oneself in every moment. One feels at times, watching the process, as if the designer is connecting lines and templates. The window manufacturer provides the cuts which are pasted into the drawing on screen. To be sure, the computer has opened up new vistas for the exploration of complex forms, but the buildings we live our everyday lives in do not require complex forms. Before the Second World War, in the early Twentieth Century, there existed a beautiful Classicism that made small houses noble. There was a sense of scale and proportion. There was a sense of shadow and texture. I learned much copying the styles of the renderers of those days.

On a far larger scale, Hawkins observes that our leaders often emerge having shown little or no expertise beyond their small sphere. Virginia boasts an 'elite' Senator who's 'expertise' consists of making a fortune by buying cell phone licenses. His good fortune in acquiring wealth is his credential. He does not know what it is like to struggle for years, paying your employee but not yourself to build a business. That might not be such an issue but for his stated derision of those who do: ""you’re going to see a coalition that has just about completely taken over the Republican Party in this state and if they have their way, it’s going to take over state government. It’s made up of the Christian Coalition, it’s made up of the right to lifers, it’s made up of the NRA, it’s made up of the homeschoolers, it’s made up of a whole coalition of people that have all sorts of different views that I think most of us in this room would find threatening to what it means to be an American." -- Mark Warner [1.]

There was a time when Beauty, Truth, Virtue and Nobleness were seen to spring from a Divine origin. The problem with Senator Warner's statement is that he summarily dismisses a whole group of people who embrace that. The Right to Life springs from the concept of IMAGO DEI, that belief that mankind is created in the Image of G-d. The Second Amendment acknowledges the belief that government serves the people and that power remains with the people. The ability to engage in self-defense is simply an expression of that greater principle. Homeschoolers simply acknowledge that the parent is the first one responsible for training up a child. They extend that responsibility in providing instruction in a broader body of knowledge than early language. Here Hawkins swerves into a greater truth. Modern relativism has rendered obsolete the concept that there is an ultimate source of Wisdom and Truth. The Academy, believing this, no longer teaches it.

Until recent times the Divine underpinning was foundational to learning. By its very nature it invited exploration of a broader world. Design had its inspiration in nature. Flawed human nature was continually challenged by a Divine benchmark. Relativism states that "all truths are equally valid," resulting in a diminished sense of the need to pursue absolute truth. Indeed, there is NO need to pursue absolute truth, for it doesn't exist in their thinking. This immediately serves to narrow one's experience. The celebration of 'Diversity' does NOT serve to broaden because it rails against the notion that there is an absolute. One steps up to the human experience like a consumer of a buffet, sampling interesting dishes but learning nothing about the creation of a meal! Indeed, Hawkins notes that one phenomenon inherent in this mindset is that now we have people who are famous simply for being famous. They need not present a resume of accomplishment. Hawkins cites the example of our President, who was elected despite the conspicuous absence of a resume of accomplishment.

As his election was sealed and his inauguration began, news anchors remarked: "We know VERY LITTLE about him!" A colleague of mine lamented the general lack of investigative journalism in our day, remarking that they must not have the resources for it. NO!, all you needed to do was READ HIS BOOK and you would come away with a strong sense of his Anticolonialist Socialist sentiments. But such is the Modern Age, that we can style the blank canvas of a Presidential candidate to be whatever we want him to be. Because many in our day are unfamiliar with true accomplishment, we fail to look for it!

That is why this publication has recently presented a series of stories of great accomplishment. Neil Armstrong and President Kennedy show us something of it. They showed us how to lift our eyes to the horizon. Kennedy, though a flawed man like most of us, did heroic things in the Pacific War and wrote a book called Profiles in Courage. I read it in Middle School... not as an assignment, mind you, but because it sat on Dad's voluminous bookshelves. Those people assigned to find counterfeit money do not spend a lot of time studying counterfeit money. Instead, they study real money in GREAT DETAIL. By doing so they develop a sense for what the true currency looks like. Even when presented with a very skillful counterfeit they can "feel" it. That is why THYME Magazine has become, if you will, Profiles in Faith! Indeed, there is a real vacuum of true stories of accomplishment that, if we knew them, would inspire us to set our vision higher.

Da Vinci was in fact the illegitimate son of a peasant woman. Nobles in Eighteenth Century England were often useless "idle rich," yet there is a greater nobility that is recurring in the human experience. The First Earl of Mansfield, William Murray, might never have understood fully the depravity of slavery without the presence of his great-niece, Dido Elizabeth Belle in his life! She was an illegitimate child of a slave but because of her father's love, she was accorded the status of a noblewoman. Like Esther of old, she became in a way a representative for the humanity of her people. George Gist was derided by his neighbors, but he created a language for his people. Such is the true nobility that a free society is able to nurture in its people. America has been such an incubator for human brilliance for over two centuries! Those who would cast her aside in the pursuit of their Socialist solutions would do well to reconsider!

The Magician's Twin
C. S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism

C. S. Lewis explores the modern tendency to elevate science to the status of religion.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

THYME Magazine: A Story in a Painting

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XVI

Belle, A Story in a Painting

The Eighteenth Century painting is intriguing! Its subjects appear to be an English noblewoman and a mysterious princess. But this is not some flight of fantasy, the women depicted are actually cousins who lived together at Kenwood House under the care of William Murray, First Earl of Mansfield. Dido Elizabeth Belle, the woman on the left, was the daughter of Captain John Lindsay, Murray's nephew, who fathered the girl when he was stationed in the West Indies. Lindsay was knighted and promoted to Admiral and left his daughter in the care of Murray in 1765. The daughter of a slave woman, she was nonetheless brought up as a free gentlewoman along with William's niece, Elizabeth Murray who is depicted on the right.

When my wife and I watched the movie Belle, which is the story of Dido and William Murray, the painting seemed familiar. It was a bit later that it came to me that that was an image my Art History professor had had on one of her slides. I've often asked fellow artists if they enjoyed Art History? They often reply that they did not, seeing it as a torturous process of memorization. They did not have the privilege of studying under Penny Griffith. She was an adjunct professor who obviously loved her material. She told us what to memorize for the test and then proceeded to weave spellbinding lectures about the story found in the art! Francisco Goya came alive as we learned his keen observations of Spanish nobility and his depiction of the darkness of war and the darkness of the human soul!

Yet the painting by Johann Zoffany, executed in 1779, remained a mystery. Perhaps it was a bit of romanticism as noblewomen might enjoy, but it would be years later that I would learn the amazing history contained in that canvas. It is the story of how Belle's relationship with William Murray led to significant advances in the fight against slavery. Belle's mother was a slave, but Belle, living at Kenmore, was accorded all the rights of a free person, including a sizable inheritance! Her great-uncle, acting in his capacity as Lord Chief Justice, made two significant rulings on the issue.

In 1772 Murray, the Earl of Mansfield, was called upon to rule in the case of an escaped slave who's owner wanted to take him back to the West Indies for sale. The Chief Justice called the slave to court. This action let it be known that the court considered him a person! Murray declared in his ruling: "The state of slavery is of such a nature, that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political; but only positive law, which preserves its force long after the reasons, occasion, and time itself from whence it was created, is erased from memory: it's so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it but positive law. Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from a decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England."

The effect of this ruling was the recognition that English common law did not support the institution of slavery. Years before William Wilberforce campaigned to end the institution in the legislature; Murray, in his capacity as Chief Justice ruled that the institution had no basis in English law. In another case, that of the Zong massacre of 1781, he again dealt the institution of slavery a solid blow. The ship Zong, dangerously overcrowded when she left Africa with her human cargo, 442 souls in all, saw an epidemic break out among them. The slavers decided to throw one third of the slaves overboard. They then presented a claim to their insurers, arguing that they did not have enough water and needed to do so. The insurance company refused to pay.

The captain had reasoned that rather than have the slaves get sick on board and be rendered worthless, he would kill them and collect the insurance money. He would then argue that the slaves sacrificed for others when there was not enough water. It was proved beyond doubt that water was adequately available, making clear the dark intent of the slave ship captain! The UK Daily Mail writes: "Insurance was Lord Mansfield’s speciality, and he concluded that the insurers were not liable. The breathtaking brutality of the murders and the fact that drowned human beings could be reduced to an insurance claim brought home the urgency of abolishing the slave trade."

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

THYME Magazine: Neil Armstrong Interview II

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XV

"We Choose to Go to the Moon..."

Last week we presented a rare Interview with Neil Armstrong [click to view]. If you have not had a chance to watch it in its entirety, please do so. It is a refreshing look at the fulfillment of great human aspiration from the perspective of the very humble man who did it! Alex Malley is refreshing in his open style of interview and he allows Neil Armstrong to be seen as the man he is. There is no drive to sensationalize or twist the story, rather one sees how Armstrong rose from a little boy who was uneasy with the concept of death to a man capable of taking great risks in a well reasoned manner. That was a quality he would need in his journey to the moon.

Alex Malley converses with Commander Neil Armstrong.

Indeed, his story is one to remember, but he is not the first brave man who did not appear so in our first glimpse of him. The morning of my birthday I found myself reading from the Book of Judges in my daily reading. The story was that of Gideon. When we first meet him in Judges chapter 6 he is threshing grain while hiding in a winepress. Normally grain was threshed on a hill in the open so the chaff will blow away, but Gideon fears the Midionites, who raid the land and steal the grain. Hence, he is hiding in the winepress.

An angel of the Lord appears to him saying: "The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour."

Gideon's answer is anything but valorous, he replies: "Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites."

And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?

And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.

And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.

And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.

Gideon might have been the 'least in his father's house.' He indeed asked for a lot of confirmation but then he boldly stepped out and trusted G-d, who did mighty things through him. He went on to win a decisive victory over the Midianites with just 300 men! The time Gideon lived in was one of great despair for the people, as the Midianites had robbed and disheartened them. At times like that (and times like our own),we often find ourselves crying out for extraordinary leaders.We forget that extraordinary things are often done by very ordinary men and women in the face of extraordinary challenges.

Listening to Armstrong, one is struck by his humility and matter-of-fact description of the incredible events he participated in. He does not like to talk about himself and though he is a man of high accomplishment, he is reluctant to take any more of his share of the credit for it. I am incredibly blessed to know young men and women cast in the same mold who live in our times. What will the Divine accomplish through their lives, I ask? I think of President John F. Kennedy's setting the bar: "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too." [1.] The challenge before us in our times is great indeed!

I step out of the tent and gaze up at the stars. In my lifetime I saw mankind reach for them. My father was an engineer with NASA in its golden age and he developed a device known as the Launch Phase Simulator. [2.] Framed in the trees in the night sky I see the constellation Orion. That was one of the first ones my father taught me to recognize... the mighty hunter with his dagger and his distinctive belt! Generations must have been inspired by the sight before me this night! I think of the young people I have been priviledged to work with. I have seen them grow into people capable of being used to change the world (for the better), and I am humbled to think that I might have somehow been used to influence their lives. And so I plead; we NEED to leave them a country that challenges them as those before us were challenged... to dare and do great things!

Man's First Act on the Moon:

Buzz Aldrin describes, in his own words, the first act of men visiting another world, to honor G-d: “In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the Scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.’ I had intended to read my communion passage back to earth, but at the last minute [they] had requested that I not do this. NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle with Madelyn Murray O’Hare, the celebrated opponent of religion, over the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis while orbiting the moon at Christmas. I agreed reluctantly. …I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility. It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”

Eric Metaxas writes: "And of course, it’s interesting to think that some of the first words spoken on the moon were the words of Jesus Christ, who made the Earth and the moon — and Who, in the immortal words of Dante, is Himself the “Love that moves the Sun and other stars.” [3.]

Next Week in THYME:
A Story in a Painting

Meet Belle, her real life story is the story behind an intriguing Eighteenth Century Painting. It has recently been made into a fascinating movie and tells the story of how her family's love for her compelled them to stand against the beast within; the human depravity that would enslave and destroy her people!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

THYME Magazine: Neil Armstrong Interview

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XIV

Interview with Neil Armstrong!

The first man to set foot on the moon!

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

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

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

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

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

Retake the Senate!

It is time for action! Many in this country have been discouraged and have been told that their vote didn't matter anymore. Even when the results were close, many Americans rightfully feel they were given lip service but then ignored as the Progressive Liberal faction took over the governance of our land. Are you shocked that you can't keep your health insurance (after you were PROMISED that you could)! Are you troubled by the weakening of our national defense, as we quickly send 3000 troops to 'fight' Ebola but can't seem to muster the resolve to face ISIS? Obamacare is a disaster and many Virginians feel frustrated that their two Senators voted for it. Ed Gillespie is outspoken in his criticism of the legislation that was ramrodded through the legislature despite many reasonable objections. As more and more of "what's in it" is seen, some provisions are being delayed. Even the most optimistic financial projections have the fully implemented program a financial disaster. Kicking the can down the road is suicidal for an economy as fragile as today's.

The media will likely try to paint Mark Warner as the 'moderate' he is not. Let us not forget that he does not even pretend to represent many Virginians' values. When he thought he was alone with his elite buddies he said: "One of the things you are going to see is a coalition that is just about completely taken over the Republican Party in this state and if they have their way it’s going to take over state government. It is made up of the Christian Coalition, but not just them. It is made up of the right-to-lifers, but not just them. It’s made up of the NRA, but not just them. It is made up of the home-schoolers, but not just them. It’s made up of a whole coalition of people that have all sorts of differing views that I think most of us in this room would find threatening to what it means to be an American."[1.] Is there no journalist curious about what being an American means to Senator Warner? Also the media will make much of the fact that Gillespie is the underdog in this race. What you WON'T hear is how he's closed the gap since he announced his candidacy... and he's brought his party to surprise victory before!

The Washington Post says this of him: "Gillespie believes in things, like conservative ideas of lower taxes and less regulation. These may sound bland, but Ed adds a personal perspective. Having grown up in a working-class family, he believes that the key to restored prosperity lies in a renewed middle class, one that relies on its own work ethic and a business-friendly government, not an expansion of a welfare state. He is, I imagine, rather angry with what he sees as liberals' condescension to the middle class and what he views as their assumption that only government can solve their problems." [2.] Unfortunately, the media will probably not underscore the fact that Gillespie can probably relate to us a whole lot better than many privileged politicians. He is wealthy, but he understands how wealth is ultimately created. He is one of the creators of the Contract with America, so instrumental in the 1994 victories by Republican candidates. He is considered a very important strategist and policy writer. Up to now he has remained largely behind the scenes.

Before running for office the first time, Warner said he got BILLIONS from taxpayers: “As Warner –himself a winner [in the FCC lotteries]- says, ‘The government has basically given away tens of billions of dollars of an asset that is yours and mine and everybody’s in the country.’”
-“Winners And Losers In The Great Cellular Giveaway,” Fortune Magazine, November 5, 1990

Running for Governor, Warner changed his story: “‘Nobody gave me anything,’ he said. ‘I’m proud of my business success . . .’”
-R.H. Melton, “Va. GOP Making Issue Of Warner’s Fortune,” The Washington Post, August 5, 2001

Mark Warner’s Former Business Partner Says Warner Is A “Vulture.” Peter Zecola, a Warner partner in a cellular company, described his former partner’s business practices by saying, “At the same time, these people are called by some ‘vulture capitalists,’ rather than venture capitalists. They’re basically in it to make a buck. They’re always there to grab that last crumb off the table.”
-Peter Baker, “Before Politics, A Run For His Money,” The Washington Post, September 2, 1996

The media Won't tell you that thanks to Obamacare implementation, Warner's support has significantly softened. As people "see what's in it," they realize it is going to have a negative effect on them personally. Many potential voters are disheartened now as Northern Virginia has thrown it's weight into the past few elections. Still, if voter percentages in the heartland of Virginia increased by just a small percentage, Northern Virginia would not be able to dominate the process. The statistics are worth repeating:

Time to Awaken a Sleeping Giant

In 2004, Christian voter turnout increased by 93 percent over the 2002 turnout, and 42 percent of voters identified abortion as an important issue. As a result:

• 63 percent of the freshman U.S. congressmen elected were pro-life.
• 77 percent of the freshman U.S. senators were pro-life.

By increasing pro-life representation in Congress in the 2002 and 2004 elections, America witnessed the first four major abortion-restricting bills enacted since Roe v. Wade:

• Infants Born Alive Protection Act
• Unborn Victims of Violence Act
• Partial-Birth Abortion Ban
• Fetal Farming Ban

In addition, those senators helped confirm strict constructionists John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court. By 2006, Christian voter turnout decreased by 30 percent from the 2004 numbers, and only 30 percent of voters said that abortion was an important issue. As a result:

• Only 31 percent of the freshman U.S. congressmen elected were pro-life.
• Only 10 percent of the freshman U.S. senators elected were pro-life.
• The Baltimore Sun labeled the 2007 Congress as “the most pro-choice Congress in the history of the Republic.”

Your vote does matter, and you have the opportunity to protect life, marriage and family. Will you commit to cast your vote in support of the family this November?

Virginia Voter Information:

State General Election: November 4, 2014
Virginia polling times: 6:00am to 7:00pm
Registration deadline October 14, 2014
Register Online [click to register].

A Call to Action!

Right around you, in your church or place of business, are the discouraged people who likely share your values but won't bother to vote! Elections have consequences and we are losing religious freedom and basic protections found in the Bill of Rights by our apathy. There are Excellent Resources [click to read] to help you get your friends and neighbors registered. There are voter guides to help them make informed decisions.

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." -- Galatians 6:9

Solving an Age Old Problem

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