Friday, December 30, 2011

Sacagawea's Story in Scupture

Lemhi Shoshone Woman Guided Lewis and Clark

Sacagawea in Charlottesville's Lewis and Clark Statue...

A Milestone Monday Feature:

She was the wife of Toussaint Charbonneau, a Quebec trapper, and pregnant with her first child when she and her husband were hired to guide the Corps of Discovery. She would travel with them from present-day North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean. On the journey she would travel to the land of her birth, where she had been captured as a child. Her fluency in the languages and knowledge of the area's people not only led to the success of the expedition, Sacagawea can rightly be credited with their very survival.

IMG_5996 placed crouched behind the two white explorers, though she likely was in front of them most of the journey. The sculpture was created by Charles Keck in 1919. [1.] Photos by Bob Kirchman

This 1910 sculpture by Leonard Crunelle at the North Dakota State Capitol shows Sacagawea and her child. Photo by Hans Anderson.

My favorite rendering of Sacagawea has to be this 1905 sculpture by Alice Cooper in Portland, Oregon's Washington Park. Photo by EncMstr.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume IV, Issue I

Essential Information for the Year Ahead

The 'other' weekly news magazine is starting the new year with its 'User's Guide.' We at THYME are also ofering a compilation of essential information for the year ahead. In fact, ours is a compilation that has served humanity in good times and bad for centuries... those writings that claim for themselves Divine authorship.

In an age that asserts that 'knowledge is power' and that 'all that we see is all that there is,' there is still much evidence that Faith, empowered by Spirit and Truth, offers more resources than those we can see with our eyes. How else do you explain such phenomena as the resurgence of Faith [click to read] in the former Soviet Union, where Religion was surpressed for decades? How do you explain why Christians continue to gather in countries such as Nigeria [click to read] where Muslim extremists killed forty believers on this past Christmas day?

History tells us that the Christian Faith (and Judaism as well) took root in atmospheres of severe opposition. People of Faith went on to 'turn the world upside down.' Alvin Schmidt documents this in his book Under the Influence [click to read]. The First Century Church rescued infants thrown into the Tiber River by parents who didn't want them. Modern Christians plead the case of the unborn who's parents don't want them.

Schmidt tells us the stories of people like Florence Nightengale and Dorethea Dix, who's faith led them to revolutionizwe healthcare. George Müller's [click to read] work among English orphans, The Movavian missionaries and many other heroes of Faith continue the list began in Hebrews 11. Perhaps not all who were 'Heavenly minded' did 'Earthly good,' but a lot of them did!

A Young Person's Guide to Essential Info

Focus and Purpose [click to read] by Rabbi B. Shafier in Jewish World Review.

"The Mesillas Yesharim tells us that the Divine didn't just create man and leave him to figure it all out. He didn't design an entire world for man, put him into it with a mission, and then stand aside saying, "But I am not going to tell you what it is. It's a secret. Go figure it out."

The Lord gave us a clear, definitive blueprint, an exact guidebook with clear directions on how to live our lives and the underlying reasons for it. The key to true success is to open that book, learn its words of truth, and mold our lives accordingly." -- Rabbi B. Shafier



Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Essential Morning Reading...

Binyamin Jolkovsky's Jewish World Review

Temple Beth Israel
Temple Beth Israel in Staunton, Virginia.

My three readers [1.] know that I often reference Jewish World Review [click to read]. It is a wonderful resource for commentary, opinion and spiritual insight. I became an avid reader several years back.

What I didn't realize at first was that Jewish World Review is the work of one man, Binyamin L. Jolkovsky, who puts the publication together daily by himself. He regularly works through the night to get the day's issue up for his considerably more than three readers. The time stamp on his email digest is often in the wee hours of the morning (around three-something once this week). Honoring Shabbat and Holy days, his work ethic drives him to put out extra issues before sundown comes on those most special of times.

If there is a single person who has inspired me to blog it is Binyamin Jolkovsky. He artfully places current events and spiritual thoughts side by side in his publication. He is a man who's mission is deeper than face value. I have corrresponded with Mr. Jolkovsky a few times. He reads every email himself and is thoughtful in his response. He assures me he's not hiding a highly capable staff somwhere, though the quality of his work makes me wonder.

It is no wonder that I consider Jewish World Review part of my essential morning reading. Often the Bible insight offered in the spiritual portion gives me something to think about through the day. The insight about world events is something you would be hard pressed to find so well presented anywhere else.

Today I ask all of my readers to click on the link below and enjoy the rich fare served up by Jewish World Review, and if you find it as meaningful as I do, consider making a regular gift to keep it going. My contribution is based on what I'd be more than happy to pay for a commercial publication that delivered similar content.


A Magical Mural

This was One Girl's Christmas Surprise


This mural by Laney Riley is magical enough in full light, but when you see it by night light it becomes a moonlit world.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht

Beloved Carol Inspired by a Broken Organ

The pipes of the Trinity Lutheran Church organ in Crimora.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

English translation:

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Greetings from Nigeria

Drawn by the 12 Year Old Boy We Help Sponsor



Sunday, December 25, 2011

Creche at the National Cathedral

A Particularly Beautiful Representation of the Nativity

Photo by Laney Riley.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Wishing all of You Blessings and Joy as You Celebrate


Thoughts about Immanuel, G-d with Us [click to read]
by Randy Alcorn, author of Heaven.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Remembering a Great Mentor

There was a Man who Convinced Me I Could Do This

Building a Railroad
Reconstructing my model of Ellicot's Mills for the B&O Railroad Museum.

A Milestone Monday Feature

In Chapter 14 of Chuck Balsamo's new book Make Me a Legend Pastor Balsamo talks about the importance of finding a good mentor. He brought back some important memories as I recalled the influence of a man named Reggie. Reggie served in the Navy during World War II and achieved the rank of Aviation Machinist's Mate, Second Class. He was a first class mentor.

I met this amazing man because I went to school with his daughter. He was a Chevrolet mechanic and an avid outdoorsman. He introduced me to the wonders of Coastal New Jersey as I happily paddled for hours through marshes and creeks. At about 50 years old, Reggie became an instructor at the vocational technology school. There he discovered his true gifts and passions.

At an age where most men are thinking about taking it easy, Reggie enrolled in Rutgers University and pursued a degree in administration. Education and young people had become his true calling and he graduated from college the same time one of his daughters did.

Days at Reggies place where full ones. He lived in a little postwar bungalo and when his children and their assembled friends were descending on the place around ten in the evening, he'd put on a pot of coffee. It came as no surprise that Reggie enjoyed lively conversation and sometimes these talk sessions would end in the wee hours of the morning. Good coffee, however, always made up for sleep deprivation.

Reggie went on to become a high school principal, but I have to believe that the best classes he ever taught were at his own kitchen table. He noticed that I was a hands-on guy struggling with an academic world. He found information on architectural model making and shared it with me. "You'd be good at this, Bob." Years later I was literally living off of this compliment. My little studio built models for architects, including one famous one. I worked on several models for resort projects in Japan, though I'm not sure how a man who served in the Pacific Theatre would feel about that.

No doubt, this man has influenced many young lives in a similar manor. I am priviledged to have known him.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Last Year at Sherando Lake

A Frozen Wonderland in the Days Before Christmas

Last year the lake was frozen with a fresh coating of snow.

Christmas Greetings from PM Netanyahu

Leader's Message of Hope and Encouragement

Binyamin Netanyahu's message to the Christian citizens of Israel, as well as Christians around the world.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Winter Scene in the Mountains

Icicles Along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Cold temperatures create a wonderland by the roadside.

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume III, Issue CI

Revolution vs Revolution
Not All Protests are Created Equal

Its official. The 'other' weekly news magazine has made 'the protester' 'Person of the Year.' THYME has named 'the rescuer.' Some gather in large groups to protest. Some, like Irena Sendler, risk their lives by taking the road less travelled. We at THYME were briefed that TIME might even go so far as making the 'Occupy' movement its 'Person of the Year.'

Revolution is not new to the human experience. Consider for a moment the American Revolution and the French one. The carefully crafted documents of the American experiment have lived on for 200 years as a clear statement of individual liberty and responsibility. Out of the wreckage of war our founders brought forth a Republic that has weathered many storms as it provided her people with safety and stability in comparison with the condition of many of the world's people.

France's Revolution began in 1789 with the convocation of the Estates-General in May of that year. Members of the Third Estate proclaimed the Tennis Court Oath in June. The Bastille was burned in July. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen were passed in August, and the march on Versailles forced the royal court back to Paris in October.

On September 1792 a Republic was declared and King Louis XVI was executed the following year. External threats also played a dominant role in the development of the Revolution. A radicalized Revolution brought the Jacobins and Maximilien Robespierre to power. The Committee of Public Safety was a virtual dictatorship during the Reign of Terror from 1793 until 1794. It is estimated that 16,000 to 40,000 people were killed. The Directory assumed control of the French state in 1795 and held power until 1799. Then Napoleon Bonaparte ruled as Emperor.

Absolute Monarchy was restored after the fall of Napoleon.

Those who desire Revolution should be careful what they wish for.

The storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789.

THYME Line...
Why I founded THYME

It was after September 12th 2009 and I had just participated in the 09/12 rally in Washington DC. My Mother-in-law gets TIME and I was shocked to see how they treated this movement. Thousands of regular Americans had paid their own way to assemble on the National Mall, motivated by a desire to see America rightly governed. TIME's cover featured television and radio personality Glenn Beck sticking out his tongue and the headline 'Mad Man.' The rally so many of us had worked so hard to attend was buried in a small spread inside.

Flash forward and TIME is more than happy to celebrate the more 'sixties' style protests of the 'Occupy' movement and the 'Arab Spring.' Again I warn you, those who desire Revolution should be careful what they wish for. Those who protest Wall Street must realize that government gave us Fannie and Freddy policies that created the worthless mortgages. Wall Street firms are culpable for bundling and selling them as 'investments,' but government should be held responsible for creating them in the first place.

As to the protests around the world, beware of the radical elements that will try to assume power in Egypt and elsewhere. History, I fear, is about to repeat itself.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume III, Issue C

THYME's 'Esther of the Year'

The 'other' weekly news magazine has its 'Person of the Year.' WORLD Magazine has its 'Daniel of the Year,' so this year THYME will have its Esther. Esther, you may recall was the young girl who saved the Jewish people from extermination by the wicked Haman in the Persian Empire of Xerxes. The feast of Purim joyfully celebrates the deliverance.

A Twentieth Century Esther might have gone unnoticed but for the work of four students at Uniontown High School, in Kansas, who discovered her story. The Play: Life in a Jar is the result of their research. Elizabeth Cambers, Megan Stewart, Sabrina Coons and Janice Underwood, four high school girls, are responsible for bringing this woman's amazing life to light.

Irena Sendler was born in 1910 in Otwock, Poland, fifteen miles outside of Warsaw. Her Father was a doctor and most of his patients were poor Jews. Undoubtedly Ms. Sendler was influenced by her Father's compassion for his patients. When the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, Irena was a Senior Administrator in the Warsaw Social Welfare Department, which provided meals, financial aid, and other services for orphans, the elderly, the poor and the destitute of the City. She enrolled Jewish families under fictitious names and often used quarantine for such infectious diseases as typhus and tuberculosis to keep nosy officials at bay.

In 1942, however, the Nazis walled off sixteen blocks of Warsaw, herded Jewish families in, and created the horrific Warsaw Ghetto.

Horrified by this new development, Sendler joined Zegota, the Council for Aid to Jews, organized by the Polish underground resistance movement, and recruited ten of her friends to help her. In order to get into the Ghetto, she obtained a pass from Warsaws Epidemic Control Department and posed as a health worker. Sanitation and basic services were lacking. The Nazis saw little need to provide these things, but were concerned about the possibility of disease epidemics that might escape the Ghetto.

Irena was deeply moved by the plight of the babies and children. Initially she and her fellow workers smuggled in food, clothing and medicine as they performed their work as sanitation workers, but knowing that 5000 people a month were dying in the Ghetto, Irena was compelled to do far more. She and her 'fellow employees' smuggled babies in their tool boxes, older children in sacks and boxes on their trucks. They often sedated the children so they would be quiet but she is said to have used a dog on one of her trucks who would bark menacingly whan soldiers would approach to inspect it. The soldiers had no desire to get close to the dog and left the interior of the truck unsearched.

Sendler, a young Mother herself, had to convince other Mothers to hand her their babies and children. One Mother asked her: "Can you guarantee my child will live?" Her answer was the harsh truth that if the child stayed, he would surely die. "In my dreams," she once said, "I still hear the cries when they left their parents."
"Irena Sendler accomplished her incredible deeds with the active assistance of the church. "I sent most of the children to religious establishments," she recalled. "I knew I could count on the Sisters." Irena also had a remarkable record of cooperation when placing the youngsters: "No one ever refused to take a child from me," -- Jewish Virtual Library

Most of the children who left with Sendler's group were taken into Roman Catholic convents, orphanages and homes and given non-Jewish aliases. Sendler kept the only record of their true identities in the hope that one day she could restore them to their families. The names of 2500 rescued children were placed in jars which Sendler buried under a neighbor's apple tree.

On October 20, 1943, the Gestapo, who were becoming increasingly aware of her activities, arrested Irena Sendler. Even under torture -- they broke her legs and feet -- she refused to give up those names. She was sentenced to be executed but her friends bribed officials and she was able to escape.

After the war Irena dug up the jars and worked to reunite children with their families. Sadly many had no family to go to anymore. The woman they had known only as 'Jolanta' was sad that she could have not done more for them.

Honored by international Jewish organizations - in 1965 she was accorded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the Yad Vashem organization in Jerusalem. In 1991 she was made an honorary citizen of Israel.

Irena Sendler was awarded Poland's highest distinction, the Order of White Eagle. She died at the age of 98 on May 12, 2008.
Source: The Telegraph [click to read] and Jewish Virtual Library [click to read].

Irena Sendler with her children, Janka and Adam.

The Ignoble Nobel

It is reported that Irena Sendler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Although nominees names are kept from publication there is good reason to believe she was recently passed up in the process. The prize went to Albert Arnold Gore for a slide show on 'Global Warming.' In an era where world leaders routinely deny that the Holocaust happened, and portray the most speculative 'science' as proven truth this should not come as a great surprise.

We should never allow the popular narrative to erase the truth and heroism of women like Irena Sendler and the message their stories hold for us.

Holocaust Can't Happen Again [click to read], can it? Thoughts from Arnold Ahlert in Jewish World Review.

THYME's 2012 'Esther of the Year'

"...and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" -- Esther 4:14

Last Year THYME's 'Esther of the Year' was Irena Sendler [click to read]. This amazing woman saved the lives of many children during the holocaust. This year, with great sadness, we remember another woman's saving of children. She was not a great public figure, she did not seek fame. Her Mother said of her: "She was not somebody that ever wanted to be famous or wanted her picture in the paper."

So we will simply remember her deeds. 2012 'Esther of the Year' [click to read].


The 'Old-New-Land'

"Friedrich spoke thickly. "Don't you think, Mr. Kingscourt, that people would be much better if they were better off?"

"No! If I believed that, I should not be going off to my lonely island; I should have stayed in the midst of humanity. I should have told them how to better themselves. They needn't wait to begin. Not a thousand years, not a hundred, not even fifty. Today! With the ideas, knowledge, and facilities that humanity possesses on this 31st day of December, 1902, it could save itself. No philosopher's stone, no dirigible airship is needed. Everything needful for the making of a better world exists already. And do you know, man, who could show the way? You! You Jews! Just because you're so badly off. You've nothing to lose. You could make the experimental land for humanity. Over yonder, where we were, you could create a new commonwealth. On that ancient soil, Old-New-Land!"

Friedrich heard Kingscourt's words only in a dream. He had fallen asleep. And, dreaming, he sailed through the Red Sea to meet the future."

-- Theodore Herzl, Altneuland (1902) [click to read]

Inspired by Herzl's visionary novel, we present a visionary work for the Twenty-first Century: Pontifus [click to read]...


Thursday, December 8, 2011

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume III, Issue XCVIII

Post card of a wire mill in Allentown Pennsylvania.

Revival and Renaissance in America

This week the 'other' weekly news magazine features the cover: "How America Learned to Sell Cars Again." We at THYME are a bit reluctant to see car sales as a barometer of a society's greatness. Economic indicators are important in measuring a society's health, to be sure, but we'll get to them later. Many around us are looking for deep answers to deep problems. Of times like this it might well be said: "Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest." -- Luke 10:2. Now more than ever, those who would stir men's hearts to higher, nobler aspirations are needed... men and women who understand where a society's true greatness really lies.

Concerned about the materialistic, acquisitive, corrupt world of an affluent society, they sought to confront her sins and establish her again as a light to the world. The year was 1769 and under the preaching of George Whitefield the English beginnings of the Great Awakening had their start. Soon it would change the fabric of American life as well.

Men like Jonathan Edwards took the message of redemption and made it personal. His sermon: "Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God" moved many to see the Gospel message in a personal way, not simply as academic material. The personalization of faith led men and women to change their ways and live in light of a redemptive message. Scholars may debate the amount of influence this movement had in the creation of the United States of America, but the fact that it had an influence is clear!

The late Eighteenth Century saw waves of revival. Camp meetings organized by preachers like James McGready brought the far scattered settlers together to confirm their commitment to personal and life-changing faith. Itinerant preachers spread the movement through the South among both those of both European and African ancestry. A massive interdenominational meeting at Cane Ridge, Kentucky, in 1801, marked the high point of the movement.

but by 1830 the movement had waned.

America's failings are well documented. Dark times such as the Cherokee Removal and a host of local rebellions show us that America was often prey to the baser nature of man. Modern historians tend to forget the perilous course of America's journey.

Our nation might have ended early in its founding when Continental Army soldiers, who had not been paid, were set to march on Philadelphia. They might have killed the representatives but for the intervention of their beloved leader, George Washington, who rode out to meet them.

The shots fired on Fort Sumpter might have been the end of our United States as well. Indeed the 1860's saw a divided landscape and untold carnage at places like Antietem. Great cities such as Richmond and Atlanta were destroyed, their citizens displaced, their economies ruined.

Men like Dwight L. Moody spoke into the darkness. Moody's revivals are legend.

Mill building in Allentown as shown on an old post card.

Modern times saw two great wars in Europe that threatened to engulf all of human civilization. Untold horrors were seen by the liberators of the death camps. Men like Billy Graham and his son Frankin rose to speak into our times. Local Pastor Chuck Balsamo just published his book: Make Me a Legend [click to read]. Troubled times are nothing new. Pastor Balsamo seeks to inspire today's generation to step up and pray and participate in the dream of a better tomorrow. Indeed, a historical thread exists that suggests that the great American nation was built largely by a lot of people who, in the words of Hebrews 11 [1.], were "seeking a better Kingdom."

Something Every American Should See

Now For Economic Renaissance

It is clear that our nation is in a time of economic crisis. The crisis is made worse by the weakening of family and community ties -- the ties that carried many through the Great Depression of the 1930's. Still, we at THYME offer the following resources that offer hope at a time when it seems so many are peddling hopelessness.

Journey from Allentown to Krappetown [click to read] by Clark Whelton in City Journal. Where Our Manufacturing Went and How to Bring it Back!

Wanted: Blue Collar Workers [click to read] by Joel Kotkin in City Journal. Who will power America's new Industrial Revolution?

Heavy Metal is Back [click to read] by Joel Kotkin in Forbes.
The Best Cities for Manufacturing.

Rebuilding the American Economy [click to read]. City Journal's Autumn 2011 Issue.

Life in Renaissance Waynesboro [click to read] By Bob Kirchman in The Journey.
Bringing New Life to the Gateway to the Blue Ridge.

A factory in today's Allentown as American industry awaits renewal.


This Christmas, why not give a gift that is truly unique... a gift certificate for a child's mural or an original architectural portrait will be a gift that will not be forgotten.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Spontaneous Delight as a Design Element

The Intersection of Art and Life is a Teaching Moment

Here is a better way to encourage more people to use the stairs.

Behavior police take note. Here is a great example of a better way to get people out of their routines; Out-of-the box thinking! The idea was to encourage more people to use the stairs. You could have used the same old approach of trying to correct 'wrong' behavior -- or a fresh approach like these designers chose to.

Fun as a Teaching Tool
A Drab Hallway Becomes a Bright New World

At Staunton Alliance Church, we were confronted by a long institutional hallway that led to our childrens' outdoor playground. Tracy Daniel, our administrator, approached me one day with the idea of painting a mural to "brighten up the hallway." Her idea was that we create a missions theme along the walls. Thinking that a mural painted by an architectural illustrator might be a bit boring, I partnered with Laney Riley, a very talented artist in our congregation.

Our theme soon grew into a depiction of Isaiah 60 and Revelation 21where the restored Earth and Heaven are one. Representatives of every Nation are brought into the presence of the Lord. It is the hope of every believer, according to scripture, but is often depicted as a white-on-white perpetual harp concert. I'd read some books by Randy Alcorn, who writes about Heaven and puts it in its true context: a world of delights more delightful than anything we in this world can imagine... and yet, our imaginings here, and our most delightful experiences are but an indication of the joy that awaits us.

Thanks to what I refer to as 'Laney Magic,' bright colors and faces reflecting 'sanctified mischef' are the norm. This isn't your Mother's nursery mural. The figures are life-sized. We start the sketches by finding real children's pictures. Often they are kids in rags. We turn them into 'princes and princesses' of the New Heaven and the New Earth. We leave a bit of mischef in their faces though so the kids can see themselves in that beautiful world. The Creator who made the otter and the hairy-nosed wombat certainly has a playful streak, and Imago Dei would suggest that our love of fun is divinely authored.

An Irish boy, full of playful pranks, takes shape.

"Kristina's World" Takes Shape
Here's 'Kristina's World.' The American girl, of Irish and Cherokee ancestry, stands in front of a farmhouse built in 1828. Bright colors and life-sized figures draw children into the painting.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mural Art as a Teaching Tool

Venable Elementary School in Charlottesville

A three story mural by Chico Lorenzo inspires students daily.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume III, Issue XCVII

Why Newt? Why Not Mitt?
Things to be Learned from the Presidential Race

The 'other' weekly news magazine asks this week why Republicans don't like Mitt Romney. Of course its Joe Klein doing the asking so one doesn't need to spend a lot of time wondering who Joe would like to see running against Barack Obama next year. Mr. Klein. let me help you with this. First of all, it is not really a dislike of Romney so much as a feeling that his newfound Conservative credentials are exactly that... newfound, and not necessarily core beliefs.

Most people are aware that being a successful Republican in a Northeastern blue state is a lot different than being a Republican in, say, Texas. One DOES expect foundational values to guide how one might govern. Massachussetts' state run healthcare plan raises legitimate questions when one looks at the very real possibility of nationalized healthcare.

That's not dislike, Mr. Klein. That is simply good old fashioned due diligence.

Many Conservatives would not be upset at all if Romney were to win the Presidency and adhere to a healthy respect for Constitutional limitations on a national level.

And please, Mr. Klein, don't even go near the whole "he's Latter Day Saints, the Southern Evangelicals won't support him" narrative. Most of these same people are positive in their response to Glenn Beck. Beck's being LDS does not deter the Evangelicals in question from supporting him. He can inspire almost a million people (with jobs, responsibilities and schedules) to show up on the National Mall. This brings me to my most important point, Mr. Klein, IDEAS are driving this campaign more than you want to admit. This year's field proves that people of every creed and color are welcome at the table where ideas are being discussed.

The rise of Herman Cain and the subsequent rise of Newt Gingrich show one thing -- there are an awful lot of people out there who WANT this thing to be about ideas. People want to see a plan and purpose in their candidate to stengthen and secure this great nation of ours. They seem to want MORE discussion of restructuring the tax code and returning to Constitutional limitations on government.

How else would you explain the popularity of Conservative talk radio? If you had described the medium before Rush Limbaugh made it happen, no one would have believed you. Over twenty million people tune in to hear a guy talk to people about politics. Conventional wisdom would have told you no one would, but they do. Advertisers pay those "confiscatory rates" happily to gain access to a large audience.

But there is more to the equation. The rise and fall of Cain tells us that integrity matters too. People need to feel they can trust a candidate before they invest in him or her. Sadly, many people generally distrust our leaders -- even many who want government to do more for them. Here Romney can gain ground by fleshing out the principles behind the points. The people he needs to sway will take the time to listen. They understand the argument that a state may set up institutions the Federal government is forbidden to by the Constitution. Mitt might gain even more ground by making people like Joe Klein uncomfortable with his candidacy, daring to flesh out the different nature of national and state policy decisions.

The Romney Record

Interestingly enough, Joe, your article makes a pretty good case for why Conservatives are just not all that excited about Mitt. The accompanying graphic shows his 'shifts' in thinking on immigration, healthcare and abortion are hard to believe as epiphany in light of his political aspirations at the moment. It is not unlike the change in position of Al Gore and Bill Clinton, who were pro-life until they sought national office as Democrats.

Then there is the whole Bain Capital [click to read] affair. Romney touts his private sector job creation credentials through his work with Bain. Unfortunately a closer look shows a mixed record. Romney cites his Bain experience to prove he can create jobs. He points to Bain's investment in a (then) "little-known office supply store called Staples, which now employs more than 90,000 worldwide."

"But a closer examination of the prospectus paints a different picture of Bain's operation. Under Romney's leadership, Bain became one of the nation's top leveraged buyout companies, helping lead a trend in which businesses were acquired using debt often pledged against their own assets or earnings." -- Tom Hamburger, Melanie Mason and Matea Gold in Jewish World Review

The result was often the failure of eviscerated companies. Pensions and benefits were lost. Jobs were lost. Bain demanded financial performance at the expense of good business practices. Some of the horror stories contain everything the OWS crowd profess to hate. It might not have the tabloid traction of alledged infidelities, but ethically it is the same darned thing.

Why Not Rick Santorum?

A far more interesting subject to think upon is the fact that (so far) Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum has not pulled into the lead. Perhaps Santorum is the horse to watch in this race. His foreign policy understanding is very complete. His credentials are pretty solid.

Rick Santorum, an unapologetic believer in American Exceptionalism, understands that those who wish to destroy America do so because they hate everything we are – a land of freedom, a land of prosperity, a land of equality. Rick knows that backing down to the Jihadists means that we are only putting our foundational principles at greater risk. As an elected representative, Rick knew that his greatest responsibility was to protect the freedoms we enjoy – and we should not apologize for holding true to these principles.

Along with John Boehner and Jim Nussle, Rick was a member of the “Gang of Seven” who targeted the waste and fraud of the House Post Office and Bank. This did not make Rick Santorum a popular man in an old boy’s club like the House of Representatives, but Rick knew that the only way to make a positive difference in the lives of his constituents was to challenge the corrupt norms that had seeped into the People’s Body.