Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Operation Educate for 2012

Helping Obama Feel Your Pain at the Pump...

A reminder of where high gas prices came from...

...By Taking Your Pain to the Polls

Here is a really great idea from Mr. Conservative [click to read]. Frustrated by the rising price of gas, he felt compelled to leave a note on the pump to remind the uninformed where the rising prices were coming from.

If the store can sell you a doughnut or a drink with pump advertising, why not use the space and time to educate. Here is one from The Republican Study Committee [click to read] that I'd like to print as a sticker and leave every time I buy a tank. ht/Redstate

Here's something to think about: Obama's Oil Flimflam [click to read] by Charles Krauthammer details the President's real record. Though he likes to go to a college campus and make speeches about domestic production, his record on the matter speaks for itself:

"President Obama incessantly claims energy open-mindedness, insisting that his policy is "all of the above." Except, of course, for drilling:

*off the Mid-Atlantic coast (as Virginia, for example, wants);

*off the Florida Gulf Coast (instead, the Castro brothers will drill near there);

*in the broader Gulf of Mexico (where drilling in 2012 is expected to drop 30 percent below pre-moratorium forecasts);

*in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (more than half the size of England, the drilling footprint being the size of Dulles International Airport);

*on federal lands in the Rockies (where leases are down 70 percent since Obama took office).

But the event that drove home the extent of Obama's antipathy to nearby, abundant, available oil was his veto of the Keystone pipeline, after the most extensive environmental vetting of any pipeline in U.S. history. It gave the game away because the case for Keystone is so obvious and overwhelming. Vetoing it gratuitously prolongs our dependence on outside powers, kills thousands of shovel-ready jobs, forfeits a major strategic resource to China, damages relations with our closest ally, and sends billions of oil dollars to Hugo Chavez, Vladimir Putin and already obscenely wealthy sheiks." -- Charles Krauthammer

But you say: "aren't we running out of oil anyway?" Read The Peak Oil Myth [click to read] by Bob Lutz in Forbes before jumping to conlusions.

...might help voters with decision 2012.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Nanny State Update

Obama Advisor: "Kids from Big Families Have Small IQs"

I reported earlier how a child in a Staunton, Virginia was 'busted' for bringing a Wendy's lunch to school [1.]

How Junk Science Drives US Population Policy

I just heard about this one on Rush Limbaugh's show today. ( - John P. Holdren, the top science adviser to President Barack Obama, wrote in a book he co-authored with population control advocates Paul and Anne Ehrlich that children from larger families have lower IQs.

The book—"Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions"—argued that the United States government had a “responsibility to halt the growth of the American population.”

“It surely is no accident that so many of the most successful individuals are first or only children,” wrote Holdren and the Ehrlichs, “nor that children of large families (particularly with more than four children), whatever their economic status, on the average perform less well in school and show lower I.Q. scores than their peers from small families.”

Holdren and the Ehrlichs published "Human Ecology" with W.H. Freeman and Company in 1973. In June 2000, a study published in American Pyschologist debunked the notion that children in larger families have lower I.Q.s. But when Holdren appeared in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in 2009 for a confirmation hearing on his appointment to run the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, he continued to argue for the benefits of “smaller families” on other bases.

In "Human Ecology," Holdren and the Ehrlichs concluded: “Population control is absolutely essential if the problems now facing mankind are to be solved.”

“Political pressure must be applied immediately to induce the United States government to assume its responsibility to halt the growth of the American population,” they wrote.

Holdren and the Ehrlichs also called in "Human Ecology" for redistributing wealth on a global basis. “Redistribution of wealth both within and among nations is absolutely essential, if a decent life is to be provided for every human being,” they wrote in their conclusions.

In a section of the book entitled, “Solutions,” in a chapter entitled, “Population Limitation,” the future Obama White House science adviser joined with the Ehrlichs in writing: “Any set of programs that is to be successful in alleviating the set of problems described in the foregoing chapters must include measures to control the growth of the human population.”

The authors then questioned the values of parents who have large families.

“Certain values conflict directly with numbers, although numbers may also be considered a value by some people, such as businessmen (who see bigger markets), politicians (who see more political power), and parents of large families,” Holdren and the Ehrlichs wrote.

“Those who promote numbers of people as a value in itself, however, may be overlooking the cheapness such abundance often brings,” they said.

“One form of conflict between values and numbers arises in the choice between having many deprived children or having fewer who can be raised with the best care, education, and opportunity for successful adulthood,” they said on pages 228-229. “This dilemma is equally acute whether it is posed to a family or a society. It surely is no accident that so many of the most successful individuals are first or only children; nor that children of large families (particularly with more than four children), whatever their economic status, on the average perform less well in school and show lower I.Q. scores than their peers from small families.”

In a footnote to this passage, Holdren and the Ehrlichs cite a “report of a National Academy of Sciences Study Panel” that “includes several articles on the advantages to children of being first-born or in small families.”

American Psychologist Study Disproves Holdren

In the June 2000 issue of American Pyschologist, a team of authors joined to debunk the notion that smaller families somehow produced higher “quality” or more intelligent children. The team included Joseph Lee Rodgers of the Department of Psychology at the University of Oklahoma, Harrington Cleveland of the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina, David C. Rowe from the Division of Family Studies at the University of Arizona, and Edwin van den Oord of the Department of Psychology at the University of Utrecht.

The study these scholars did was based on an analysis of data from actual siblings collected by the federally sponsored National Longitudinal Study of Youth.

“A large amount of publicity has circulated over the past two decades suggesting to parents that they should limit their family size in the interest of, in Blake's (1981) words, ‘child quality,’” Rodgers and his co-authors wrote. “Zajonc (1975) published a popular article entitled ‘Dumber by the Dozen’ that certainly must have led some parents to believe they should limit their childbearing lest they place their children into the diluted intellectual environment predicted for later birth orders, close spacing, and larger families.

“The columnist Dr. Joyce Brothers answered a question sent into Good Housekeeping (February, 1981) by a mother of four asking if she should consider having another baby as follows: ‘Studies have shown that children reared in small families are brighter, more creative, and more vigorous than those from large families,’” the authors noted.

“However,” they said, “the belief that, for a particular set of parents in a modem country like the United States, a larger family will lead to children with lower IQs appears to be, simply, wrong. The belief that birth order effects on intelligence act directly to decrease the intelligence of children born later in a given family also appears to be, simply, wrong.”

“Do large U.S. families make low-IQ children? No,” said the authors. “Are birth order and intelligence related to one another within U.S. families? No.”

In a chapter of a book ("U.S Policy and the Global Environment") published in November 2000, Holdren called for national and international policies aimed at reducing family size as a means of forestalling “global climate disruption.”

“That the impacts of global climate disruption may not become the dominant sources of environmental harm to humans for yet a few more decades cannot be a great consolation, given that the time needed to change the energy system enough to avoid this outcome is also on the order of a few decades,” wrote Holdren. “It is going to be a very tight race. The challenge can be met, but only by employing a strategy that embodies all six of the following components: … increased national and international support for measures that address the motivations and the means for reducing family size.”

At his Senate confirmation hearing in 2009, Holdren said he no longer believed determining optimal population was the proper role of government. However, he did say that appropriate government policies would have the result of decreasing family sizes.

“I think the proper role of government is to develop and deploy the policies with respect to economy, environment, security that will ensure the well-being of the citizens we have,” Holdren testified. “I also believe that many of those policies will have the effect, and have had the effect in the past, of lowering birth rates because when you provide health care for women, opportunities for women, education, people tend to have smaller families on average and it ends up being easier to solve some of our other problems when that occurs.”

The Obama administration has issued a regulation, set to take effect on Aug. 1, that will require all health-care plans in the United States to cover sterilizations, artificial contraceptives and abortifacients without any fees or co-pay. Many American religious leaders, including all of the nation's Roman Catholic bishops, have denounced the regulation as an attack on religious liberty because it will force many Americans to act against their consciences and the teachings of their faith.

I am the first of five children. As Mom went on, her brood got better. My sister is a successful realtor and biological illustrator. The next in line, a girl, specialized in medical technology. The two youngest, both boys, are NASA engineers. I'm the runt of the litter and I've successfully worked as an architectural illustrator, model maker and educational illustrator for twenty-seven years as the owner of my own studio... and I am also the oldest. So much for Mr. Holdren's theories.

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume IV, Issue VIII

E Pluribus Unum: IDEAS Drive this Election

Back in the 1970's my wife was teaching fourth grade in Louisa County. In the newly integrated elementary school system, she made this observation: "Who were the kids who were best friiends... the white kid and the African American kid who both liked math. Common interests brought them together... at least in the waning years of youthful innocence." In more recent times,, school choice became a bit of common ground for Black urban Mothers in Cleveland, Ohio, home of a successful voucher program and Homeschool Mom's in very white Virginia suburbs. The common thread of wanting solid opportunity for their children was more important than heritage.

Faces of Freedom
From album "Faces of Freedom," photos from the 09/12 rally.

This week the 'other' weekly news magazine makes the statement that Hispanic people will pick our next president. Indeed they will, along with African Americans, Irish, Germans and Native Americans... every people who's rich heritage is folded into the land of 'E Pluribus Unum.'

No question, America is home to a growing Spanish heritage population, but past centuries saw an influx of people from Europe and our own lifetime has seen immigration from around the globe.

In the Nineteenth Century we worried about the influence of each successive wave of immigration only to see them interwoven into the fabric of our Nation. Only recently have we seen a desire by some to capitalize on the politics of division. Observers such as Star Parker address this straight on. Parker's writings, such as Uncle Sam's Plantation document the actual effect of policies supposedly designed to help 'disadvantaged' minorities. Programs designed to aid poor single Mothers actually contribute to the breakup of the family. Subgroups are then tied politically to their supposed benefactors rather than incorporated into a culture of opportunity.

Faces of Freedom
From album "Faces of Freedom," photos from the 09/12 rally.

Thus members of an urban subgroup languish at public expense while new immigrants from Asia build lives providing basic services for them.

The rise of alternative media has allowed for the exchange of ideas to gain wider footing. The Republican primary process is actually a very healthy example of this. There is a more open vetting process where candidates' strengths, records and exchanged ideas have all been put on the table.

In the past a man of Mitt Romney's experience and steady hand might have easily clinched his party's nomination coming into Michigan, indeed Ronald Reagan was relatively free to evolve in ideology before facing the unending media circus, but knowing that allows us to examine the present process for what it is.

From album "Faces of Freedom," photos from the 09/12 rally.

The final Republican Presidental Debate showed a strong performance by the TEAM I believe is necessary to beat Barack Hussein Obama.

Newt Gingrich, the thinker, did well to keep focusing on the failures of Obama. Newt pretty much says what he's thinking. He'd make a great college professor. He takes the long form when he discusses energy independence and matters such as National security. There is a place for ruminating about colonies on the Moon, but not when we're facing record deficits and the need to up our defenses to meet the madness of Iran and North Korea. I LOVE Newt in an advisory role. I can't quite see him as President.

Ron Paul is a brilliant defender of limited government. I actually wish he had more opportunity to complete his thoughts sometimes. When he compared his foreign policy to that of Dwight Eisenhauer, I wanted to hear the long version. He really understands the Federal Reserve, and if he could run it that would be interesting. He fundamentally disagrees with what it does, but the possibility of real reform makes this thought appealing. His inability to address the threat of mad dictators with nuclear capability makes him unpresidential.

Rick Santorum is very well informed on international threats. His appeal to traditional values and morality rings true with the vast majority of Americans. The popular promotion of 'tolerance' makes it all to easy to paint him as extreme, but Newt did very well to point out that Barack Obama's vote, as a Senator, to allow infanticide does not sit well with the American Conscience. Santorum's support for Arlen Specter and his voting record do not necessarily disqualify him, but they do call into question a lot of his criticisms of other candidates. He often appears as passionate, but sometimes it seems like he's losing his temper.

Mitt Romney is cool under fire and shines best when he's taking on the Obama record. He is by far the best debator. His toughest job right now is to sell 'pure' Conservatives on his integrity as a candidate. If he cannot, he must at least underscore how disasterous a second Obama term would really be. History shows us that Ronald Reagan made a similar pilgrimage on his way to the White House. I must confess, I openly salivate at the thought of Romney taking on a teleprompterless Obama. "He'll eat Obama's lunch."

From album "Faces of Freedom," photos from the 09/12 rally.

Controlling overreaching government, seeking energy independence and national security and handing off a strong America to our children are all ideas that must be repeated over and over as we approach the next election. Barack Obama made a point of blaming the country's woes on George W. Bush. Keynesian stimulus after Keynesian stimulous only resulted in higher unemployment numbers than the President claimed were unnaceptable under Bush. Blocking the Keystone Pipeline and stalling domestic exploration in Virginia need to be brought up every time rising gas prices are mentioned.

Every time the President wants to send more people to college, he needs to be reminded of how many graduates are seeking 'alternate' employment in today's economic reality. We need to build a robust and diverse economy that employs hands as well as brains.

Most importantly, we need to remind the dividers among us that an African American Mother and I share the same dreams for our children. We want them to have a safe place to grow up and learn, and later on a chance to aspire in a country built by those who aspired before us. Let's kick Jeremiah Wright and James Cone out of the White House and bring in Star Parker. Let us once again look to build Reagan's 'City on a Hill.'

Faces of Freedom
From album "Faces of Freedom," photos from the 09/12 rally.

"I've thought a bit of the ``shining city upon a hill.'' The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we'd call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free.

I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, G-d-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still.

And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure, and happier than it was 8 years ago. But more than that: After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she's still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.

We've done our part. And as I walk off into the city streets, a final word to the men and women of the Reagan revolution, the men and women across America who for 8 years did the work that brought America back. My friends: We did it. We weren't just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger, we made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.

And so, goodbye, G-d bless you, and G-d bless the United States of America."
-- Ronald Reagan, from his farewell address.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The State of the World: A Framework

New Series: Analysis from Jewish World Review

Light on the World...
Globe photo by Bob Kirchman.

This, the First in a Series [click to read] from Jewish World Review offers a clear framework for understanding the world situation today.

"Three major areas of the world are in flux: Europe, China and the Persian Gulf. Every country in the world will have to devise a strategy to deal with the new reality, just as 1989-1991 required new strategies. The most important country, the United States, had no strategy after 1991 and has no strategy today. This is the single most important reality of the world. Like the Spaniards, who, in the generation after Columbus' voyage, lacked a clear sense of the reality they had created, Americans have no clear sense of the world they find themselves in. This fact continues to define how the world works."


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Late February Snowfall

After a Balmy Saturday, a Snowy Sunday

Snow collecting on the deck outside my studio.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Doves Outside My Window

A Pair of Doves on the Fence by Morning Light

I looked up from my morning prayers and saw these.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thoughts on the Arts and Worship

“In the Beginning G-d Created …”

Church in the Park
Photos by Brandon Hylton.

Church in the Park
Creating a painting during worship.

by Reverend Sean Peters, reposted from His Blog [click to read]

Genesis 1.1 reminds us that G-d, by very definition, is an artist.

Why then, I wonder, do we continue to have little to no place in the church for the artists among us? Oh, we try to accommodate by “allowing” them to sing or play their guitar every now and again; or perhaps we’re truly progressive and we include a “drama” into our worship service.

More and more churches have begun embracing the arts, and that is comforting, but we have a long way to go.

Artists have been shunned and dismissed by the church for centuries. Idolatry and worldliness are the primary sins artists are accused of committing; and yet I return again to the first chapter of our Bible: G-d is an artist: what do we do with that?

We live and move and have our being in a world saturated by the arts: film, television, theater, music, technology etc. Why does the church refuse to acknowledge that the people who sit in our pews on Sunday morning have been and will continue to be influenced by the arts in every other social circle that they travel in? Why are the arts not a part of what we do on Sunday mornings?

Andy Crouch’s brilliant study on culture Culture Making sounds a wake-up call to the church. Crouch argues that we have spent too much time bantering over which of Niebuhr’s cultural strategies is most useful for the church today. He suggests that we stop trying to figure out how to counter culture, and simply start creating culture. If Crouch is right, and I think he is, then we need to start looking around for the creative types in our midst, put them on our staffs, pay them a livable wage, and leverage their G-d-given artistic impulses to assist in creating the kinds of Spirit-filled, life-transforming Christ-centered worship experiences that will not simply compete with popular culture, but form an alternative culture.

This alternative culture that I imagine is one where the arts are used not as a means of entertainment to compete with pop culture, but to express true and genuine worship to the creator; it is one where performing artists use their gifts to remind us of our brokenness and sin, and then lead us to a place of forgiveness and hope; it is one where musicians are free to experiment and create music that honors the author of song, and where there are no restrictions with regard to the “styles” of music that are utilized or the types of instruments that are “acceptable;” it is one where painters and sculptors craft images that honor and glorify not the artist or the art itself, but honor and glorify the Master Artist and Sculptor of all things; it is one where storytellers can tell the Story of G-d with passion and boldness remembering that the Savior Himself “never taught without using parables …” (Mark 4.34 NLT); it is one where technology is utilized to its fullest potential so that the Message can be taught in the way that people are learning in every other sphere of life, and so that those among us with gifts in the area of technology: digital animation, video, graphic design etc, can feel that they have something to contribute to this alternative culture of Truth and Beauty.

I truly believe that this kind of culture can be created if the church is willing to embrace it. Some churches have been willing, and the fruits are evident.

Artists are looking for a place where they can worship G-d in the way that they are uniquely wired; the world is looking for a place where they can encounter G-d in new and fresh ways; and I believe G-d is looking for a church that is willing to take a step of faith, invest in the artists among them, and create a culture of creativity and beauty.

Are we willing?

Rev. Sean Peters is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/Education and Asbury Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity degree. He is an ordained elder in the Alabama/West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Sean served as a worship leader and Assistant Pastor at The Grapevine UMC in Port Saint Lucie, FL from 1999-2005, as Worship Leader and Youth Director at Saint Paul's UMC in Tallahassee, FL from 2005-2007 and as Pastor of Emerging Ministries at Shalimar UMC, Shalimar FL from 2007-2011. Sean was also an actor and a public school teacher for 10 years prior to sensing G-d's call on his life to pursue full-time ministry. Sean is an avid 80"s fan, loves good coffee, good books and playing golf. He is currently the pastor of The Journey Church in Crestview, Florida.

"This Isn't China, Is It?"

Preschooler Busted for Home-packed Lunch in NC

A Nanny State Update
by Matt Willoughby of North Carolina Civitas
Used by Permission

I reported earlier how a child in a Staunton, Virginia was 'busted' for bringing a Wendy's lunch to school [1.]

A mother in Hoke County complains her daughter was forced to eat a school lunch because a government inspector determined her home-made lunch did not meet nutrition requirements. In fact, all of the students in the NC Pre-K program classroom at West Hoke Elementary School in Raeford had to accept a school lunch in addition to their lunches brought from home.

NC Pre-K (before this year known as More at Four) is a state-funded education program designed to “enhance school readiness” for four year-olds.

The mother, who doesn’t wish to be identified at this time, says she made her daughter a lunch that contained a turkey and cheese sandwich, a banana, apple juice and potato chips. A state inspector assessing the pre-K program at the school said the girl also needed a vegetable, so the inspector ordered a full school lunch tray for her. While the four-year-old was still allowed to eat her home lunch, the girl was forced to take a helping of chicken nuggets, milk, a fruit and a vegetable to supplement her sack lunch.

The mother says the girl was so intimidated by the inspection process that she was too scared to eat all of her homemade lunch. The girl ate only the chicken nuggets provided to her by the school, so she still didn’t eat a vegetable.

The mother says her daughter doesn’t like vegetables and – like most four year olds – will only eat them at home under close supervision.

In an interview with the Civitas Institute the mother said “I can’t put vegetables in her lunchbox. I’m not a millionaire and I’m not going to put something in there that my daughter doesn’t eat and I’ve done gone round and round with the teacher about that and I’ve told her that. I put fruit in there every day because she is a fruit eater. Vegetables, let me take care of my business at home and at night and that’s when I see she’s eating vegetables. I either have to smash it or tell her if you don’t eat your vegetables you’re going to go to bed.”

The mother added, “It’s just a headache to keep arguing and fighting. I’ve even wrote a note to her teachers and said do not give my daughter anything else unless it comes out of her lunchbox and they are still going against me and putting a milk in front of her every day.

“Friday she came home and said ‘Mom, they give me vegetable soup and a milk,’” said the mother.

“So I went to the cafeteria to make sure she had no fee and it’s not being charged to her account yet,” she continued, ” but what concerned me was that I got a letter from the principal and it says students who do not bring a healthy lunch will be offered the missing portions which may result in a fee from the cafeteria. So if I don’t stay on top of her account on a weekly basis there’s that opportunity that charges could be put on her account and then if I let it go too far then it’s like I’m going to have a big battle.”

The principal of West Hoke Elementary, Jackie Samuels, says none of the children’s parents were asked to pay for the school food. While the parents may not have to pay, it was still an expense for the school to provide the extra food. A phone call to the Hoke County Schools Superintendent to inquire as to how much additional expense this would impose on the school was not returned.

The mother, who lives in Fayetteville, sent a statement to state Rep. G.L. Pridgen (R-Robeson) detailing her complaint. Pridgen says he was shocked to hear it. Pridgen has since learned this is a nationwide practice based on federal guidelines.

An assistant to Pridgen says the girl’s grandmother was also upset and asked, “This isn’t China, is it?”

The government inspector was from the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised program at the FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The program gives schools a grade based on standards that include USDA meal guidelines enforced by the N.C. Division of Early Childhood Development.

The nutrition standards for pre-K lunch require milk, two servings of fruit or vegetable, bread or grains and a meat or meat alternative. The school didn’t receive a high grade from the January assessment because the home-made lunches didn’t meet those guidelines. The mother points out the only thing on that list her daughter’s home lunch didn’t have was milk, so she doesn’t understand why the girl was given a complete school meal as a supplement.

The mother says her next step is to sit down with the principal and if nothing is done then she plans to go to the school board.

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume IV, Issue VIII

This week the 'other' weekly news magazine looks into the Bizarre world of Kim Jong Un. THYME also feels compelled to take a look.

When interstate 40 was completed, Journalist Charles Kerault quipped: "now it is possible to drive from coast to coast across this country without seeing anything." North Korea's motorways, on the other hand, give us a very good picture of life inside a land of stark contrasts.

A visitor to Pyonyang might, at first glance, think he's looking at one of North Korea's enormous missiles but he would actually be looking at the Ryugyong Hotel. This 105 story building's construction has been halted on numerous occasions by lack of funds.

Taking to the ten lane motorways gives us a fairly close-up look at the land's enormous programs and her poverty.

The Center for the Study of Global Christianity estimates that there are 467,894 Christians in North Korea and 10,592 Christian martyrs each year. Open Doors ministry lists the country as the world's worst religious persecutor.







Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Note from Binyamin L. Jolkovsky

"The power of prayer is often spoken of. But those of us
who truly believe in it, act on it"

Crocus 1
Spring Crocus.

I have been asked by family members of a rabbinic mentor who still acts as my second father to offer their gratitude to those who continue to pray and do extra acts of kindness on his his behalf.

It's human nature to reasses success if it's not soon in coming. But a down-side in relating the improvements of one who is critically ill is that one may presume wrongly that merits are no longer needed.

So let me put it this way: The status of Yisroel ben (Hebrew for "son of") Chana Tzirel has improved, but he is a long way from healed and still in a critical, if stabalized, condition. He is very much in need of as many prayers and meritorious acts preformed on behalf of him as possible.

Those acts can be as simple as being more patient with somebody who doesn't deserve it or holding a door when you are in a rush. The gestures of making our world better can likewise increase according to your ability.

Every prayer is precious to the Almighty. So are doing extra acts of kindness (no matter how small) in the merit of those who need Divine mercy.

No matter what your faith, PLEASE act on behalf. Please forward this note and post it to social media.

The power of prayer is often spoken of. But those of us who truly believe in it, act on it.

May the One who is the True healer, bless you in kind for your kindness,
Binyamin L. Jolkovsky,
Editor in Chief,

Morning Light and Love Together

A Photo Composition for Valentine's Day

The morning light shines on the necklace my lovely wife wore to preschool yesterday.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Edward Hicks, Painter, Preacher

Sign Painter Who Visualized Peaceable Kingdom

A Milestone Monday Feature

Edward Hicks' 1834 painting of the 'Peaceable Kingdom.'

By John Braostoski
Friends Journal
February 2000

Many people would recognize the work of Edward Hicks (1780-1849) in his Peaceable Kingdom paintings. But it would be a rare person who would know much more about his life and beliefs, which were totally connected with them. Some think of him as a colonial folk artist, untrained and self-taught, simple, sweet, or naive. That view is partially true, but also misleading. Although Hicks was self-taught, he developed sophisticated technical ability and had an educated and penetrating intellect.

His career started as a decorator of carriages and maker of signs. Some of the signs were patriotic, such as views of Washington crossing the Delaware with the moon penetrating storm clouds, like the cosmic eye of G-d, observing and approving of the events. Another was a wooden placard adorned with the face of Benjamin Franklin. The most curious sign to us might be the one of a joyful jumble of hats for a hatter named Jacob Christ, who surprisingly came from Nazareth, albeit Pennsylvania.

At first his fellow Quakers looked a bit askance at his profession, and because of this, at one time he gave It up to be a farmer. He was unsuccessful at farming, however, and returned to his brushes. It was honest work, so fellow members of his meeting eventually forgave him, especially since he was becoming a strong preacher, traveling among many meetings. He did agree with them about certain vanities in art and refused to paint portraits, which were too ego-centered.

He worked at the time when both the United States and modern American Quakerism were young. His spiritual beliefs came from Barclay and 18th-century quietism, which espoused simplicity, self-discipline, and contact with the Inner Light. FIias Hicks, his second cousin, was a central figure in a religious storm. Edward Hicks was a spokesman, in word and in image, for those who became known as the Hicksites. It broke his heart to see Quakers becoming worldly, with excessive material goods and inflated pride, and leaning towards the creation of a spiritual elite. He felt this corrosion also in the authoritarian control of elders, as mere men, and not as followers of the Inner Spirit of Christ. He had a genuine feeling for the Scriptures, along with hope for a continuing sense of insight open to all. Some of the divisions between urban and rural Quakers have been laid at the feet of visiting Quakers from England, justly or unjustly. In his travels, Hicks spoke much of this.

He also spoke of something else: his own education included ancient concepts of animal symbolism with its references to aspects of human personality. These symbols came into his paintings. The lion was quick-tempered and willful. The wolf was full of melancholy and reserved. The bear was sluggish and greedy. The leopard, buoyant. In his paintings, these were both animal qualities with potential violence as well as the aforementioned rage, egoism, greed, etc. personified.

His "signature" subject of the peaceable kingdom slowly evolved. His symbols of the animals were joined to a quotation of Isaiah's prophecy in the Bible (Isa. 11:6):

"The wolf shall also dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them."

Isaiah's words were lettered on the borders, or false frames, around the paintings of the Peaceable Kingdom. Often he paraphrased Isaiah but always centrally included the child. At first he painted a very simple image, with a mixture of wild and domestic animals together. Later he introduced a dividing embankment, which developed into a ravine. On the left side, smaller figures indicated the founders of American Quakerism, William Penn being the most noticeable, concluding a treaty with the Indians. Beyond them was a brilliant sky and sometimes an arriving ship. On the right, the child was surrounded by the well-known duster of unlikely animal companions. The bull and lion were the most pronounced. The lion was offered hay to eat. These were powerful and intense images.

The Peaceable Kingdom paintings portray a delicate balance of difficult and unresolved issues. The lion-ego poses the greatest threat. The wild animals are seemingly domesticated and brought into line with loving kindness. However, their expression of pop-eyed puzzlement is not lost on any viewer. For the moment, they are behaving themselves, eating bovine food and not the little lambs. Hicks's paintings over the years show an increasingly subtle rendering of these animals and children clustered together. His concern is revealed through a tree that appears as if struck by lightning, splitting it. These are not mere decorations added for the naturalistic setting. The divided tree remains a major element in his paintings. As with the animal symbolism, other figures could represent concepts like "justice" or "purity." Originally a sign painter, Hicks continued to make "signs," except that now we have to call them symbols.

The little child had appeared in earlier paintings representing liberty and freedom from autocratic oppression. Politically, that meant kings and princes for' Hicks. But spiritual freedom also has to be obtained. There is a struggle against a foe, not British Quakers or material riches, but the weakness and characteristics of a willful self. The true foe was a self-willed, egotistical, greedy, lustful, or slanderously poisonous self Hicks rejected the authority of the self-aggrandized. He sought the authority of a purer self, washed by the Inner Light, which could reveal religious understandings, even if possibly at odds with established views.

This search was not his alone, and there was resistance to it. A face-off came, with dire results culminating in a division amongst Quakers. For Friends there were many words, not necessarily all polite. Hicks laid the blame upon the inherent human propensities that when uncontrolled turn wild. He felt that a peaceable kingdom was possible, that the child would lead them, that the lamb would lie down with the wolf, etc. Across the ravine was seen an example of William Penn demonstrating how it could be done. There might be other groups of Quakers, with Elias Hicks among them, representing what the artist felt were the better aspects of humankind, wrapped in long ribbons, with messages such as "Mind the Inner Light." Deeper in the paintings, in colorful satu- rations of light, might be seen a hilltop with a figure and twelve followers, indicating something even loftier, but with no written labels.

With the passage of time, the Peaceable Kingdom paintings became more skillful in technique but saturated with both hope and dashed hopes. The figures became more dispersed. The child plays a lesser role, the animals begin to snarl and raise their claws to strike, divisions become more blatant, the tree more shattered. Hicks became extremely worried about a Quaker reconciliation. The animals become visibly older: white whiskers and sad, sunken eyes. The docility is from fatigue rather than from a peaceful blessing. But this is a fatigue of pride, ego, lust, and greed--perhaps not so bad. All those symbols recede. The sense of light in the gorgeously rendered creatures, trees, and air becomes the subject. How is that? Hicks believed in the Inner Light and its power; he felt it, therefore he saw it. Most importantly, he saw it in others, including the lion and the bear. The world was all light to him, that special Light. He depicted it again in his last painting of David Leedom's farm, where half the painting is luminous sky. The immaculately rendered bulls, sheep, pigs, fences, barns, and people (living or deceased) are saturated in it. No, they are giving it off, being fall of that spirituality, in abundance. It is as if the world is made of diamonds. No, it is made of one diamond.

Edward Hicks allows us to see the Light coming out of all living beings and the world, speaking to that which shines within every one of us.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume IV, Issue VII

Is the 'Peaceable Kingdom' Possible?

The 'other' weekly news magazine explores animal friendships this week. THYME explores their greater implications.

"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.

And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." -- Isaiah 11:6-12

"And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.

There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.

And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.

They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.

And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD."
--Isaiah 65:19-25

In 1992 a most unusual animal play date was photographed by Norbert Rosing near Churchill, Manitoba. Ice had not formed yet on Hudson Bay so the polar bears were not yet able to hunt seals on the ice. The bear had been fasting for four months when he enountered the tethered sled dog.

Surely the dog was destined to become dinner... but then the big bear invited the dog to romp! Ursus maritimus and canis familaris played together for several days before the bear wandered off to the freezing bay.

The unusual friendship was featured in a 1994 National Geographic article: Animals at Play.

The fact that animals play and enter into relationships with each other and with humans has long been observed. The observation that even 'natural enemies' can relate to one another on a friendly basis points to the very exciting possibility of restored Eden. The 'Peaceable Kingdom' of scripture is seen in fleeting glimpses.

Bears are most often observed as solitary animals, coming together only to mate and to raise cubs. This is largely necessitated by the feeding range required by adult bears. Yet given an abundant supply of salmon, the brown bears -- ursus arctos of the Kenai Penninsula in Alaska stand shoulder to shoulder by the streams. In a practice now discontinued, rangers in the Smoky Mountain National Park used to provide garbage for the bears in a sort of 'cafeteria' so visitors could watch ursus americanus feeding in large numbers.

Natural enemies raised from infants are often seen to bond with each other. Beagles raised with bunnies are the staple of cute internet photos. Also of interest is the fact that most carnivores at least suppliment their diets with fruits and vegetables. Again the bear deserves special mention here. All bears may be classified as carnivores, but the wide adaptations observed in the diets of the various ursine species supports the possibility of Peaceable Kingdom.

Many theologians see the Peaceable Kingdom as metaphorical, even as a final resolution of G-d's 'Lion' and 'Lamb' nature. Inspired writings seem to point to a future world of true wonder and reconciliation.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How the Western World was Lost

Rabbi Daniel Lapin on the Fight for Civilization

The Signing of the Declaration of Independence by Armand Dumaresq, c1873.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin [click to listen] talks about the beginnings of our culture's moral free-fall:

The Battle for Civilization, Part I [click to listen]
The Battle for Civilization, Part II [click to listen]

"In surveying America’s current political and economic unrest, have you ever wondered if there’s truly hope for changing the direction of our country? Today, you will hear how our nation got to this point, and what it’s going to take to right the ship. It’s a discussion no American should miss."

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Blind Man in the Bleachers

Meet the Real MVP's of Sunday's Superbowl

Jason Pierre-Paul's parents, Marie and Jean. Sun Sentinal

A Milestone Monday Feature

Jason Pierre-Paul was just nine months old when his Father lost sight in one eye while driving. Within weeks, Jean Pierre-Paul was blind, the victim of a viral infection that destroyed his sight. His Mother Marie became the sole breadwinner for the family, working long hours in the housekeeping department of a hotel.

Jean stayed home and cared for Jason. He and his wife taught their Son great lessons in perserverance as they adjusted to meet the challenges life handed them.

Almost thirty years ago, the family came to the United States, settling in Florida. Jason attended Deerfield Beach High School and actually played basketball until a serious leg injury sidelined him, but then another MVP came into his life.

In his junior year, Jason signed up for a geometry class taught by Manny Martin, who happened to be defensive coordinator for the school's football team. Martin jokingly told Jason that in order to pass the class, he'd have to play football. The rest is history.

There was a problem though. Jason worked after school at Boston Market to help the family with their rent. Marie was working as a domestic and finances were tight. Martin went to Jason's boss at Boston Market and they worked out a schedule so he could keep his job and still make practices. Jason would leave practice and go straight to work. often he would work until midnight and then get up early to make it to high school. The superstar remembers this as the hardest year of his life.

He went to three colleges: College of the Canyons in California, Fort Scott Community College in Kansas and finally University of South Florida. He was drafted by the Giants in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Sunday his Dad went to Indianapolis to attend his first-ever NFL game. He listened as his Son matched wits with Tom Brady, rushing and batting down passes against one of the best quarterbacks in the game. It had to have been an amazing day for Jean and Marie! [1.]

Blind Man in the Bleachers
Kenny Starr

He's just the blind man in the bleachers to the local hometown fans
And he sits beneath the speakers way back in the stands
And he listens to the play by play, he's just waiting for one name
He wants to hear his son get in the game

But the boy's just not a hero, he's strictly second team
Though he runs each night for touchdowns in his fathers sweetest dreams
He's gonna be a star someday though you might never tell
But the blind man in the bleachers knows he will

And the last game of the season is a Friday night at home
And no one knows the reason but the blind man didn't come
And his boy looks kinda nervous,sometimes turns around and stares
Just as though he sees the old man sitting there

Well, the local boys are tryin' but they slowly lose their will
Another players down and now he's carried from the field
At halftime in the locker room the kid goes off alone
And no one sees him talkin' on the phone

And the games already started when he gets back to the team
And half the crowd can hear his coach yell, "Where the hell you been?"
"Just getting' ready for the second half", is all he'll say
"Cause now you're gonna let me in to play"

And without another word he turns and runs into the game
And though the silence on the field, loudspeakers call his name
It'll make the local papers how the team came from behind
When they saw him playing out his heart to win

And when the game was over the coach asked him to tell
What was it he was thinkin' of that made him play so well
"Well, you knew my Dad was blind", he said, "Tonight he passed away"
"It's the first time that my father's seen me play"


Friday, February 3, 2012

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume IV, Issue VI

Star Parker has the C.U.R.E., (photo: Center for Urban Renewal and Education

Obama's Vision Puts America Last [click to read] by Star Parker

"The theme that President Barack Obama gave to his State of the Union address was "An America Built to Last." But his vision would be better described as "An America Built to Be Last."

As the president asked us to be patient and keep drinking the same Kool-Aid he's been serving up for three years, The New York Times reported that the Federal Reserve's latest assessment of our economy is that "... a full recovery is years away."

Even his most loyal constituency -- black Americans -- is losing patience. In Gallup's latest tracking poll, the black approval rate for Obama was 79 percent. This is 17 points below the 96 percent of blacks who voted for him in 2008, and the first time that black approval has dropped under 80 percent." -- Star Parker

Preet Bharara may be 'the man who is busting Wall Street' in the 'other' weekly news magazine but it is Barack Hussaen Obama who's breaking Main Street. Americans for Prosperity reports that 70% of jobs are created by small business. Most stimulous money has benefitted government and larger unionized industries. The people who create the lion's share of new jobs are saddled by tax burden and regulation. The car industry may have been energized by 'cash for clunkers' but construction and other industries languish.

Government policies were largely to blame for the creation of bad mortgages in the first place. Rebundling them as 'investments' by Wall Street was a way of dumping all these bad mortgages on the market. Wall Street is indeed culpable, but who will clean up Fannie and Freddy?

In Wisconsin, Governor Walker has restored health to state finances by standing up to the unions. In Virginia, Bob McDonnell has eased the burdens on business to attract new jobs to the area, creating a model for the rest of the country to follow.

Creating our own energy would require the creation of many jobs. The Keystone Pipeline project, recently shot down by the administration, would have benefitted the average American greatly by delivering a dependable flow of resources from a stable North American field. Likewise, Offshore exploration off of the coast of Virginia would have benefitted our local economy. Exploration would have brought money and jobs to our state first then the sale of resources would have benefitted all Virginians for decades to come.

Cutting corporate rates to match those of other industrialized nations would spur growth in our manufacturing economy.

The profile of this dredging rig is far greater than that of any oil rig fifty miles out.


We're All in This Together

Letter from Binyamin Jolkovsky of Jewish World Review

A considerable amount of mail came in yesterday about Michelle Malkin's article, First, They Came for the Catholics [click to read]. The notes were from Catholics, but also from Christians of other denominations. Many expressed thanks for featuring the piece so prominently. The same for a recent Paul Greenberg column, Just read the words: Separation of Church and State works two ways [click to read]. But there were even more notes questioning why a Jewish site is involving itself in Christian affairs. And these notes, mind you, were from Christians.

In almost all recent instances of secularists publicly attacking -- and trying to impede on the rights of -- people of faith on these shores, the terms "Jewish" and "Christian" can be interchangeable.

These attacks may even come under, sadly, the guise of religion: The misrepresenting of sacred teachings by those who have diluted millenia-old values with foreign teachings in the name of "sensitivity".

The goal of JWR continues to be a REVIEW of the WORLD from a traditional JEWISH perspective. These attitudes are likewise at the heart of orthodox Christianity. From Day One, JWR has pushed the belief that "we are all in this together." That people of faith must unite on the issues in which we find common cause. And in reference to Michelle's column, an attack on the Church is an attack on religion. Period.

I intend to continue to publish articles of interest to the faith community --- all faiths. As long as I'm able to.

In gratitude and friendship,
Binyamin L. Jolkovsky

PS: Below you'll find an article from a Texas Rabbi to his Governor [click to read]. There's a good reason why I made it the lead story. (Sorry if this note took too long)


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Did 'Augusta Al' See His Shadow?

No Sign of Stirring at the Local Groundhog Hole

File photo of 'Augusta Al.'

'Augusta Al' must have slept in. Either that or he became the victim of my neighbor's pistol practice and I wasn't aware of his demise. In Summers past I would awaken in the backyard hammock to his steely rodent gaze. He was a big groundhog.

This morning I walked up the hill to see if Al had stirred yesterday. There was no way he could have seen his shadow anyway but I wanted to know. I walked up the trail to the woods and came to the place where Al's hole was... no sign of fresh stirring. Al had indeed slept in.

There were plenty of signs of early Spring perhaps, but not a sign of marmot activity.

So I'll have to go with the six weeks of Winter theory put out by others. You can only trust a climate expert like 'Al' with a reasonable dose of skepticism.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Remembering Columbia and Challenger

Memorial to the Astronauts in Arlington Cemetary

Plaque honoring Mission Specialist David Brown, Commander Rick Husband, MissionSpecialist Laurel Clark, Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla,Mission Specialist Michael Anderson, Pilot William McCool, and Israeli Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon.

Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik are remembered.

First, They Came for the Catholics

Matters of Conscience and Government Overreach

The entrance to St. Francis Church in Staunton.

Michelle Malkin writes today about Government Overreach [click to read] in the matter of conscience. Catholic adoption services in Massachussetts have already been shut down rather than give in to demands that they allow the government to dictate their placement policies.

"President Obama and his radical feminist enforcers have had it in for Catholic medical providers from the get-go. It's about time all people of faith fought back against this unprecedented encroachment on religious liberty. First, they came for the Catholics. Who's next?

This weekend, Catholic bishops informed parishioners of the recent White House edict forcing religious hospitals, schools, charities and other health and social service providers to provide "free" abortifacient pills, sterilizations and contraception on demand in their insurance plans — even if it violates their moral consciences and the teachings of their churches." -- Michelle Malkin.

Standing Together [click to read]. Protestants and Jews declare to the White House: "We stand with Catholics."

"Today, more than 40 non-Catholic religious organizations including Protestant-affiliated colleges, National Association of Evangelicals, Focus on the Family, Assemblies of God, Northwest Nazarene University, and Eastern Mennonite University, sent a letter to the White House demanding religious protection against the newly issued HHS contraceptive mandate."

“We write not in opposition to Catholic leaders and organizations. We write in solidarity.” Says the coalition letter. “Leaders of other faiths are also deeply troubled by and opposed to the mandate and the narrow exemption.” -- Emily Hardman

Homeschool Sports Participation Vote Today

Tebow Bill May Get Voted Down Again in Committee
by Lynn Mitchell (Cross Posted from SWAC Girl)

The Hampton Generals make a TD.

Governor Bob McDonnell (R) is for it. Delegate Rob Bell (R- 58th House) sponsored it. The Family Foundation backs it. Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV) also backs it.

HB 947, affectionately known as the "Tebow Bill" (see background here), is in danger of being voted down ... again ... by the House Education committee that includes local Delegates Steve Landes (R-25th House) and Dickie Bell (R-20th House) who represent Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County.

The Family Foundation sent out a robocall Tuesday night alerting homeschoolers in the 20th District that Dickie Bell had indicated he would not support the bill in the House Education committee vote that may come as early at 9:00 Wednesday morning. Contact information was included to contact Del Bell: (804) 698-1120 or email and ask that he vote yes for HB 947.

The bill was voted out of the House Education sub-committee on January 27, just as it has in previous years. The next vote is where it fails year after year.

A sunset amendment was attached to the bill by Del. Landes that would limit it to a four-year trial period and, at that time, it would need to be re-voted on.

Reportedly the reason Dickie Bell opposes the bill is because it may expose homeschooled students to things they may not consider appropriate, something that crosses over into decisions made by capable parents.

I left a message at Del. Bell's office late this afternoon to learn more and to ask for confirmation but as of the time of publication of this post, I had not heard from him or his staff.

Twenty states across the country allow homeschool access and it has worked for them. Perhaps it's time for the discriminatory homeschool stereotypes to go away in Virginia starting with Del. Bob Tata (R-85th House) who made a very offensive comment concerning homeschoolers:

"I guess what you'd have is sort of like a bunch of adolescent free agents," Tata said with a laugh. "But how would you control it? I mean, you could have some 6 (foot) 4 (inch) gorilla at home who can't read or write but can run a 4.4-second 40-yard dash." [emphasis added]

Kudos to Rob Bell for his continuous support of homeschool families by again submitting the homeschool sports access bill this year and not giving up, something those families may remember when he runs for Attorney General in 2013.