Friday, December 27, 2013

Unpacking The Twelve Days of Christmas

You Will Never Look at this Song the Same Way Again


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

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

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

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pie Jesu By Forte on "America's Got Talent"

A Lesson in IMAGO DEI, by John Stonestreet

This group just met two weeks before this audition!

Beauty, Truth and Operatic Boy Bands... [click to read]

"In his book, “Simply Christian,” N.T. Wright speaks about the various “voices” that point to something greater and better than the stuff of everyday life. Among these are beauty and truth.

Beauty, both natural and man-made, he writes, is “sometimes so powerful that it evokes our deepest feelings of awe, wonder, gratitude, and reverence.” It both “calls us out of ourselves” and “appeals to feelings deep within us.”

This kind of transcendence lifts people beyond the distracting noise and sensationalist drivel of popular culture, which almost by definition is superficial, intended to grab our attention long enough to part us from our money.

Forte’s audition has gone viral. And it’s a powerful reminder that there is an alternative to the superficial. The fact that the lyrics sung came from the Church’s liturgy remind us that so much of the West’s enduring beauty was inspired by, and created in service to, Christian truth. And this story should remind us that, in the end – despite the layers of distraction, lies, and confusion – this is still God’s world and every person is made in His image.

The link between Christianity and beauty is so indisputable that, instead of denying it, skeptics and critics will often simply downplay or deny the importance of beauty altogether. But as Wright put it, this is a voice that cannot be silenced. You're likely to hear it in the most unexpected places—for instance, talent competitions on network television." -- John Stonestreet

THYME Magazine, Esther of the Year

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VII, Issue I 

Sgt. Mayan Yogev, Esther of the Year

"She (Sgt. Yogev) never hesitates. There were dire situations in which she had to give on-the-field care to a victim with a gun shot wound to the head or perform a tracheotomy on 12-year-old girl in critical condition." -- Yoav Zitun ht/Phillip Pasmanick [1.]

Just another day in the life of 20 year old Mayan Yogev. Don't be fooled by her youth and beauty, Sgt. Yogev is probably the busiest first responder in her Golan Heights patrol. Hundreds of Syrians in this troubled border area have been the recipients of Yogev's good care. Like a modern-day Florence Nightingale, she lights the lamp of compassionate care for her patients without regard for their citizenship.

"During the last months she has seen things that your average paramedic sees in a decade," says one of her commanders.Indeed the parallel to Nightingale's service during the Crimean War seems fitting. Here is a person who has tirelessly performed her duties with dedication and courage. Yoav Zitun [click to read] has much good to say about this remarkable woman!

Her brother Yitach says of her: "We weren't surprised, she has a strong character which allows her to deal not just with painful sights but also with difficult challenges without reservation or fear.

When she returns home she goes out and has a good time, she speaks of how much she believes in what she is doing, no questions asked. She tells us how she meets people in dire need of help, and does not embellish stories as heroic. Even as a high school student, she knew she wanted to have a meaningful period in the IDF, offering help and saving lives."

Her Father says of her: "it was always important for her to make a contribution and help other people. Her work over the last few months fills me with pride."

Her IDF colleagues have much to say in praise of her as well. Known for her courage and willingness to head into any forward area to render medical care, Yogev is a valued and respected member of their team. Those of us who pray for the Peace of Jerusalem look forward to the day when scores of Syrians and Israelis will simply remember her as their angel, their "lady with a lamp," in a difficult distant past.

Santa Filomena
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Whene'er a noble deed is wrought, 
Whene'er is spoken a noble thought, 
Our hearts, in glad surprise, 
To higher levels rise.

The tidal wave of deeper souls 
Into our inmost being rolls, 
And lifts us unawares 
Out of all meaner cares.

Honour to those whose words or deeds 
Thus help us in our daily needs, 
And by their overflow 
Raise us from what is low!

Thus thought I, as by night I read 
Of the great army of the dead, 
The trenches cold and damp, 
The starved and frozen camp, -

The wounded from the battle-plain, 
In dreary hospitals of pain, 
The cheerless corridors, 
The cold and stony floors.

Lo! in that house of misery 
A lady with a lamp I see 
Pass through the glimmering gloom, 
And flit from room to room.

And slow, as in a dream of bliss, 
The speechless sufferer turns to kiss 
Her shadow, as it falls 
Upon the darkening walls.

As if a door in heaven should be 
Opened and then closed suddenly, 
The vision came and went, 
The light shone and was spent.

On England's annals, through the long 
Hereafter of her speech and song, 
That light its rays shall cast 
From portals of the past.

A Lady with a Lamp shall stand 
In the great history of the land, 
A noble type of good, 
Heroic womanhood.

Nor even shall be wanting here 
The palm, the lily, and the spear, 
The symbols that of yore 
Saint Filomena bore.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wishes for a Blessed and Meaningful Christmas

The House of Christmas by G. K. Chesterton

Earth over the Moon. NASA Photo from Apollo 8

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honor and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam,
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost - how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show Under the sky's dome.

This world is wild as an old wives' tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where G-d was homeless
And all men are at home.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

THYME Magazine Special Christmas Edition II

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VI, Issue XXIXa

"Behold the Man!"

-- John 19:5b

Many years ago I celebrated Thanksgiving with our church family. There I met the first Nepali I have ever had the chance to speak with. His name was Prem Pradhan. This Gurkha warrior had served in Britain's Royal Air Force before returning to his native land. An accident had permanently injured him and he walked with a limp; but walk he did. In a land where foot travel is necessary to reach most of the villages, Prem walked. He had learned something amazing and he felt compelled to travel to the ends of this mountain kingdom to share it!

Walking all day to reach some remote village, Prem would seek out the men and elders of the place and say: "I have heard a NEW THING! I have heard about a man who died and came to life again!" Who would NOT be intrigued? Pradhan would go on to share his fresh vision of the risen Jesus... and many put their faith in Christ through the fresh telling of the old old story. Not everyone was thrilled to hear this 'Good News,' however. Prem had run afoul of the country's anti-conversion laws. He was put into prison, where he languished for seven years.

Nepali prisons are notorious. Prem's enemies sent him there knowing that it was a place to die. Like the amazing man Prem spoke of, he too was basically sentenced to death. But here he was, years later, telling me his story. He didn't die. While he was in prison he had a vision of the risen Lord, and was further strengthened in his resolve to tell the story of redemption. When he left prison he became involved in education and took in a lot of orphans. While proselytizers are discouraged in Nepal, educators are revered. Prem became a leader of his town and never stopped telling the amazing story.

The Babe of Bethlehem became a man. We have heard the Christmas story so many times that we fail to appreciate its audacity! Let us listen again to it with fresh hearing: "I have heard a NEW THING! I have heard about a man who died and came to life again!" Let us follow the grown Jesus to that time of his death. We first meet him on a hillside. An unlikely candidate for leader of a world religion, he attracts multitudes nonetheless. He teaches a simple message that "The Kingdom of G-d is at hand," and then withdraws to a lonely place with his disciples.

Children flock to Him. He is often surrounded by them and his disciples want to shoo them away. Jesus rebukes them. The Kingdom of G-d is meant for such as these. I met an Egyptian woman who had visions of this place. She says that in Heaven Jesus is SURROUNDED by children. This Jesus did not seek out the halls of power, but instead sought out the weak and simple people of this world. He was a carpenter. His disciples were fishermen, zealots and a tax collector. He spoke to women (most rabbis would not). He spoke "as one having authority." Indeed, one of the most amazing parts of the story is when Jesus stands before the Roman ruler Pilate, who's reaction to Jesus is worth noting.

The promises of Messiah were well known and many in Judea hoped for the coming of that leader who would free them from the oppression of Rome. There were many who claimed to be Messiah, looking to fire a zealot rebellion, and Rome was especially good at killing people. So when a maligned and fairly ordinary Galilean was brought before Pilate, why should he hesitate? There was the fact that he was not actually inciting any uprising... but something in Jesus caused this tough old Roman to pause. Pilate knew his job, but he also recognized authority and chain of command. This Galilean was not blustering about rebellion, in fact He was holding the details of His true mission close to His heart. Pilate saw more than met the eye about the man from Galilee. There is more searching than sneering in his question: "Are you a king?"

Pilate finds himself drawn into a higher sort of dialogue with this man... even asking Him: "What is Truth?" Already troubled by the man he sees, he is further troubled by his wife's dream of him. Indeed, he wants to "wash his hands" of this matter. The simple execution of a supposed rebel has become something far bigger. Pilate tries to release Jesus but is pressed to release Barrabas, a real insurrectionist, instead. The death and Resurrection of Jesus became the story that eventually captivated the Gurkha from Nepal.

The modern age brought about a dismissal of the unseen. Science and Naturalism pushed for concentration on what can be observed. The spiritual and invisible dimensions of life no longer dominated great thought... except to perhaps be broad brushed as simply unknowable. Had Pilate limited himself to that which was observable he would have quickly executed this ragged Galilean. There would be no need for angst, for though he SPOKE as one with authority, he had no physical evidence of that authority.

C.S. Lewis was a man of the modern age. He dismissed the faith as a young man, embracing the Naturalism of his day. As an enlightened Medieval scholar, he nonetheless dismissed the power of story to convey unseen truths. His friendship with men like J.R. R. Tolkien led him to become: "the most reluctant convert in all of England." Lewis, along with his friend Tolkien, discovered the power of the story to convey unseen truths. Imagination for them became the key to discover and share: "a NEW THING!"

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

THYME Magazine Special Christmas Edition

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VI, Issue XXIX

Glimpses into a World Unseen
The Amazing Photography of Alexey Kljatov

© 2013 The Kirchman Studio, All rights reserved. 
Photographs © Alexey Kljatov, Used by permission.

When I first saw the work of Alexey Kljatov, I was amazed. He takes these stunning images with a simple point and shoot camera rigged with an old macro lens and employing skillful manipulation of lighting. Snowflakes landing on his Moscow window reveal their full wonder and individual beauty through his sublime images. Mr. Kljatov graciously allowed THYME to share his amazing work. You can see more of his photography Here [click to view].

Just imagine the swirling dance of these beautiful shapes in a snowstorm!













Glimpses into a World Unseen
Act II

The electron microscope further reveals amazing patterns.

Vertical section of the human dna.

Evidence of Divine Design, Great and Small
"The Heavens Declare the Glory of G-d;
The Skies Proclaim the Work of His Hands." -- Psalm 19:1

Moth wing pattern.

I saw this little creature outside my studio one morning. It got me reflecting on the creative wonder, both large and small, that surround us.

M 51 Spiral Galaxy, NASA photo from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Detail of the 'X Structure' in M 51, NASA photo from the Hubble Space Telescope.

The artist is amazed. So much beauty and wonder in the very large cosmos and in the very small things as well! Can a G-d who spins galaxies into being be concerned with things small and personal? Such order and grace in the extreme scales of our world, yet often what we see before us is chaotic and makes no sense.

That is why we present here Lee Strobel's Case for Faith and Case for Christ. If you had stepped into that Bethlehem stable many years ago, you would have not necessarily seen beauty and redemption. The smells of animals and the pain of labor and delivery would have overwhelmed contemplation. Yet Christians around the world will contemplate the wonder of that night; for what happened there ultimately made its mark on human history.

The Case for a Creator [click to view] by Lee Strobel
The Case for Faith [click to view] by Lee Strobel
The Case for Christ [click to view] by Lee Strobel

Creche at the National Cathedral
A Particularly Beautiful Representation of the Nativity

Photo by Kristina Elaine Riley.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

THYME Magazine Special Advent Edition

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VI, Issue XXVIII

The Forgotten Season

The turkey leftovers were still cooling when the much media hyped 'Black Friday' events began. In a Long Island Wal Mart, a young associate was trampled to death as bargain hunters literally broke down the doors. A young man had to die because twenty dollars could be saved on flatscreens. Managers closed the store and someone actually was irate that he couldn't get in. Come on, if a colleague has died, its 'Game Over' on the shopping frenzy. Close the store and try to help the poor man's significant others. To hell with reopening for the remainder of the day! Management reopened the store at one o'clock that afternoon. Satirical publication 'The Onion' came out with a story where thousands were 'reported' to have died in Black Friday shopping. I did not find it funny. One death to satisfy the greed gods is too many. Our prayers go out to the family and friends of this young man. May they find comfort.

Lost in the madness of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and yes, even Small Business Saturday is the wonderful celebration of Advent. The high churches still celebrate it. It is a time of waiting and preparation for the miracle to come. It is so un-modern! It ties us to history. The traditions of Judaism are full of waiting. Abraham and Sarah saw the child of promise when they were way past the age of child bearing. I sometimes think of one-hundred year old Sarah as a preschool parent and join her in her laughter! Then there was Joseph and his imprisonment, followed by hundreds of years of exile in Egypt. We often think about the Promised Land, but we forget that all Promised Lands seem to require a prep!

In fact, there came a time when people forgot the lessons of the brick kilns and lost the Promised Land to the Babylonians and the Persians. The Temple, center of worship, was destroyed. But it was in this time of living as expats that the community of the Synagogue strengthened the people anew. Ezra and Nehemiah presided over a return to the land of promise. Again, the promise required a prep. As the exiles built the prosperity of Persia, they prepared themselves for the time when they would build their own.

A second Temple was built. The exiles returned. Then came the great empires of the Greeks and the Romans. The Temple was rebuilt, but the heavy hand of Roman rule presided over a time of trouble. Many looked to the future Messiah to put things aright. Indeed, there were many who claimed to BE Messiah. They came and went. But in a time when Heaven seemed so distant, there came another child of promise... to a couple way past child bearing. John the Baptist, a "Voice crying in the wilderness," came saying: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." At the same season of history, his mother Elizabeth's cousin Mary came to visit.

Mary had been visited by an angel and told that she, a virgin, would bear the child of promise. Though this was an incredible blessing, she faced the prospect of unwed motherhood... in a culture that stoned you for it. Her betrothed, however, had also been given a message from Heaven, that he should take her for his wife. What incredible faith and love! When I chose my Confirmation name, as a boy, I took the name Joseph. It was not that I ever thought I could match such selfless love, but that I so admired it! Even to this day, some of the people I admire the most are those men who have stepped into the lives of children they did not physically father, and yet have earned the name Dad nonetheless! These men live as both an example and a challenge to me. Some of them are my juniors in years, but they far surpass in their maturity!

Such are the lessons we miss if we merely content ourselves with instant gratification. There is an old saying: "Rome wasn't built in a day." Indeed our own nation cast off from its sure position as an English colony to pursue an uncertain future. In 1812 England returned to burn the young country's capital. The White House is so called because its sandstone outer walls had to be painted after the burning left them permanently blackened. By the middle of the Nineteenth Century, however, Isambard Kingdom Brunel was building great ships to strengthen Bristol's trade with America. A hundred years after barely surviving her revolution, the nation we know had taken her place as a world power.

Why Advent is Important to Artists [click to read]

We do well to celebrate Advent, though it is largely forgotten in the popular narrative, because it causes us to pause and prepare. In a world where preparation is limited to four years it does us good to remember the lessons of centuries. Advent allows us to step back from our busy lives and ponder timeless truths... like the man that the Bethlehem baby grew to be. He too died, some say on a Friday, but his death was not just his own. Did He indeed carry the sins of the world? The account of His Resurrection causes us to ponder mysteries far greater than ourselves and our puny wants. In our next issue of THYME we will ponder more wonders and present some compelling evidence that we should indeed consider the life of this man. (to be continued)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

THYME Magazine American Renewal Issue VI

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VI, Issue XXVI
Pursuit of Virtue
Cover: The School of Athens by Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino

"Properly understood, therefore, when John Locke, Samuel Johnson, and Thomas Jefferson wrote of 'the pursuit of happiness,' they were invoking the Greek and Roman philosophical tradition in which happiness is bound up with the civic virtues of courage, moderation, and justice. Because they are civic virtues, not just personal attributes, they implicate the social aspect of eudaimonia. The pursuit of happiness, therefore, is not merely a matter of achieving individual pleasure." -- Carol V. Hamilton, Ph.d.

The 'other' weekly news magazine a while ago considered The Pursuit of Happiness [click to read]. Quoting the philosophers who say we're "wired for happiness," they then delve into the conundrum of why we are so unhappy. THYME once again ventures in where angels fear to tread... to consider the truth intended by the original writers.

Consider These Advertisements [click to read] for Colorado's Health Insurance Marketplace. While they are an insult to the fine young people I actually know and work with, they nonetheless represent the popular narrative's description of "Pursuit of Happiness." Really?, "Kegstands" and "shotsies?" Again, I have to wonder if ageing advertising executives are being allowed to define young people they really need to go out and talk to. One surprise in Virginia's recent gubernatorial election was that the Conservative candidate actually won a strong percentage of the so-called 'Millenial' vote. The 18-24 demographic broke strongly for the Conservative [1.] begging the question: "Is the self-actualization message of the popular culture deconstructing under its own weight as young people open their eyes and see the true cost?" 

Those who seek to write the narrative about modern Americans err because they've replaced the institutions of virtue and protection with the multiplex cinema and the mall as center of the settlement. Consider the first Jamestown settlement, where the church, the storehouse and the armory were at the center. Personal happiness, in the packaging of self-actualization demands we redefine marriage and reduce consequences for pleasurable behaviours. Society must now provide outcome instead of opportunity, even if that outcome is tepid compared to the results of mankind unchained to pursue loftier goals that are out of the direct pervue of government.

Thus, many are lauding the Supreme Court's latest "Dred Scott"  [2.] moment as an American triumph, overturning a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act and striking down the restoration of California's popularly ratified Proposition Eight. The portion of DOMA actually overturned has to do with an inheritance case and is NOT at all like Roe vs Wade, which nullified state abortion laws in a sweeping motion. The media rushes to herald it, but it does not really create what qualifies as a landmark decision. In fact it is but one more strike against traditional thinking which includes the government forcing Catholic Charities in Massachussetts to place children with same-sex couples (they folded rather than compromise their beliefs), the suit against a photographer who, on faith grounds, declined to photograph a same-sex ceremony and the Methodist group in New Jersey who were denied tax-exempt status because they would not allow a same-sex ceremony to be performed in their facility [3.]

Marriage Wins in the Big Picture [click to read]

In each of these cases, there were other options open to the couples and they were in no way forbidden from creating their covenant relationship. At issue, in each case, was the religious freedom of those who hold that G-d alone may define what is marriage. Beyond the religious freedom considerations, a strong body of research suggests that children are best raised by a father and a mother [4.] While the thought may nor be politically correct, the evidence is well-documented. State law is still able to support traditional marriage and may well strengthen the virtues epitomized in eudaimonia by doing so. Courage, moderation and justice would ask: "what is best for our children?"

The First Amendment of the Constitution both prohibits government establishment of a 'state' church and protects citizens in the free exercise of their faith. While it is a good thing to restrict the government's direction of the distribution of an estate (property being an important right), it also follows that the government has no business redefining what for many is a matter of faith (freedom of belief being one of the fundamental rights). Providing protection for a person's directives concerning shared property and hospital visitation priviledges is in keeping with the virtues of courage, moderation and justice. Creating a 'right' for someone to overwrite the tenets of faith with fines and sanctions is the antithesis of them.

Much of the so-called 'Affordable Care Act's' controversy surrounds the law's establishment of access to contraceptives and abortion as 'fundamental rights' in defiance of those institutions and traditions who's purpose is to instill virtue. Requiring Faith-based institutions to provide coverage for things they don't believe in violates the true spirit of "pursuit of Virtue." Mandating that Christian businessmen like David Green [click to read] provide them is equally intrusive on true personal liberty.

Indeed it would seem that the time has come to offer a clear alternative to the tired old cliche's that would reduce significant personal choices to the level of a Superbowl beer commercial. I am not a recognized expert on youth, but I have worked closely with enough young people to know that they can indeed wrap their fingers around noble purposes. History tells us that young people of old took up the task before them to survey great lands and build great works. They were not shipped off to "professionals" to be trained, but rather, received mentoring from older people, often in a highly individualized fashion. Older people were not always 'retired' from service in a mandatory fashion. In an era when few lived past the age of 62 they were a cherished resource. That changed when leaders like Prussia's Otto Von Bismark discovered that their most effective opposition was from people over the age of 65 [5.]. In the days before penicillin it was a safe bet to pension the relatively few Germans who did live past that age.

As one who is two years into his sixth decade, I can tell you that it is a great joy to freely share the things you have learned with a bright young apprentice! Sadly, this does not happen in a world where people enter productive life late and leave too early. There is more of a competitive than collaborative mindset in a workforce that excludes experience and enthusiasm found at the ends of the age spectrum. We need to return to a world where we train our own replacements, cherishing the creation of a legacy more than the accumulation of one's own accomplishment. We do not create a legacy for ourselves, rather we pass the baton and cheer. Virtue WANTS the next generation to run faster, farther and surer!

What better place for this to be reborn than in our churches. A couple of Sundays ago I heard a most inspiring message of intentional care for the younger generation. We were encouraged to pray for each child in our congregation... creating intentional relationships for mentoring, support and discipleship. All of the clever programs in the world cannot surpass the strength of such intentional relationships.

In Colossians 1:9-12 we read: "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of G-d; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:" What would it look like to pray/model that for our young people? The results would certainly be changed young lives...and changed young lives would make an impact on their world! What if our young people were to be brought up in the narrative that they are for us a cherished investment?... Masterpieces of IMAGO DEI entrusted to our care?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gratitude Week: Meet Sir Nicholas Winton

Honoring the Hero of the Czech Kindertransport 

"...Learn to do good. Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, defend orphans, plead for the widow." -- Isaiah 1:17

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Case For a Creator; Lee Strobel

Amazing Evidence of Design and Purpose in Nature

"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard." -- Psalm 19:1-3

Ch. 2. | Ch. 3. | Ch. 4. | Ch. 5. | Ch. 6. | Ch. 7. | Ch. 8. | Ch. 9. |
Ch. 10. [click to view].

Thursday, November 21, 2013

THYME Magazine American Renewal Issue V

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VI, Issue XXVI

The Divine Plan for Our Redemption

"If my people, which are called by my name shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." -- 2 Chronicles 7:14

The Great Depression of the 1930's in America...

What does redemption really look like? "The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph" -- Mr. Mendez.

"What this world needs is a little Wonder!" -- Mr Mendez

The Great Depression of Modern America...

Politicians won't save us. Economic vitality won't save us. Indeed we have seen conditions in our nation move ever more from difficult to impossible. The great nation that nurtured us in my youth appears to be disappearing forever. Another election was approaching a few weeks ago. My depression over the situation was obvious. I'd gone to the September 12, 2009 rally on the National Mall and come away hopeful back then. The 2010 elections seemed to indicate that the wind was shifting. Solid principles would once again govern us. In 2011 I cautiously laid foundations for my little architectural visualization business to grow again.

But as 2012 rolled along, the work dried up. One of my clients simply stopped paying me for work already performed and I was living off of my 'second job' and some part-time teaching. The 2012 elections brought many of our worst fears to a depressing reality. The country was being 'fundamentally transformed,' and many of us saw that transformation taking us away from our foundations and into dystopia. 2013, whatever the experts said, saw a stagnation I don't think any of us could imagine. Our parents talked of the Great Depression and what I saw in my own business life seemed to be a revisiting of that dark era.

Those who had railed at the much lower unemployment statistics of the previous administration seemed all to content with the "new normal." Unemployment was far higher, but the figures did not even include situations like mine -- still technically 'at my desk' but seeing only a trickle of small jobs, if that. The nation that put men on the Moon couldn't even keep the shuttle flying. The victory in Iraq that stablized the Middle-East for a time was being squandered as the administration pursued an unclear course in Afghanistan. Debt soared to 17 Trillion dollars as government spending was the ONLY sector of the economy that was growing.

Eventually required payments such as Social Security and other entitlements would be squeezed by debt service to the point that there would be not enough money to meet these required obligations. Meanwhile, the administration moved decisively to block energy production on our public lands and a vital pipeline that would have helped us wean ourselves of foreign oil. A bleak picture was being painted. When Ted Cruz did what he was elected to do, represent the PEOPLE in the Senate, he was chastized by his own party! When Congress dared to defy the President by funding everything but the so-called "Affordable Care Act," the national media painted THEM as extreme... even though the "Affordable Care Act" would soon prove to be anything but.

But as the administration had its way and launched their $500 Billion Healthcare Marketplace Website, created in an extreme and blatant example of crony capitalism, the fall of that house was disasterous. People who create secure marketplace sites for the commercial marketplace have criticized the website's shoddy design and security lapses. A designer who was a guest on Sean Hannity's show said he could have produced a working site in several months (as opposed to six years), adequately tested it in a month and would have been embarrassed if he asked more than a million dollars for his efforts.

Awarded in a no-bid contract to a Montreal company, CGI Federal, which had bought a subsidiary "beltway bandit" firm in Virginia, turned out to be run by an old college friend of the First Lady! Many are shaking their heads at the blatent sloppiness, not only of the website, but the process. Are these people really to be trusted with one-sixth of the country's economy as they rewrite healthcare?

So, going into Viginia's Gubernatorial election, the media narrative was criticizing Attorney General Cuccinelli for OPPOSING THIS MONSTROSITY by mounting the first challenge to the mandates of the "Affordable Care Act." His opponent in the Governor's race -- a Democrat FUNDRAISER, was painted as the 'reasonable' candidate. Though Cuccinelli is being proved right as people actually 'see what's in it:' (the 'affordable Care Act') , vindication moves slowly in the mainstream media. An ever growing population of government-dependent Northern Virginians stood ready to steamroll the electorial process. Virginia has NO Conservative representation in the United States Senate. Were we about to lose the Executive Branch of our own state as well?

Healing for Our Land... Where Will it Come From?

It is days like these that make me think moving to Belize would be a better option than staying put and watching the decline. I wish for the days of the Texas Republic. Was I born in the wrong Century? Some of the great heroes of Texas came from Rockbridge County and were lovers of liberty in their own right. Our nation barely survived the revolution that spun it free from England. What led men to pledge their lives and sacred honor instead of cower in the hopes of "security?" A lot of young people seem all to happy to "take the free stuff" and vote for the "fundamental transformation" that provides it. What's the point in fighting it?

And so I faced the prospect of the upcoming election with some depression. But G-d has a way of breaking through that sort of thing. The young lady who had been my assistant in the studio during the optomistic days of 2011 proudly announced her support for Cuccinelli on Facebook, sharing this sentiment with her fellow college students! Another young man about my son's age did the same. I felt the baton being passed. There is indeed another lap in this race! But this race will not be won by merely prevailing in elections. It will be won by the method revealed in 2 Chronicles 7:14!

Turning G-dward! First of all, we must not be ashamed to call ourselves G-d's. Psalm 91:2 says: "I will SAY of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my G-d; in Him will I trust." Someday they may indeed sandblast the words "LAUS DEO" or "Praise G-d" from the cap of the Washington Monument, but they cannot remove them from my heart! Indeed, I am called by His Name. No amount of politically correct legislation can change my identity... and who I shall identify myself with. Though I am weak, HE is unwavering! My identity in the Lord places me on a firm foundation. Though I bend with the wind, the Rock I stand upon cannot be moved.

Then we must come to our Creator in all humility. Yes, we face situations bigger than our abilities to solve. In Centuries before us others did too. When we seek the face of G-d, we will of necessity check our hubris at the door. He is Lord. He is, as C. C. Lewis says: "Not a TAME Lion!" Our Redeemer is Dangerous! We must acknowledge... I MUST ACKNOWLEDGE... EVIL! Not just some distant evil, like a Hitler or a Terrorist, but that evil that lurks in my own heart. Yes, that evil must be acknowledged and put off. A man alone may deceive himself into thinking he is doing just fine, a man in intentional community knows better. We must learn: "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let us esteem each other better than ourselves" -- Philippians 2:4 by dying to our own default desires. This can only be done by journeying together.

then G-d says HE will "Hear from Heaven!" HE will forgive! HE will HEAL OUR LAND! Yes, it is the Divine who will save us. Angus Buchan, who's true story inspired the Movie: "Faith Like Potatoes" says: "the condition for a miracle is difficulty. The condition for a GREAT miracle is impossibility!"

Last week, THYME looked at the life of IsamBard Kingdom Brunel [click to read] and how he was used by G-d to bring new economic vitality to Bristol, England in the time of George Müller and Charles Dickens, Victorian England. Indeed, G-d used the vision of Müller to begin the healing of a people. The emergence of Brunel must be seen as part of that healing as well. History has much to teach us about faith and perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds... and the great miracles that have come in the face of just such times of adversity. History, you see, is not some obscure set of facts to be memorized or dates to be organized; Rather, it is a map to be followed. The paths of others who have walked where we are about to walk are described in its pages.

Learning from the Example of Previous Generations

We are in need of a Great Miracle today. Other generations have faced times like this as well. In previous times of national peril, our LEADERS called for prayer. Today it is necessary for people of faith everywhere to pick up that fallen standard and lift it high. If we will prepare our own hearts, like soil for the planting, HE will plant the seed. If we will cultivate what G-d plants, nurturing it to maturity, HE will provide the bountiful harvest. If we will prepare the land, G-d promises to HEAL it. History (REAL history, that is) is filled with stories of just such promise being realized in the lives of ordinary men and women.

But to participate in promise requires a relationship. G-d is not some abstract concept, but rather He is the Author/Creator of the Universe. He has a NAME... a Name so Holy as not to be uttered lightly on Earth, but a Name, to be KNOWN by. And how shall I find this G-d? There are men and women in this world who converse with Him in prayer. It is through relationship with THEM that we may be introduced to the Magnificent One, the G-d of Redemption. I am at best a poor disciple of His, but I am His disciple. You should not be introduced to Him by some formula in the writings of man, but rather in the Inspired Words of His Own Testimony. That is why I, and many more of His disciples stand ready to open the Holy Scriptures WITH YOU. In them you will find the Life and Light I speak of. The Food Channel cannot actually nourish you. You must step into the room where the meals are served.

An Earthly author cannot see the 'Great Miracle' that you, the reader, desparately need. But we CAN go together to the Master, who indeed knows what will nourish each of us. It is highly likely that you know someone who knows the Master, who can take you to the place where He can meet you with healing and nourishment. As I write this I pray that that person might indeed come to mind. Before I came to faith I was keenly aware that there was a certain brightness and clarity about the lives of certain people I knew. Later I realized that some of them had indeed been praying for me. Yet, you might be reading this and G-d's Holy Spirit may be speaking to you and you are not sure who to go to. If you would like to know G-d as Reedemer,  watch Defining Moments [click to view], or you may contact me at for more information. Your inquiry will be in complete privacy. It is my desire that you be able to find the 'Living Water' that you so deeply desire. A life transformed by G-d is but a heartfelt prayer away:

Dear Heavenly Father, I know that I’m a sinner. And I ask for your forgiveness. I believe your son, Jesus, died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins. I repent of my sins. I invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. In Jesus’ name, Amen

The greatest miracle is not the parting of the sea or the feeding of thousands, it is the transformation of the human heart. That is the miracle that gives us access to G-d. It is in knowing G-d that we will find far more than we were looking for in the first place! A G-d who can part the Red Sea, Create worlds and has power over death is pretty much to be respected. A G-d who changes human lives in intimate communion with his Creation is amazing.

A Caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Nature itself suggests the possibility of miraculous transformation and new life! Rice Paper Butterfly, or Paper Kite Butterfly, Idea leuconoe.
Illustration © 2013, by Kristina Elaine Riley for HOPE Publications, Pvt. ltd.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Virginia's Jack Jouett Rode Through the Night

His Warning Saved Jefferson and Virginia's Officials

This silhouette of Jack Jouett by his son Matthew is the only known image of the Revolutionary War hero.

On the night of June 3, 1781, Jack Jouett learned of an impending surprise attack on Charlottesville by British Lieutenant-Colonel Banastre Tarleton's "Whitecoat" Regiment. Jouett was at Cuckoo Tavern in Louisa County, bedded down on the tavern's lawn according to some accounts. When he learned of the advancing Tarlton, he quickly mounted his horse and rapidly traveled along back roads and old trails to warn Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia Legislature at Monticello.

Legend has it that in his urgency to get to Charlottesville, Jouett was permenantly scarred by the branches he rode through. He rested briefly at Lousia Courthouse before proceeding on to Monticello. Arriving around four in the morning, he hastily awoke Jefferson and his guests, who enjoyed breakfast before they fled while Jefferson checked periodically with his telescope for signs of Tarlton, Monticello literally sitting on its own "little mountain."

The government of Virginia evacuated to Staunton, across the Blue Ridge Mountains, where the legislature reconvened and elected Thomas Nelson to be Virginia's next governor as Jefferson's term had officially expired. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow immortalized Paul Revere, but it wasn't until 1909 that a similar tribute was published by Charlottesville's newspaper:

"Hearken good people: awhile abide
And hear of stout Jack Jouett's ride;
How he rushed his steed, nor stopped nor stayed
Till he warned the people of Tarleton's raid.

The moment his warning note was rehearsed
The State Assembly was quickly dispersed.
In their haste to escape, they did not stop
Until they had crossed the mountain top.
And upon the other side come down.
To resume their sessions in Staunton Town.

His parting steed he spurred,
In haste to carry the warning
To that greatest statesman of any age,
The Immortal Monticello Sage.

Here goes to thee, Jack Jouett!
Lord keep thy memory green;
You made the greatest ride, sir,
That ever yet was seen."

--Charlottesville Daily Progress, October 26, 1909

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Musical Taste of Saint Petersburg

Friday Concert at Christ Lutheran Church, Staunton

St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg. State Department Photo.

Friday, November 22 - 7:00 P.M. at Christ Lutheran Church in Staunton, VA.
St. Petersburg Men's Ensemble (Russia)

The St. Petersburg Men's Ensemble is an independent group founded in 2003. This groups repertoire encompasses various epochs and styles - from ancient Russian chants and chorals of Western European to modern music. Since one of the tasks of the ensemble is the popularization of preeminently Russian music, our program allows to most fully elucidating and introducing our audience to Russian folk songs, secular and ecclesiastic compositions, as well as modern composers and transporsitions of popular melodies. The concert is free and open to the public. A love offering will be taken.

The St. Petersburg Men's Ensemble.

THYME Magazine American Renewal Issue IV

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VI, Issue XXV

Isambard Kingdom Brunel
What a Nineteenth Century Innovator Can Teach Us Now
© 2013 The Kirchman Studio, All rights reserved.

“They say that the condition for a miracle is difficulty, but the condition for a great miracle is impossibility” -- Angus Buchan, “G-d's Farmer”

When William Wilberforce [1.] had ended the slave trade in the British Empire, he had thrown the city of Bristol, England into economic depression. The port there was heavily devoted to that wretched business and suffered heavily when it was brought to a sudden halt. The unintended consequence had been a rise in children condemned to a life of poverty. Ending the vile business of enslaving Africa's children had resulting in England's society spurning the needs of her own. Into this world came George Müller [2.], who, relying on faith in G-d alone, provided redemption for thousands of orphans. Many of these children were cast-offs of a society in economic despair.

George Müller [3.] had seen the wretched street urchins most people despised as jewels to be polished. Muller, relying solely on Divine provision, built five large houses for Orphans at Ashley Downs in Bristol, England. He trained the girls to be nurses, teachers, clerical workers and domestics. He apprenticed all the boys in various trades. He was excoriated for training these unwanted children "above their station." He ignored the critics.

Müller looked to G-d alone, but Bristol needed an outfowing of Divine provision to provide for her children. G-d's provision for Bristol was to come in the form of inspiration and innovation, embodied in the work of a young pioneer of civil engineering. He also ignored his critics.

Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge became the symbol of the City of Bristol.

Building the Great Western Railway.

In 1831, 24 year old Isambard Kingdom Brunel [4.] was awarded a contract to bridge the Avon Gorge. It was the dream of a prosperous wine merchant who provided the initial funding. The completed bridge would become the symbol of the city, but lack of funding dogged the project. It took thirty years to complete it. For years only the towers stood completed. In 1833 Brunel began work on the Great Western Railway, which would become the instrument of Bristol's economic revitalization. The nicknames: "Great Way Round" and "G-d's Wonderful Railway" seem to describe well Brunel's great work.

Brunel was an innovator. He probably experienced as many failures as successes in his short lifetime. Born on April 9, 1806, the son of Sir Marc Brunel, he assisted his father in building a tunnel under the Thames. He would later become the resident engineer of that project. At twenty years of age, he designed a suspension bridge to cross the Avon river. A modified version of his plan was actually constructed.

At 26, Brunel was building the Great Western Railway, commissioned to maintain Bristol's importance as a port and position her for  trade with America. This wide-gauge railroad linked Bristol and Western regions of England to London. Bristol's prosperity as a port was assured and the work of Müller created solid citizens with strong spiritual foundations to benefit.

But Brunel was not content to simply build a better railway. He looked across the Atlantic, envisioning fleets of ocean greyhounds -- great steamships that would complete the linking of his Great Western Railway to America! The S. S. Great Britain was his creation. It was the first metal-hulled propeller-driven ocean ship and became the prototype for modern ocean liners.

Building the South Devon Railway as a spur to the Great Western, Brunel experimented with an alternative to steam engines -- Vacuum tube powered trains. Stationary vacuum plants evacuated tubes laid along the center of the track that powered the movement of trains.

Brunel's 'Atmospheric Railway.'

"The technology required the use of leather flaps to seal the vacuum pipes. The natural oils were drawn out of the leather by the vacuum, making the leather vulnerable to water, rotting it and breaking the fibres when it froze. It had to be kept supple with tallow, which is attractive to rats. The flaps were eaten, and vacuum operation lasted less than a year, from 1847 (experimental service began in September; operations from February 1848) to 10 September 1848.[45] It has been suggested that the whole project was an expensive flop. In Brunel's favour, it has been noted that he had the courage to call a halt to the venture instead of struggling on with it at greater cost." -- Wikipedia

Like alternative transportation prototypes of our day, the vacuum tube system was more expensive. The accounts of the SDR for 1848 show that atmospheric traction cost 3s 1d (three shillings and one penny) per mile compared to 1s 4d/mile for conventional steam power.Though considered a failure at the time, vacuum powered trains may have been a distant precursor to Evacuated Tube Technology [5.] which is now being developed to move entire transport capsules through large tubes -- essentially powered in the same way as Brunel's South Devon train. Brunel was simply two Centuries before his time on this.

What can we learn from Brunel today? Plenty! Inspiration and innovation are needed now as they were needed then. Brunel teaches us valuable lessons about expanding vision with proven technologies and wisely exploring alternatives (and abandoning them when they do not work as planned).

Praying people see the diaconate role of economic development as an integral part of G-d's provision. In “Resources for Deacons, Love Expressed Through Mercy Ministries,” [6.] Tim Keller states his belief in three “levels” of mercy in diaconal ministry:

The first Level Is Simple Relief: That is taking care of the immediate need.

The Second Level Is Economic Development: That is teaching the poor how to get out of poverty by teaching them how to handle money, property, etc. and furnishing them with the means to do so. “Not handouts, but ownership is the way to break the cycle of poverty.”

The Third Level Is Social Reform: Christians should be involved in the culture in an effort to change the social structure.

We see it very localized in a place like Zambia, where people of faith instruct widows to become seamstresses (and people in America gift them with sewing machines). But, can we believe G-d for ever greater inspiration? What vision would G-d give us for our family, our company of employment, our city and county... and beyond? Müller said "the age of miracles is not past." Angus Buchan [7.], in the turmoil of Zambia and South Africa, looked to G-d for inspiration. G-d met him in a corn field where he learned the power of prayer!

Buchan had packed his family up during the unrest in Zambia in the late 'seventies and moved them to South Africa. A successful farmer in Zambia, he felt that he would be happy if he could acquire another farm in South Africa. It didn't. Experiencing deep depression, Buchan was angry and confused. Wandering into a lay-witness Sunday at the local Methodist Church, Angus heard builders, tradesmen and fellow farmers tell of what Jesus meant in their lives. For the first time he saw men crying, he wept unashamedly himself as he responded to an altar call. He took the Lord seriously about the changed life promise.

Buchan went back to his farm and learned to pray in his own corn field. Then he sought to minister to his Zulu workers. His farm manager, Simeon Bhengu, told him: "that's women's religion..." But G-d met Angus and spoke through his friendship with Simeon. Today the men are brothers in faith and brothers in every way. "My children are his and his are mine." Angus says of his Zulu brother. Angus expanded his farming operations and G-d's miraculous provision was seen at every turn. The movie "Faith like Potatoes" is the true story of Angus Buchan and it is quite inspiring! Buchan used machinery but avoided totally mechanizing the farm, looking to provide steady employment to his Zulu neighbors.

In the early 1980's Buchan became aware of a new tragic development. AIDS was ravaging families and creating untold numbers of orphans. Buchan reached out to these orphans but had no place to house them. A local school had temporary classrooms they were going to demolish and Angus received permission to take them apart and reassemble them at Shalom, which he had named his complex at the farm. At first the children lived in dormitories but gradually Angus was able to create "houses" where one "mother" cared for a smaller number.

South Africa in her recent history has experienced much uncertainty and Buchan's experience is instructive as we look to address the turmoil in our own country today. Isambard Kingdom Brunel should serve as an inspiration as well.

"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." -- 1 Timothy 4:12

His Simple Faith Gave Hope to Street Children

George Müller changed the way those around him saw the plight of orphans.

Next Week in THYME: Metamorphosis
Bob Kirchman writes on: "Transforming a Culture... One Person at a Time"

Monday, November 11, 2013

Kaylor Knob Trail, Massanutten Mountain

A Walk Along the Rim of Massanutten's Kettle

The evening sun lights trees along Kaylor Knob Trail on the rim of Massanutten's 'Kettle.'

Veterans' Day Weekend View of Washington

Looking Across the Potomac from Arlington Cemetery

The view across Arlington National Cemetery towards Washington. An Airplane approaches Reagan National Airport . The Washington Monument and the Capitol are visible as are the headstones of American soldiers.


The Old Post Chapel at Fort Meyer, next to Arlington National Cemetery.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Franklin Graham:Go Around the World Digitally

My Hope America with Billy Graham

A challenge from Franklin Graham

I’d like to challenge you with the following verse and thought:

Matt 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, (people) …“

How would you like to obey this command once in your life? You can on Thursday through email, Facebook, Twitter and all of your social media resources.

You can contact all your friends, family and neighbors, and invite them to watch “The Cross” with Billy Graham. And invite all your contacts to share this message with all their friends: “Watch 'The Cross.'"

Just think, if you and everyone you know did this, you could be part of millions of people hearing the Gospel and being saved.

If you were ever going to obey this Great Commission of our Lord, please do it now.

Click Here to find out more about "The Cross," including where to watch it, how to order the DVD or how to download the video. Find local and national TV listings Here. Or watch on YouTube Here.

-- Franklin Graham

Watch the video here.

THYME Magazine American Renewal Issue III

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VI, Issue XXIV

A Great Preacher's Message for America 

Tonight on many networks, the Reverend Billy Graham presents: My Hope, America, combining the impact of video programs with the power of personal relationships. Christians across America will open their homes tonight to share the Gospel message with friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors using one of several new evangelistic programs featuring life-changing testimonies and; powerful messages from Billy Graham. Station Listing [click to read].

Watch Defining Moments [click to view], a superb video with testimonies of changed lives!

Afternoon sunlight streams through the trees at Trinity Episcopal Church, Staunton, Virginia.

How Socialism Gains Hold of a Society
By Donna Lou Shickel - © 2013 Donna Lou Shickel Publishing Co. Distribute freely with permission

Why would anyone be in favor of promoting socialism which without exception has always led to outright revolution and mass murders on its inevitable path to communism? History has proven that the free society of a Christian Judeo nation brings out the best in all people. From earliest times, Christian societies have proven to be so prosperous and generous that they have been attacked and plundered by foreign pagan armies seeking to take that freedom and prosperity under their own control. It isn’t this prosperity that has made America great, but her Christian Judeo faith and values. But in the last half a century, much has changed in America. And who do we blame for that?

Socialists and Communists have no hidden agendas. They are wide out in the open. But without knowledge of these agendas, the Christian Judeo populace can be easily led to cooperate with their goals under the guise of social justice. All ideologies that compromise God’s Way to elevate man by man’s way, only succeed by devaluing other human beings and destroying everyone in their way! Today, here on A Place of Grace, I bring you part four in the series, “God or Government” on the destruction of capitalism according to Communist goals.

Friends, we’ve all been aware of the attacks against our Christian faith in America and the decline in morality and individuals freedoms and the looming, unsustainable economic collapse, despite lower gas prices or interest rates to keep us from panicking, other countries are already pulling out of the U.S. dollar and as the value declines, there’ll be a bigger run on the dollar and then it’s worthless. Revelation 6 and a day’s wages for a measure of wheat, which is one serving, harkens us back to Joseph in Egypt during the famine. Will we be like Joseph, hearing God’s voice in how to prepare for crisis, or be like those who starved? We won’t recognize God’s voice during a crisis if we haven’t been intimately connected before, so know Jesus eagerly awaits your call. Even from us Church-goers who rationalize and debate God’s Word and decide that God’s way just isn’t working. And now, our enemies of God’s Way are chastening us, with a DELIBERATE and strategic effort to destroy our very Christian faith, the number one enemy to the goals specifically outlined in the Communist Manifesto and offshoot groups. One necessary step in socialism is the transfer of power and wealth from the private sector to the public sector, and then from the public sector to the rising world government. And our free market system FOUNDED upon the Golden Rule of Christianity is one of the major obstacles to ushering in this new world order of big government, who under a socialized system, would be the Robin Hood who would take from the rich and give to the poor.

Dictators like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro all came to power by promising such “change” to make life and the world better for all people by doing just that: taking things by force from one person to give it to another. And they began by promoting divisions and prejudices among the people. An entire generation has been taught that capitalism is a dirty word. They’ve been taught that all business owners are greedy, selfish people who care nothing for their neighbor. And of course, we know there are the Bernie Madoff’s. But a vast number of American businesses were started by families, Mom and Pop businesses, providing for their families in unity and reaching out in service to their communities. The great American Dream has been realized by many coming to America who were denied our freedom and privilege under their oppressive governments.

But today, all business owners are demonized and characterized as “the wealthy, the greedy,” and we’ll like you when you’re small, but get too successful? We’ll covet what you have, ‘cause now you’re the enemy! All while government touts itself to be the real hero and savior. Corporate greed has been blamed for our economic crisis, and while there is greed, the looming economic disaster we are approaching, come to find out, has been part of the plan outlined in the 1930’s, 60’s and updated in 1992 by socialist communist groups. They state that to destroy the free market system, you simply overload the economy with so many entitlements and benefits, and in the process it collapses and government rushes in to take care of everybody. And history shows how they take care of everybody, but in order to get to that stage, they have to dis-unify the country and further generational cycles of poverty so that lawlessness and economic fears bring the people to cry out for bigger government, and hand over those weapons to protect our family’s food supply. They call it “The Crisis Strategy,” and the people eventually revolt, and the government responds with mass murders and famines. And this has always been part of their plan, because they know people fear economic insecurity and chaos so much, they will turn a blind eye to the demise of others, especially the unseen and unborn, as long as WE’RE OK. Destroy faith, family, law, productivity, prosperity, life and liberty and degrade the culture. Infiltrate education and the media and call it political correctness. And the most politically correct movement they have openly targeted as the very tool that will bring down capitalism, our free market system, is the environmental movement - which places the planet above people.

Up front, the agenda looks like a good thing. God wants us to be good stewards of creation. But God also told man to guard the Garden. But since Genesis, we see that the best lies are mostly truth. The devil used God’s own Word to tempt Adam and Eve in the garden, and Jesus in the desert. Jesus warned us about the leaven in the dough. The devil knows it only takes a small amount to compromise God’s Word and He uses God’s Word to deceive us. Just a few small compromises and we call it forbearance, turning the other cheek. But turning the other cheek was taught by Jesus to the Jews who were living under Roman rule and oppression. It was intended as the Christ-like response by a people who were not free to come and go as they pleased, and even though physically abused, would hold fast to their trust in God and demonstrate even love of enemy without compromising God’s Laws. It was the Pharisees and tax collectors who compromised with the Roman oppressors, calling it the lesser of two evils and failing to raise their children with God as their all-in-all. We point fingers while most of our children don’t know the Biblical passages I referenced. The Bible says that’s the job of parents, grandparents and the older generations. Not the pastor, Sunday school teacher, but us. But we’ve been led to have a greater friendship with the world than with God and call it compromise, turning our children’s cheeks to deal with our sin, while checking off church attendance. Notice these radical groups are full of young people? We’re created to give our lives to a cause, and if we don’t reach them, someone else always does and they’re destroyed. Our Lord never tolerated cooperation with anything that even begins to compromise His Word, let alone using His Word to justify it. But turning the other cheek to soldiers who strike us will be just where we will find ourselves if we continue to support the agendas of those we know have no friendship with God for the sake of our personal economic benefit. So what are these goals in destroying our free market system and how have they made their way into our government?

In 1992 the Communist party USA split over differences in how to take America down. One side wanted outright revolution. But the other side recognized that all of those efforts throughout history have failed and that the best plan was to infiltrate and subvert America from the inside. A people united in faith in God and in sacrificial love of their fellow citizens could not be brought down and ruled by government no matter how often you strike them on the cheek. But if you destroy the human will to work for what you have, if you work to rot away morality and the sacrificial life of those who would give their lives for the greater good, then there will be such chaos and crisis they will beg you to rule and reign. Precipitate and actually create crisis and the Nanny State can step in. The more this happens, the more dependency on big government you can create, the more quickly people will compromise their God-given values as we have done. If you look up the Communist Party USA, which exists in every state, once you read past their opening mission statements of helping the poor and disenfranchised, you will easily discover that their agenda consists of something entirely different, outrageously evil, and very successful. I previously discussed the book written in 1958 by Cleon Scalcon outlining the 45 Communist goals which are promoted in Saul Alinsky’s books “Reveille for Radicals” and then in his best known book and impetus for today’s radical progressives, the 1971 “Rules for Radicals.” Alinsky is often credited with laying the foundation in Chicago for the grassroots political organizing that dominated the country in the 1960s and was embraced and taught by those who are now in power in every major American institution and government. A follower of Antonio Gramche, Saul Alinsky was a member of the Communist Party in Chicago in the 1930’s and after realizing the revolution wasn’t coming as he had hoped, in the 1960’s he recognized the value in the tactics outlined by Gramche. He saw that these were the tactics Hitler used to dis-unify Germany: raise up community organizers to promote class division and outright hatred (have against the have-nots, young against old, minorities against whites, religious against atheists, etc.). In 1992, when the Communist Party split, the majority who worked to infiltrate American leadership finally had their first real golden ticket to destroy business: the environmental movement.

They said that the environmental movement would be the very thing to unite all countries in succeeding in once and for all, bringing down western capitalism, the free market system. By using fear of exhausting natural resources and the population explosion, both of which if you research, they’ve admitted on paper and on video have been myth, and by demonizing American businesses, the voters would get behind their candidates to usher in the brave new world. If you take a look at our children’s text books, you will find that in place of teachings on civics and our Founding Fathers and documents like the Federalist Papers, they now learn about the globalism agenda. Where children were once were taught that God calls us to be good stewards of creation which He intended for our benefit, now the planet is the priority over people. Maybe you’ve heard about the “Global Pledge” intended to replace our Pledge of Allegiance, first used by students in Superior, Wisconsin then in some schools in California, and on from there. The new pledge goes like this: I pledge allegiance, to the world, to care for earth, sea and air. To honor every living thing, with peace and justice everywhere.” Many of our schools have just revoked any pledge altogether. And thanks to the Father of American Education, John Dewey, our children have had little training on economics.

John Dewey, in addition to publicly declaring “there is no God, there is no soul,” said, “Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society” also wrote and had taught in our schools that capitalism imposed a restriction on freedom, and “socialized industry and finance” would be the vehicle by which people would reach their full potential. But remember the “Crisis Strategy” which says never fail to capitalize on a crisis, like gun violence as an excuse to get firearms out of the hands of law-abiding citizens so criminals can’t get their hands on them (?). And people believe them when they say that, we’re so anxious to do something in times of violence. Our recent Occupy movement was led by radical progressives with the same goals to bring America closer to the necessary crises and chaos to take by force from the rich to give to the poor. You thought it was spontaneous? Comments by a former major D.C. Amalgamated Transit Union boss, Mike Golash were recorded in a video at an Occupy movement. Golash who organized transit workers to protest spoke for Occupy leaders when he said at one of their meetings: “Progressive labor is a revolutionary communist organization. Its objective is to make revolution in the United States, overthrow the capitalist system and build communism.”

Mike Golash said he and his “comrades” are “trying to learn something from the historical revolutions of the past: the Russian revolution, the Chinese revolution, the revolutions in Cuba and Eastern Europe.” And with a disciplined organization made up (not of a few people but) of millions and millions of people, [we] can bring down capitalism.” Just go to the Amalgamated Transit website. But back in 1992 the environmental movement was modest and actually brought some much-needed attention to how carelessly we use much of our resources and the results it has on our human beings and creation. But the progressives as they’ve come to call themselves felt it was the perfect vehicle to create enough regulations and red tape to discourage business growth. I remember warnings about this, but I think the fact that they were labeled “wackos” led some of us not to take them very seriously. Big mistake. They promoted in their agendas under the discipleship of Saul Alinsky that to destroy business and the free markets, you demonize business owners as “the wealthy and privileged” and promote the UN environmental movement.

I pointed out in a previous show that business majors at JMU along with other schools have been singled out to pay thousands more in tuition than other majors – not future biochemists, engineers, or teachers - no, communist needs those, but with government in control of industry and agriculture, they’ll need to discourage even majoring in business. But since they end up making the most money, which isn’t true, and since business owners are all so “greedy and they all trample on the poor,” there was no uproar. And aren’t they the one’s taking advantage of the roads built by the government? Not with tax dollars of hard working business owners, just by our government! Ingrates! Opportunists! Capitalists! Yea, slowly you make Government the savior. And then you can transfer all that wealth and power to the UN, because you have some grand delusion that they’re going to give you a key leadership role. Not true either, history shows they kill each other at this level. But if you’re among those educated starting in the sixties, you won’t know much about the history of Communism and it’s predicable and always repeated pattern. Another agenda item of radical environmentalism is to convince us that government should be in control of the distribution of the use of energy by promoting irrational and unfounded fears over the use of nuclear energy, on and off-shore drilling for oil, fossil fuels, coal and natural gas by using the global warming scare.

We’re not scientists, so we trust the experts. But you may recall the 2009 Climate-Gate Scandal as it was called. The server at the Climatic Research Unit was hacked and just weeks before the Copenhagen Summit on climate change, thousands of emails exchanged between all the players in this global warming scare were released. These emails revealed the numerous scientists and agencies who kept denying the reports by environmental groups throughout the world claiming that human activity, namely industry, caused a climate change. These scientists revealed the names and groups that had manipulated climate data and with media’s cooperation, suppressed the findings of anyone opposing them. These documents proved that global warming was a scientific conspiracy led by those making millions of dollars from the movement backed by left wing radical groups touting social justice, but the mainstream media only reported it all as “negotiations” over climate change and only aired interviews of the scientists who said it was just a “smear campaign” intended to undermine the upcoming climate conference in Copenhagen.

The co-founder of Greenpeace with a PhD in Ecology, Patrick Moore, resigned from Greenpeace in protest when he discovered that the green movement was led by radical progressives set on destroying capitalism. “We do not have any scientific proof that we are the cause of the global warming that has occurred in the last 200 years…The alarmism is driving us through scare tactics to adopt energy policies that are going to create a huge amount of energy poverty among the poor people. It’s not good for people and its not good for the environment…In a warmer world we can produce more food.” Moore contends that for the environmental movement "most of the really serious problems have been dealt with," and they’re seeking now to "invent doom and gloom scenarios". And then we have Al Gore. Did anyone read his book, “Earth in the Balance – Ecology and the Human Spirit” and catch the last chapter called “A Global Marshal Plan” that requires a one world government? It follows perfectly in line with what William Z. Foster, General Secretary of the American Communist Party in the thirties, forties and fifties, who ran for US president three times, wrote in his book, “Toward Soviet America”: Not Christianity but Communism will bring peace on earth.

A Communist world will be a unified, organized world. The economic system will be one great organization, based upon the principle of planning now dawning in the U.S.S.R. The American Soviet government will be an important section in this world organization. In such a society there will be no tariffs or the many other barriers erected by capitalism against a free world interchange of goods. The raw material supplies of the world will be at the disposition of the peoples of the world. This communist’s vision is now becoming reality with UN Agenda 21, which you can find if you just pull up Agenda 21 United Nations. It was actually begun with the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, in Stockholm in 1972. and was introduced at “the Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro, in 1992 and adopted by most world governments as a blueprint for the protection of our planet and its sustainable development. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) was created and is “the world’s “leading” environmental agency, with many spurious scientists with communist ties from communist countries leading this on our behalf. Sensible sustainable development is a good and necessary thing. But in Agenda 21, you’ll find something different. If you read the plan you’ll see it’s intended to create world government. Chapter 7 is entitled PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE HUMAN SETTLEMENT DEVELOPMENT which outlines an end to national sovereignty, the end of private property, the restructure of the family unit and increasing restrictions and limitations on mobility and individual opportunity. What’s not acceptable includes private property, fossil fuels, resorts, consumerism, irrigation, farmlands, agriculture, and grazing of livestock, and the traditional family.

Back in 1992, George Bush, Sr. endorsed it on America’s behalf and brought it home; then without Congressional review, Clinton established the President’s Council for Sustainable Development. Railroads are being bought up by our government for commuter lines to support the regional sustainable living units for the new world order. Critics have said such reports are extremist, right wing, sky-is-falling smear campaign. But on June 9, 2011, our President issued executive order number 13575 for a White House Rural Council that seems to lay the groundwork in the US for UN Agenda 21. It exerts broad municipal powers over the food, fiber, and energy production of Rural America. Section 1 addresses 16 percent of our population in rural areas. Executive Order number 13575 ties together capital necessary for economic growth, healthcare and education and says the US Council will probably be populated by experts in the various fields that might prove helpful to the people who live and work outside of rural areas. The heads of all the Cabinets have been appointed and it leaves open the authority to appoint anyone else, oh boy more czars, as is deemed necessary. Part B states that non-governmental organizations are key to Agenda 21 in “Managing the population in both urban and rural areas with a focus on controlling open spaces.” D – Identify and facilitate rural economic opportunities associated with energy development and other outdoor recreation activities.

Every plan associated with UN Agenda 21 dictates the control of the activity of every person in the world with this broad language to control our occupations, location and movement. I always look up the supporters websites, and they promise they’re not going to overreach. But this again sets the stage for another dictator even if you do trust our current leaders. These proposals would all be overseen, ultimately, not by our Country’s leaders, but by the Secretary General of the UN. A global biodiversity assessment by the UN. 1041 pages, section 13 deals with government control over protected areas including wilderness areas surrounded by buffer zones, dictated by government organizations. Human population is to be resettled into the remaining 25% of the land into FEMA Camps that are described as sustainable communities. The Wild Lands project says “we must convert at least 50% of the land area of North America to wilderness, off limits to human beings.” Taking control over our food and energy, to make sure we’re working to strengthen rural communities and promote economic growth, so expect to see new government assistance with strings attached poured into agriculture. It’s all part of the plan. But wait, there’s more! The president created a White House task force on Eco-System Management policy that will ensure cooperation with federal enforcement despite some states barring Agenda 21 for violating the Constitution which was written to give States rights so that no dictator could ever take control of federal government.

We have lots of EO’s, they’re nothing new, but it’s the nature of these Executive orders, even a new one that allows our President to take control over elections. But one of the most frightening of these is number 13603 on “National Defense Resources Preparedness,” issued in March of 2012. This executive order is far-reaching in its scope, explicitly declaring that the president and his designated Cabinet and agency heads have authority to commandeer and control: all water, all human and animal food, all transportation, all energy, all construction materials, all “health resources,” all farm equipment, all fertilizers, all fuels, … and much more. It doesn’t just claim these powers during war time or during a “national emergency,” but repeatedly states that these apply “in peacetime and in times of national emergency.” Again, this all reveals a long-term plan in effect. Our President is just a pawn in a scheme older than he is. So before we blame him, as we conveniently do, we need to remember - Our battle is not against human beings. Ephesians, the Book on Christian Unity says in 6:12-13: "For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." And before we can stand firm, we need to be on our knees.

Beloved, I’d much prefer to be studying the Bible than this stuff. But you’ve overwhelmingly asked for more and said this is what we need to hear. So I’ll continue to stand with you for Christ and the Christian faith that has been the reason for our free market system, and for our free gift of salvation, through our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Morning light fills my "tree cathedral."

Next Week in THYME: The Road Back
Bob Kirchman writes on: "What a Nineteenth Century Innovator Can Teach Us Now."