Saturday, August 31, 2013

Backyard Butterfly Bush in Bloom

Colorful Flowers as Fall is Soon Approaching

This particular one displays a variety of color in the flowers.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Mr. Obama, You Need to Ground Your Sons...

(Commentary from THYME)

Fifty Years after Dr. King's "I Have a Dream Speech," we've reflected on the gains that have been made and the work yet to be done. Now it seems we're mired in a new era of interracial violence. Let me be specific: You have the New Black Panther Party promoting the killing of white people, the media's twisting of the George Zimmerman case... even creating the term "white hispanic" in order to make their chosen villain fit the chosen narrative. Never mind that you've destroyed the man's life... you, the media, did it for 'the cause!'

Then think of all the shootings and crime that does not cross racial lines in a place like Chicago. Every child who dies violently is a loss of potential... a rending of a Mother's heart.

Rather than simply repost the scores of horrific stories, THYME asks: "Where are the stories of good?" Surely Benjamin Bannaker is not the last black youth mentored by white neighbors who went on to do good... in fact, if you dig deeper into the George Zimmerman story you find that he too was a mentor. Every child should be taught of the partnership between Vivien Thomas and Alfred Blalock, two researchers who worked to develop new methods of heart surgery.

In fact, it is time to treat our own culture's heart problem... looking for and celebrating the good and providing a clear alternative to the bad. Young journalists, you got into the profession to:"Make a difference in the world." You can, if you will promote healing instead of hatred.

Cement Finisher
Cement Finisher, from the series: "Imago Dei." When I met this gentleman he was taking down forms from a newly poured driveway near Charlottesville. He had a contageous joy about him.

Fire Fighter
Fire Fighter, from the series: "Imago Dei." This fire fighter in Charlottesville, Virginia had just taken delivery of this brand new truck.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VI, Issue XI

"What Hath G-d Wrought"

 A 'Best of THYMEs' Feature...

The 'other' Weekly News Magazine [click to read] once featured The Invention Issue. We noticed very quickly that the featured 'hummingbird drone' and other best inventions of the year share the quality of being inspired by unique things in nature. Thus THYME presents: The Inspiration Issue.

When Samuel Morse invented the telegraph, he keyed "What hath G-d wrought" as the first words transmitted over the new device. When Bell invented the telephone, his "Mr. Watson, come here. I need you." seems anticlimactic. Still, there is much evidence of modern innovators who were more than willing to give credit where credit was due when it came to their unique inspiration.

Consider the story of the great industrialist, Robert G. LeTourneau. During the war he was given the task by the government to design a large piece of equipment to move airplanes. He literally was given a contract to build a device that had never been built before. He and his crack staff of engineers went to work on the problem and found themselves hopelessly overwhelmed by the task before them. With the deadline looming large before them, and his staff at the point of frustration, LeTourneau got up from his work group. It was Wednesday night, he said, and he was going to prayer meeting.

"You can't do that, boss," one fellow blurted out; "We've got a deadline on this thing!"

LeTourneau's response must have stunned his men: "But I've got a deadline with G-d!"

LeTurneau went to prayer meeting. He prayed, sang hymns and left his problems in the hands of one far greater than himself. He says that as he walked home that night, details of the machine he needed to build came into his mind in vivid and complete pictures.

Every great invention of mankind began as an idea in someone's mind. Likely the idea was the result of some new perspective gained by observation. One of the great joys of teaching young people to draw is to watch them teach themselves deeper levels of observation... and yes, they teach themselves. You can create the opportuity for a student to learn, but you defeat your own purpose if you "see" for them in this exercise.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Droplets on an Azalea Flower

A Water Bejeweled Flower on a Rainy Day

An Azalea flower becomes a wonder on a wet day.

Monday, August 26, 2013

George Müller's Orphanage in Bristol

The House that Faith Built Cared for Thousands

A Milestone Monday Feature:

George Müller
George Müller.

What Can One Do, Motivated by G-d's Love?

Our small group has been discussing the book Crazy Love [1.] by Francis Chan. There is a brief mention of George Müller, the Nineteenth Century evangalist who is famous for his work with orphans. Müller's story begins in Prussia and continues as he comes to faith as a young man. Motivated by his love for G-d he moves away from some practices in the church such as 'renting' pews. In those days people of means would pay handsomely for the best seats and the Pastor would make a good living from these monies.

George Müller's love for G-d soon moved him to reliance on G-d. When he came to take a church in Bristol, England he declined the salary. He wanted to show people how vast and great G-d really is by trusting Him for his supply. Müller prayed and told his needs to no one, then ministered to the needs of his congregation. When his needs were supplied he gave G-d the glory. In times of waiting for supply he gave G-d the glory.

Seeing the needs of orphan children, George Müller went to his knees on their behalf and G-d provided the means for him to care for them. He eventually built five orphan houses and never once made an appeal for money!

We often read of how G-d worked in the lives of the saints of old. We read Hebrews 11 and see how men and women motivated by the love of G-d lived out that love, but with George Müller's story we have photographs. Here are some old post card views of the orphan house at Ashly Down, built in 1849.

Nineteenth Century rendering of the house at Ashly Down.

The house at Ashly Down.

Children at Ashly Down.

Children at Ashly Down received education and training for future employment. the day started at 6am for the orphans, normal forworking-class children of Victorian times.

While boys would be placed in apprenticeships at age 14, the young ladies would remain until 17. They received training to be Nurses, Teachers and Domestic Servants [as the group in maids' uniforms above].

More on the Life of George Müller [click to read].

The George Müller Foundation [click to read].

Redefining 'Social Justice' [click to read] from World Magazine.

Beck vs Wallis [click to read]. More thoughts on 'Social Justice.'

The house at Ashly Down today. Although the building might seem austere by today's standards it featured high ceilings and three hundred large windows [all donated by a window maker]. By Victorian standards it was a bright environment.

One Man's Journey of Faith Changed History

The Story of George Müller

George was born in Prussia on September 27, 1805 and was in college studying to be a preacher when he became a Christian. In those days some young men saw preaching as a well paying job, not necessarily as a service to G-d. The University at Halle, where young George was studying was a place where one could find bad company.

His father was a tax collector for the government. He gave George a lot of money, and he spent it very foolishly. Young Mueller was known for his wild out of control lifestyle, But his life was transformed when he came to know Christ.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" -- 2 Cor. 5:17

Müller turned from his old ways but still struggled in his desire to follow Christ. He finished his studies and headed for England to begin his career as a preacher.

Soon after coming to England Müller received a deeper Christian experience which entirely revolutionized his life. He became very ill and was at the point of death when he saw what a bad life he had led but realized all his sins were completely forgiven -- that he was washed and made clean, completely clean, in the blood of Jesus. The result of this was great peace. "I longed exceedingly to depart and to be with Christ..." he wrote.

He was sick for two weeks. Then his Doctor said he was better. He was sad. "I wanted to be in Heaven with the Lord, but he gave me grace to do his will.”

he became pastor of Ebenezer Chapel in Devonshire. His marriage to Miss Mary Groves, a Devonshire lady,followed. Their married life was a very happy one.

In those days the church ”rented” pews to the people. Rich families would pay for the best seats while the poorer brother sat in the far corner. Large salaries were paid to the minister.

George did not think this right. He ended the practice of collecting pew rent in his chirch and forsook a salary. He stated that he would look to the Lord he served to meet his needs, not to men.

He and his wife told their needs to no one but the Lord. Occasionally reports were spread that they were starving; but though at times their faith was tried, their income was greater than before. He and his wife gave away freely all that they had above their present needs, and trusted the Lord for their "daily bread."

"For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith:as it is written, The just shall live by faith." -- Romans 1:17

He and his wife eventually settled in Bristol, England, where they saw many orphans roaming the streets -- uncared for, unfed, often sick, and virtually guaranteed death at a young age. At this time writers like Charles Dickens and William Blake had not yet brought attention to the plight of these children, and NOTHING was being done to help them.

Müller began his labors in Bristol in 1832, as co-pastor with his friend Mr. Craik, who had been called to that city. Without salaries or rented pews their labors were greatly blessed at Gideon and Bethesda Chapels. The membership more than quadrupled in numbers in a short time. Ten days after the opening of Bethesda there was such a crowd of persons inquiring the way of salvation that it took four hours to minister to them.

George and Mary decided to start an orphanage that would be entirely free of charge, and for which they would never ask any money or support. When they had needs they would go to G-d alone, trusting that he would give them everything they needed.

"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." -- James 1:27

Among the greatest monuments of what can be accomplished through simple faith in G-d are the great orphanages covering thirteen acres of ground on Ashley Downs, Bristol, England. When G-d put it into the heart of George Müller to build these orphanages, he had only two shillings (50 cents) in his pocket. Without making his wants known to any man, but to G-d alone, over a million, four hundred thousand pounds ($7,000,000) were sent to him for the building and maintaining of these orphan homes. At the time of Mr. Müller's death, there were five immense buildings of solid granite, capable of accommodating two thousand orphans. In all the years since the first orphans arrived the Lord had sent food in due time, so that they had never missed a meal for want of food.

"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" -- James 5:16

"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." -- Phillipians 4:19

"I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." -- Psalm 37:25

Hundreds of children were saved from the mean streets. They knew love and happiness in the care of George and Mary.

In 1875, at the age of 70, the remarkable George Müller decided to devote the next period of his life to a world-wide ministry of preaching and teaching.

During his seventeen years of missionary travel he toured the United States of America three times, India twice and on three occasions toured Australia and the Colonies. In addition, George Müller preached in forty-two countries including China and Japan. By land and sea he travelled 200,000 miles, an extraordinary feat in the nineteenth century.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Rainbow Over Roanoke's Tinker Mountain

A Colorful Moment Seen Driving on Interstate 81

A break in the clouds reveals a rainbow across Tinker Mountain, just North of Roanoke.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Journey Through the Smokies

Traveling Through a Nation of Another Time

Interstate 26 through the Smokey Mountains...

...passes through the former Cherokee Nation, remembered in this mural in Donalds, South Carolina. Mural by L. Hudson.

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VI, Issue X

A 'Best of THYMEs' Feature...

G-d's Word to Praying People

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
    Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
    and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
    they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
    and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
    and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
    ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
    and you have not noticed?’

“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
    and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
    and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the Lord,
    and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
    and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken." -- Isaiah 58

A special thank-you to Carl Tate for pointing out this scripture. As the 'other' weekly news magazine celebrates the 'Me' Generation's potential to become the next 'Greatest Generation' a number of great messages have been preached about dying to self and seeking to "decrease that G-d might increase." Indeed, men and women such as Jeremiah Lanphier, George Müller and Florence Nightengale began their journeys in prayer with a recognition of the heart of G-d.

This led them to minister to the pain of people around them. Then, realizing their own inadequacy, they redoubled their laboring in prayer.G-d met them and did amazing works through them.

Such is the hope that we should have as we begin a season of earnest prayer... that G-d will shine forth in the world, and that we will be open to His Spirit doing so.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Citizens" Sculpture at the Tennessee Border

Public Art at the Tennessee Welcome Center on I 81

Sculpture by Joe Falsetti at the Tennessee Welcome Center on Interstate 81 Just South of Bristol.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Jeremiah Lanphier's Journey of Prayer

How A Nation Was Turned to G-d and Restored

Jeremiah Lanphier discovered the power of prayer in his own life.

A Milestone Monday Feature:

America found herself at a crossroads. Wild speculation and greed had built a house of cards. While a few became incredibly wealthy, the gap between haves and have-nots grew ever wider.   The economic crash had put 30,000 men out of work on the streets of New York City.  Churches languished as people explored Spiritism and other "new" ideas. We, of the Twenty-first Century, would find the condition of the culture strangely familiar.

Political corruption, shady dealings in business and a general moral decline were the norm.  "Atheism, agnosticism, apathy and indifference to God, to the church, and its message abounded on every hand. The decline was fourfold: social, moral, political and spiritual." -- Tom Shanklin

Then came the crash! Factories were shuttered. Banks failed and merchants were ruined. Thousands were destitute. Winkie Pratney, who chronicled the great revival, says: "A near socio-economic collapse jolted America away from her apathy into a national cry for spiritual reality." Chuck Balsamo presents a wonderful concise history of this revival in his book Make Me a Legend [click to read]. The story does not begin with a mighty move and thousands of conversions, rather it begins in a rather small way.

Jeremiah Lanphier was a middle-aged businessman caught in the crossroads. Having no children and no family, he was drawn to minister to the needs of those living in the dark slums of Hell's Kitchen. Leaving his business, he became a lay missionary with the North Dutch Church in Manhattan. Pouring his life into the lives of those he saw caught in hopelessness, he soon came to the end of his own strength. Physically and mentally exhausted, Lanphier discovered that just as the body needs food, the soul and spirit of a man need to be nourished in prayer.[1.]

Each day at midday, Lanphier would seek solace in the Church Consistory Building, where he would cry out to G-d for spiritual strength. He experienced G-d in a mighty way in these times and felt that others would benefit from prayer as well, especially the city's businessmen. He printed up and distributed 20,000 flyers advertising his first noontime prayer meeting, on September 23, 1857.

That day he prayed alone for thirty minutes before six others joined him. The next week there were twenty. The week after that forty people showed up. In time over 100 churches had noonday prayer meetings going throughout the city. G-d's powerful move was felt far beyond New York City. Newspaperman Horace Greeley wanted to get a count of the number of men  praying in New York so he sent a reporter out to the meetings. Racing around the city in a horse-drawn buggy, the reporter was only able to get to twelve meetings in the noon hour, but he counted 6,100 in attendance.

Spiritual awakening followed and Americans found strength in G-d for the turbulent days that followed. This Third Great Awakening not only revitalized the spirit of America's people, but led to missionary outreach around the world.  [2.]

Thursday, August 15, 2013

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VI, Issue IX

Marriage Wins in the Big Picture

A 'Best of THYMEs' Feature...

"In terms of their social orientations, journalists are clearly more influenced by the post- 1960s "new morality." Few attend church or synagogue." -- Donald Lazere, American Media and Mass Culture: Left Perspectives.

It is not surprising then that the 'other' weekly news magazine last week stated that traditional marriage has Already Lost [click to read]. This week they're looking at Latino Influence in the Church [click to read] and The Rise of Evangélicos [click to read]. Journalist Elizabeth Dias has discovered a growing interest in Faith among the Latino community. She writes: "What I discovered signaled a Latino Reformation. Both churches were doubling in size every few years. Many of the congregants were Catholic converts, and even more may have been undocumented. All were fervent believers—they sang with hands high, danced during worship, and often brought their own tambourines and flags to Sunday services. They were charismatic and believed in miracles. They told me their stories over tamales and café con leche—how they converted, how G-d healed their physical illnesses, and how their churches became refuges from hunger and homelessness. To the mainstream American culture, and even other white evangelical churches, they were invisible. But they were hiding in plain sight."

"I offer the single most politically incorrect statement a modern American — indeed a modern Westerner, period — can make: I first look to the Bible for moral guidance and for wisdom." -- Dennis Prager [click to read].

The post 1960's culture declared marriage 'obsolete' thirty years ago. Certainly there are trends toward cohabitation, easy divorce and out-of-wedlock parenting (and a new set of societal costs as a result), but marriage as an institution is still a strong force in our society. Mark Steyn [click to read] has a pretty straightforward picture of what is really happening here. Steyn writes: "Gay marriage? It came up at dinner Down Under this time last year, and the prominent Aussie politician on my right said matter-of-factly, "It's not about expanding marriage, it's about destroying marriage."

Steyn's article is worth pondering. The case of Elane Photography [click to read] and the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association [click to read] bear out Steyn's argument. These cases are not about freedom to marry, but about imposing a civil morality, or civil legality [1.] upon people of faith. In the first case, a photographer is sued for not photographing a same-sex ceremony for reasons of faith [2.]. In the second, a Methodist organization does not allow their facility to be used for a same-sex ceremony for the same reason. Ultimately this is about First Amendment protected religious freedom. Most of us would not deny a person the right to live with whoever they choose, and civil and contract law allow for the sharing of property. Most of us also acknowledge that this country was built upon religious liberty as well as individual freedom.

Marriage has come under attack in times past. Claudius II, Emperor of Rome issued an edict prohibiting marriage for his troops, seeing family life as a 'distraction' to them. A priest named Valentine [3.] performed secret marriages anyway. He was beheaded on February 14, 270. People still give their wives cards on that date, and soldiers still get married. For people of Faith, marriage is more than a human institution. In Ephesians 5:25-32, Paul states:

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."

Thus marriage is, for the person of faith, a picture of the relationship of the believer with his G-d. The sacrifice and fidelity of a traditional relationship are essential to this picture. Marriage as an institution survived Claudius. Today, the challenge is to build our own marriages upon the challenge of Ephesians 5. The marriage that models relationship of humanity to G-d is impossible to codify. Those precious couples who's lives actually reflect this, (and I greatly admire them), create a transcendent work of art that no law can snuff out.

It is for this reason that I see great hope for the institution. Are not the stories we remember the stories of love that is steadfast and triumphant in the face of overwhelming challenge. G-d in His wisdom has made that a picture of the Relationship of Redemption!

Revelation 19:6-9 speaks of the time when people of all nations are joined in communion with G-d:

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

In Isaiah 60 [4.] and in Revelation 21 Believers look to a New Heaven and a New Earth where a Heavenly Jerusalem descends to join the Earth. Here is a Kingdom that needs no temple, needs no sun to light it, for G-d Himself is the force that illuminates it! [5.]

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

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

Journey to Jesus [click to view larger images].

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

The hope of Heaven.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Prayer Meeting that Touched the World

Moravians Prayed Around the Clock for 100 Years

The village of Herrnhut in Saxony.

A Milestone Monday Feature

The Moravian Brethren Church was born in the 1720's when Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf gave refuge to persecuted Hussites from Moravia and Bohemia. The village of Herrnhut, Saxony, now a part of Germany, was built by them.

Count Zinzendorf started a round-the-clock prayer meeting in 1727. It lasted one hundred years. People in Herrnhut signed up to pray for an hour a day.

What G-d did as a result of that prayer meeting is amazing. In an era when travel was difficult and dangerous the Moravians became a major force in reaching the world with the Gospel. Their ministry took them to many parts of the world. Moravians settled in the new world in Pennsylvania. The cities of Bethlehem and Nazareth are Moravian settlements. Count Zinzendorf secured a large tract of land in North Carolina where the Moravians established Bethabara. From here they began outreach to the Native Americans around them.

In 1753, Moravians from North Carolina travelled into the Cherokee Nation, which extended into North Georgia and Alabama from Western North Carolina. The nonacquisitive Moravians eventually developed a long standing ministry among the Cherokee. Since unmarried Moravian men and women lived in communal houses, one house for men and another for women, they may have been philosphically closer to a long house people than other Europeans. The New Georgia Encyclopedia states of them:

"Generally, the accomplishments of the Moravians lay in the fact that their missions not only opened their doors to all visitors, including African slaves from nearby Cherokee plantations, but also functioned as model farms for European agricultural techniques. Particularly, the Spring Place Mission served as an exemplar for other missionary enterprises to emulate."

The Moravians certainly were lovers of innovation in agriculture and craftsmanship. Visit the restored Moravian settlement in Salem, North Carolina today and you will see some of the first water pipes in America -- hollowed logs with metal couplings -- that carry water inside the Single Brothers' House.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Why Religious Literacy Matters

You Can't Understand Western Civilization Without It

Leaves in a pool of water in Jarman's Gap.

This Survey [click to read] featured in Jewish World Review should give one cause to consider the implications of education as an entirely secular pursuit.

"You can't understand Western civilization unless you understand religion," she said. "How can you understand your cultural heritage in terms of art? How do you understand literary allusions in novels? Even a non-religious person needs religious literacy to understand he artifacts of our civilizations."

Indeed, I have written before about how much of what we value in our culture today has its roots firmly in faith that prompted men and women to live out their convictions and in the process they made society a better place.

How Christianity Changed the World

Originally published as:
Under the Influence,
Alvin J. Schmidt
Zondervan, 2001

Here is a book that really ought to be on your reading list. As we prepare to celebrate the wonder of Emmanuel -- "G-d With Us," it would be interesting to consider the historical influence of the Christian faith in out civilization. Obviously many modern writers consider it not all that great, or even destructive. They point to such events as the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition and conclude that religion is not such a great influence on society. An atheist group in England is buying bus ads that say "why believe in G-d, Just be good for goodness' sake." Just in time for Christmas, no less, and using red and green lettering.

But such thinking ignores a vast body of history where men and women, inspired by their faith, abolished slavery, instituted humane treatment of the poor and mentally ill and generally lifted the situation of their fellow citizens. What good is "good for goodness sake" if good is not defined from a higher source. Indeed one can then make the conclusion that it is 'good' to kill six million members of another race. It happened in Twentieth Century Germany. Hitler may have appealed to Christianity in his speeches, but his actions go against the clearly understood teachings of the Faith. Study the life and death of Deitrich Bonhoffer and you will understand where the principles of his beliefs led one citizen to actively oppose the policies of Hitler.

It is a mistake to assume that Western Civilization is automatically 'Christian.' Schmidt looks back to the days of the Roman Empire, when Christians were the ones who rescued unwanted children from destruction and the Middle Ages, when Christians cared for the victims of plague that most simply shunned. Time and time again, Christianity is seen leading men and women to challenge the default direction of Western civilization.

We will read Dicken's 'A Christmas Carol' this coming Christmas season, but will we stop to think of how Charles Dickens was addressing social issues of his day. And what of William Wilberforce, the British parliamentarian who, moved by his faith, labored half a century to abolish slavery in the British possessions? When Dorethea Dix and Florence Nightengale improved healthcare methods, it was their faith that moved them.

Schmidt provides a great body of scholarly research to bring this forgotten history to light again. One point I take from his writing is that Christianity is at its best when it speaks into culture. It has been rendered less effective by its present 'mainstream' status [as when it is seen as a branch of the Republican Party]. It is all too easy to hijack the language of faith without embracing its life-changing path of discipleship.

Theodore Dalrymple writes in City Journal: "What the New Atheists are Missing." Himself a non-believer, he points to a time when a teacher's hypocrasy led him to question. Dalrymple does not, however, reject the realm of faith as a force in creating and ordering societies. He see's naturalistic explainations and philosophies quite insufficient for dealing with all of human existence. Richard Dawkins' assertions that religious education is tantamount to child abuse, for example seem to Dalrymple no more than the rebellious ranting of a child who's just learned that his parents are not perfect. All of us have experienced some sort of disillusionment in our youth. I remember a time when a nun of the 'Sisters of Mercy' punished me for some infraction I had not [at least in my recollection] committed. I too questioned a lot of things. The Cuban missle crisis fueled more unanswered anxiety as I careened into adolescence.

But something happened in my teenaged years that is etched firmly in my memory. It was a dark and stressful winter day when I decided to walk in the woods near Triadelphia Reservoir. Something spoke to me that afternoon that was more eloquent than the ranting of hormones and the perceived unfairness of life. The buds of the trees were growing fat. here was the hope of spring and new life. Clearly spring would come. The buds gave evidence of an event hoped for. They were indeed the substance of something yet unseen!

"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:" -- Romans1:20 KJV

Holy writ makes the point that the order and beauty of the creation speaks eloquently of the creator. Thus Intelligent Design, though it merely points out the complex mechanisms of nature, leads one to seek the source of such wisdom. I look to that time in the trees as an affirmation of personal faith in a creator. Though at that point it was pretty detatched and intellectual at best.

"...for he that cometh to G-d must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligenly seek him." Hebrews 11:6b KJV

As a young adult I embraced faith in Christ as redeemer and rewarder. The journey of faith had begun with the fat buds years before though.Therefore I must conlude that those who consider the design of the universe dangerous information have good reason if they fear that others may follow the path I have walked. Dawkins would prefer me to credit space aliens with seeding life to this planet and thus push the hard questions of origin to another world. Darwinism, in its purest form, rejects the idea that this world is some sort of intentional creation. Of course this leads to the rejection of theism and ultimately the rejection of certain absolutes. The film 'Expelled' takes a good look at 'eugenics' and how it is supported by a darwinian world view. In the first half of the Twentieth Century certain proponents of eugenics sought to speed evolution along by eliminating the reproduction of certain undesirable types of persons. The results were forced sterilization of the mentally ill and the holecaust. Contrast that movement with Dorethea Dix and others who, motivated by Christian faith, improved conditions for the mentally ill.

Alvin Schmidt makes a good case in his book 'Under the Influence' that faith is a builder of society rather than a force to destroy it. Dalrymple the non-believer would concur. Thus the danger of Christian principles such as 'intelligent design' leading to dangerous conclusions is much inflated. One might even conclude that the free discussion of order and design,wherever it is found, is wholesome. Certainly there is no basis for its exclusion from the academy.The argument will no doubt be made: "what about the crusades, what about jihad, religion is dangerous?" Yes, it is certainly something that may be missused, but that must be countered with an honest look at how the so-called "good" science of evolution was the foundation of eugenics. Millions of people were killed in this misguided attempt to improve humanity. Ironically, such brilliant men as Albert Einstein met the criteria for elimination. We reduce the world to only naturalistic explainations at our own peril. The argument for open inquiry, with men and women of Faith seated at the table, stands.

New Maple

"When through the woods,and forest glades I wander,
and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
when I look down,from lofty mountain grandeur,
and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze"
-- "How Great Thou Art" Verse 2

Thursday, August 8, 2013

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VI, Issue VIII

China Conundrum Confounds Capitalists

A 'Best of THYMEs' Feature...

It is time for America to come to terms with China. No sooner than we reported on the dissapearance of Liu Xia [1.], the 'other' weekly news magazine is reporting on China's bubble. We need to, as Herman Cain says: "outgrow China." Surely the world benefits from a robust economy in China, but we dare not neglect the dangers of turning over to her the role of world superpower. China is a land of many complex and contradictory realities. Persecution of people of faith and creative individuals is a dark problem wherever it occurs and China has long been known to suppress. In 1989 tanks rolled over peaceful demonstrators in Bejing's Tianamen Square. That event marked a dark time for freedom loving people in China.

Asian Megacities as Political Theatre

What Le Corbusier would have wrought in Paris has become the new reality of Bejing and Shanghai.

Le Corbusier once wrote of his Plan Voisin for Paris: “Since 1922 [for the past 42 years] I have continued to work, in general and in detail, on the problem of Paris. Everything has been made public. The City Council has never contacted me. It calls me ‘Barbarian’!” -- Le Corbusier’s writings, p. 207.

Fast forward to the Twenty-first Century and Shanghai [Le Corbusier on steroids]. It all seems like the realization of the fictional Coruscant from Star Wars... a completely urban environment that stretches as far as the eye can see. The entire planet of Coruscant is one continual city.

Guy Sorman discusses the rise of Asian 'Super Megagopolises' [click to read] in City Journal. Looking at the Mega-model of Shanghai, one could begin to wonder: "can Coruscant be that far off." Sorman points out, however, that Shanghai is largely a political creation...designed to create the impression that China is ready for business with the world. [1.]

Every day the city teems with life and every night the workers necessary to make it function vacate the pristine city. It is like Disney World, where the 'cast members' descend into 'Utilidor,' remove their costumes, and disappear to homes elsewhere.

For Shanhai workers, 'homes elsewhere' often means crowded andsubstandard. Just as China's factories are seldom seen by Westerners,those who maintain the stage for world commerce live in a vastlydifferent world than the one they 'portray' in their 'day jobs.'

Or perhaps, the Death Star in Star Wars is a better analogy. Its scale is way beyond human. It is intended to convey a sense of awe. Might we be looking at the work of some latter day Nimrod, seeking to elevate himself to the heavens?

Sorman points out how the mad rush into the 21st Century has obliterated the traditional spaces of Shanghai and Bejing, which were much more human in size and scate. Again Star Wars comes to mind. Green beautiful planets like Naboo and Alderon risk elimination as the Empire expands its grasp.

This scale model of Shanghai dwarfs the people in the room...

...and calls to mind the fictional city of Coruscant.

In the 'Sixties America sought to 'remake' her major cities. Le Corbusier style housing blocks were constructed to elevate the urban poor. Many of these 'projects' have since been torn down. While we were building them Moscow was building similar blocks of apartments. Today in Moscow, urban youths flock to the rooftops. [2.] Called 'Roofers,' these young people seek the rooftops simply for the openness and the view.

How to Return to the Village
Returning Government to the People in the 'Audience'

Nineteenth Century America was a nation of villages. Great centers of commerce existed, but they were fed by a vibrant countryside. When Thomas Jefferson created his ideal 'Academic Village' to house the University of Virginia he purposefully left one side open to the surrounding agricultural land. From the steps of the Rotunda one could look upon the rolling hills of Albemarle County.

Architect Stanford White convinced the University to fill the void with Old Cabell Hall a long time ago. The recently completed South Lawn attempts to recreate a space leading off into the trees of Charlottesville. The challenge of getting back to the garden is ever before us.

Rooftop Gardens [click to read] offer one method of getting people and open spaces together. Reclaiming existing environments is another. Aging strip malls could be recycled into village centers for the surrounding suburban homes, offering a place residents could walk or bicycle to. Vacant lots and neglected riverfronts can become parks and gardens.

Proposed Renewal of the Crozet Shopping Center.

Suburb bashing has always been a fashionable intellectual pastime.That is one reason I like Robert A. M. Stern. He sees the reasons people seek out single family dwellings of a traditional form. I have a friend who lives on the upper West side and his penthouse with a view of the Hudson is very nice but give me my gardens.People put up with the wretched infrastructure overload and strip centers because the village is still appealing. The residential areas become landscaped oasis for their residents. Kids play outside the house in view of the kitchen window. People visit at the back fence.Moreover the suburbs are seen by their dwellers as affirming opportunity and safety. If people had no emotion for their homes they would be fine with Le Courbusier type high rises but that is simply not the case.The problem is really one of infrastructure and public space [or lack therof]. Strip malls and box stores create a sterile wasteland but they may become the village centers of the future.

Time magazine once featured a piece called 'Repurposing Suburbs' which shows some fine examples of recreating this type of public space. This Crozet project turns a tired strip mall into a village center. One cannot wait for Crozet's redesigner to get his creative hands on some of the new "Town Center" projects which are now just collections of big box stores. Some time ago I drew a concept where the CSX tracks between Staunton and Charlottesville became a light rail line connecting Staunton, Fishersville, Waynesboro, Crozet, Ivy, The University of Virginia Medical Center and Downtown Charlottesville. The result would be a series of village centers and a better utilization of existing infrastructure.

City Journal's writers draw conflicting conclusions. Houston is touted as encouraging its middle class while Gotham offers limited options. Dense urban areas do tend to create energy efficiency. The trick is to see opportunities to improve the communities we have already created.That would certainly involve offering condominiums and a pedestrian friendly center to suburban communities and reclaiming all those wonderful old low density neighborhoods of our cities.

There is more to solving this problem than finding architectural solutions. Redemption too, must begin on a human scale. In a future post I will explore the role of 'New Monasticism' and activists like Star Parker in this aspect of redemptive work in our culture.

Next: Counterpoint to Coruscant [click to read].

Our Future Should be Built on Our Past Success

Valley Railroad Bridge
The Valley Railroad was once a branch of the B&O that ran all the way to Rockbridge County.

Mcormick's Mill
Agriculture was revolutionized by Cyrus McCormick, who built his first reaper at his Father's mill in Augusta County. The operation moved to Chicago to become the International Harvester Corporation.Fishersille Mike shares this piece: Hard Choices All Around [click to read]. The bottom line is that it is time to start making things again. He references This Article by William Gross [click to read].

"The global economy is suffering from a lack of aggregate demand. With insufficient demand, nations compete furiously for their share of the diminishing growth pie.

In the U.S. and Euroland, many policies only temporarily bolster consumption while failing to address the fundamental problem of developed economies: Job growth is moving inexorably to developing economies because they are more competitive.

Unless developed economies learn to compete the old-fashioned way – by making more goods and making them better – the smart money will continue to move offshore to Asia, Brazil and their developing economy counterparts, both in asset and in currency space."
Drive past the once flourishing DuPont plant in Waynesboro and this will soon start to sink in. Once this complex employed thousands. Today a few hundred workers make Lycra. To qoute Billy Joel: "We're all in Allentown now."

Well we’re living here in Allentown
And they’re closing all the factories down
Out in Bethlehem they’re killing time
Filling out forms

Standing in line
Well our fathers fought the Second World War
Spent their weekends on the Jersey Shore
Met our mothers at the USO
Asked them to dance
Danced with them slow

And we're living here in Allentown.
But the restlessness was handed down
And it's getting very hard to stay.

Well we're waiting here in Allentown
For the Pennsylvania we never found
For the promises our teachers gave
If we worked hard
If we behaved.

So the graduations hang on the wall
But they never really helped us at all
No they never taught us what was real
Iron or coke,
Chromium steel.

– Billy Joel, 1982But 'living in Allentown' is not an option. The decline of the American economy cannot support our large urbanized population.

"The constructive way is to stop making paper and start making things. Replace subprimes, and yes, Treasury bonds with American cars, steel, iPads, airplanes, corn – whatever the world wants that we can make better and/or cheaper. Learn how to compete again. Investments in infrastructure and 21st century education and research, as opposed to 20th century education are mandatory, as is a withdrawal from resource-draining foreign wars. It will be a tough way back, but it can be done with sacrifice and appropriate public policies that encourage innovation, education and national reconstruction, as opposed to Wall Street finance and Main Street consumption."Some of the developments that make American plants less competitive are not bad. American mills in the Nineteenth Century employed children, often in dangerous environments. A system that has made life better for the workers is not a bad thing. High corporate tax rates, unsustainable pension plans and redundant Federal oversight that discourages production are very bad things.

We needn't reclaim all manufacturing. We need to find opportunities to excell as new technologies develop and master their development. New processes and craftmanship should fill our vacant plants and find market share enriching customers around the world.

Producing our own energy is essential. Increased nuclear capacity must be developed along with our own oil, gas and coal resources. Controlling energy costs is essential to our future productivity.

Localized production, small and home businesses and artisan farms are part of the answer too. Less centalization of such things as food production is good and renders us less susceptable to worldwide economic chaos.

The 1904 Saint Louis World's Fair and American Superiority

This Article by Guy Sorman in City Journal caught my eye. In 1904 the robust American economy was recognized as a world leader, but Sorman quotes a study showing the American economy coming into its own by 1820! He goes on to point out how egalitarian American ideals actually created the first mass market. Joseph Schumpeter's “creative destruction” is also mentioned as a reason for economic prosperity as the new constantly replaces the old and the market reallocates resources accordingly.

That translates into new innovative technology and methods. Eventually we'll be driving hydrogen cars and seeing advances in healthcare delivery. Government mandates won't accomplish this, changing economies, innovation and market demand will.

I once did a reconstruction of the Nineteenth Century town of Ellicott's Mills, first terminus of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad outside of Baltimore. The Ellicott Brothers had migrated from Bucks County, Pennsylvania and settled on the banks of the Patapsco River. There they convinced Charles Carroll [the signer of the Declaration of Independence] to diversify his plantation agriculture. They intruduced wheat, flour mills, limestone mining and many other innovations and that is a model of what happened throughout the young Republic.

Our real cultural diversity as a 'Nation of Nations' fuels discovery and innovation. In spite of the professed loathing of so many world rulers for our Nation, the best and brightest still want to come here.

Ellicott's Mills is typical of many American communities in the Nineteenth Century. Model by Mr. Kirchman.
Sorman points out that the U.S. economy and its spirit of enterprise still set the pace for the rest of the world. We must not invoke change that diminishes that.

The First Terminus of the B&O Railroad

B&O Station
B&O Station.

Patapsco Hotel
Patapsco Hotel.

Arch of the old railroad bridge.

Floods of the Twentieth Century.

Cornerstone of the railroad bridge...

...still carrying Chessie System trains today.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

Is it Rational to Believe in God?

ht/Jonathan Greer

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.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VI, Issue VII

A 'Best of THYMEs' Feature...

THYME's 'Esther of the Year'

 Irena Sendler Has Died at 98 [click to read]

This week the 'other' weekly news magazine presents: The Childfree Life [click to read]. Children, you see, get in the way when you want to "have it all!" THYME this week goes back in history to examine the life of a woman who truly knew the value of children. Her story proves it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On October 20, 1943, the Gestapo, who were becoming increasingly aware of her activities, arrested Irena Sendler. Even under torture -- they broke her legs and feet [1.] -- she refused to give up those names. She was sentenced to be executed but her friends bribed officials and she was able to escape.

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

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

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

Irena Sendler with her children, Janka and Adam.

The Ignoble Nobel

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

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

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

THYME's 2012 'Esther of the Year'

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

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

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