Wednesday, May 28, 2014

THYME Magazine: A Culture of Life Matters

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VII, Issue XIV

A Culture of Life, Why it Matters

Often touted as an example of a government run healthcare system that works, the VA system does indeed have some good people in it, and they do perform their mission to care for our elderly and wounded warriors in a professional manner. But it is likely that cost-saving directives and management level decisions have kept many from getting the care they need. This is simply unacceptable! These are men and women who swore an oath and put themselves in harm's way for their country. They deserve to be cared for. The news that up to forty people may have died waiting for necessary procedures in Arizona VA hospitals is a dark chapter in our history. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is understandably on the carpet right now, and though the President claims he didn't know, that excuse is wearing pretty thin. Reports show that he WAS briefed about this problem long ago. Denied care, stories of secret "wait lists" and a general sense of betrayal weigh heavily right now. I think we need quite a few questions answered.

The issue is not one that can be simplified. Between 2000 and 2012 the total number of veterans decreased 16.5% while resources to care for them have risen steadily over the past decade. Some Veterans benefit spending is 'mandiatory,' or set by a statuatory formula. This includes the GI Bill, vocational rehabilitation, disability payments, pensions and survivor benefits. VA Health system spending, however, is considered 'discretionary' spending and is under the purview of Congress. Congress has NOT "slashed" funding for the system. Actual figures show that the VA budget has risen from $47.8 Billion in 2009 to $63.4 Billion in 2014. That is a 30% increase in the last three years. The situation is complicated by ageing VA facilities and other factors, but claims that the VA has been denied resources are simply not accurate. The problem is very likely to be blameable on administrative decisions. Politicians tend to ask for inflated budget requests, knowing full well they will have to settle for smaller increases, then they tend to blame insufficient funding anyway when their costs exceed planned expenditures. When it comes to assigning blame, administrators are indeed a pass-through entity!

But if administrators are redirecting discretianary funds and denying care, that begs a larger discussion. It involves the value of human life, and the danger in arbitrarily deciding who is worthy to live and who isn't. While Liberal commentators often present their arguments in the context of "doing what is best for you," they gravitate toward providing more benefits for young healthy people and rationing care to the elderly and overlooking the unborn. That is why you will see a push to provide free contaceptives while encouraging easy access to abortion and measures such as the "death panels" in the so-called "Affordable" Care Act. Benefits tend to concentrate for those who are likely to keep voting for those who provide them. Unborn babies cannot vote at all and older people are more likely to strive for self-sufficiency, making them less likely to vote for Liberal benefactors. The media, however, continues to drone on about the relative "compassion" of Liberal policies. One is hard pressed to make the argument for free and vital markets, which not only provide more and better services to more people, but often are the fertile ground for new and better methods to be created in. Markets just aren't "fair."

You may complain that new procedures are not universally available, but the fact that they exist at all is due to innovation. Given time these new innovations may become more readily available and come down in cost. A healthy marketplace often corrects its own discrepancies as doctors and hospitals provide care on a sliding fee scale or write off some care for indigents. This requires an efficient system that brings profits to those who administer it. Profit is what provides money that may be used more creatively or is the source for tax revenues that may be used to provide coverage for those who cannot afford it. While this illustration is indeed simplified, it does make the case for tort reform, insurance portability and a host of reforms that might allow more and better healthcare to be delivered more efficiently. These issues can be addressed as stand-alone reforms and do not require 2000 page "outline" legislation. But there IS an overriding source of guidance that is sadly missing, and that would be the valuation of all individuals seen in the concept of IMAGO DEI.

If a person's value is indeed a product of Divine investment, his or her rights are indeed INALIENABLE! You cannot arbitrarily decide "viability" or who is "too old" if you have no basis for it. A higher court has affirmed the dignity of men and women. You cannot make some arbitrary relativistic judgement. Indeed it is worth remembering that when governments decide who is worthy and who is not, you get forced sterilization in institutions like Virginia's Western State Hospital during the first half of the Twentieth Century and you get a whole slate of "undesireables" in regimes such as that of the National Socialists in 1930's Germany where Jews, Gypsies, Jehovas Witnesses, Homosexuals and Italians were all sorted and identified with a system of colored triangles. Almost seven million people were eliminated because the government decided to. When anything is permissible, ANYTHING is permissible. Yet most historians would agree that the holocaust was EVIL. How can anything be evil if anything is permissable? Indeed it seems to some easier to rewrite history and say the holocaust didn't happen than to wrap one's mind around its evil. Yet holocaust is verified history, as is the extermination of ten million Ukranians by Stalin and the killing of untold millions in Mao's China.

In the end one must come to terms with the unique value of every man, woman and child on the planet... even if we stand on the opposite sides of an armed conflict! We all are moved by those stories of cease-fire, like the time English and German soldiers sang "Silent Night" together on Christmas in 1914, or during our Civil War, when troops of the opposing armies sometimes exchanged coffee and sugar for tobacco. In fact, in the Winter of 1862, opposing troops near Fredericksburg, Virginia floated little, sailboats back and forth across the Rappahannock River with items they wanted to trade. Today Israeli Defense Force medical teams care for the wounded they receive without regard for their status or nationality. These moments in history need to serve as a benchmark. Those who champion the rights of the unborn, or the rights of forgotten elderly veterans also enlarge the vision of IMAGO DEI. Just as William Wilberforce extended compassion to the slaves of England, so these modern men and women who follow in his footsteps elevate the entire human condition.

For many of us, the mistreatment of our veterans is a travesty we cannot allow in its own right, but it begs to be resolved in terms of the high principles laid down by Locke and Jefferson which are ultimately founded in Divine Revelation!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Spacecraft Testing in the 1960's

My Father at the Console of the Launch Phase Simulator

In this 1968 NASA Photograph, my Father, Ed Kirchman puts the Launch Phase Simulator through its paces.

Those of us who grew up in the 1960s will never forget the challenge of President John F. Kennedy to put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth. We lived it. What many tend to forget is the daunting size of the challenge. We were using ICBMs that had been hastily developed in the face of the unfolding "Cold War." They had a pretty poor failure rate and we were just beginning to study the effects of hostile space environments to our hardware. Ed Kirchman had helped build the seaplanes that fought in the Pacific. Now he brought his knowledge to the problems of space flight. His engineer mind took him to explore the combinations of stresses that actually were present in a launch and one of his crowning achievements was designing the Launch Phase Simulator.

He started with a giant centrifuge. It was HUGE! One Summer I worked on the crew that cleaned it. I gained a great respect for the scale of Dad's Magnum Opus. He mounted a vacuum chamber on the end of the centrifuge arm to simulate the change of atmospheric pressure. Then he mounted a "shaker," or a giant vibration machine under the attachment where the spacecraft was bolted. This simulated the merciless vibration present in a launch.

Then Dad put in a cryogenic system to cool the spacecraft and heat lamps to bake it. By testing prototypes this way he was able to find out exactly how stresses occur in spacecraft as they lift out of the atmosphere. Dad wrote a number of reports on spacecraft testing and on the behavior of materials under stress during launch. His work was invaluable in increasing the reliability of spacecraft. But Dad almost did not become an engineer. He struggled in school. His high school guidance counselor even wrote a letter advising that Dad NOT pursue a career in engineering. Dad framed the letter.

He went to a Junior College for his basic courses, then he transferred to Notre Dame in South Bend Indiana. He was always a staunch fan of the 'Fightin' Irish,' even as he was part of the Vanguard of relatively new immigrants from Bavaria and Eastern Europe taking their place in the American experience. His Grandfather had fled Bavaria during Bismark, and muttered curses about the man as he sat on the porch of their home in Bay City. His Grandson would go on to develop new technologies to take us to the stars.

Sunset Over the North Mountain Range

Evening Light Plays Across the Folds of the Great Valley

Photo by Kristina Elaine Riley

The heavens declare the glory of G-d; 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.

Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,

Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.

His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.

Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. -- Psalm 19

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Reflections: Mothers' Sons

By Melanie Jeschke, Republished with Permission

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

Memorial Day has changed for me since my nephew Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Jeschke, USMC, was killed in Afghanistan in August 2012. In the past, I honored the memory of my husband’s Marine Corps family members who had faithfully served our country, but who died in their beds after living a full life. Now Memorial Day is not only a day of remembrance; it is a day of mourning.

While most Americans play and picnic and mark the beginning of summer fun, I know Ryan’s young wife, mom and dad, sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends are marking another reminder of his ultimate sacrifice to enable all of us to enjoy the freedom to play and picnic.

In another conflict, one hundred and fifty years ago, Unions and Confederate troops clashed on the rolling fields of the Shenandoah Valley near New Market, Virginia. Among them were teenaged cadets sent up as reserves from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), ten of whom lost their young lives. Although the South’s struggle to uphold slavery was morally indefensible and rightly defeated, these boys were fighting to protect their homeland, families, and friends. They were all, on both sides, mothers’ sons.

With the 150th anniversary of many Civil War battles, my husband and I have been visiting battlefields: Gettysburg as well as Manassas/Bull Run and Bristow Station, which are near where we live. A month ago we decided to walk the New Market battlefield with our son, who was graduating from nearby Eastern Mennonite University. We had heard the tragic story of the fallen cadets back in the fall when we had toured VMI, my father-in-law’s alma mater. We walked through the meadow, named the “Field of Lost Shoes” because torrential rains had turned the field into a muddy bog, which pulled off the boys’ boots and shoes as they charged barefoot up the long hill. Walking a battlefield is a moving and sobering experience. One can easily imagine the flying bullets and the falling men—all mothers’ sons.

In one of those amazing providences, on our return from this excursion, we received an invitation to the premiere of a new feature film, Field of Lost Shoes, which opened the 8th annual GI Film Festival held in conjunction with Memorial Day observances here in the nation’s capital. A dear friend from college and one of my husband’s groomsmen, David M. Kennedy, wrote and produced the film. Dave is an Irish-Catholic genius, who was the President of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Virginia, a Commander in the Navy, a top-gun pilot, and the military consultant for films like Pearl Harbor and Behind Enemy Lines. We had last seen Dave at Arlington National Cemetery for the burial of his brother alongside his oldest brother, a hero killed in action in Vietnam. While there, Dave took the time to visit Ryan’s grave with us, where he and his son Sam, a ROTC student at UVA, gave Ryan an honor salute. Needless to say, we were very touched by their tribute.

For many years, Dave had dreamed of making a feature film about the VMI cadets who fought and died at New Market. What a thrill to be invited as his “honored guests” to the premiere of this dream fulfilled. We hope Field of Lost Shoes will get the attention and distribution it deserves. I’m pleased to say that the film is excellent and a moving tribute to these mothers’ sons.

This weekend I trust we will all take the time to pause and remember the many men and women (sons and daughters all) in countless conflicts, who have laid down their lives to protect our homeland and our freedom. And while we remember and honor the fallen, please pray for their families who are also remembering---and mourning.

In Honor of Sgt. Ryan Jeschke [click to read]


Field of Lost Shoes [click to view]


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day in Washington and Arlington

Remembering Those Who Died Defending Liberty

The World War II Memorial.

Vietnam Memorial
Vietnam Memorial...

Vietnam Memorial
...and a hero remembered.

This is the view of Arlington Cemetery from the Old Post Chapel at Ft. Meyer.

Spring buds in Arlington National Cemetery.

Monday, May 19, 2014

THYME Magazine: Portrait of a Movement

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VII, Issue XIII

Portrait of a Movement

Perhaps the best way to interview great men and women is to actually spend time with them. Even the standard journalistic questions do not give you their full measure. One has to walk with them and observe their lives. What a person actually does says far more than the words they speak. And so I found myself at the base of the Washington Monument on a raw and rainy morning with Colonel Harry Riley, organizer of Operation American Spring. As Colonel Riley began by asking us to all kneel in prayer at the foot of the great obelisk, I knew that this was no ordinary protest movement. We began with obedience to 2 Chronicles 7:14:

"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 will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Colonel Riley says of the last few days: "Our Mission, our commitment is as strong as ever....the lawless leadership replacement remains our goal, all the oath breakers, and those that fail to honor their commitment to the US Constitution are being challenged. We will be visting Congress this coming week. A question will be "do you support our Constitution?" The answer can only be yes, but our response will be, "then why are you not doing your job? Why are you allowing Barack Obama to destroy America? We have been assembling early each morning at the Washington Monument and then moving to a location nearer the US Capitol. We have patriots in D.C. with a heart for our nation, for our chldren, grandchildren, great grandchildren and are determined to see our mission through until G-d pulls us off. I think every State is represented except perhaps Alaska......those of you that can't be with us are well in our midst.....your State patriots are standing up for you. Our first day May 16, 2014 was our best day....even though G-d got our attention early by drenching us with rain...He reminded us of His power but showered us with sunshine later in the day.........thousands in our midst......some in the cradle, young people with one our PFA members, Marty Church who is 84...the beautiful part is the sacrifical nature of all our participants...I could go into individual sacrifices but I don't want to give the impression there is criticism of anyone who can't be with us...there are many reasons and we know many are doing work behind the scenes, prayers, and the like."

District Park Police, mounted on their fine horses, stood at the perimeter that first day, chatting with us as we patted their mounts. One, a big Draft named "Louie" was quite impressive. His rider told us that there were three other horses his size... the "Front Four," who often worked together with hostile crowds. Colonel Riley's own security detail took care of many things these fine officers often had to attend to. From the standpoint of the police, this was a peaceful protest.

Rumors and news reports to the contrary had already made the rounds... obviously the work of people who did not actually attend the rally. Even Glenn Beck, who has a reputation for truthful reporting, repeated the erroneous reports without vetting their sources. So, here we were, doing exactly what he told us we should do, and being excoriated for it! Here was a citizen presence in Washington that was put there entirely by grassroots efforts and even media figures who should have been rejoicing were panning it.

Colonel Riley in the next few days would conduct a silent vigil at the White House in memory of the four dead in the Benghazi Attack. Marchers walked four abreast to the White House in silence and stood for a silent vigil. They then returned in the same way they came. It was a moving tribute to the sacrifice of those four Americans. Sunday saw a prayer service at the Lincoln Memorial. Monday began with protesters actually making their way to contact their representatives.

I spent some time with Fred Schneider, organizer of Overpasses for America. I watched him stop what he was doing to offer to photograph an African-American family in front of one of the museums. He spent over an hour helping an Armenian lady named Anna who had lost her telephone. His actions told me far more about him than his passionate articulation of his desire to restore the Republic.

Though the numbers of protesters are not the same as those commanded by big media personalities, they are impressive when you remember that the media did nothing to help. In fact, they only insinuated that this was not a peaceful protest. The people who came did so because friend invited friend, and they represent many who are very concerned about the way the county is being destroyed by those who purport to represent us in Washington. When I returned from Washington my wife wanted to watch Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce. [1.]

For decades, Wilberforce worked to eliminate the slave trade. His enemies circulated all sorts of rumors about him and accused him of sedition. Though he sacrificed his health in the process, he never gave up. In the end he was instrumental in the elimination of the trade in human beings, as well as reform in healthcare and humane treatment of animals. Wilberforce should serve as an inspiration to all of us who look to restore the soul of our own country today.

Colonel Harry Riley, about to lead prayer at the base of the Washington Monument.

Fred Schneider, Overpasses for America organizer.

The Mason Family from Delaware. They are descendants of Caesar Rodney, signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

THYME Magazine: Rebuilding the Dream II

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VII, Issue XXII

Restoration Begins in the Heart

The story is told of a man who sat down on a weekend afternoon to watch a football game. His wife had left him in charge of his small son, who eagerly sought to engage his father in play. Seeking to divert the boy's attention for a bit, the father came up with a game. He found a world map on one page of the newspaper and cut it into an impromptu jigsaw puzzle. "Hey son, put this together and bring it back to me, then we'll play some more!" The father was astounded at how fast the boy returned... map taped together perfectly! "How did you do this?" the amazed father asked. "It was simple," the boy replied, "On the other side of the page there was a picture of a man. I just put the man together and the world was together!" The father hugged his boy, touched by the truth that often comes "from the mouths of babes!"

I set out to write this week about revitalizing American technology. Then tragedy hit our small city as police discovered the body of Julian Parrot in a city park. He was my son's age. He was well known to many Staunton Braves fans as he often helped out at the ballpark. He walked people's dogs for them and though he was mentally disabled, he was known as a kind and friendly person. A sixteen year old juvenile was charged in the apparent murder.

It was time to step away from trying to put the world together.

The technology we used to go to the moon was originally built to blow us up. German scientists at Peenemünde created the ICBM to dominate the world. In a stroke of brilliance, Americans created the civilian space agency with the V2 Rockets they had captured along with their designer, Dr. Wernher von Braun, and reached for new heights. We went to the moon! The inventive Germans created the highways Eisinhower would eventually model the Interstate system after. Clearly the technology for an amazing new world was at hand... and almost led to the domination of the world by the darkest regime in modern history. Was there something in the American character that added discipline to the great march forward?

In the nineteen seventies, journalists from National Geographic went to Leningrad in the Soviet Union. They were not prepared for the welcome that greeted them. Arriving to photograph a dreary Soviet-style factory they were met by the drably-clothed elderly women who worked there. When the women realized that these were Americans, their countenances brightened. They smiled warmly and embraced the startled journalists with many tears. You must remember that after the terrible siege of Leningrad was broken in World War II, the American GIs arrived and were remembered for their kindness to the people. They shared their food and genuinely looked out for their well being. Decades later, the gratitude had not diminished!

So what is it that exists in our national spirit that creates such acts? What might there be to temper the violence of the warrior? The testimony of these Russian women, lectured by their leaders for three decades about the 'evils' of America, who rushed to embrace Americans nonetheless speaks volumes! And have we lost it? A cruel senseless murder and a growing sense that many youths have lost respect for life do not speak well of our national culture today. America's character was formed in the taming of hostile frontiers and adjusting to a new world (as my Bavarian ancestors had to). It was tested on the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific. But now, have we lost it in our luxury? Have we cast off as 'archaic' those values that once guided us to higher deeds on distant shores?

It was time to put the man together.

In the dark turmoil of our Civil War, Evangelist Dwight L. Moody reached out to scores of troops, giving them the hope of the Gospel. Lives were changed, just as lives had been changed in the Great Awakenings prior to this time. Faith gave hope and direction. Faith had a part in the forging of our national character. But Moody almost didn't get a chance to be the agent of the Divine that he surely became.

It is well-known history that in April 1855 Moody embraced Faith when his Sunday school teacher, Edward Kimball, explained how much G-d loved him. He would go on to become a great evangelist, yet it is not so well known that his first application for church membership, in May 1855, was rejected. He was not received as a church member until May 4, 1856. His teacher, Edward Kimball, stated:

"I can truly say, and in saying it I magnify the infinite grace of God as bestowed upon him, that I have seen few persons whose minds were spiritually darker than was his when he came into my Sunday School class; and I think that the committee of the Mount Vernon Church seldom met an applicant for membership more unlikely ever to become a Christian of clear and decided views of Gospel truth, still less to fill any extended sphere of public usefulness."

"The first meeting I ever saw him at was in a little old shanty that had been abandoned by a saloon-keeper. Mr. Moody had got the place to hold the meetings in at night. I went there a little late; and the first thing I saw was a man standing up with a few tallow candles around him, holding a negro boy, and trying to read to him the story of the Prodigal Son and a great many words he could not read out, and had to skip. I thought, 'If the Lord can ever use such an instrument as that for His honor and glory, it will astonish me.' As a result of his tireless labor, within a year the average attendance at his school was 650, while 60 volunteers from various churches served as teachers. It became so well known that the just-elected President Lincoln visited and spoke at a Sunday School meeting on November 25, 1860." [1.]

The rest is history, as they say. But it is more than that. It should serve as a challenge to us. We dare not leave it to our great institutions to identify greatness... we must seek for it around us and nurture it, fully prepared to be astonished!

Redeeming Restoration

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal spoke last weekend at Liberty University's commencement. He pointed out that those in power now actively stand in the way of the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom to exercise religious faith. He referenced the case of Hobby Lobby and the government's desire to mandate abortificants trumping conscience. The case is going to the Supreme Court. Secularists want to relegate faith to the level of a personal hobby, according to Jindal. Hillary Clinton's carefully crafted statements on "freedom of religion" bear this out. Secularists use the 'Establishment Clause' to exclude as much religious expression as they can from the public square. Jindal remarked:

“It is said that College is an intellectual pursuit, involving reason and logic. I went to Brown University in the Ivy League, a place that prides itself in intellectual reasoning. One of the good things about going to Brown is that I was able to become the President of the College Republicans on campus almost immediately. The other Republican student at Brown was the Vice President.

Some kids go off to college and lose their way, they become convinced that their faith is not an intellectual pursuit.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Reason and logic lead to truth…which means that reason and logic lead to G-d.

There is a general view among many of the elites in America that truly enlightened folks realize that all this faith and religion stuff is just quaint and antiquated thinking from an earlier era. Or that it is a nice restful place for those who are not as bright or as intellectually curious as they are.

Again, nothing could be further from the truth. True intellectual curiosity will inevitably lead to an understanding of the Creator.

I always noticed examples of this elitist view of faith when national political reporters, usually from places like Boston, New York, or Washington, would come down to Baton Rouge to interview me in my first years as Governor.

Inevitably during these interviews they say something like this – “you are a smart guy, we know you went to Brown and were a Rhodes Scholar, so tell me, how is it that you call yourself pro-life, and you say that you oppose gay marriage, and you say that you oppose gun control? You just say that stuff to get elected in the Deep South right?”

So of course, l liked to have a little fun with it, so I would lean over the desk, and in hushed tones, pretending to confide in him or her, I would say – well…just between us, do me a favor, go tell your editors the bad news, tell them that I absolutely believe everything I say. As you can imagine, those interviews ended rather abruptly.” [2.]

I know a university professor of great integrity, who says to his students who are possibly struggling with what they believe, that "someone, somewhere has wrestled with this question before." He points out that scholars like C. S. Lewis and Tolkien have likely struggled with it to the point of writing about it. Professors like him are truly an inspiration to young scholars.

This professor operates within what I would call: The Mapmaker's Ethic. Simply expressed, the Mapmaker's Ethic acknowledges the fact that people must rely on maps to safely navigate and avoid dangers as they proceed to their destination. Known conditions must be clearly and accurately rendered. To do less is to unnecessarily endanger the traveler!

On November 10th, 1975, the Great Lakes Freighter Edmund Fitzgerald sunk in a violent storm on Lake Superior. Captain Ernest M. McSorley decided to hug the Northern shore of the lake, hoping to gain protection from the raging tempest. Normally the 729 foot Fitzgerald would stay in the shipping lanes in the center of the lake. Surprised by the sudden November gale, the captain plotted a new course that would take him very close to Caribou Island. In all likelihood, the large vessel bottomed out on the treacherous Six-fathom Shoal, which jutted out from the island. Examination of the charts of the day showed that Six-fathom shoal was incorrectly placed. It was a half-mile off! We may never know, but it is quite likely that a small error on a map contributed to the deaths of 29 good men!

Those who would assert that reason and logic cannot coexist with faith would to well to pull out the old charts... the ones that provide plenty of evidence for the Divine. The people of old were exhorted to pile up stones and teach their children of the mighty acts of the Divine. We ignore such landmarks at our own... and our childrens' peril.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VII, Issue XXI

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." -- American Declaration of Independence.

The Divine Design
In Defense of 'Self Evident Truth'

There is in nature an element of beauty that transcends functionality. Observation of the created world leads us to see something of the nature of the Creator. Thus it is significant that the framers of our original documents saw the dignity and significance of individual men as rooted in the concept of Imago Dei -- that mankind was created in the image of the Divine. Consider the impact that observation has had on the affairs of mankind. Two hundred years ago these principles were invoked as the foundations for our nation. No, slavery was not immediately abolished and sin was not obliterated... but that such principles were laid as foundation for our revolution led to a place where they formed a clear and unmistakable map for our future direction.

Indeed these principles predate the American experiment, finding expression in the work of men such as John Locke. England's own move from absolute monarchy to Parliamentary government, as seen in her 'Glorious Revolution,' gave wind to the sails of representative government and individual dignity. William Wilberforce's faith led him to fight for decades to abolish slavery. He is most remembered for this but he also championed reform of the culture and humane treatment of animals. History shows us time and time again, that conviction and passion lead to action. What a person truly believes will direct his steps. That is why we should indeed ask our leaders what they believe. It affects their leadership!

Well into the Twentieth Century, we still find faith directed persons in conflict with the degrading of humanity. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a prime example. The Lutheran theologian could not keep his faith 'personal' as the National Socialists oppressed the Jews. He spoke out against it. Then he joined in an attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Many 'modern thinkers' will likely be repelled by the thought that a Christian's faith could be reconciled with the assassination plot. But consider this: Hitler's 'beliefs' in a superior race led to the deaths of millions of people. Hitler implemented HIS beliefs unashamedly. When the smoke had cleared over six million Jews, scores of Gypsies and other 'undesirables,' homosexuals and "Righteous Gentiles" lay dead!

Why do we universally condemn Hitler? 'Self Evident Truth' tells us to. In fact, without such self evident truth, we can actually argue for the elimination of those 'not like us' with some authority. This is the frightening dark side of Relativism. If nothing is 'right' or 'wrong,' then NOTHING is 'right' or 'wrong!' Pro-choice arguments for abortion reside here. Locke is careful to temper the reality of human freedom with the moral obligation to respect the freedoms of others. This underlying concern leads us to condemn slavery, leads to the actions of the 'Righteous Gentiles' and now leads us to plead the cause of the unseen unborn!

So, what do we do when modern leaders insist that we not question their beliefs? I think history tells us to question them anyway! What a man truly believes will indeed shape his actions. Simple due diligence requires that we ask our leaders to share the basis upon which they will act. To be fair, Barack Hussein Obama did so in his book: Dreams of My Father. The Obamas occassionally attend St. John’s Church, an Episcopalian church in Washington, but when he was a young Chicago politician he freely chose to attend the church of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, a disciple of Black Liberation Theologian James Cone. This association with Liberation Theology would be in keeping with his father's stated Anti-colonialism.

Of course, privately held beliefs have no effect on public policy, right? If you consider Obama's policies carefully, you will find a Justice Department that overlooks VOTER INTIMIDATION by the New Black Panther Party while Obama's State Department virtually ignores the plight of evangelical Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American imprisoned in Iran! Obama's boyhood is remarkably removed from that of a typical American who would have experienced church picnics, Fourth of July celebrations and such. He studied at a Muslim school in Indonesia and was introduced to Hanuman the Monkey God by his stepfather Lolo.

While the American experience is quite tolerant of diversity, it is not at all unreasonable to ask a PRESIDENT what he believes. When Obama made a quite contorted and subservient bow to the Saudi King, Americans are right to ask what this means? If I am disturbed that Eric Holder's acceptance of voter intimidation seems similar to the 'righting of wrongs' between tribes in post-colonial Africa, is it unreasonable for me as a citizen journalist to draw comparisons to the ideals of Dreams of My Father? One only has to look at Uganda and Rwanda to see the results when settling the score for the oppressed peoples of the world becomes the goal rather than elevating the human condition.

The American experiment, rooted in a sense of Divinely ordained principle, created unprecedented opportunity for scores of people. Contrast that with the wreckage of a slew of Socialist 'utopias' that descended all too rapidly into dystopia. It would seem to me that America's founding, based on Divine insight into the nature of man, has produced far more good than subsequent attempts to 'reform' institutions with NO regard for Divine insight. That is at the heart of why I must be in Washington on May 16 to stand against those who would 'fundamentally change' that nation based on self evident truths.

Standing for Truth [click to listen], Some thoughts from Eric Metaxas, New York Times bestselling author of Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery.

How Do You Kill 11 Million People [click to listen], Are there really similarities between Nazi Germany and the government of the United States?  NY Times Best-selling author Andy Andrews answers that very question, while also helping us discover a way to turn our country back to the truth on which it was founded.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

National Day of Prayer, May 1st, 2014

In Times of Crisis Our Leaders Have Always Sought G-d...

Oak Leaves
Oak leaves.

Washington at Valley Forge, Lincoln when our nation's survival was at stake, and even FDR, when enemies across the great oceans stood ready to test our greatness, all sought prayer for our country. Today, faced with the threats of global jihad, economic upheaval and the destruction of our national sovereignty, can we honestly say we should do less.

Jim McCloskey of the Staunton News Leader once questioned the need for a national day of prayer in his McCloskey Monday. Jim, take a hard look at the problems facing us today and see if you don't want to rethink this.

A Friend of mine wrote this letter to the editor in response:

In regard to Jim McCloskey's article in today's paper, May 3, 2010, on The National Day of Prayer, I have a few comments:

Jim claims to be a church going person so I wonder why he is so concerned about having a National Day of Prayer?

I hope that he realizes that this is a time...
a day set apart for ALL faiths not just for the Christian or Jewish faiths.

It is a day set apart and the churches have this wonderful opportunity to have special services apart from Sunday.

There are prayer breakfasts, prayer in the park, prayer at noon, prayer called at different times ALL DAY throughout the United States...

We have extreme National concerns. We are a nation bordering on bankruptcy, threats of terrorism, immorality throughout our schools, government control of all or our lives i.e. National Health Care---there are bank failures, etc. There is MUCH to pray about. So, think of it as wonderful, that a day is set apart for ALL people, of ALL faiths, to join together to pray. I and my family look forward to participating in it together every year.

All faiths are called to prayer on this National Day of Prayer...I hope all of us realize that.

I do hope that he will not be so sensitive to a day that means so much to all of us and if he does not want to participate in it, he certainly does not have to---just give us the freedom to continue participating in this, our NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER.

Nancy Summers,
Staunton, Virginia

An Urgent Call to Seek Divine Intervention...

On May 1st that year, a number of Christian and Jewish leaders called for urgent prayer for our nation. I was not able to be in Washington but I joined in the prayer and repentance as I helped my lovely wife do a craft show in Middlebrook. Surrounded by Civil War reenacters it wasn't too hard to get in the mood. Across the aisle from us was a Confederate camp and they were cooking a rather delicious smelling meal on their campfire. When I remarked that that was richer fare than my Great Grandfather would have eaten in camp they pulled out the hardtack and cracked corn that most of the men actually ate. "I don't think there are many of us who could live like that today," the reenactor remarked. He was camping there with his family.

Our first challenge, I fear, is to learn to PRAY like our forefathers. [1.] [2.] [3.]

Learn More About the National Day of Prayer [click to read].