Saturday, January 17, 2015

THYME Magazine: The Power of Inspiration

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume IX, Issue IIa

The Power of Inspiration

The 1964-1965 World's Fair [1.] indeed provided inspirational. As a boy I was fascinated with the shapes modern materials could be formed into. Walking in the woods and meadows, it seemed that the best inspiration for the fair's designers had been nature itself. In fact, the most memorable shapes and images of the fair did not spring from technology so much as from observation of forms that are timeless.

There has not been another New York World's Fair. The closest thing to it in recent times might be Walt Disney's Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. EPCOT is indeed a continual world's fair... but it is not a community (experimental or otherwise), no one LIVES there! Though various pavilions show unfulfilled wonders and extol the power of human imagination (I love the character: 'Figment' who stars in one such show), there is no place in the design of EPCOT for living.

Disney himself wanted to build the community of tomorrow. After his death his organization crafted the fair. Still, the vision persisted and Disney created Celebration, indeed a new community that people could actually live in. Interestingly enough, the town was patterned on 'New Urbanist' ideas rather than those of Twentieth Century designers like James Rouse, who built Columbia, Maryland in the decade following the World's Fair. New Urbanism promises tighter-knit neighborhoods more inspired by Nineteenth Century cities.

The verdict is still out on Celebration. Some residents express frustration over the control the Disney organization maintains over the town. There are the usual frustrations with such things as the school and community services. This was to be expected, however. Real differences and real problems will inevitably occur when you populate a real community with real people. Some of the brilliant exhibits Disney created for the 1964-1965 fair still exist, and you can see them in Disney World. The last time I visited Disney World, a sign announced that the popular exhibit: "It's a Small World" was closed for repairs.

Perhaps it is a fitting metaphor. The world itself is a far different place from the world that seemed to be the promise of the fair. Old-fashioned hostilities have replaced the beautiful legislative process that seemed to be the promise in those many nations represented at the fair fifty years ago.

Sycamore and Ice, Mint Spring Park near Crozet, Virginia.
Photo by Bob Kirchman

The Power of Inspiration
(under fire)

When twelve people died last week in the attacks on satirical magazine: Charlie Hebdo, the world's journalistic community was moved to bring the world together. Free Speech was under assault. Thousands were inspired to converge on Paris (as they should) in opposition to the violence. In Northern Nigeria, near lake Chad, Boko Haram has destroyed villages and killed thousands. The world is not so greatly moved to outrage. Nigeria's homegrown Sunni terrorist group gets away with murder. Six months ago the group kidnapped 276 girls from a school in Chibok. Most of the girls were Christian. 219 of them are still missing. Hundreds more children are missing as well. Christianity Today estimates that over 1600 Christians have died at the hands of the terrorists. [2.] The number is likely far higher.

Boko Haram is an extremist Islamic organization, which in 1992, expressed its desire, along with the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), to make all of Nigeria a Muslim state. (Nigeria is a member of OIC). Over 90 percent of buildings destroyed by Boko Haram are Christian churches according to Christianity Today. "The Church is strong and vibrant," the magazine reports. Recent attacks in Baga, Near the border with Chad, left 2000 dead. Many more lives have been disrupted. In the Congo, sadly, similar events are taking place. Here is a letter, received around Christmas time from Bishop Unda Yemba Gabriel in that nation:

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

As I write these few lines, my heart is too heavy because of the situation going on in Beni territory, northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is part of my Episcopal Area. The efforts of our army (are) insufficient to protect people.

People there are killed every day in the neighboring villages and we run the risk of losing all our believers. Two weeks ago, a group of Uganda rebels killed people in the villages (of) Kamango, Oicha and Mbawu. A Methodist family (a father, his wife and their two children) were killed with machetes.

Many people are fleeing to Beni. Our local congregations there are crowded with displaced people who flee from villages for their lives. We need your prayers. But, as you know, food and basic needs must be met. Our evangelization should reach people in need.

I am sending this SOS message to all those who may want to help.

May G-d be with us all during Christmas, but let’s keep in mind that our brothers and sisters are dying somewhere because of selfish interests.

Bishop Unda Yemba Gabriel
Resident Bishop, East Congo Episcopal Area [3.]

There will be no 'great big beautiful tomorrow' for these brothers and sisters in Africa provided by technology or Western-styled Constitutions. They hope in the G-d who holds tomorrow... and that is the inspiration that sustains them!

A Winter's day on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Photo by Bob Kirchman

The 'Carousel of Progress'

Walt Disney himself designed this exhibit for General Electric.

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