Friday, November 30, 2012

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume IV, Issue L

The Most Important Man in the Middle East

This week Egypt's Mohamed Morsi Isa El-Ayyat is named the Most Important Man [click to read] by the 'other' weekly news magazine.While we agree, he's important, we still think Binyamin Netanyahu, Bashar Hafez al-Assad and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are at least equally important. The region's unrest has indeed spanned centuries. Resolving the intertwined conflicts and conflicting interests in the area will require the participation of all her leaders.

THYME looks at the history of the region and concludes that, for people of Faith at least, there is the distinct possibility of someone more important. As Christians prepare to celebrate Advent, their hearts contemplate the life of a simple man who walked this land... simple, and yet bringing to mankind a conundrum of epic proportions. Was he but a simple rabbi with a profound message, or something more?

We sing 'Joy to the World' [click to read] at Christmas time, often missing the implications of a hymn that is actually about the Second Coming of Christ, an event seen in prophecy where G-d's Messiah will establish His Kingdom forever.

"Joy to the World , the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King;

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." -- Isaiah 9:6-7

"No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found."

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations." -- Isaiah 61:1-4

Messiah or Madman? The Problem of Prophecy

When Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1-2, and said: "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing," He caused quite a stir among his contemporaries. When he claimed the role of G-d's Messiah, he was no longer a simple teacher. Was he a fraud, a deluded man or worse?... or was He indeed who he claimed to be?

"Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." -- Isaiah 53:1-5

Indeed,  prophecy anticipates this rejection, His death and resurrection and defines it as part of His mission.

"Jesus said, ‘The Father and I are one.” Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?" "We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God." Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are gods'? If he called them 'gods,' to whom the word of God came--and the Scripture cannot be broken-- what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'? Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father." Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp." --  John 10:30-39

C. S. Lewis' Trilemma: Who is this Man?

"Then comes the real shock. Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was G-d. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of G-d, or one with G-d: there would he nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of G-d. G-d, in their language, meant the Being outside the world, who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that. you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.

One part of the claim tends to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to. I mean the claim to forgive sins: any sins. Now unless the speaker is G-d, this is really so preposterous as to be comic. We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my toes and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men’s toes and stealing other men’s money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offences. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivalled by any other character in history. Yet (and this is the strange, significant thing) even His enemies, when they read the Gospels, do not usually get the impression of silliness and conceit. Still less do unprejudiced readers. Christ says that He is ‘humble and meek’ and we believe Him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of His sayings.

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be G-d.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of G-d: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and G-d. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

-- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins: 2001) 51-52.

C. S. Lewis was a skeptic and an Oxford scholar. His honest scholarship led him to conclude that Christ is indeed who He says He is. Josh McDowell, a journalist, also set out to disprove the Gospel message. Instead, he ended up writing a book called Evidence that Demands a Verdict. In it he lays out a compelling case for Jesus the Christ.

Here is a challenge as we enter the Christmas season; we should familiarize ourselves with the message of Messiah and prove it for ourselves. Our culture conspires to distract us from such simple contemplation, but the rewards are great for those willing to make the effort.


Monday, November 26, 2012

The Story of 'Joy to the World'

A Beloved Hymn Written in Celebration of Advent

Graphic by Kristina Elaine Greer, who writes: "I overlaid the entire picture from photos I took of the music in the most recent United Methodist Hymnal. I simply clipped out the music part and compiled them together then cut and pasted them to the template and changed the opacity."

A Short History of 'Joy to the World'
by Kristina Elaine Greer

Most people think of the wonderful hymn, “Joy to the World,” as Christmas Hymn proclaiming the joy of Christ’s birth, but there is a different history behind this marvelous song. The original words to “Joy to the World” by English hymn writer Isaac Watts were based on Psalm 98 in the Bible. According to Wikipedia “the song was first published in 1719 in Watts' collection; The Psalms of David: Imitated in the language of the New Testament, and applied to the Christian state and worship.” Isaac Watts originally wrote the words of "Joy to the World" as a hymn glorifying Christ's triumphant return stated in the book of revelation, instead of as a song celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. This song was meant more for Advent than Christmas and in some hymnals today you will find it in the holiday concordance of the hymnal under Advent instead of Christmas (which is correct). Interestingly, we only sing the second half of Watts' lyrics when we sing this beloved hymn. The music of this song was adapted and arranged to Watts' lyrics by Lowell Mason in 1839. The melody is said to have been from an older melody, which was then believed to have originated from Handel, partially because of the theme of the refrain (And heaven and nature sing...). This appears in the beloved orchestra opening and accompaniment of the “Comfort ye” from Handel's Messiah, the first four notes match the beginning of the choruses “Lift up your heads” and “Glory to G-d” from the same oratorio. Handel, however, did not compose the entire tune. In fact “Antioch” is the generally used name of the tune. As of the late 20th century, “Joy to the World” was the most-published Christmas hymn in North America. Today we still enjoy it during the holiday seasons of Advent and Christmas time no matter the history it reminds us to be joyful that we have a Savior, who came to earth as a baby, lived among us, died for us, was raised again victorious, and is our Lord who will come again in glorious acclamation. G-d bless you all during the Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany seasons!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunrise Over the Blue Ridge Mountains

A Brilliant Beginning to a Sunday Morning

The sunrise paints the morning clouds.

"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city." -- Hebrews 11:8-16

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Discovering Downtown Staunton

Today is a Good Day to Explore Small Shops & Sights

Laurie Gunderson, owner of Appalachian Piecework in the old train station, welcomes visitors to Staunton.

Ox-eye Vineyards' tasting room gets a fresh sign on the brickwork.

Oddfellows' Building
It is always fun to look for Christmas decorations in out of the ordinary places. Here is a wreath on Staunton's Oddfellows Building.

Staunton National Valley Bank
Staunton National Valley Bank.

Staunton National Valley Bank
Staunton National Valley Bank.

Today is Small Business Saturday [click to read]. My friend Lynn Mitchell says:

"Small businesses are critical to the nation’s overall economy. Over the past two decades, small businesses have generated 65% of net new jobs. Small businesses currently pay 44% of total U.S. private payroll."

Today, shop local.

Friday, November 23, 2012

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume IV, Issue XLIX

What to Feed Your Soul

The 'other' weekly news magazine this week features, just in time for Thanksgiving reading, What to Eat Now [click to read]. While not disparaging the discussion of good nutrition, THYME explores the satisfaction of a different sort of hunger.

On November 7th, many of us awoke to a gnawing inside that would not be satisfied by any meal. We saw ourselves losing our beloved country. It was an emptiness that could not be explained away. Steve Elliott of Grassfire offered this bit of wisdom from Jeremiah 29: 

Build! Plant! Bless! And Pray!


"Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon;
(After that Jeconiah the king, and the queen, and the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, and the carpenters, and the smiths, were departed from Jerusalem;)

By the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon) saying,

Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon;

Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them;

Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.

For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the Lord.

For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive." -- Jeremiah 29:1-14

Did you know that: "Jews make up 0.2 percent of the world population, but 54 percent of the world chess champions." -- David Brooks

I found an interesting article by Rabbi Nathan Lopez Cardozo in Jewish World Review. The Greatest Chess Game on Earth [click to read] shows how the people who followed Jeremiah's advice learned how, not only to survive, but to thrive in exile. After the destruction of the Temple, the development of small fellowships in Synagogues fed the spiritual hunger of those who had been carried away. Central to this community were the Holy Scriptures. Rabbi Lopez gives us a unique perspective on the Scripture. We should not see the constraints of Faith as restrictive. Rather, they are the structural rules which allow us to pursue great works, and in the process bless those around us.

The game of Chess, Cardozo writes, has strict rules. Yet, within these rules there are an unlimited amount of possibilities:

"He who knows all the rules is not automatically a good player. What makes him a great player is his ability to use these rules to unleash an outburst of creativity, which resides deep within him and emerges only because of the "unbearable" limitations. He then strikes! One small move forces everything to shift around, creating total upheaval and causing the opponent to panic as he never did before. And all this without ever violating one chess rule. This is mental torture. But it is also the height of beauty. It is the poetry of the game, like a melody is to music. Like one gentle brushstroke of Rembrandt on a colorful canvas, making everything look radically different, or like the genius musician playing her Stradivarius, re-creating the whole of Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5. It transports the chess player to heaven. His body must be in top form because his playing ability deteriorates when his body does. Body and mind are inseparable. An entire world of feelings, images, ideas, emotions and passions come to the forefront." -- Rabbi Cardozo

Rabbi Cardozo offers deep nourishment for the journey ahead, as well as unique insight into how to live in the light of Holy Scripture. I LOVE the implications of his final thoughts:

" Surely chess is just a game, while Halacha, if properly understood and lived, deals with real life, deep religiosity, moral dilemmas, emotions and intuitions far more significant in man's life than a chess game.

But the man who plays chess in real life as suggested by Halacha will realize that if he "plays" well he is on the track to drawing closer and closer to the King, until he is checkmated and, unlike in a chess game, falls into the arms of the King." -- Rabbi Cardozo

The woods I played in as a boy...

...still offer endless adventures.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lessons from Squanto for Today

The Man Who Taught the Pilgrims Offers Wisdom

Squanto teaching
In this 1911 illustration, Tisquantum teaches the settlers how to plant maize.

Here is an interesting ebook: Squanto's Garden [click to read] from Off the Grid News. Most of us know some snippets of Squanto's story... how he taught the settlers how to successfully cultivate the soil of their new home, but Bill Heid actually shares some practical gardening tips and garden layouts that Squanto might have shared with the Pilgrims. He also fills out Tisquantum's story, giving us insight into a man who's unusual life uniquely equipped him to teach others.

The Sun burns through a morning mist on Thanksgiving Eve.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Jackie Evancho Sings "To Believe"

Eleven Year-Old Vocalist Honors G-d with Her Talent

"...and we'll see in one another, the loving Image of You!"

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

Harvest Hymn Written in 1844 by Henry Alford

“Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” is a harvest hymn written in 1844 by Henry Alford. It is often sung to the tune “St. George's Windsor” by George Job Elvey. So I created this in light of Thanksgiving to remind us of what we should really be thankful for. Two of my photos are overlayed with the text of the hymn added." -- Laney Riley Photo Graphic by Laney Riley

View Larger Image [click to view].

The 'Common Course and Condition'

America's First Experiment with Socialism

When the Pilgrims first set up their economic system in Plymouth they opted for a system where all the results of their labor were held in common. All of the colonists then drew from the common store what they lived on. The Common Course and Condition, as this system was called, resulted in some bad feelings on the part of those who produced effectively and some lack of initiative on the part of those who were happy to have the food without the work.

The system produced constant shortages and a man who rose early and worked diligently came quite naturally to resent his neighbor who slept in and contributed less effort. Friction was high among the colonists and in 1623 Governor William Bradford declared the common course a failure.

The colonists were next assigned plots by families. Larger families were given larger plots. Everyone was responsible for the production of his own land and growing food for his own family. The results were noteable. Far more crops were planted and tended. There was plenty instead of shortage and all in response to this new sense of ownership.


A Native American's Amazing Story

" ... a special instrument sent by God for their good beyond their expectations ..." -- William Bradford

Today millions of Americans will dine on turkey and celebrate Thanksgiving. Most people will realize that it has some connection to the Pilgrims in Massachussetts, but the story of G-d's provision and the reason for the celebration seem to have faded in our collective memories.

The Pilgrims came to the New World for their kids. They were a Christian group who sought to live for G-d rather than be seduced by the culture around them. They lived in Holland for a while but they saw their children falling away from the faith.

So they moved. They sought passage on a ship bound for Virginia. The ship went off course and they landed in Massachussetts instead. They had a rough time of it their first winter and almost half of them died. Still, when offered the chance to return to Europe, they declined. Then one of the indigenous people walked into camp and spoke to them in English!

The man's name was Samoset, and he introduced the Pilgrims to Squanto, who taught the Pilgrims many things to help them survive in the new world. Squanto spoke even better English than Samoset. His story is amazing.

Squanto had first met Europeans around 1605 when Captain John Smith made his famous voyage. He travelled to England with him but when he returned to America he was captured into slavery and returned to Europe. Spanish monks bought his freedom and sent him to England where he found passage back to America. Sadly, his village was now gone, the people wiped out by disease. He found people nearby to live with but one day heard that a new group of people were living where his old village had stood. What's more, they spoke that funny new language that he had learned.

Samoset made the introduction and the rest, you might say, is history. Thanks to Squanto the Pilgrims survived and began to do quite well in the new world. Their relations with the Native people were quite good and their Thanksgiving was for the amazing provision they found in Squanto, of whom it was said:

" ... He desired honor, which he loved as his life and preferred before his peace ..."

Thanksgiving for Ingenuity

The Innovators Around Us are a Gift to be Grateful For

Möller Organ with Glass Pipes
This Möller Tracker organ was originally a practice organ at Bridgewater College. It was moved to a private residence by Xaver Wilhelmy who fashioned the unique glass trumpet pipes to compliment the original instrument. Mr Wilhelmy combines the beauty of sound with stunning visual design to create unique beauty in his work.

Michelle Malkin has These Thoughts [click to read] on the seeds of inventiveness.

"Liberty, not "government vision," yields innovation. For this priceless insight bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers, Americans should give eternal thanks."

Thanksgiving Past

Spanish Monks, a Man Named Squanto and Their Story

He was a hard man who dwelled alone in the forest. In his buckskin clothes the Native American man must have been an imposing sight. He walked toward the Pilgrim settlement and said "good morning" in fine proper English! Thus came Squanto into the Pilgrim story.

Squanto, the Patuxet Indian, who aided the struggling Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock thus paving the way for the first Thanksgiving in America, had at one time been captured and enslaved by English merchants. These merchants had taken Squanto to Malaga, Spain to sell him. In Malaga some local priests got wind of what was happening and stepped in to free Squanto, who would then spend the next four years of his life living in Southern Spain, learning about Christianity and the Spanish language.

After these years, Squanto spent seven years in England (also learning English) waiting for a ship to take him back to America, where he made his historic meeting with the Pilgrims, who were more than thankful (and quite surprised also) to find an Indian fluent in English and familiar with European customs.

When Squanto finally returned to these shores he found that his people were no more. Disease had killed everyone in his village. Squanto lived alone in the woods until one day a man from another tribe told him of some new people living in his old village. The new people turned out to be the Pilgrims, who had fared badly through their first Winter. About half of them had died.

Squanto must have found great empathy for the settlers and he taught them how to improve their farming. He showed them how to make corn grow better by planting the seed with a bit of fish to fertilize it. He helped the Pilgrims and the local Native people interact and thus facilitated the first Thanksgiving that they shared.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Hymns Project Framed Prints

"How Great Thou Art" and "This is My Father's World"



The Hymns Project: "How Great Thou Art" and "This is My Father's World," set of three framed 11" x 17" images. Paintings by B. Riley, Kristina Elaine Riley and Bob Kirchman, Photography by Bob Kirchman and NASA image manipulation and rendering overlay by Bob Kirchman.

The set of images is now available through The Kirchman Studio [click to read].

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume IV, Issue XLVIII

The Benghazi Affair -- Epic Fail?, or the Unthinkable?

The 'other' weekly news magazine this week features: The Petraeus Affair [click to read]. The great general's moral failings may have indeed compromised national security, but we were reminded in the greater scheme of things of a similar incident that is recorded in the Bible... another great general, another great David's descent into scandal, the subsequent cover-up... and the murder of Uriah.

What is chilling to realize is that on top of the original adultry, David adds a cover-up and eventually a murder. The method of his murder has chilling implications when one thinks of the recent events in Benghazi.

2 Samuel 11:15 tells the story: "And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die. And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were. And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab: and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah the Hittite died also."

While we hesitate to assign a motive, and hope for a complete investigation, one has to wonder about a situation where an American ambassador is underprotected in an area where the enemy operates unhindered. Forget the sex scandal for a moment, Americans appear to have been deliberately left in harm's way when help could have been provided them. That is why we reference the story of Uriah.

We have evidence that a drone was overhead feeding live video of the attack to the situation room. An order was given to stand down. Someone deliberately refused assets to Americans under attack. Ignoring the orders, two American SEALS, located a mile away, assessed the danger and drove to the compound to assist. Their efforts saved thirty people, but they fought on for seven hours without aid coming.

 Ty Woods and Glen Doherty fought heroically, but died in the battle. At one point Woods was able to 'paint' a target, a point where the enemy fire was coming from, with a laser. This gave his position away, but would have enabled our forces to eliminate the threat. Help never came though.

In ordering his men to fall back from Uriah, David broke trust with an army that had once sent men through enemy lines to bring him back a drink of water! Such was their love and devotion to him. It is this broken trust, and the subsequent woes of Judah, that might instruct us today. Why was help not forthcoming in Benghazi? Why did Susan Rice and others promulgate the mythical 'video riot' story long after the truth was known?

It is reasonable to question Rice's impending promotion to direct the State Department. It is reasonable to want answers... answers that lead us to the cold hard truth. Our nation cries out for a Nathan today. The prophet Nathan came to David and laid out the truth. Can we as a nation rise to promote honor in our time?


Monday, November 12, 2012

A Musical Taste of Saint Petersburg

Friday Concert at Christ Lutheran Church, Staunton

St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg. State Department Photo.

Friday, November 16 - 7:00 P.M. at Christ Lutheran Church in Staunton, VA.
St. Petersburg Men's Ensemble (Russia)

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

Friday, November 9, 2012

We've Got a Lot of Work to Do

Finding New Life after Waterloo...

Volume IV, Issue XLVII

True Greatness Rises From Defeat, Let's Get Started

Claudius Crozet was Napoleon's Engineer who was charged with planning the Battle of Waterloo. Waterloo would become a name synonymous with humiliating defeat. Indeed, Crozet left France for the New World feeling the shame of failure. He probably wanted to go away and hide himself from the world for a while. As a Bonapart Loyalist, his future was not bright in France.

With a letter of recommendation from the Marquis de Lafayette in hand, Crozet took a professorship at West Point. Far from his birthplace in Villefranche–sur–Saone. The year was 1816.

His travels brought him to the American frontier in Virginia where he served as the state's engineer, taught at VMI and eventually built the Central Virginia Railroad, an engineering feat in its day because it linked the wild inaccessible Western reaches of the state to her rivers and coastal cities. The Blue Ridge Tunnel, built by Crozet and 2000 Irish laborers, was completed in 1856 and remained in active service until 1944.

In the Nineteenth Century Irish immigrants were coming to America in droves as famine had decimated their country and killed thousands of their countrymen. Facing a hopeless situation with courage, these immigrants found new opportunity building the infrastructure of a growing nation.

On the morning of November seventh I could identify with Crozet and a host of others who have tasted defeat. I felt we had failed to communicate our ideals and our ideas. I wanted to disappear into the woods for a long time. Our generation had failed to pass the torch. America is in decline. I felt, somehow, personally responsible.

But then it ocurred to me that much of humanity's progress has come on the heels of times of great turmoil and darkness. The Nation of Israel was reborn in the Twentieth Century after an ill-conceived attempt to wipe out the Jewish people. Golden ages have always followed periods of great trial. History is full of examples.

We must see our dark times through the eyes of Faith, and work to find opportunity in the chaos. Those of us who look to "a better Kingdom" as Believers in G-d must seek opportunity to build that Kingdom as we strive on Earth. The future is still unseen, but here are some thoughts on the directions that we might follow.

We can still work to promote energy independence in the United States. We must resist Cap-and-trade schemes and come forward to promote true responsible production within our borders. We can still work to make our land prosper, one fight at a time. We can call out statements like that of Energy Secretary Cho, when he suggested we needed higher energy costs. In doing so we can still create jobs and financial strength for our country. We can demand financial accountability in Washington, and in 'off-year' elections, take advantage of the opportunity for serious patriots to make our voices heard.

We can stand up to assaults on Religious Liberty and Personal Freedom, one battle at a time, like David Green of Hobby Lobby. Again this will take hard work and persistence. Ultimate victory will not be cheap or easy. We can band together to create alternative institutions, building on the tradition that allows the Amish to avoid Social Security taxes. Am I thinking too big here?, perhaps, but in times before us the Church built hospitals and schools and cared for the general welfare even as the state persecuted it. What would happen if all of us joined Medishare, an insurance alternative that has already received an exemption from the mandate? I think you can get the idea that there are many things we should do, and consider doing, rather than stand on the sidelines wringing our hands.

Finally, we can get off the internet and take our place in local government, working to make our localities and state governments sound. We can serve on Economic Development Boards. We can promote creative strategies to do business and protect private investment that creates wealth and jobs for our communities.

It will not be easy. Good things rarely are, and yet human progress stands squarely on the foundations of such blood, sweat, toil and tears. Rest assured there are foundations to be built. Battles to be won and people to hopefully influence. For the person who's hope is in the LORD, the end of such struggles is rooted in sure promise. In the words of the old hymn:

This is my Father's world
O let me n'ere forget,
that though the wrong
seems oft so strong,
G-d's still the Ruler yet

This is my Father's World
the battle is not done,
Jesus who died
will be satisfied,
when Earth and Heaven are One

Build! Plant! Bless! And Pray!

Monday, November 5, 2012

David Green, Founder of Hobby Lobby

Family Business Grew to Serve G-d's Kingdom First

David Green, Founder of Hobby Lobby.

A Milestone Monday Feature

Listen to the story of David Green [click to listen] on Voices of Oklahoma and you will hear the story of an American entreprenuer who sought to honor G-d in his entire life, both in business and personal affairs. As a youth he picked cotton and struggled in school. His first bright moment cae in the form of a program known as Distributive Education, where he was able to spend part of his day working in retail sales outside of the schoolroom.

Learning the basics of marketing, Green later began making miniature picture frames in his garage with a mitre cutter he bought for $600.00. He and his family continued to work their 'day jobs' while they built a small retail shop.

"From such humble beginnings and steady growth, Hobby Lobby is now considered a leader in the arts and crafts industry. Today, Hobby Lobby has 524 stores [click to read] across the nation that average 55,000 square feet in size, and offers more than 65,000 crafting and home decor products in its stores." -- Hobby Lobby Website

Recently Hobby Lobby made the news as the company sued to avoid having to comply with the Obamacare mandate, a matter of conscience and religious freedom for David Green, who writes:

"When my family and I started our company 40 years ago, we were working out of a garage on a $600 bank loan, assembling miniature picture frames. Our first retail store wasn't much bigger than most people's living rooms, but we had faith that we would succeed if we lived and worked according to God's word. From there, Hobby Lobby has become one of the nation's largest arts and crafts retailers, with more than 500 locations in 41 states. Our children grew up into fine business leaders, and today we run Hobby Lobby together, as a family. We're Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. I've always said that the first two goals of our business are (1) to run our business in harmony with God's laws, and (2) to focus on people more than money. And that's what we've tried to do.

We close early so our employees can see their families at night. We keep our stores closed on Sundays, one of the week's biggest shopping days, so that our workers and their families can enjoy a day of rest. We believe that it is by God's grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees. We've not only added jobs in a weak economy, we've raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start at 80% above minimum wage. But now, our government threatens to change all of that. A new government healthcare mandate says that our family business must provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance. Being Christians, we don't pay for drugs that might cause abortions. Which means that we don't cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the Biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one. If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million per day in government fines.

Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy. Our government threatens to fine a company that's raised wages four years running. Our government threatens to fine a family for running its business according to its beliefs. It's not right. I know people will say we ought to follow the rules; that it's the same for everybody. But that's not true. The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won't exempt them for reasons of religious belief. So, Hobby Lobby — and my family — are forced to make a choice. With great reluctance, we filed a lawsuit today, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking a federal court to stop this mandate before it hurts our business. We don't like to go running into court, but we no longer have a choice.

We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit. My family has lived the American dream. We want to continue growing our company and providing great jobs for thousands of employees, but the government is going to make that much more difficult. The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law. I say that's a choice no American — and no American business — should have to make."

Proofs of the illustrated hymns series, ready to frame. Painings by B. Riley, Laney Riley and Bob Kirchman.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Charles Lindbergh, Aviator and Innovator

25 Year-old Man Envisioned Transatlantic Flight

Charles Lindbergh.

Flying the mail one night, a young pilot concieved the amazing idea of flying across the Atlantic Ocean. Envisioning a day when Airpanes would regularly fly from continent to continent, he shared his vision with prominent St. Louis businessmen, who gave him financial backing.

Many doubted that he could do it, one aircraft company even offered to let him buy the plane, along with the services of their more experienced pilot, but Lindbergh and his backers stood firm.

The small Ryan Aircraft Company in San Diego, California offered to build his plane at a price Lindbergh's group could afford. Ryan's engineer, Don Hall worked with Lindbergh to modify one of their monoplane designs so that it would be able to carry enough fuel for the journey.

Lindbergh was able to draw around himself an amazing team, but he chose to fly alone. Taking off with the fully loaded Spirit of St. Louis, on May 20, 1927, he was glad to be able to make the decision without considering the safety of a crew. Gunning the engine, he pushed his plane down a muddy runway and, depending heavily on Hall's calculations, lifted the plane into the sky.

"About 7:40 A.M. the motor was started and at 7:52 I took off on the flight for Paris. The field was a little soft due to the rain during the night and the heavily loaded plane gathered speed very slowly. After passing the halfway mark, however, it was apparent that I would be able to clear the obstructions at the end. I passed over a tractor by about fifteen feet and a telephone line by about twenty, with a fair reserve of flying speed. I believe that the ship would have taken off from a hard field with at least five hundred pounds more weight. I turned slightly to the right to avoid some high trees on a hill directly ahead, but by the time I had gone a few hundred yards I had sufficient altitude to clear all obstructions and throttled the engine down to 1750 R.P.M. I took up a compass course at once and soon reached Long Island Sound where the Curtiss Oriole with its photographer, which had been escorting me, turned back."

For 33 1/2 hours, Charles Lindberg flew alone, from New York's Roosevelt Field to Paris' Le Bourget field. Technically, he forfeited his eligibility for the $25,000 Orteig Prize by taking off before officially sanctioned, but had he waited, other better financed teams would have likely made the trip before him.

On the evening of the 21st, Lindbergh landed in Paris and made history. His flight created great enthusiasm for aviation in this country. One young man's vision had ushered in the modern air age.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

THYME Magazine Election Edition

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume IV, Issue XLVI

The 'other' weekly news magazine presents a special report: The Choice [click to read]. We at THYME are flattered that they chose to copy our shaded cover border, but feel compelled to stress that this election is not so much a choice between two men, but a choice between two visions.

Today two competing ideologies are vying for the hearts and minds of the American people. Red America is based on the values of Faith and Freedom that are familiar to most of us. Blue America has a very different vision... one that most of us would not recognize. Here are some thoughts to help us recognize the two divergent visions.

We Must Strive for Civil Debate, but Not Compromise

"There are now two Americas. Not a rich one and a poor one; economic status plays little role in this division. There is a red one and a blue one." --Dennis Prager

Politicians of all persuasions express a desire to bring Americans together bound by a common vision for the common good. Dennis Prager Points Out the Fallicy of this Reasoning [click to read] in Jewish World Review. Really, it's time to admit that there are two different ideologies out there and they are in fierce competition for the heart and soul of the Nation. Without this basic understanding of the conflict it is impossible to understand why it must be debated. Indeed the political manifestation of this conflict is merely the tip of a cultural rift caused by very different world views.

Our founders looked to the order of Judeo-Christian principles as they framed a government based on a balance of tensions that would reign in human tendencies in order to create an orderly society. Individual liberties and individual responsibilities played a large part and government was purposely limited to avoid tyranny. Certain Truths were held to be self-evident. Man was seen as a special creation who bore the mark of his Creator, yet was fallen in nature--often acting along the lines of these baser inclinations. Thus government sought at once to reign the base and give liberty and expression to the higher aspirations of mankind.The secular humanism that has come to replace a sense of Divine order has given rise to a new paradigm where government, individual liberties and individual responsibilities are re-prioritized. Thus we no longer see the Divine stamp, Imagio Deo, on humanity. On one hand we have created arguments that if man is all there is [no G-d], then man's self-actualization is the main thing. A sense of greater purpose such as that that drove the American Revolution is impossible but we can grab for the highest experiences to justify ourselves. On the other hand, if man is the end of things, then what's so special. The extinction of some rare snail can be elevated above the plight of starving children in Africa. Indeed some radical environmental groups are making that exact argument.

The American left is actually a coalition of many of these often contradictory conclusions and yet they are strongly united in the desire to cast off the "old" constricting beliefs of our forefathers. That is why you will see those who promote the value of free speech in most areas suddenly veer into an irrational supression of religious speech in the public square. The state is now asked to take an even greater role in promoting the well-being of its citizens. The answer must for them be secular, not spiritual. If there is no higher authority it is left to us to pragmatically define and enforce 'virtue.' How else can you explain the fact that after Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac failed from reasons stemming from corruption in government oversight, the answer can only be more government oversight

The Left and Right See 'Freedoms' Differently

The ACLU was founded ninety years ago by Roger Baldwin. He was a socialist thinker who said things like: "America must follow the example of Stalin's Soviet Union where greater freedoms exist than anywhere else in the world". Wow, I never would have known from the history I read! Knowing America would never follow the path to 'social u[dys]topia because of her Judeo-Christian foundations, Baldwin set out to diminish the influence of Christianity in America.

For 80 years the ACLU has twisted the Constitution to exclude Christianity from the public square and the public discourse. That sense of mission is what drives the endless stream of lawsuits against prayer and Christian expression. That is why your kid's 'religious' message is excluded from the poster contest. That's why the school 'Winter Holiday' assembly is devoid of sacred traditional music. Thankfully there is the Alliance Defense Fund [click to read] which was founded to counter this destructive movement.

The Left and Right See Different Americas Altogether

First you have President Obama saying: "You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. … And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Or consider this quote from Senator Mark Warner: "One of the things you are going to see is a coalition that is just about completely taken over the Republican Party in this state and if they have their way it’s going to take over state government. It is made up of the Christian Coalition, but not just them. It is made up of the right-to-lifers, but not just them. It’s made up of the NRA, but not just them. It is made up of the home-schoolers, but not just them. It’s made up of a whole coalition of people that have all sorts of differing views that I think most of us in this room would find threatening to what it means to be an American."

What does Senator Warner mean: "threatening to what it means to be an American?" Dennis Prager [click to read] writes in his columns that there are two visions for America in competition. One is the vision passed down to us by our WWII parents, the other: a diminished America and an increased role of government, (in a secularized society), we might take a lesson from Nehemiah, chapter 4:

“But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?

Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall. Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity: And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders.

So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work. But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.

Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them. And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall. And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease. And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you. Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.

And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work.”

Indeed, those of us who are involving ourselves in this great work must not be distracted. The rebuilding needs to begin with prayer and revival. Our greatest woes are not economic. Yet that does not free us from the task of rebuilding our section.

That should not preclude civil debate, but there are times when, like Nehemiah, we must say to those who oppose us: “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” — Nehemiah 6:3.

2016, Obama's America
The Movie You Must See Before You Vote

Denesh D'Souza, shown here interviewing the President's brother George Obama, presents a scholarly explanation of who our President really is and who influences his policies.


The  Full-length Version [click to view] of the film may now be viewed on Netflix. You may view it with a Netflix account or at a theatre near you if at all possible. It is well worth the money and the artists who made it are deserving of our support. One viewer writes:

"I expected a movie that would be a "rant" about Obama. But, instead, it was a well-researched documentary from a man with a similar background who sees the world from a broader perspective than most Americans--much as Obama probably sees it having lived in Indonesia and have an African father.The movie explains the philosophical influence of Obama's father through interviews with friends of his father. It also delves into the mentors that Obama has in his youth. No doubt, the influence Obama has had on the U.S. reflects this view of a European country, which is essentially what America is, and how we interact with the rest of the world. The premise of the film is how America will change by 2016 during a second obama term based on the decisions he has made and his underlying philosophy that has become more apparent as he is in office. In effect, the military cuts, heavy indebtedness, philosophy outlined in speeches in foreign countries, dislike of Israel, etc. are considered from the world view of Obama's father and his mentors who were largely communist, socialist, far left ideologues or generally anti-American and anti-white. The film is well-researched and, while much of the information is available, has not been provided to the voters in America. Without a doubt, any voter should see this movie before the next presidential election before deciding how to case a ballot."