Wednesday, October 29, 2014

THYME Magazine: Special Senate Race Edition

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XVIII

Time to Awaken a Sleeping Giant

Looking at the percentage of eligible voters who actually vote, and even the percentage of REGISTERED voters who actually vote, one thing stands clear; I believe that if we could motivate substantial participation in the Great Valley of Virginia, we could overcome rampant voter fraud and the "Northern Virginia" blue vote. In the last few elections, we watched the results come in and saw a fairly representative victory for more Conservative candidates... until Northern Virginia precincts reported. They always came in last and suddenly skewed the results to the left. Most Virginians were left without representation!

Another thing to remember is that even though some of us really want to see more candidates like Shak Hill and Jamie Radtke, we dare not sit out any election at this point. We dare not remain unrepresented in the times we cannot support our 'ideal' candidates. The Left knows our tendency to 'sit out' elections and have advanced their agenda through our apathy! Yes, we have every reason to be frustrated at the treatment given a candidate like Mike Farris in the past by the party establishment. Here Jamie Radtke Talks About Cantor's Defeat [click to view]. Now is NOT the time to step back from the process. Now is the time to honestly address the business of representing the people! We can achieve that goal!

Restoring Senate Representation

We must elect Ed Gillespie to the United States Senate; here's why. Most Virginians are NOT represented by the two Senators presently in office. Though many of us trekked to his office and made phone calls, pleas to Senator Mark Warner to vote against OBAMACARE fell on deaf ears. I went there with a large group opposed to this terribly bungled legislation. We were herded into a conference room and lectured by staffers on why we "had to pass it." We can ill-afford the effects of this poorly crafted legislation in our current fragile economy. We need leadership, not men who blindly follow the President. Please consider the following statements by Mr. Gillespie himself. I'm sure you will find him a welcome alternative to the present one-party representation in our Senate. Mark Warner [click to read] has been the subject of previous THYME pieces, so we will not discuss his positions at length here. Mr Gillespie helped to craft the Contract with America in 1994, which was instrumental in the election of a Republican majority to Congress for the first time in forty years.

Ed Gillespie Has a Plan for Jobs and the Economy

"By moving us away from our Constitutional principles of limited government and personal liberty, President Obama, Harry Reid and Mark Warner have enacted policies that have killed jobs, reduced take-home pay, and increased health care and energy costs. We can do better.

Conservative, pro-growth policies promoting lower taxes, less government spending, and ending excessive regulation create jobs, raise take-home pay, and reduce health care and energy costs by unleashing private investment and allowing working Americans rather than political appointees in Washington to make decisions about the best way to allocate their resources. Americans want and deserve intelligent policies to promote job creation, expand opportunities for recent high school and college graduates, and make career advancement a reality again for the many Virginians who have found themselves trapped in a weak economy.

The Obama-Reid-Warner economic policies are not only destroying jobs; they are undermining the American work ethic. There is not just economic value in labor, there is human dignity in work. We must enable more people to have that dignity. If elected I will promote a pro-growth economic agenda to create good-paying jobs for families, foster upward mobility, help those currently employed to keep more of what they earn, and enable people to lift themselves out of poverty.

Too many Virginians are living paycheck-to-paycheck—if they’re fortunate enough to have a paycheck. The U.S. labor force participation rate is at its lowest level in more than three decades, hovering somewhere around 63%. The Congressional Budget Office reported in February that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will mean millions fewer in the fulltime workforce. More people will be working only part-time and we will see the equivalent of 2.3 million fewer jobs over the next decade (nearly 64,000 in Virginia alone).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 92 million people are out of the labor force entirely, and 7 million Americans are working two or more jobs to make ends meet. That’s wrong, and policymakers must make a top priority of solving this problem, which I would do as our senator."

Priorities for All Levels of Education


Every child deserves a high quality education, and I believe parents should be empowered to make the educational choices that are in their children’s best interests. Opportunity is enhanced by competition and choice, which is why I support public schools, charter schools, private and parochial schools, magnet schools, and home schooling. All Virginia children should have an opportunity to receive a world-class education, and no child should be forced to remain in a failing or unsafe school by the constraints of his or her zip code. That is why I support school choice programs that help ensure that all families have access to meaningful and accountable educational options.

Education policies and curriculum are state and local prerogatives. Virginia is rightly among a handful of states that have not adopted Common Core standards. We know that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work, and I will always support efforts to empower students, families and teachers, not political appointees at the Department of Education, to make these important educational decisions.

Higher Education

A. Virginia boasts some of the best public colleges and universities in the nation, and a strong system of community colleges, but for many Virginians, college tuition remains out of reach. There is work to do in making higher education more accessible and affordable. Higher education is an economic engine for the Commonwealth. The business community has documented the value of higher education through the “Grow By Degrees” effort, estimating that one dollar of investment produces over seventeen dollars in increased GDP and returns more than a dollar in new tax revenue to the Commonwealth.

I support the empowerment of higher education students by increasing transparency of higher education programs with information on earnings of graduates, by institution and degree, to be readily available to all potential students as they make choices to pursue their studies. Working Virginians require the resources to tailor their skills to the changes of a dynamic economy. That is why I applaud Virginia’s efforts to turn our community colleges into engines of workforce development, and why I will support intelligent workforce investment policies in the Senate, like those embodied in the SKILLS Act. There is no better program of social welfare than a good-paying job, so I will advance policies to help Virginians, and all Americans, develop the skills and expertise they need to compete in a global economy."

Supporting Basic Tenets of the Bill of Rights

"As Virginia’s senator, I will oppose efforts to infringe upon our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, which is an individual right. I would not vote in favor of treaties that would cede firearm regulation to international bodies like the United Nations, in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Senator Warner voted against the Senate rejection of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, which could undermine our Second Amendment rights and infringe on U.S. sovereignty. I would have voted for the amendment."

Repeal and Replacement of OBAMACARE, a Priority

"Virginians are concerned about having access to quality, affordable health care—and they know that Obamacare is making things worse. Everywhere I go, I hear from Virginians who face skyrocketing insurance premiums and stand to lose the coverage they like and the doctors they trust. We understand that Obamacare is not the solution, and that the problem with it is a lot more than just “a failed website launch.” It is harmful legislation that must be replaced with policies that make insurance more affordable, let us keep our doctors and insurance, and allows businesses to grow and hire.

Virginians know that a quality health care system empowers doctors and patients, not politicians and political appointees. We know that the way to reform health care isn’t to kill jobs, reduce wages, deny us our choice of doctors and cancel health care plans that Virginians like, cut $700 billion from Medicare, impose new taxes, and increase our deficit.

Sadly, Obamacare would not be the law today if Senator Warner had voted in the interests of Virginians instead of with his party line. As Virginia’s Senator, I would vote to replace Obamacare with policies that put patients first, provide more affordable options, and do not include a mandate. We need health care reform that works—and that means repealing Obamacare and replacing it with market-based reforms that take health care decisions out of the hands of political appointees.

We also need to focus on ways to keep Virginians healthy, not just treat them when they are sick. As Senator I will focus on medical innovations and finding cures for diseases, reforms that will produce more jobs, and keep America first in health care research. In the course of our campaign, I’ll outline policies in line with these principles."

A Plan to Spur Domestic Energy Production

"With the right policies, Virginia can be the East Coast’s energy leader, creating high-paying jobs here in the Commonwealth, bringing down costs for home heating in the Winter and prices at the gas pump in the Summer, and helping to move our nation closer to energy independence. We need a Senator who shares that vision and will support the growth of a vibrant, responsible energy sector.

Virginia’s energy sector directly employs more than 30,000 workers and indirectly supports as many as 200,000 jobs, making it a crucial component of our economy. With our natural resources, geographic location, and port access, Virginia can and should be a more integral part of America’s energy supply. From clean coal to wind energy to offshore oil and natural gas, Virginia is blessed with abundant natural resources, but efforts to develop these resources are often thwarted by an overreaching Federal Government.

I believe in an energy approach that embraces both traditional and alternative energy resources. I support oil and natural gas production—including responsible deep sea drilling off our coast—because we can protect our environment while ensuring access to the domestic energy resources we need to create new jobs, lower prices at the pump, and keep utility bills affordable.

As Senator, I’ll fight to protect coal jobs, because I understand how important coal is both to our economy right here in Virginia and to our nation’s energy independence, and I’ll stand up to the EPA’s failed policies that are driving up energy costs and imposing unnecessary regulatory burdens on our homes and businesses. Protecting public health and safety does not require duplicative regulations, needlessly complex and costly compliance requirements, or bureaucratic inefficiency. We need to make use of our abundant natural resources to create jobs and lower energy costs for Virginians. I will work to give Virginia the opportunity to lead on American energy independence.

Unfortunately, Mark Warner has voted in lockstep with the Obama Administration’s war on coal. He stood with Barbara Boxer and John Kerry when they released the Senate version of Cap and Trade in 2009, and has said, “The most significant thing we can do is send the market signal that either directly through a carbon tax or indirectly through cap and trade, we are going to put a price on carbon.”

Last year, Mark Warner voted against creating a 60-vote point of order against any budget resolution that includes a tax or fee on carbon emissions. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, a carbon tax could cost up to 21,000 jobs in Virginia. Five Senate Democrats broke ranks to protect their constituents from these job-killing policies—but Mark Warner toed the party line.

Mark Warner voted against an amendment that would have moved the Keystone pipeline project forward over President Obama’s opposition, and the amendment was defeated. He later backed a “non-binding resolution” supporting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in an effort to cover his tracks on the binding amendment. When it mattered, he voted against the Keystone pipeline, and when it didn’t matter he voted for it. That’s political posturing, not real leadership. I will work to get the Keystone XL pipeline approved.

As Senator, I’ll not just focus on developing energy resources, I’ll also work to remove the federal red-tape that slows down the development of energy infrastructure and limits the development of our energy sector and the creation of jobs. Energy projects, like building new pipelines and refineries, are a critical link between production and lower prices for consumers. Unfortunately, Senator Warner and President Obama, have shown no leadership in removing the barriers to job-creating, cost-reducing, energy infrastructure projects."

A Pro-Life Voice for Virginia's Citizens

"I am pro-life, and believe we should foster a culture that respects human life. This means that as a civil society, we must respect and protect the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn, the sick, those with disabilities, and the elderly.

I would oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, and believe it was a mistake to abandon the explicit prohibition in federal law against it, as Mark Warner voted to do with Obamacare.

I understand that women facing an unplanned pregnancy need compassion and support, not judgment or condemnation. I support education and health care to help women avoid unplanned pregnancies, and believe we must offer life-affirming alternatives to women facing difficult decisions, ensuring that they have the opportunity to choose life. I support adoption and believe that government should help both women and children by making it easier, more affordable, and more accessible for both newborns and those in foster care."

A Firm Supporter of a Balanced Budget Amendment

"Mark Warner once endorsed a Balanced Budget Amendment, but when he had a chance to vote for one in the Senate, he voted against it. As your Senator, I will not only support a Balanced Budget Amendment, I will introduce one. I will make it a priority to reduce wasteful, inefficient, and duplicative federal government spending.

At a time when millions of Americans have been forced to make due with less, it is an outrage that government continues to spend taxpayer dollars in such a reckless manner—particularly when profligate government spending is at the root of our economic problems. Deficit spending on the part of government sucks money out of the productive sector, impedes growth, and is a drag on our economy.

Raising taxes on American families and businesses that are already too high would only impede economic growth and make the problem worse. We do not have deficits because taxes aren’t high enough, we have deficits because Federal spending is out of control and our economy is not creating enough jobs. I promise my fellow Virginians I will fight and vote against any efforts to increase marginal income tax rates on individuals and businesses, and oppose any net reduction or elimination of tax deductions and credits unless they are matched by equal reductions in tax rates. Growing our economy and getting spending under control are the keys to resolving our burgeoning federal debt, not further adding to the tax burden on American families and businesses.

Mark Warner has voted to increase taxes by nearly $1 Trillion, and to increase our debt by $7 Trillion. An $18 trillion debt is simply unacceptable, and we cannot afford the consequences of continued inaction. We’re saddling our children with debt to pay for promises made in the past, and new promises President Obama and Mark Warner made in Obamacare.

It’s time we stop spending money we just don’t have."

Secure the Borders, Reform Our Visa System

"I am proud to be the son of an immigrant. My father came to this country through Ellis Island from Ireland as a boy, because his father found work as a janitor. I appreciate the opportunities provided to my father — and by extension to me and my children — by the greatest country ever to grace the face of the earth.

When it comes to immigration reform, I believe we have not only a right but a responsibility to secure our borders. We must also enforce our existing laws. The steps we take to secure our borders would not only enable us to keep out those we don’t want coming into our country illegally, but to allow in legally those we want to welcome here.

An estimated 40% of those in our country illegally now have overstayed their visas, so we clearly need to reform our visa system. If this were a private sector problem, it would have been fixed by now, and our Federal Government needs to fix it. I also believe we can improve the E-Verify program to help employers be sure that anyone they hire is a citizen or a legal resident.

While steps like these would help stop illegal immigration going forward, they do not address the 10-12 million people here illegally now. I do not support amnesty, and oppose granting citizenship to them, which would be unfair to those who have come here legally and played by the rules. And I don’t believe we should give one of the greatest privileges in the world—American citizenship—to those who are here by virtue of having broken our laws.

At the same time, I do not believe that our nation will implement the mass deportation of 10-12 million people, so we need to come to terms with those who are here illegally now. It would be in the interest of both American citizens and those here illegally to be able to come forward and, after a series of processes (i.e., criminal background checks, payment of back taxes, assimilation, demonstration of self sufficiency), be issued new visas to be here legally." [1.]

Jimmy Stewart's classic film: Mr.Smith Goes to Washington.

Everyone Should See This Film

This Classic Tale [click to watch] of a man of integrity who finds himself in the United States Senate, and who ultimately has to fight for that integrity, is one that we would do well to heed today!

“Capra was able to make this film so good because he both believed in the American ideal, and understood how easily it could be co-opted and undermined by the unscrupulous and the greedy. America, he's telling us, should be celebrated because it’s the kind of country that can produce a Jefferson Smith; but at the same time, we must always be on our guard, because it’s also capable of destroying one.” -- Gina Dalfonzo [2.]

Jimmy Stewart as Senator Smith visiting the Lincoln Memorial.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

THYME Magazine: The Voice of C. S. Lewis

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XVIIa

BBC Talks Encouraged Nation

A war-weary nation was once greatly encouraged by the BBC addresses of C. S. Lewis. These talks would later become the basis for his apologetic: Mere Christianity.I found an audio book version of this classic and was impressed at how the work flowed as it was read aloud. There is only one small fragment of BBC audio remaining of C. S. Lewis speaking and here it is presented for your enjoyment!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

THYME Magazine: "Elites and Intellectuals"

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XVII

The Vacuum at the Top

There was a time when the "elite" truly seemed to be better than most people. For example, Leonardo da Vinci was an architect, cartographer, engineer, painter, sculptor, writer and legendary inventor among other things. Socrates was a superb stonecutter, soldier, politician and philosopher. Galileo studied medicine, mathematics, physics and has been referred to as "the father of modern science." For much of human history even the lesser "elites" from noble families had a tremendous advantage over the average man in a time when an education was hard to come by and their wealth and position in society provided them with opportunities to acquire skills that the general populace couldn't." writes John Hawkins. In an article entitled: Elites Are No Longer Elite [click to read], Hawkins explores the reason this is so. Essentially, Hawkins says that there are no more Renaissance men and women, as people tend to become highly proficient in one area of expertise while remaining woefully ignorant of the world outside of their area of expertise. That was not always so.

There was a time when brilliant people like Claudius Crozet and Isambard Kingdom Brunel needed to know a broader range of knowledge in order to do the works they were able to accomplish. They needed to know more than engineering tables. They needed to understand commerce and markets. These men built railroads, but their work ultimately built communities as they provided avenues of commerce and prosperity. Crozet and Brunel seem far closer in stature to da Vinci than their modern counterparts. Hawkins continues: "Today, in a world where there is a nearly infinite supply of news sources, there are far fewer shared activities than there used to be; college educations are commonplace and people can become extraordinarily wealthy based on a terribly narrow skillset." Indeed, my own experience often included such exercises as drawing for architects who couldn't draw and sometimes in the presentation process, creating design for designers who couldn't. Indeed, I was sometimes amazed that by simply stepping back and taking in a larger picture, the resulting contribution to a work would be better than imagined.

The Académie des Beaux-Arts taught through the process of drawing. The advent of computer drafting led to a whole era of designers who's drawings, though they guided the mouse, where essentially drawn by someone else! The art once deemed so essential to design remains as a brief portion of the course, but it is no longer something a designer immerses oneself in every moment. One feels at times, watching the process, as if the designer is connecting lines and templates. The window manufacturer provides the cuts which are pasted into the drawing on screen. To be sure, the computer has opened up new vistas for the exploration of complex forms, but the buildings we live our everyday lives in do not require complex forms. Before the Second World War, in the early Twentieth Century, there existed a beautiful Classicism that made small houses noble. There was a sense of scale and proportion. There was a sense of shadow and texture. I learned much copying the styles of the renderers of those days.

On a far larger scale, Hawkins observes that our leaders often emerge having shown little or no expertise beyond their small sphere. Virginia boasts an 'elite' Senator who's 'expertise' consists of making a fortune by buying cell phone licenses. His good fortune in acquiring wealth is his credential. He does not know what it is like to struggle for years, paying your employee but not yourself to build a business. That might not be such an issue but for his stated derision of those who do: ""you’re going to see a coalition that has 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’s made up of the Christian Coalition, it’s made up of the right to lifers, it’s made up of the NRA, it’s made up of the homeschoolers, it’s made up of a whole coalition of people that have all sorts of different views that I think most of us in this room would find threatening to what it means to be an American." -- Mark Warner [1.]

There was a time when Beauty, Truth, Virtue and Nobleness were seen to spring from a Divine origin. The problem with Senator Warner's statement is that he summarily dismisses a whole group of people who embrace that. The Right to Life springs from the concept of IMAGO DEI, that belief that mankind is created in the Image of G-d. The Second Amendment acknowledges the belief that government serves the people and that power remains with the people. The ability to engage in self-defense is simply an expression of that greater principle. Homeschoolers simply acknowledge that the parent is the first one responsible for training up a child. They extend that responsibility in providing instruction in a broader body of knowledge than early language. Here Hawkins swerves into a greater truth. Modern relativism has rendered obsolete the concept that there is an ultimate source of Wisdom and Truth. The Academy, believing this, no longer teaches it.

Until recent times the Divine underpinning was foundational to learning. By its very nature it invited exploration of a broader world. Design had its inspiration in nature. Flawed human nature was continually challenged by a Divine benchmark. Relativism states that "all truths are equally valid," resulting in a diminished sense of the need to pursue absolute truth. Indeed, there is NO need to pursue absolute truth, for it doesn't exist in their thinking. This immediately serves to narrow one's experience. The celebration of 'Diversity' does NOT serve to broaden because it rails against the notion that there is an absolute. One steps up to the human experience like a consumer of a buffet, sampling interesting dishes but learning nothing about the creation of a meal! Indeed, Hawkins notes that one phenomenon inherent in this mindset is that now we have people who are famous simply for being famous. They need not present a resume of accomplishment. Hawkins cites the example of our President, who was elected despite the conspicuous absence of a resume of accomplishment.

As his election was sealed and his inauguration began, news anchors remarked: "We know VERY LITTLE about him!" A colleague of mine lamented the general lack of investigative journalism in our day, remarking that they must not have the resources for it. NO!, all you needed to do was READ HIS BOOK and you would come away with a strong sense of his Anticolonialist Socialist sentiments. But such is the Modern Age, that we can style the blank canvas of a Presidential candidate to be whatever we want him to be. Because many in our day are unfamiliar with true accomplishment, we fail to look for it!

That is why this publication has recently presented a series of stories of great accomplishment. Neil Armstrong and President Kennedy show us something of it. They showed us how to lift our eyes to the horizon. Kennedy, though a flawed man like most of us, did heroic things in the Pacific War and wrote a book called Profiles in Courage. I read it in Middle School... not as an assignment, mind you, but because it sat on Dad's voluminous bookshelves. Those people assigned to find counterfeit money do not spend a lot of time studying counterfeit money. Instead, they study real money in GREAT DETAIL. By doing so they develop a sense for what the true currency looks like. Even when presented with a very skillful counterfeit they can "feel" it. That is why THYME Magazine has become, if you will, Profiles in Faith! Indeed, there is a real vacuum of true stories of accomplishment that, if we knew them, would inspire us to set our vision higher.

Da Vinci was in fact the illegitimate son of a peasant woman. Nobles in Eighteenth Century England were often useless "idle rich," yet there is a greater nobility that is recurring in the human experience. The First Earl of Mansfield, William Murray, might never have understood fully the depravity of slavery without the presence of his great-niece, Dido Elizabeth Belle in his life! She was an illegitimate child of a slave but because of her father's love, she was accorded the status of a noblewoman. Like Esther of old, she became in a way a representative for the humanity of her people. George Gist was derided by his neighbors, but he created a language for his people. Such is the true nobility that a free society is able to nurture in its people. America has been such an incubator for human brilliance for over two centuries! Those who would cast her aside in the pursuit of their Socialist solutions would do well to reconsider!

The Magician's Twin
C. S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism

C. S. Lewis explores the modern tendency to elevate science to the status of religion.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

THYME Magazine: A Story in a Painting

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XVI

Belle, A Story in a Painting

The Eighteenth Century painting is intriguing! Its subjects appear to be an English noblewoman and a mysterious princess. But this is not some flight of fantasy, the women depicted are actually cousins who lived together at Kenwood House under the care of William Murray, First Earl of Mansfield. Dido Elizabeth Belle, the woman on the left, was the daughter of Captain John Lindsay, Murray's nephew, who fathered the girl when he was stationed in the West Indies. Lindsay was knighted and promoted to Admiral and left his daughter in the care of Murray in 1765. The daughter of a slave woman, she was nonetheless brought up as a free gentlewoman along with William's niece, Elizabeth Murray who is depicted on the right.

When my wife and I watched the movie Belle, which is the story of Dido and William Murray, the painting seemed familiar. It was a bit later that it came to me that that was an image my Art History professor had had on one of her slides. I've often asked fellow artists if they enjoyed Art History? They often reply that they did not, seeing it as a torturous process of memorization. They did not have the privilege of studying under Penny Griffith. She was an adjunct professor who obviously loved her material. She told us what to memorize for the test and then proceeded to weave spellbinding lectures about the story found in the art! Francisco Goya came alive as we learned his keen observations of Spanish nobility and his depiction of the darkness of war and the darkness of the human soul!

Yet the painting by Johann Zoffany, executed in 1779, remained a mystery. Perhaps it was a bit of romanticism as noblewomen might enjoy, but it would be years later that I would learn the amazing history contained in that canvas. It is the story of how Belle's relationship with William Murray led to significant advances in the fight against slavery. Belle's mother was a slave, but Belle, living at Kenmore, was accorded all the rights of a free person, including a sizable inheritance! Her great-uncle, acting in his capacity as Lord Chief Justice, made two significant rulings on the issue.

In 1772 Murray, the Earl of Mansfield, was called upon to rule in the case of an escaped slave who's owner wanted to take him back to the West Indies for sale. The Chief Justice called the slave to court. This action let it be known that the court considered him a person! Murray declared in his ruling: "The state of slavery is of such a nature, that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political; but only positive law, which preserves its force long after the reasons, occasion, and time itself from whence it was created, is erased from memory: it's so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it but positive law. Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from a decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England."

The effect of this ruling was the recognition that English common law did not support the institution of slavery. Years before William Wilberforce campaigned to end the institution in the legislature; Murray, in his capacity as Chief Justice ruled that the institution had no basis in English law. In another case, that of the Zong massacre of 1781, he again dealt the institution of slavery a solid blow. The ship Zong, dangerously overcrowded when she left Africa with her human cargo, 442 souls in all, saw an epidemic break out among them. The slavers decided to throw one third of the slaves overboard. They then presented a claim to their insurers, arguing that they did not have enough water and needed to do so. The insurance company refused to pay.

The captain had reasoned that rather than have the slaves get sick on board and be rendered worthless, he would kill them and collect the insurance money. He would then argue that the slaves sacrificed for others when there was not enough water. It was proved beyond doubt that water was adequately available, making clear the dark intent of the slave ship captain! The UK Daily Mail writes: "Insurance was Lord Mansfield’s speciality, and he concluded that the insurers were not liable. The breathtaking brutality of the murders and the fact that drowned human beings could be reduced to an insurance claim brought home the urgency of abolishing the slave trade."

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

THYME Magazine: Neil Armstrong Interview II

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XV

"We Choose to Go to the Moon..."

Last week we presented a rare Interview with Neil Armstrong [click to view]. If you have not had a chance to watch it in its entirety, please do so. It is a refreshing look at the fulfillment of great human aspiration from the perspective of the very humble man who did it! Alex Malley is refreshing in his open style of interview and he allows Neil Armstrong to be seen as the man he is. There is no drive to sensationalize or twist the story, rather one sees how Armstrong rose from a little boy who was uneasy with the concept of death to a man capable of taking great risks in a well reasoned manner. That was a quality he would need in his journey to the moon.

Alex Malley converses with Commander Neil Armstrong.

Indeed, his story is one to remember, but he is not the first brave man who did not appear so in our first glimpse of him. The morning of my birthday I found myself reading from the Book of Judges in my daily reading. The story was that of Gideon. When we first meet him in Judges chapter 6 he is threshing grain while hiding in a winepress. Normally grain was threshed on a hill in the open so the chaff will blow away, but Gideon fears the Midionites, who raid the land and steal the grain. Hence, he is hiding in the winepress.

An angel of the Lord appears to him saying: "The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour."

Gideon's answer is anything but valorous, he replies: "Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites."

And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?

And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.

And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.

And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.

Gideon might have been the 'least in his father's house.' He indeed asked for a lot of confirmation but then he boldly stepped out and trusted G-d, who did mighty things through him. He went on to win a decisive victory over the Midianites with just 300 men! The time Gideon lived in was one of great despair for the people, as the Midianites had robbed and disheartened them. At times like that (and times like our own),we often find ourselves crying out for extraordinary leaders.We forget that extraordinary things are often done by very ordinary men and women in the face of extraordinary challenges.

Listening to Armstrong, one is struck by his humility and matter-of-fact description of the incredible events he participated in. He does not like to talk about himself and though he is a man of high accomplishment, he is reluctant to take any more of his share of the credit for it. I am incredibly blessed to know young men and women cast in the same mold who live in our times. What will the Divine accomplish through their lives, I ask? I think of President John F. Kennedy's setting the bar: "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too." [1.] The challenge before us in our times is great indeed!

I step out of the tent and gaze up at the stars. In my lifetime I saw mankind reach for them. My father was an engineer with NASA in its golden age and he developed a device known as the Launch Phase Simulator. [2.] Framed in the trees in the night sky I see the constellation Orion. That was one of the first ones my father taught me to recognize... the mighty hunter with his dagger and his distinctive belt! Generations must have been inspired by the sight before me this night! I think of the young people I have been priviledged to work with. I have seen them grow into people capable of being used to change the world (for the better), and I am humbled to think that I might have somehow been used to influence their lives. And so I plead; we NEED to leave them a country that challenges them as those before us were challenged... to dare and do great things!

Man's First Act on the Moon:

Buzz Aldrin describes, in his own words, the first act of men visiting another world, to honor G-d: “In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the Scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.’ I had intended to read my communion passage back to earth, but at the last minute [they] had requested that I not do this. NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle with Madelyn Murray O’Hare, the celebrated opponent of religion, over the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis while orbiting the moon at Christmas. I agreed reluctantly. …I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility. It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”

Eric Metaxas writes: "And of course, it’s interesting to think that some of the first words spoken on the moon were the words of Jesus Christ, who made the Earth and the moon — and Who, in the immortal words of Dante, is Himself the “Love that moves the Sun and other stars.” [3.]

Next Week in THYME:
A Story in a Painting

Meet Belle, her real life story is the story behind an intriguing Eighteenth Century Painting. It has recently been made into a fascinating movie and tells the story of how her family's love for her compelled them to stand against the beast within; the human depravity that would enslave and destroy her people!