Saturday, November 29, 2014

THYME Magazine Special Advent Edition

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XXIII

The Forgotten Season

The turkey leftovers were still cooling when the much media hyped 'Black Friday' events began. In a Long Island Wal Mart, a young associate was trampled to death as bargain hunters literally broke down the doors. A young man had to die because twenty dollars could be saved on flatscreens. Managers closed the store and someone actually was irate that he couldn't get in. Come on, if a colleague has died, its 'Game Over' on the shopping frenzy. Close the store and try to help the poor man's significant others. To hell with reopening for the remainder of the day! Management reopened the store at one o'clock that afternoon. Satirical publication 'The Onion' came out with a story where thousands were 'reported' to have died in Black Friday shopping. I did not find it funny. One death to satisfy the greed gods is too many. Our prayers go out to the family and friends of this young man. May they find comfort.

Lost in the madness of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and yes, even Small Business Saturday is the wonderful celebration of Advent. The high churches still celebrate it. It is a time of waiting and preparation for the miracle to come. It is so un-modern! It ties us to history. The traditions of Judaism are full of waiting. Abraham and Sarah saw the child of promise when they were way past the age of child bearing. I sometimes think of one-hundred year old Sarah as a preschool parent and join her in her laughter! Then there was Joseph and his imprisonment, followed by hundreds of years of exile in Egypt. We often think about the Promised Land, but we forget that all Promised Lands seem to require a prep!

In fact, there came a time when people forgot the lessons of the brick kilns and lost the Promised Land to the Babylonians and the Persians. The Temple, center of worship, was destroyed. But it was in this time of living as expats that the community of the Synagogue strengthened the people anew. Ezra and Nehemiah presided over a return to the land of promise. Again, the promise required a prep. As the exiles built the prosperity of Persia, they prepared themselves for the time when they would build their own.

A second Temple was built. The exiles returned. Then came the great empires of the Greeks and the Romans. The Temple was rebuilt, but the heavy hand of Roman rule presided over a time of trouble. Many looked to the future Messiah to put things aright. Indeed, there were many who claimed to BE Messiah. They came and went. But in a time when Heaven seemed so distant, there came another child of promise... to a couple way past child bearing. John the Baptist, a "Voice crying in the wilderness," came saying: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." At the same season of history, his mother Elizabeth's cousin Mary came to visit.

Mary had been visited by an angel and told that she, a virgin, would bear the child of promise. Though this was an incredible blessing, she faced the prospect of unwed motherhood... in a culture that stoned you for it. Her betrothed, however, had also been given a message from Heaven, that he should take her for his wife. What incredible faith and love! When I chose my Confirmation name, as a boy, I took the name Joseph. It was not that I ever thought I could match such selfless love, but that I so admired it! Even to this day, some of the people I admire the most are those men who have stepped into the lives of children they did not physically father, and yet have earned the name Dad nonetheless! These men live as both an example and a challenge to me. Some of them are my juniors in years, but they far surpass in their maturity!

Such are the lessons we miss if we merely content ourselves with instant gratification. There is an old saying: "Rome wasn't built in a day." Indeed our own nation cast off from its sure position as an English colony to pursue an uncertain future. In 1812 England returned to burn the young country's capital. The White House is so called because its sandstone outer walls had to be painted after the burning left them permanently blackened. By the middle of the Nineteenth Century, however, Isambard Kingdom Brunel was building great ships to strengthen Bristol's trade with America. A hundred years after barely surviving her revolution, the nation we know had taken her place as a world power.

Why Advent is Important to Artists [click to read]

We do well to celebrate Advent, though it is largely forgotten in the popular narrative, because it causes us to pause and prepare. In a world where preparation is limited to four years it does us good to remember the lessons of centuries. Advent allows us to step back from our busy lives and ponder timeless truths... like the man that the Bethlehem baby grew to be. He too died, some say on a Friday, but his death was not just his own. Did He indeed carry the sins of the world? The account of His Resurrection causes us to ponder mysteries far greater than ourselves and our puny wants. In our next issue of THYME we will ponder more wonders and present some compelling evidence that we should indeed consider the life of this man. (to be continued)

Photos Around Staunton

Snow highlights this house in Staunton, Virginia, designed by noted architect T. J. Collins. Photo by Bob Kirchman

The firm of T. J. Collins also designed The Church of the Good Shepherd which was built in 1924. The sanctuary originally had oil lamps. Photo by Bob Kirchman

Isn't this a great message! When I saw this, I smiled back!  
Photo by Bob Kirchman

Paul Smith's Typewriter Art

A man with severe cerebral palsy creates amazing compositions on a typewriter!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

THYME Magazine: Special Thanksgiving Issue

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XXII

Thanksgiving is Good for You

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” -- Psalm 100:4-5 NIV

The 'other' Weekly News Magazine [click to read] once featured the story: "Why ANXIETY is Good for You." We at THYME see this one a bit differently. In the Bible, Philippians 4:6 exhorts us NOT to be anxious. Rather we are to view our needs in light of our relationship to a loving G-d. Indeed, our requests are presented in light of the gratitude we feel as we consider the goodness and provision to be found in the Divine.

Fitting thoughts as we celebrate the feast of Thanksgiving. These are indeed anxious times, and it is easy to become overwhelmed by the general angst of the period we live in. History tells us of Divine promise and fulfillment. The Patriarchs piled up stones to remind them of G-d's faithfulness in the past and to keep them faithful as they waited to see His faithfulness in their present lives.

And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaister them with plaister: And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee." -- Deuteronomy 27:2-3
Indeed, one must recount the stories of how G-d met needs in times past. One must also tell of the promises of G-d. Faith needs fuel, and Gratitude is the substance that makes our faith burn bright, even in the darkest of times.

Standing on the Promises [1.]

Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
through eternal ages let his praises ring;
glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
standing on the promises of G-d.
Standing, standing,
standing on the promises of Christ my Savior;
standing, standing,
I'm standing on the promises of G-d.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
by the living Word of G-d I shall prevail,
standing on the promises of G-d.

3. Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
bound to him eternally by love's strong cord,
overcoming daily with the Spirit's sword,
standing on the promises of G-d.

4. Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
listening every moment to the Spirit's call,
resting in my Savior as my all in all,
standing on the promises of G-d.

The staff of THYME wish you a most blessed Thanksgiving!

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 notable. Far more crops were planted and tended. There was plenty instead of shortage and all in response to this new sense of ownership.

Church Found where 
Pocohantas was Married

Her eyes meet yours as you enter the Virginia Executive Mansion. A young girl from days long ago, yet her presence in the foyer immediately captured my attention. There are two portraits of Pocahontas in the room, one in English clothing (below) and the more familiar rendering seen above.

Pocahontas's formal names were Matoaka (or Matoika) and Amonute. Pocahontas is a childhood name that perhaps referred to her playful nature. After her marriage to John Rolfe, she was known as Rebecca Rolfe.

Archeologists say that they have Discovered the Church [click to read] where Pocahontas married Jamestown planter John Rolfe.

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." -- Kristina Elaine Riley Photo Graphic by Kristina Elaine Riley

View Larger Image [click to view].

Saturday, November 22, 2014

THYME Magazine: The Vision of Charles Carroll

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XXIa

The Vision of Charles Carroll

July 4, 1828 the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence took part in an important ceremony as he turned the first spade of earth at the symbolic laying of the first stone of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Fifty-two years after he put his name to the document that began our nation, Charles Carroll of Carrollton participated in an event that looked to her future. Indeed, inspired by the Ellicott Brothers [click to read], Carroll had already diversified agriculture on his large estate in Howard County, Maryland. He had helped build flour mills and limestone mills that in turn helped to create a more sustainable agriculture. The Quaker Ellicotts had migrated to this "picturesque wilderness" from Bucks County, Pennsylvania and partnered with Carroll, a Catholic, to move the region away from single crop plantations and enrich the soil with ground limestone, a practice that continues to this day. Now the ninety year old patriot was breaking ground for the prototype railroad. It was not exactly like the modern rails on cross ties we are familiar with, but rather iron straps laid on top of two continuous granite "curbs." The first motive power was horsepower. Horses actually pulled the carriages along the rails. A wind powered wicker car was even experimented with before the famous "Tom Thumb" steam engine gave challenge to a horse drawn train carriage in the now legendary race. [2.]

I consider this among the most important acts of my life, second only to my signing the Declaration of Independence, if even it be second to that.” Carroll said of the moment. The stone, laid in a field outside Baltimore, was also a time capsule, into which were placed a copy of the company's charter, newspapers of the day and a scroll bearing the words: "This Stone is deposited in commemoration of the commencement of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. A work of deep and vital interest to the American people. Its accomplishment will confer the most important benefits upon this nation, by facilitating its commerce, diffusing and extending its social intercourse, and perpetuating the happy Union of these, Confederated States. The first general meeting of the citizens of Baltimore to confer upon the adoption of proper measures for undertaking this magnificent work, was on the second day of' February 1827…” [1.]

The railroad would eventually do all of these things as a vast nation would be joined together by her steel rails. The Nineteenth Century would see her span from sea to sea to become a country her founders could scarcely have imagined!

Charles Carroll had been born in September 1737 in Annapolis. He attended Jesuit colleges in Maryland and France, before going on to study law in Paris and London. In 1765 he returned to Howard County and took charge of the Carroll family's vast estate there. Catholics in Maryland before independence were not allowed to participate in politics, practice law or vote, but Carroll became influential as a writer of tracts against taxation without representation under the pseudonym "First Citizen." In 1776 he was appointed to the Continental Congress. Although he was not present for the vote for independence, he was one of the first signers. He added the distinct identifier: "of Carrollton" to distinguish himself from a number of relatives having the same name. After independence was won, Carroll became a Maryland State Senator in 1777 and eventually became a United States Senator representing that state.

In 1800 he left political service and was instrumental in building canals and the establishment of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company. His farm in Howard County became a model of improvements in agriculture. He died in Baltimore in 1835 at the age of 95.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

THYME Magazine: Essential Knowledge III

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XXI

Essential  Knowledge III

Does the human condition indeed require Faith to sustain it? I write from that perspective in this essay, but there are those who would disagree. Indeed there is fresh argument to the effect that human compassion  can (and indeed DOES) exist apart from Faith. Leaving the Sciences vs science arguements of the past, a new study from the University of California, Berkley, suggests that Compassion Moves the Non-Religious [click to read] more than the people of Faith. A closer look would not necessarily discredit the compassion of the faithful, but identify the top motivator in the life of a person who's life is not characterized by Faith.

"Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not," explained Robb Willer, co-author of the study and UC Berkeley social psychologist. "The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns." -- Laura Saslow, Researcher

Saslow goes on to say that it is more likely that the person of Faith will cite Religious teaching as the reason for his or her actions. The person who professes NO belief will indeed cite compassion by default. Atheists often cite the observed lack or compassion they see in religious people as one reason they chose not to believe. For me the study has deeper implications. I remember Bertrand Russell's wrestling with the meaning of life:

That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair can the soul’s habitation be safely built. -- Bertrand Russell (from A Free Man's Worship, 1903)

In despair, one still reaches out to find an anchor. A soul adrift still seeks safe harbor. Conscience still leads us to the safe waters of compassion... even as we dismiss it as a simple evolution necessary for the survival of the species, that anchor becomes MORE important because we find nothing else to tie our rope to. The first irony implicit in the role of despair is that for many of us this was the point where we began our discipleship IN the Faith. Though those who want to deny Faith will undoubtedly reference obscure similarities to now extinct ancient religions to obfuscate the beacon that I follow, I humbly offer that compassion finds its roots in some very clearly marked repositories. Winston Churchill said it best: "There is no better hope than Christ's principles in the Sermon on the Mount!" Wallace Henley [click to read] writes:

"Everyone on the planet has a worldview. Those who understand reality through a biblical view know transformation is the fundamental issue. "Where do wars come from?" asks James, rhetorically. They come from our lusts and passions. We desire power and possessions, and we enter conflicts to satisfy those perceived needs.

Biblically formed thinkers are the ultimate realists. While many in the world try to find other explanations for "irrational" human behavior whether in the form of nations or individuals, those who embrace the Bible's worldview know the bottom line: "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

Then follows the question: What worldview can really bring human transformation that benefits the rest of the world? Certainly not a belief system that advocates intimidation, manipulation, condemnation, and domination to force global allegiance.

Suddenly the Christ towers in our precarious moment: the Christ who taught us to love our enemies, to be harmless as doves but simultaneously wise as serpents, to lead as servants, the Christ who renews the human mind, and who gives us a whole new way of seeing and living."

Alvin Schmidt concurs with Henley. In his book: Under the Influence [click to read], Schmidt documents well the roots of much of what the world today calls "Compassion," in the revelation of the Divine. The Berkley study first referenced finds two reasons for action: compassion (usually for those one feels empathy with), and doctrine. What if pure doctrine expands compassion? Consider those early Christians who pulled discarded babies out of the Tiber River and cared for them. What about the Righteous Gentiles who risked their own lives to protect their Jewish Neighbors from the Holocaust?

In fact Jesus once asked: "Who is my neighbor?" in Luke chapter 10. The lesson he proceeded to teach did just that... EXPANDED the reach of compassion! Jesus was always embracing lepers and talking with people he wasn't supposed to... like WOMEN. In a world where the (self) righteous man would pray, thanking the Divine that he had not been born a Gentile, a Slave or a Woman, Jesus brought the message of promise to all three, as well as to the House of Israel. IMAGO DEI was a non-negotiable concept  for the carpenter from Gallilee.

A very sad story was seen in the Washington Post recently. It was about a 19th Century home for unwed mothers where the bodies of hundreds of discarded children had been buried. The story went on to explain the distain the surrounding community had for the "home babies." They mainly died from neglect. The picture of the building's exterior bore a chilling resemblance to a Müller home, but here the resemblance ends. Where Müller saw IMAGO DEI, the administrators of this facility saw only the children's unwantedness. Today the household of Faith extends compassion in ministry to unwed mothers and their unborn babies.

Expanding compassion might well take the same reporter who investigated this home to shudder at the case of Kermit Gosnell's abortion clinic in Pennsylvania. Where Gosnell saw only unwantedness, we are challenged to see IMAGO DEI! That is the challenge, and the destination we have arrived at... a personal challenge to expand the vision of compassion, directed by the Divine!

America's Foundational Values

Saturday, November 15, 2014

THYME Magazine: The Legacy of Caesar Rodney

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XXa

Caesar Rodney's Midnight Ride

Now one was neither Tory nor Whig; it was either dependence or independence.” Caesar Rodney, after Lexington and Concord.

We all know the famous story of Paul Revere's midnight ride. Virginians celebrate the memory of Jack Jouett, who rode to Monticello to warn Thomas Jefferson of approaching British troops.Jefferson and the Virginia Legislature were able to escape across the Blue Ridge Mountains to Staunton. Still, the most memorable midnight ride that saved the young republic has to be that of Caesar Rodney. Without Rodney's ride, there would not have been a republic at all.

Caesar Rodney was born in 1728 on his family's 800 acre farm, Byfield, on St. Jones Neck in East Dover Hundred, Kent County, Delaware. The family could trace its ancestry to the Adelmare family of Treviso, Italy. Caesar Rodney's farm was a large one, worked by slaves, and it provided wheat and barley to markets in Philadelphia. His brother Thomas described him as possessing a: "great fund of wit and humor of the pleasing kind, so that his conversation was always bright and strong and conducted by wisdom... He always lived a bachelor, was generally esteemed, and indeed very popular." Indeed, his talents found him taking his place in public service. He served as sheriff and in a number of other positions. He joined Thomas McKean as a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765 and was the Brigadier General of the Delaware Militia. He went on to serve in the Continental Congress.

Here is where he made his most courageous contribution to the cause of American independence. In 1776 the vote to adopt the Declaration saw the Delaware delegation deadlocked. This was a problem as the delegates to the convention had decided that an all or nothing approach was essential. Of Delaware's two present delegates Mckean favored independence. The other delegate, George Read, did not. Rodney, who was also qualified to vote, was at home performing his duties as General of the militia when the initial voting took place. Mckean had sent word to Rodney that his vote would be needed in Philadelphia... but the message never got to him. Rodney was a bachelor and his love interest at the time was being used by the Tories to divert his participation! She was intercepting the messages! By the time McKean's message finally got to Rodney, the first deadlocked vote had already taken place and it was well into the evening. Rodney mounted his horse and rode through a great thunderstorm along the muddy road to Philadelphia. Lightning illuminated the wet road as he sloshed along as rapidly as conditions would allow. For seventy miles he rode.

Rodney was not a well man. He suffered from a rare form of cancer that disfigured his face and sapped his strength. No doubt he knew the ride could kill him, but he pressed on. He was committed to an act of treason that might lead to his death if he did survive. But he pressed on through the darkness. He reached Philadelphia by mid-morning. Spattered with mud, he stepped into the chamber just in time to cast his historic vote. Now the votes by all colonies who actually voted was unanimous! The framers rightly considered this essential to the success of the Declaration. Without Caesar Rodney's heroic ride, there would have not been a July 4th for us to celebrate! Rodney served in the war effort, even fighting alongside George Washington, who said of him: “The readiness with which you took to the field at the period most critical to our affairs, the industry you used in bringing out the militia of the Delaware State and the alertness observed by you in forwarding on the troops from Trenton, reflect the highest honor on your character and place your attachment to the cause in a most distinguished point of view.” As a young republic took its place in the world, Rodney continued to serve but his health was now rapidly declining. He died in 1784. [1.]

His legacy lives on today though. My friend Brandy Leigh Messick and her four sons are proud descendents of this great patriot and continue his mission to promote the values of this great nation to this day! Special thanks to her for providing additional background for this article.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

THYME Magazine: Essential Knowledge II

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XX

Essential Knowledge II

Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man:

And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your G-d into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel:

That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?

Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.

And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the Lord spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.

And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day. -- Joshua 4:5-9

The importance of passing foundational truth from generation to generation is seen not only in the prescribed feasts, but in the history of the people of Israel as well. Add to that the fact that most young people were taught their trade by their parents and you see a pattern that only recent centuries have diverted from. One of my relatives opined recently that we, the Church, do youth ministry wrong. "We create a separate space designed to woo them with 'their' music and amusement." Consider that last word for a minute: A-muse! It could be translated: "without thinking." Are we trying to entertain our children into the Church rather than inviting them into the Sacred Wonders? Last week we saw Maggie transformed as she learned the old hymns. The unique fellowship she found did acknowledge her world, but expanded upon it. Maggie found herself enriched by the depth of Sam's circle of friends.

Young people need to know that the sacred things are theirs as well. They are not the "Church of the Future," they are a part of what G-d is doing now. They need to participate in our worship and ministry now. I love it when young people are able to help take up the offering, sing special music and even share there testimonies in the midst of the congregation. Our culture offers so much AMUSEMENT. In fact, if we major in offering amusement to our youth, they will graduate from the Church as they graduate from high school... and will seek out better AMUSEMENT. But consider for a moment the church full of older Mennonites we looked at last week. They did not offer amusement; instead they offered extended family and that was what the youth in their neighborhood longed for.

It is a well documented phenomenon that young men join gangs because they need family. Their initiation cements a bond with others that is otherwise lacking in their culture. Drugs and violence simply are an extension of this identification with their new brethren. How sad that this exists as such a counterfeit of what is available in the house of Faith! Yet it is obvious that the Church does not seem to do too well at creating such family. Some ignore it all together, but it seems that many churches simply create a program. They may fail miserably in this, or have horrible experiences, concluding that such ministry is not for them. Conversely, they may create a dynamic program that attracts large numbers (at least for a time) and go on to write the book on how they do it better. But there is, perhaps, a better way.

The elderly congregation we looked at last week started with earnest prayer. When G-d seemed to be speaking to them they listened. Then they looked to see what G-d might be doing in their own neighborhoods. When they saw Divine appointments they responded, having prepared themselves with prayer and an understanding of those they sought to minister to. They watched G-d build relationships and the ministry flowed out of that. It was such a work of the Divine that they couldn't write a 'how to' manual. (They COULD, of course, share much information on some of the practical aspects such as maintaining safety and trust).

(to be continued).

Heaven: Message by Billy Graham

Saturday, November 8, 2014

THYME Magazine: The 2014 Election

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XIXa

The 2014 Election, What It Means

What follows, to be honest, is an open letter to all in public office, and the media as well. The people have indeed spoken. At first glance it may be noted that Republicans now hold the majority in both the Senate and the House. On further examination it becomes clear that Conservative energy has come into play and indeed there has been a sound repudiation of the policies of Barack Hussein Obama. Now that real Americans have seen what is in the bill that according to Nancy Pelosi, "We have to pass to see what's in it," they are rightly concerned. Real people are seeing premiums for health insurance going up and losing their coverage due to the "Affordable Care Act," and they went to the polls.

In Virginia, the race was close. Without a Libertarian candidate who took 53,000 votes, we likely would be celebrating the installation of Senator Gillespie. The Washington Post writes: "Exit polls provide powerful evidence he attracted enough Republican protest votes to swing the election for Democratic Sen. Mark Warner. The Libertarian’s 53,000 voters mostly came from younger voters, particularly white males, unhappy with President Obama’s leadership. They generally leaned independent. Very few (almost none, in fact) were Democrats. But a good chunk did label themselves Republicans." [1.] 

Here there should be powerful evidence that the third party protest vote inevitably becomes a vote for the Democrat Party. Here we must marvel at a party that can hold the vote of both young Gender Feminists and Multiculturalists promoting Shariah Law! (a REAL War on Women). A party who claims to represent the middle class because they are strongly supported by the unions, yet blocks projects like the Keystone Pipeline and offshore energy exploration in Virginia... projects that would create REAL middle class prosperity. Aided by a fawning media, they successfully spin their stories of the so-called "War on Women," while their economic policies actually create more poverty for REAL working single women! With an honest media it is likely that there would be a Democrat protest vote to cancel out the Republican one.

Media, YOU are the big losers in this election. Americans are getting information from other places and more and more of them are concerned with REAL issues, not the made-up ones. Americans want fiscal responsibility and limited government. They want REAL solutions to the rising cost of medical care, but not concentration of power at the Federal level. They want REAL economic prosperity and the opportunity of our country for their children. Americans may prefer to mingle with people of their own background but they LOVE the truth of E PLURIBUS UNUM... Out of Many, One! Thus more and more of them are rejecting the tired old race politics of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. America has long provided opportunity for the minority and the newly-arrived legal immigrant.

We value our Religious Freedom. We value are freedom to speak our mind and we value the essential message of the Second Amendment: Government is NOT the ultimate power, but is only given power by the consent of the people. I wonder how many sixties activists have actually given thought to how the Founders were there first when it came to the thought: "Power to the People?" We do NOT "hate" our gay neighbors, but see no need to be compelled to perform wedding ceremonies for them or bake their wedding cakes if it indeed violates our conscience. Many of us are concerned about the killing of millions of unborn babies by abortion. We are not "Anti-woman" for supporting the right of unborn women to live! For many of us, "In G-d We Trust" is more than a motto, it is the way we live. We resent the marginalization of Faith because someone "might be offended." We think it is actually quite silly to go around trying to remove references to the Divine, especially if you are convinced He doesn't exist!

We humbly ask you in political office and in the media to simply do your job, and honestly represent us!

Mia Love, the first black Republican woman in Congress. Here's what Mia Love said in her victory speech: "President Obama's version of America is a divided one -- pitting us against each other based on our income level, gender, and social status. His policies have failed!"

Tim Scott, the first elected black senator from the South since reconstruction.

Promoting HEALING: Clergy United in Ferguson, Missouri.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

THYME Magazine: Essential Knowledge I

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XIX

Essential Knowledge

Never before in history have we been surrounded by more information. Never before have we wanted so severely for essential knowledge!

It is easy and simplistic to lament the replacement of  "old" communications technology with new. In a way that misses the real point. Yes, I can use a search engine to find just about any published fact I want to know. Yes I can search for and look at thousands of news stories. Still a friend of mine lamented that real investigative journalism is sorely lacking these days. Very little 'reporting' gets very far beneath the surface. "There's not the money for it;" he opined. We are likely to hear over and over again what a handful of 'experts' think happened to a missing Malaysian airliner while no one bothers to lay out the background of the situation in Ukrania. In fact, on election night in 2008, we hear reporters celebrate the election of 'their' candidate, Obama, and almost in the same breath they admit: "We know very little about him.!"

There is no excuse for that. Bill Ayers helped him write a book and if you really wanted to understand the man who would be President, all you had to do was read it. Read in the context of who his parents and mentors were, it would tell you exactly what anti-colonial principles drove him. Vetting a Presidential candidate, even one who did NOT have an average American childhood, going instead to a Muslim school in Indonesia, is not rocket science. [1.]

But even more disturbing than the inability to investigate a candidate is the inability to pass along to our next generation the foundational truths our society and our great nation were built on.

I watched a little movie this past weekend that nicely packaged a bit of very important truth in an unlikely medium. It spoke of how the Divine is able to speak into a life through a simple interaction between two human beings. The movie, The Letter Writer shows how one person can speak the truth of Imago Dei into the life of another.

The Letter Writer (2011) puts essential knowledge in a new perspective using a most traditional medium.

Lessons from The Letter Writer

I use modern technology for a lot of my communications. This is no Luddite rant against it. The printing press was once new technology and it put the Bible in the hands of the people. I can read the Holy Scriptures on my Iphone now. I also communicate with family using it. FaceTime with my granddaughter is a great blessing. Facebook helps me pray for those close to me. Smugmug is the family photo album we can all share. Yet, when my young friend and colleague and her fiancee graduated from college recently, I felt a REAL card was in order. Clicking the 'LIKE' button does lack the personal touch that paper and ink provide.

This is the wonderful discovery that Maggie Fuller makes as she receives a mysterious letter from someone she does not know. Tracking down the source brings Maggie into a wonderful journey discovering how her life can serve as a beacon to others. The young singer tracks down the letter writer and finds an unlikely community of mentorship in love and servanthood. Her Epiphany comes about as she joins her new friends in singing Henry Alford's famous hymn: Come Ye Thankful People, Come [click to read more]. The story speaks of how truth and values can and should be passed from one generation to another. Unrealistic? A lot of secular critics dismissed the film and its message, but think of how Jewish culture places the transferal of great truth in the context of the Passover Meal. Think of the Redemptive message of the celebration of the Eucharist.

Walking with my little granddaughter on the tree shaded campus of the nearby college, I find myself humming the tune of Come Ye Thankful People, Come. She smiles as I show her squirrels and bright flowers. Is the message of the movie really so unrealistic? Our Pastor shared with us the story of a little church in our denomination (Mennonite) that prayed for a vision of what G-d might do through them... not a program that THEY would do, but the true seeking of an opportunity to allow G-d to work through them. Through much prayer they felt drawn to minister to the youth of their community. There was a problem, however, as the YOUNGEST member of the congregation was in her sixties!

They shared the vision with their Pastor and continued to pray. There was NO WAY this congregation was ever going to pull off the youth coffee house type of outreach or anything of the kind! But a funny thing happened. The older people, now with enlarged vision for the young people in their neighborhoods, found themselves building relationships where once they might have been saying: "Keep off my grass!" Kids started conversing with older neighbors. Gradually they ventured onto the front porch. Eventually they were enjoying warm cookies and milk in the kitchen. These kids didn't need another youth-centered event, they needed some FAMILY!... and that is just what the church was able to give them.

(to be continued)

Monday, November 3, 2014

THYME Magazine: The Lincoln Memorial

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VIII, Issue XVIIIa

Inspiration: The Lincoln Memorial

Frank Capra's film: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington [click to view] includes some very powerful and moving scenes shot at the Lincoln Memorial. Here are presented some of my own photos taken one morning at the memorial which are reminiscent of and inspired by Capra's keen eye.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
(19 NOVEMBER 1863)

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate-we can not consecrate-we can not hallow-this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us-that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion-that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain-that this nation, under G-d, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.