Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XI, Issue XIII

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation."
 -- Psalm 91

But now Israel was at war. The modern nation of Israel had been born in 1948. Almost immediately the nations surrounding her attacked on all fronts. Miraculously, the small nation the size of New Jersey had survived. Again, in 1967, Israel was attacked by her neighbors. That war ended with her in possession of Judea, Samaria and the Sinai! But now enemies like Iran threatened to fire warheads into Israel. Seeking to take advantage of world chaos, the nations again rose up against the small country.

Missiles were in the air, a young woman officer informed her 'guests' as she escorted them to an underground bunker. "The 'Iron Dome' has been activated, but this is a full attack. Iranian ICBMs are on their way as I speak." Fred and Charles were unable to speak, but followed their guide down a long hallway to a windowless room with bunks in it. Had the two travelers been allowed to see a map of troop positions, they would have seen a massing for invasion from Syria, Jordan and Sinai.

So this is what fear tastes like," thought Charles. Fred pulled out the Notes to Priscilla and Aquilla book and spent the time in the shelter by delving into it. Charles' derisive remarks did not phase him. Death was a very real possibility as this little bunker was no match for what was likely headed their way. Was Israel launching a counter-attack?, they wondered aloud, but their tight-lipped handler said nothing. Indeed there were intense shaking and rumblings that rocked the shelter. For over a day and night they stayed there.

And then it was over. Their guide knocked on their door and announced that it was safe to come out of the bunker. She introduced herself as 'Sarah,' and said: "Come see what the Divine has done!"

The bright light of the desert sun blinded them as they surfaced. They made their way to the dining hall as Sarah explained that the missiles launched at her country had been stopped! 'Iron Dome' is good, but not good enough, to explain the survival of our people this day! All of our major cities stand unscathed!, as if they were covered by the wings of the Almighty! I am not one who has lived in fear of the Lord, I must confess, but I have no other explanation for it!"

Our enemies have not fared so well, as we indeed launched the counter-attack I was not at liberty to tell you about. Their is, I fear, much death and destruction in the lands that surround us. This was necessary to deter what our commanders felt would be a wave of attacks and we are grieved by this development, you must know." Indeed the 2060 war was at least as miraculous at the others had been. But Sarah was only telling the part of the story she knew. As she spoke, a new wind from the East was pushing away the fallout.

(to be continued) [click to read]

Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved


Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XI, Issue XII

I will bless those who bless you, 
     and whoever curses you I will curse; 
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
 -- Genesis 12:3

Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him." -- Genesis 18:18

Fred devoured the news with great interest. One thing was clear in all of the reports, how ORDERLY the disappearance of MILLIONS of people had been. Though people piloting planes and driving buses had indeed been among the suddenly missing, it was amazing that there was always a statement like: "The bus just coasted to the side of the road," or the admission: "I wasn't supposed to fly that day, but I had to switch assignments at the last minute. All of the rest of the crew simply VANISHED!" Fred thought of his devout Mother, who possessed a whole series of novels about the 'Rapture' of the church. All of them had the disappearances create untold havoc. The striking fact about whatever this was was that there wasn't any widespread havoc. The pain of lost loved ones and leaving notes on public walls was heart wrenching enough. Perhaps the eerie quiet of the disappearances made it more so.

A number of world leaders were gone, including the Prime Minister of Israel. Reports came in that suggested whole regions in the extreme Northern Hemisphere were now uninhabited! The great bridge between continents had suffered the loss of most of its operating personnel and was closed to all but emergency travel. Fred and Charles noted that the world was now missing so many people just younger than them. There were no children... no babies. Was this, as the CNN commentators droned on, the work of space aliens, or was it Divine? Fred continued to ponder... but more and more, he was expressing his concerns to a Divine he had dismissed up to a few days ago.

If Faith was something you could be Inoculated against, Fred seemed to have been well protected by exposure to the dead form of the 'pathogen.' By the time he was given the choice of 'Christian' college or the military by his parents, he had pretty much aligned himself with those who could maintain an outward appearance while living as they wished. 'Christian' University provided plenty of companions with similar bents. You just had to remember to cover your breath.

Charles was cast in the same mold. He and Fred had met at Freshman orientation and had become fast friends. Joe arrived among them, somewhat disillusioned as he failed to live up to the 'perfection' he felt was expected of him. Inwardly he still wrestled with the tension between expectations and reality. When the three men sought adventure, he was the one who planned for contingencies. Though the other two chided him for his 'overthinking,' they were also quite happy to have his mature presence in their group. More than a few times, Joe's steady hand had kept them from disaster. Now the remaining two sorely missed him.

All three of the young men had found Israel to be wonderful. Israeli innovation was indeed fulfilling, it seemed, the prophecies given to Abraham. That is that through his posterity all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Israel was a bountiful and happy place to be, contrasting sharply with the unrest that surrounded her.

The Siberia Republic Pavilion.

(to be continued) [click to read]

Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved


Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XI, Issue XI

For me, reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning. Imagination, producing new metaphors or revivifying old, is not the cause of truth, but its condition.” -- C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

His friends called him "Digory," a reference to "the Professor" in C. S. Lewis' novels, for Joe Kirke was indeed prone to spend time in his books. His friends Fred and Charles found him to be a great asset in rounding out their crew for adventures... and the three young men LOVED adventures! Their latest was the "Five Continent Challenge,"where they would drive on every large continent of the world in one road trip! They had just forayed into Egypt across the Sinai and were making their way back as Joe was planning to join his older cousin Kate, Kate's husband, and her friends on a trip to the World's Fair in Alaska.

Kate had scolded him: "Don't be late!" as he Skyped her from Cairo. She was not so much worried about his resolve as the road-worthiness of the van the three companions had dubbed: "Evelyn," a reference to a movie they had seen were a girl joins a road trip to find her birth parents. In the movie, "Evelyn" finds herself mired in beach sand and Kate still had her doubts about the three friends' journey up the "Road of Bones" as the Lena Highway was called. The road was originally built by gulag prisoners and when they died, the story goes, their bones became part of the roadbed. In any case, Kate inwardly wished her cousin and his friends safely back on Big Diomede.

So far, the most impressive sight the young men had beheld was that of the stone towers of Lena Pillars National Park near Yakutsk in the Russian Federation. “Sort of like Natural Chimneys on steroids,” Joe had exclaimed upon seeing the giant formation. Indeed the stone towers of Augusta County, Virginia seemed small in comparison. Also impressive was the sheer magnitude of open country one passed through on a motor trip through Asia. The three found genuine respect for the professional drivers who traveled this hard road, especially when ‘Evelyn’ experienced a broken belt. One of these ‘Road Knights’ pulled up behind the steaming van following the unwritten code of the wilderness highway. The driver rolled out a new belt stretched from a spool of all-purpose tape and after the repair was tested, put the kettle on his portable stove and the men shared tea!

One could hardly call what they shared conversation, for the Mongolian driver spoke no English and seemed to the three as if he were a likely descendant of Genghis Khan... at least that was how the story wrote itself in their minds.The young men imagined him living in a ger and drinking copious quantities of mare's milk, to be sure. He seemed friendly in a fierce sort of way and communicated quite well with hand gestures punctuated regularly by his toothless smile. Kate was right to prod her cousin. The endless highway created a sense of eternal plodding. The young men found this intriguing, especially compared to the panicked pace of school… partying, panicked study and sweating exams all seemed so exaggerated in pace and importance compared to motoring endless and unchanging roads. The return trip offered more of the same. The three friends were actually enjoying the pace of earlier times!

They seemed excited enough about the fair. Indeed there would be interesting exhibits. "Nations of the North" told the stories of Alaska's indigenous peoples, now recognized as Nations within the Republic. The Israelis had unveiled a slew of new technologies that one had to see in person to really appreciate. The men were awestruck at the magnitude of the spectacle that awaited them, but hid it behind jokes about the "cheesy" Rupert Zimmerman Museum. "You know, it has his car in it!" Fred remarked. "A man's car does not lie about him!" The young men all attended Liberty University in Virginia where there was a Jerry Falwell museum. The museum had Falwell's Father's Model T on display. In the exhibit, two mannequins, one representing the elder Falwell, are stuffing booze into the car. You have to remember that this is a Baptist University!

The young men often retreated to the roof of their dormitory to plan their adventures, having hacked the security code for the roof door.

Fueling a Lada on the Amur Highway.

The elder Falwell, a Lynchburg businessman, had been a bootlegger and had even shot his brother in an altercation, not exactly the kind of thing one wanted remembered in his personal museum, but family history is family history. Zimmerman, after he lost everything one time, bought the sedan and drove it as he rebuilt his interests. When the great bridge was completed, Zimmerman led the procession across the span driving the Toyota. He chose the faithful ride over his classic Porsche, remarking that the President of Russia had opened the Amur Highway driving a yellow Lada. The Russian President had himself driven everything from Formula 1 cars to tanks, but for the opening chose to drive a car his people could identify with.

Zimmerman's story was at least as complex, but since his daughter Elizabeth was the force behind it it mainly focused on how he came to be inspired to build great works. The burning of his tent was truthfully presented along with his ruthless past. The night he witnessed the first accident on the bridge and the death of a trucker was told as well. "Zimmerman was a tough old curmudgeon," Fred continued. "Didn't he fight in the war and get shot and all that?" Joe nodded. His Grandfather had actually met the man, and told a different story though. Joe, for his part, wanted to remain in the companionship of bravado and didn't correct him.

Now the trio had come to Taba, where one leaves Egypt and enters Israel. Here things began to go badly. The men had left Israel without a multiple-entry visa and were now improperly documented! A trip to a consulate might be required to fix things and that would put them behind schedule. Charles decided to haggle with the border official... a bad choice as it put them in a sort of 'penalty box' as far as entering the country or retreating to Cairo. Eventually the young men were turned back. they had lost much of the day and decided to check in to a motor hotel on the Sinai road. There they had a fitful night. In the wee hours of the morning, Fred noticed that "Digory," or JOE an we should call him, was nowhere to be found.

Assuming he had taken a stroll to unwind, the men resumed their attempt to sleep but by morning it was clear that something was amiss. Several Egyptians were in agitated conversation outside their window. The two remaining men switched on BBC news and were stunned at what they heard. Large numbers of people had simply vanished! Early reports had this happening around the globe. Some world leaders were not accounted for and the TV anchors fished for explanations. The most repeated was ''space aliens' had likely abducted them. There was an eerie quality to the disappearances that made this all too plausible.

Major Metropolitan areas were under curfews, the report said. Transportation was at a standstill. Border stations were unmanned. Fred looked at Charles. Charles looked at Fred. Their unspoken: "Let's do it" echoed silently in both of their minds. They grabbed their gear and Joe's too. "He's got to be somewhere around here!" exclaimed Fred. Now's our chance! In their fear the two loaded the van and sped out into the morning light, hoping to find Joe before it was too late. An armored car was rolling into town. The men panicked, heading for the uncrossable border. There was one old Arab man at the booth. He was alone and clearly felt quite overwhelmed. Fred flashed a visa stamp... not the correct one, mind you, but the poor man in the booth waved him through.

What do we do now?" Fred moaned. The only obvious thing to do was wait around near the checkpoint and hope for 'Digory's' return. Both men felt that was pretty unlikely though, given the fact that so many people were unaccounted for. "We probably won't get much help from the authorities, will we?" But there was no time to mull the situation over as presently a large contingent of Israeli Defense Force troops appeared, announcing that the border was sealed. Israel was at war!

Recognizing the two as hapless American tourists, the IDF took them into protective custody and escorted them and their van into the country. They were taken to a military compound and sternly warned that they must stay there: "...until things are secure again." "We'll let you know if we find your friend, but it is not too likely," a tough man in fatigues told them. Joe's cell phone was among the items in his luggage and Fred felt he should call Joe's older cousin on it to let her know what was happening. The phone rang through to the voicemail, which the robo-voice said was full. Fred tried some general numbers for Big Diomede, but there was nothing. Even the BSB Information Centre yielded an endless busy signal.

Fred thought to himself: "This is so beyond unreal! There is NO WAY to get in touch with anyone! Then he remembered that Joe, though he seldom mentioned it, did know how to pray. "I wonder if the Divine would hear me?" thought Fred, and he continued by addressing that unknown Divine, pleading quietly out of the deep needs he felt in his own heart. Somehow he felt the urge to rummage in Joe's duffle and he found a well-worn Bible alongside of a little book titled: "Notes to Priscilla and Aquilla." Fred dismissed the Bible, indeed his schoolmasters had assured him repeatedly that there was no truth to be found there. The government school teachers had told him it was a book of myths, the Bible School professors had underscored this sentiment with their arbitrary proclamation that everything BUT this is false. Fred was not particularly in the mood for another theological discourse, but he picked up the second volume. It was skinnier and that he found that both reassuring and non-threatening. He began to read. The volume was well-worn and Joe, in an earlier time in his life, had marked it quite a bit. Joe's handwritten notes in the margins introduced Fred to a deeper side of his friend. Here was a side that to be quite honest, Joe had concealed from his traveling companions. The book promised to show its readers "a more excellent way." Fred needed a reality better than his present one, so he read on.

Military custody in Southern Israel is not all that bad. The chefs are Kosher and since every young person is required to serve, the military culture is, shall we say, 'broader' than that of many countries. The accommodations were simple but clean. Fred and Charles found a lounge where they could catch up on the news on TV. Here they grasped the magnitude of the situation they had fallen into. Normally the whole drive would have taken a long day from Cairo to Amann, but now it had stretched to two days and the sealing of the borders made it impossible to continue. Even if Joe somehow materialized at that moment, there would be no easy drive across the Jordan River Crossing.

The Pavilion
The Pavilion of the Cherokee and Monacan Nations at the Fairgate World's Fair. Since America's original nations are recognized in Alaska's Republic, many were represented at the fair by specific pavilions. The pavilion is modeled after a typical house of the Eastern people.

'Nations of the North' is a popular exhibit.

(to be continued) [click to read]

Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved


Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XI, Issue X

2059/2060 World's Fair

BSB Corporation Pavilion

2059/2060 World's Fair
The Pavilion of the Bering Strait Bridge Corporation at the 2059/2060 Alaska Centennial Exposition features the globe surrounded by the Plaza of Nations. Mural by Kristina Elaine Greer and Bob Kirchman.

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." -- Sir Winston Churchill

The age of the great world's fair had been proclaimed over before, and yet here in the new Alaskan capital of Fairgate there stood a world of wonder to rival them all. The great fairs had had their beginning in the Nineteenth Century. They brought people together to see great wonders and inspired civic architecture with their gleaming classical edifices and grand reflecting pools. Rowdy Chicago was transformed through the vision of the 'White City' presented by the 1893 Columbian Exposition. St. Louis in 1904 also saw a grand vision for her future.

In Europe, France celebrated the Centennial of her bloody revolution by hosting the 1889 Exposition Universelle which featured as its centerpiece the famous Eiffel Tower. Though the critics heaped contempt on the bold design of Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier, it eventually became the symbol of the city of Paris! Railroads brought the crowds to view wonders of the present world and visions for the world to come.

New York hosted two great fairs, one in 1939/1940 and another in 1964/1965. The two-season fairs ran afoul of the official sanctioning agency's policy of recognizing only one season for each exhibition, thus they were unrecognized by the agency; but they were great fairs. The 1939 fair presented a vision of the future to a Depression-weary America. Farm ladies in print dresses wandered past wondrous household appliances they would only see in their own homes after a horrible World War was over. The 'White City' was replaced by a Deco world not unlike the movie vision of the Emerald City in Oz. General Motors proudly presented 'Futurama,' a ride through the world as it would be in 1960!

The 1964/1965 Worlds's Fair also produced visions of the future. General Motors built a bigger and better 'Futurama' and showed visitors underwater hotels and cities on the Moon! It was heralded as the "last of the great world's fairs." Indeed it ushered in innovations in communication and technology that would soon bring the world to people in the remotest of places. A New York Times article went so far as to say that the New York World's Fair sealed the fate of future fairs. To be sure, there were more great fairs, but by the beginning of the 21st Century the world was coming to you via your little screen! Air travel became more stressful in those years and people pretty much had seen everything that was going to be exhibited on their iPhones anyway.

Alaska had actually hosted another 'Centennial Exposition' in 1967 to celebrate 100 years passing since the purchase from Russia in 1867. It was somewhat small and had been overshadowed by Expo '67 in Montreal, Canada. Both the Montreal fair and the Fairbanks fair had featured geodesic domes... a forerunner of the biospheres that would cover her communities in another century. At the time it indeed seemed as though technology had rendered the institution of 'World's Fairs' obsolete. They had progressed from grand 'White Cities' that had inspired true civic renewal to brash conglomerations of competing iconic structures that, while fascinating, were not exactly structures you wanted to copy in remaking your community.

The Bering Strait Bridge was completed in the 21st Century and the world seemed smaller again. Evacuated tube trains made extremely long distance travel fun again as they could literally whisk you to the other side of the world in a matter of hours. In the years following the Alaska Revolution, there seemed to be a newfound optimism and people were ready to visit the great fairs again. Since Alaska still considered it's 'birth' to be in 1959, a Centennial Exposition was planned. Martin O'Malley became the Director of the Fair Corporation mainly as a means of keeping busy while staying out of the hair of his niece, who now ran the bridge. In his nineties, his job consisted mainly of looking at renderings of proposed fair buildings, but that he found quite interesting enough.

And so the stage was set for what could certainly be considered one of the 'great' world's fairs. The infrastructure was there to bring people from the four corners of the earth!, and come they did!

(to be continued)

The Alaska Pavilion at the 2059/2060 Centennial Exposition in Fairgate. Fairgate is the new Capital City that was constructed near Fairbanks.

2059/2060 World's Fair
The Galaxy Experience Project, the world's largest physical model of the Milky Way Galaxy, is suspended above a reflecting pool at the 2059/2060 Alaska Centennial Exposition. Visitors ride glass elevators through the model to an observation deck and a revolving restaurant.

2059/2060 World's Fair
The 2059/2060 Alaska Centennial Exposition.[1.]

(to be continued) [click to read]

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Copyright © 2019, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved


Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XI, Issue IX


A Guide to the 2059/2060 Fair
The Sequel to PONTIFUS
By Bob Kirchman
Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved

Kate, Kris, Kris' daughter and Elizabeth Zimmerman had been looking forward to this reunion for a long time. Their upcoming visit to the Alaska Centennial Exhibition in Fairgate was, they expressed among themselves, somewhat transparent as an excuse. But even with the new rapid speed evacuated tube trains running through Big Diomede on the bridge, the luring of husbands to the ends of the earth required some doing. Kris and Elizabeth had an advantage here as Kris' husband was the pastor of the little church on Big Diomede and Elizabeth's husband was still tied to the work of the great bridge he had engineered.

Elizabeth's Niece, the little girl who inspired Elizabeth's father to embrace life with renewed hope and courage,  had by now succeeded him as chief engineer of the great bridge, but Martin O'Malley still kept regular office hours in Wales... mainly overseeing the apprenticeship of younger engineers in the manner of his deceased colleague, Rupert Zimmerman. It was a happy time. The great bridge and her economic vitality were indeed infusing something into the spirit of a hungry world. In centuries past it had been known as the 'Great Awakening.' Jonathan and Kris Greene had unwittingly followed in the footsteps of men like Jonathan Edwards. Indeed it almost seemed like the Divine's patience with mankind was finally paying off. The world in 2060 was a bit different than the prophets of doom had predicted.

There had indeed been wars, and even more rumors of war. The sins of mankind continued to play out on the world stage, and many suffered as a result. In the Northern hemisphere, Elizabeth Zimmerman's geothermal greenhouse farms, populated by refugees of these conflicts, offered a strong alternative! If the truth be known, more people around the world were discovering the 'hope and a future' that Rupert Zimmerman had first tasted over the Greene's macaroni and cheese! Though the news media was not reporting it. In every nation of the world, little 'Priscilla and Aquilla' groups were quietly changing the world.

Indeed, on a lazy Summer afternoon in a garden on Big Diomede, a group of ladies sharing sweet tea and sweet fellowship seemed to profess that all was right with the world. Yet, unlike the fat complacency of ages past, that had led to apathy and forgetfulness, they all shared that delicious feeling of anticipation! It was something like the feeling you have the day before your cherished daughter is given in marriage to a son-in-law who you yourself have come to love!

What could it be? The work in the world was far from finished, yet a new era of peace and prosperity seemed to be coming. With the world looking to the Northern Hemisphere for direction now, the Middle East was attempting to overcome her own convulsions with the establishment of the World Centre for Peace on the outskirts of Baghdad. The project of a young, charismatic visionary from Hungary, this could only help to settle the seemingly unending cycle of world violence...

But today, the light through the now mature trees of the biosphere was so... GOLDEN! so RICH! Not an ordinary day! And what was this? The MEN of these families were returning EARLY from their tour of 'Zimmerman's Folly.' That NEVER happened. The ladies had even put a later time on their reservations at Big Diomede's Asian restaurant for dinner that night, knowing full well that a short tour of the great bridge never was. Yet, the men too seemed to sense the wonder of the sunlight... and the desire to be close to their loved ones. Think of Christmas morning or the day of your wedding... or the last bell before the first day of Summer vacation... none of these can come close to the feeling our little company now shared.

Golden sunlight seemed to fill the little garden now. The hollyhocks had never seemed so brilliant! Each member of the little company breathed it in. Kate wished she could share this moment with her youngest cousin, who was still traveling to join them. There was something special in this moment. The little company seemed to have never felt such wonder before; they ALL felt it... and then they were gone! The brilliant gardens of Big Diomede where suddenly deserted!

(to be continued) [Click to Read]

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Copyright © 2019, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved

The Bering Strait Bridge Under the Northern Lights.

Crozet World's Fair, NASA Pavilion
Lisburne Space Exploration Pavilion. Construction by A. Bowman.