N.W.BOYER…Christian Author

Ideologies and Beliefs

U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL SPEAKS

In the government of the United States, we have an office that is important to our democracy. It is the office of the Attorney General. The Attorney General represents the United States in legal matters, advises the President and the heads of the executive departments of the government, and occasionally appears in person before the Supreme Court. (White House)

In this year of 2020, during our time of virus difficulty, riotous outbreaks against law and order, the U.S. Attorney General, William P. Barr, agreed to come before a governmental committee for questioning on various topics. From the airing of the TV portion of this process, some on the committee tried very hard to verbally “throw him under the bus.” From his opening statement, it was obvious that Barr was aware of their motives.

In case you have any interest in what Mr. Barr had to say, I am including his address to the committee in this post.

In his opening statement and before questions were addressed to him, he tries to address the importance of laws and order for all citizens of our country. Unfortunately, some of the members of the committee used their time to make speeches before asking a question, leaving little time for any meaningful dialog.

At various times, the answers to the questions just asked, were rudely interrupted by the person asking. Maybe this is why England’s Parliament just simply YELL at each other. It was not much different here with all the bias ranting that made it difficult to get to the point. Even though they had asked him to come and answer questions, he was hardly allowed to talk. As things continued to get worse, Barr asked the chairman of the committee if he could “take a 5 minute break.” Jerry Nadler, representative of the N.Y congressional district said, “No.” After a little debate about common courtesy, it was finally granted.

Most people that said they had watched all of it were greatly disgusted and felt that there was nothing productive at all. Why did the committee ask him to speak in the first place? You probably know the answer to that question…to discredit him. If their interruptions were in order to NOT ALLOW him to give answers…nor to allow him to convince the American people, before the coming election, that Barr was doing his job without being controlled by anyone, the committee was successful….successful only in acting like bullies and showing their inability to conduct such an investigation with dignity.

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Why am I including this written document by Attorney General Barr?

It is simple. I would like you to know what he actually said about all of our concerns here in the country most of us love.

If you, the reader, did not hear Barr’s full opening statement or any of his answers to the questions, but only looked at excerpts from national news media… you will only hear a one-sided view with exaggerations and distortions. All Americans and anyone in other countries, who read his statement given below, will know exactly what Mr. Barr had to say. To help you, I have highlighted some of the topics that he is discussing.

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Written Statement of William P. Barr, Attorney General

Chairman Nadler, Ranking Member Jordan, Members of the Committee, I am pleased to be here this morning. I accepted an invitation to testify before this Committee in late March, but it was postponed as a result of the pandemic that continues to pose challenges to us all. I know some other hearings this week have been postponed to honor your late colleague, Congressman
John Lewis of Georgia. On behalf of the Department of Justice, I want to pay my respects to Congressman Lewis, an indomitable champion of civil rights and the rule of law. I think it is especially important to remember today that he pursued his cause passionately and successfully with an unwavering commitment to nonviolence.

We are in a time when the political discourse in Washington often reflects the politically divided nation in which we live, and too often drives that divide even deeper.

Political rhetoric is inherent in our democratic system, and politics is to be expected by politicians, especially in an election year. While that may be appropriate here on Capitol Hill or on cable news, it is not acceptable at the Department of Justice. At the Department, decisions must be made with no regard to political pressure—pressure from either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, or from the media or mobs.


Ever since I made it clear that I was going to do everything I could to get to the bottom of the grave abuses involved in the bogus “Russiagate” scandal, many of the Democrats on this Committee have attempted to discredit me by conjuring up a narrative that I am simply the President’s factotum who disposes of criminal cases according to his instructions. Judging from
the letter inviting me to this hearing, that appears to be your agenda today
.
So let me turn to that first.


As I said in my confirmation hearing, the Attorney General has a unique obligation. He holds in trust the fair and impartial administration of justice. He must ensure that there is one standard of justice that applies to everyone equally and that criminal cases are handled even-handedly, based on the law and the facts, and without regard to political or personal considerations.


I can tell you that I have handled criminal matters that have come to me for decision in this way.
The President has not attempted to interfere in these decisions. On the contrary, he has told me from the start that he expects me to exercise my independent judgment to make whatever call I think is right. That is precisely what I have done.


From my experience, the President has played a role properly and traditionally played by Presidents. Like his predecessors, President Trump and his National Security Council have appropriately weighed in on law-enforcement decisions that directly implicate national security or foreign policy, because those decisions necessarily involve considerations that transcend typical prosecutorial factors. Moreover, when some noteworthy event occurs that potentially has legal ramifications – such as leaks of classified information, potential civil rights abuses by police, or illegal price fixing or gouging – the President has occasionally, and appropriately, confirmed that the Department is aware of the matter. But the handling of the matter and my decisions on criminal matters have been left to my independent judgment, based on the law and fact, without any direction or interference from the White House or anyone outside the Department.


Indeed, it is precisely because I feel complete freedom to do what I think is right that induced me serve once again as Attorney General. As you know, I served as Attorney General under President George H. W. Bush. After that, I spent many years in the corporate world. I was almost 70 years old, slipping happily into retirement as I enjoyed my grandchildren. I had nothing
to prove and had no desire to return to government. I had no prior relationship with President Trump.


But as an outsider I became deeply troubled by what I perceived as the increasing use of the criminal justice process as a political weapon and the emergence of two separate standards of justice. The Department had been drawn into the political maelstrom and was being buffeted on
all sides. When asked to consider returning, I did so because I revere the Department and believed my independence would allow me to help steer her back to her core mission of applying one standard of justice for everyone and enforcing the law even-handedly, without partisan considerations. Since returning to the Department, I have done precisely that. My decisions on criminal matters before the Department have been my own, and they have been made because I believed they were right under the law and principles of justice. Let me turn briefly to several pressing issues of the day.

The horrible killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis understandably jarred the whole country and forced us to reflect on longstanding issues in our nation. Those issues obviously relate to the relationship between law enforcement and the African-American community. Given our history it is understandable that, among black Americans, there is at least some
ambivalence, and often distrust, toward the police.

Until just the last 50 years or so, our laws and institutions were explicitly discriminatory. It was not until the 60’s that the Civil Rights movement finally succeeded in tearing down the Jim Crow edifice. Our laws finally came to formally embody the guarantee of equal protection. Since then, the work of securing civil rights has rightly focused on reforming our institutions to ensure they better conform to our laws and aspirations. That work, it is important to acknowledge, has been increasingly successful.

Police forces today are far more diverse than ever before; there are both more black police chiefs and more black officers in the ranks. Although the death of George Floyd – an unarmed black man – at the hands of the police was a shocking event, the fact is that such events are fortunately quite rare. According to statistics compiled by the Washington Post, the number of unarmed black men killed by police so far this year is 8. The number of unarmed white men killed by police over the same time period is 11. Some unarmed suspects, moreover, were physically attacking officers or threatening others at the time they were shot. And the overall number of police shootings has been decreasing. Nevertheless, every instance of excessive force is unacceptable and must be addressed, as is happening now in Minneapolis.


Apart from their numbers, I think these events strike a deep chord in the black community because they are perceived as manifestation of the deeper, lingering concern that, in encounters with police, blacks will not be treated even-handedly; they will not be given the benefit of the doubt; they will be treated with greater suspicion than a white person would be in the same circumstances.

Senator Tim Scott has recounted the numerous times he has been unjustifiably pulled over on Capitol Hill. As one prominent black professional in Washington said to me, African Americans often feel “treated as suspects first and citizens second.” I think these concerns are legitimate.

At the same time, I think it would be an oversimplification to treat the problem as rooted in some deep-seated racism generally infecting our police departments. It seems far more likely that the problem stems from a complex mix of factors, which can be addressed with focused attention over time. We in law enforcement must be conscious of the concerns and ensure that we do not have two different systems of justice. In a pluralistic society like ours, composed of many races and ethnicities, we all must strive not to reduce each other to stereotypes or to allow those stereotypes to govern our treatment of our fellow citizens. Rather, we have a basic and overriding obligation to treat each other as individuals, created equal and entitled to the benefit of the doubt rather than assumptions based on skin color.


A recommitment to that principle, particularly by those entrusted with the weighty responsibilities of law enforcement, would be a worthy response to George Floyd’s death. It would ensure that good comes out of bad. The Justice Department will honor that commitment. Among
other steps, we are implementing the President’s Executive Order, which outlines a number of
measures to propel continued professionalization of the police, including setting clear standards for appropriate use of force.

Unfortunately, some have chosen to respond to George Floyd’s death in a far less productive way – by demonizing the police, promoting slogans like ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards), and making grossly irresponsible proposals to defund the police. The demonization of police is not only unfair and inconsistent with the principle that all people should be treated as individuals, but gravely injurious to our inner city communities.

There is no harder job in America today than being a police officer. When officers respond to an emergency, whether a catastrophe like 9/11 or an everyday crime, they do not set out to protect white people or black people. They risk and sometimes give their lives to protect and serve all people, and all people owe them thanks.


When a community turns on and pillories its own police, officers naturally become more risk averse and crime rates soar. Unfortunately, we are seeing that now in many of our major cities. This is a critical problem that exists apart from disagreements on other issues. The threat to black lives posed by crime on the streets is massively greater than any threat posed by police
misconduct. The leading cause of death for young black males is homicide. Every year approximately 7,500 black Americans are victims of homicide, and the vast majority of them –around 90 percent – are killed by other blacks, mainly by gunfire. Each of those lives matter.

And it is not just that crime snuffs out lives. Crime snuffs out opportunity. Children cannot thrive in playgrounds and schools dominated by gangs and drug pushers. Businesses do not locate in unsafe neighborhoods. When the police are attacked, when they are defunded, when they are driven out of urban communities, it is black lives that will suffer most from their absence.

It is for that reason that, in select cities where there has been an upsurge in violent crime, we are stepping up and bolstering the activities of our joint anti-crime task forces, which have been successful in the past. In those cities, we are adding experienced investigators, firearms and ballistics analysts, and experts at apprehending violent fugitives. We are also offering funding to support more police who can be assigned to these anti-crime task forces. To be clear, this initiative has nothing to do with the problem of violent mob rioting that I will discuss in a moment; it is instead designed to help state and local law enforcement to meet their basic responsibility to solve crimes and keep their communities safe.


Finally, I want to address a different breakdown in the rule of law that we have witnessed over the past two months. In the wake of George Floyd’s death, violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests to wreak senseless havoc and destruction on innocent victims. The current situation in Portland is a telling example. Every night for the past two months, a mob of hundreds of rioters has laid siege to the federal courthouse and other nearby federal property. The rioters arrive equipped for a fight, armed with powerful slingshots, tasers, sledgehammers, saws, knives, rifles, and explosive devices. Inside the courthouse are a relatively small number of federal law enforcement personnel charged with a defensive mission: to protect the courthouse, home to Article III federal judges, from being overrun and destroyed.

What unfolds nightly around the courthouse cannot reasonably be called a protest; it is, by any objective measure, an assault on the Government of the United States. In recent nights, rioters have barricaded the front door of the courthouse, pried plywood off the windows with crowbars, and thrown commercial-grade fireworks into the building in an apparent attempt to burn it down with federal personnel inside. The rioters have started fires outside the building, and then systematically attacked federal law enforcement officers who attempt to put them out—for example, by pelting the officers with rocks, frozen water bottles, cans of food, and balloons filled with fecal matter.

A recent video showed a mob enthusiastically beating a Deputy U.S. Marshal who was trying to protect the courthouse – a property of the United States government funded by this Congress – from further destruction. A number of federal officers have been injured, including one severely burned by a mortar-style firework and three who have suffered serious eye injuries and may be permanently blind.

Largely absent from these scenes of destruction are even superficial attempts by the rioters to connect their actions to George Floyd’s death or any legitimate call for reform. Nor could such brazen acts of lawlessness plausibly be justified by a concern that police officers in Minnesota or elsewhere defied the law. Remarkably, the response from many in the media and local elected offices to this organized assault has been to blame the federal government.

To state what should be obvious, peaceful protesters do not throw explosives into federal courthouses, tear down plywood with crowbars, or launch fecal matter at federal officers. Such acts are in fact federal crimes under statutes enacted by this Congress. As elected officials of the federal government, every Member of this Committee –regardless of your political views or your feelings about the Trump Administration – should condemn violence against federal officers and destruction of federal property. So should state and local leaders who have a responsibility to keep their communities safe.

To tacitly condone destruction and anarchy is to abandon the basic rule-of-law principles that should unite us even in a politically divisive time. At the very least, we should all be able to agree that there is no place in this country for armed mobs that seek to establish autonomous zones beyond government control, or tear down statues and monuments that law-abiding communities chose to erect, or to destroy the property and livelihoods of innocent business owners.

The most basic responsibility of government is to ensure the rule of law, so that people can live their lives safely and without fear. The Justice Department will continue working to meet that solemn responsibility. (All words are by the Author, Attorney General William P Barr)

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LAW, ORDER and JUSTICE….are words that may not be easily comprehended UNLESS we are all part of the equation. Turn up your sound for a prayer for all of us.


Who are You?

You were brought into the world and given life. Whether you are now old or young, you are still you. Have you ever asked yourself, “Exactly WHO AM I?”

What special gifts do I have? How am I different from my closest relative? Knowing WHO I am is a most important question. People often spend their entire lives searching for the answer to that question. Some feel bewildered… while others feel confident in their own skin.

I found the answer to “Who Are You?” as I searched the Holy Scripture and saw that this question was also asked of the Apostle John. He must have been extremely confident to announce who he was, because in some cases, he went against the religious hierarchy of the day. It is evident that his confidence only came from God, who had given him a job to do. He simply knew that he knew.

How about us? His purpose for each of us will only be revealed when our hearts are ready to listen to the small still voice that we can’t seem to make go away. It is His Holy Spirit drawing us into His love. The answer then to the question, “Who are you?” is this:

WE ARE TO BE WHAT GOD HAS SENT US TO BE...A CHILD OF HIS. WE ARE TO BE A LIGHT IN A DARK WORLD.

“What if I have missed it?” you may say. He wants you to know that you have not missed it.

We measure everything in our time frame. Time is irrelevant to God. “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2nd Peter 3:8

He sees your heart as it is today. If you ask forgiveness for any past things that do not measure up to God’s purpose for you, He will forgive and remember them no more. The Holy Scriptures promises us that. We have to trust that fact.

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“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” Isaiah 43:25 (Old Testament)

Then He adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Hebrews 10:15 (New Testament)

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In the Gospel of John, the Apostle John, as mentioned above, was “sent by God” to let the people know that the Messiah had come. His reputation had gone before him…so much so, that the priests and Levites, who were descendants of the Tribe of Levi, were sent from Jerusalem to ask him “WHO ARE YOU?”

St. John knew exactly who he was…a MESSENGER from God that the Jews should know the truth…that their MESSIAH, of Whom they had been waiting and looking for since the days of the prophets, was living and walking among them. He said that he, John, was only a “VOICE”….”crying in the wilderness.” His message was simple. “Make straight the way of the Lord.”

St. John was born in the late 1st century (circa 5 B.C.), Saint John the Baptist was a Jewish prophet who preached the imminence of God’s final judgment. It is believed that he was born somewhere in Judea, located near Jerusalem, Israel, according to the New Testament. A priest of the order of Abijah, John the Baptist gained recognition as a prophet, had several disciples and baptized a number of people, including Jesus Christ, according to scripture. Christians believe that John the Baptist was the last great prophet before Jesus Christ came to earth. He was reportedly beheaded circa 30 A.D. (Biography)

We are living in a wilderness today. One of the meanings for “wilderness” is an inhospitable region. Inhospitable means harsh, difficult, unfriendly or unwelcoming. Doesn’t that describe much of our world today as one faction raves against another.

This is why we have had wars throughout history. People, in kingdoms and governments, were, and are, filled with greed, ambition, power…and it overcame them to the point that they never found the true person that God wanted them to be.

Many led others to think that they should follow their ideologies rather than God. A few examples come to mind: Napoleon Bonaparte, having made himself an emperor of France, died in exile on the remote, British-held island of Saint Helena at age 51. Adolph Hitler, after losing WWII, committed suicide at age 69 and Saddam Hussein was captured, tried and hanged for his crimes…age 51. They did not have very long lives by today’s longevity. (history)

Each of these men were once the little boy that God wanted to have a good life, but they chose to neither listen to nor accept the Holy Words of God. They thought they knew better about who they were, but they didn’t. Their eyes became blinded to God’s truth through their own choices.

Back to our original question…Who are you? You are to so live your life that you will be a voice to the harshness of this world…for good, not for evil.

Being the messenger of God’s love and hope does not mean that one has to be a minister, who preaches in a church, on a mission field or some other Christian group. St. John was not seeking a prominent position or popularity, but to be faithful to the message he was given by God to share with the world.

We may only be the voice of hope to someone who shares with us their difficulties in life. Just be ready for that encounter! Remember, God’s timing may take you by surprise. It may be at the grocery parking lot; when walking in your neighborhood and meet someone you haven’t seen in a while or a fellow worker.

You may say, “I’m too shy to open up to someone about faith” or “I think religion is their business” or “That seems a little bold to me.” Yes, you are right. Some of us are by nature on the shy side, but God has promised to supply the boldness needed.

Even if we believe that everyone’s business is their own…especially about “religion,” we must remember that sharing God’s love is not talking about a particular “religion,” but about your own personal walk with Christ. As a Christian, you are called to be ready to give the hope that is within you. Peter 3:15 also talks about your shyness and that you may be afraid.

John was known as the “beloved disciple.” We all want to be loved. How wonderful to be the loved of Christ, who speaks of you to His Father in heaven. We must all ask ourselves as Christians, “Are we faithful to being what God wants us to be?” It is never too late to surrender ourselves to His perfect love.

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Dedicate this day, this hour, your next breath to being His in all walks of your life…and you will find that you are what He wants you to be. He will lift you up and give you the voice, heart and soul that He wants of you.

You will truly know exactly who you are…a child of God.

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The following is a trailer of the life story of a young boy, from Argentina, who was also called of God to be His voice. His name is Luis Palau. He made his voice the voice of hope to the Spanish speaking people around the world, especially in Columbia. The full length is extremely moving and is available on Amazon Prime.

Turn on your sound.


SAVING THE CHILDREN

In the midst of evil, one man would not give up on saving the lives of hundreds of children in Czechoslovakia. His name is Nicolas Winton.

What this man did was remarkable and courageous. The parents of Prague were crying for help from any country before the invasion they knew was coming. Only England responded and said to send the children to them.

The heart wrenching decisions that the Jewish parents had to make in order to save their children is told in a film about Winton’s life.  It is definitely worth watching…as we learn of not only the parent’s courage, but that of a man who could have walked away from the situation. He left his job with the London Stock Exchange to do what he believed to be most important…save young lives.  Many of those parent would die in the concentration camps.

woman in film about Winton's life

In the film, Nicky’s Family, a mother puts her two daughters on the train for England.

It is 1939 and Europe is on the brink of war. Hitler has invaded Czechoslovakia, threatening the lives of the Jewish population. Nicholas Winton, a young British stockbroker, decides he will do everything possible to save the lives of as many Jewish children as he can. This film, transmitting on Holocaust Memorial Day, tells the extraordinary story of how Nicholas Winton rescued 669 children from the clutches of the Nazis, bringing them by train to Britain. (Berta film)

Nicholas-Wintonin-Prague-012-300x180

Young Nicholas Winton with a rescued child.

children in Winton's scrapbook

A few of the hundreds of children he saved in Prague.

Shortly before Christmas 1938, Winton was planning to travel to Switzerland for a skiing holiday. He decided instead to visit Prague and help Martin Blake, who was in Prague as an associate of the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia then in the process of being occupied by Germany, and had called Winton to ask him to assist in Jewish welfare work. Winton established an organization to aid children from Jewish families at risk from the Nazis. He set up his office at a dining room table in his hotel in Wenceslas Square. In November 1938, following Kristallnact in Nazi-ruled Germany, the House of Commons approved a measure to allow the entry into Britain of refugees younger than 17, provided they had a place to stay and a warranty of £50 was deposited for their eventual return to their own country.  (Wikipedia)

An interesting fact of Winton’s early life is as follows: Winton was born on 19 May 1909 in Hampstead, London. His parents were German Jews who moved to London.  The family name was Wertheim, but they changed it to Winton in an effort at integration. They also converted to Christianity and Winton was baptized as a Christian. (History)

After World War II was over, Nicolas took up his own life and it wasn’t until his wife found an old scrapbook in the attic that she knew of the hundreds of children that he had helped save. This is probably the greatest example of his humility.

The life of this man, who with determination, skill and fortitude, proves how one decision can change a world. Generations have learned that they are alive because their grandparents were saved as children.

Sir Nicolas Winton lived to be 106 years old and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth.

The trailer below will make you want to see the entire film. It is available on Amazon Prime…Nicky’s Family.  May the world learn from his great example of giving of self and determination. We certainly need it today.

 


Wake Up, Young People…the Future is YOURS!

It is not often that I make any part of my blogging offensive…or in this case, politically offensive, as most politics is!  However, after years of study, teaching and travel, it is alarming to me that our young adults may have not been taught by adults, parents and teachers, enough HISTORY to make rational judgments as they get into the exciting position of having an actual vote.

Our country and states are gearing up for the “get out the vote”day…whether it is Super Tuesday or another time. Those running for office must be really tired of “running,” but not as much as we are from seeing them run!

Over and over again, we have heard the statement “Let me be clear!” It better be clear …more than clear, if we look at the nations of the world throughout history and what happened to them if they went down the road of total government control.  It is pretty forward and simple:

Socialism is the first step toward Communism…and what a dismal record it has! The voice of the people will eventually be taken away and personal freedom perish. Communism, that started with people rising up for an attempt for change, equality and fairness, never got what they wanted. The leaders promised the world to them and then brought the world down on the heads of those who simply wanted better lives.  Sounds good at first, but doesn’t work because the power-hungry leaders (or dictators) can’t make it work. The first thing that happens is that anyone with a voice of protest or even appears to be anti-government will be taken care of one way or another. We know about some of those leaders from our history books: Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Castro… and many more in places around the world like China.

Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves because this blog is about our young people and what they know about history.  Our youth are enthusiastic, energetic and wonderfully young! God bless them all, but the picture probably is not really clear for them.     Yet, the message MUST BE MADE clear for our young adults if their future is to be one of freedom and opportunity!

The New York Times just printed an article written by Patricia Mazzer and Sydney Ember which proves the point of what I am writing about as they interviewed some of our young voters. Here is what one 18-year-old had to say which may be a reflection of many young people:

“Socialism is a supposedly scary term that we’ve talked about so much, but we really don’t understand,” said Nolan …, 18, a chemistry major at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he cast a ballot early Wednesday, before its primary next week. In a society where technology is so important, where it takes fewer people to produce more things, we’re going to have to have a more socialistic society, where the government needs to step in more,” he said. “The government is going to be required to do more, and it’s something we should welcome, not be afraid of.” 

Are they still teaching about these uprisings for social justice and the results, Nolan?  As a young chemistry student, you have the world ahead of you in science…to explore, to invent, to bring something wonderful to society…unless the government tells you differently.  Think about it! 

OK, any young person reading this blog,  I’m old enough to be your Grandmother, but I have observed a few things as I taught young people, traveled with them to foreign countries and heard their dreams and hopes just like yours!

Young Adults

Intelligent, young adults whose future is theirs!

 

Examples of Socialism that became Communism…the Results: 

As I traveled with students and around the world, I saw the results of socialism that became communism. In many cases, it was heartbreaking…and this is just the tip of the problem with this form of government.   I’d like to share with you what I experienced from firsthand knowledge:

  • When I took young people to Eastern Europe, we visited Russia.  There were large department stores with almost nothing to show on any floor…a table here and there with little to sell.

 

  • A dump truck with grain was in front of our bus and the grain was flying all over the road.  Asking my Dutch driver why the Russians didn’t cover it, he laughingly said, “The government will pay them the same no matter how much they deliver. They don’t care.”

 

  •  Almost every few miles, there were ramps built for cars to drive on, in order to fix whatever was broken.  Parts, of any kind, were extremely hard to get and the people had to make do. Most of the equipment was not for the people but for the Soviet military that continued to move aggressively into neighboring countries.   Things like refrigerators and other household goods, looked like they were from the 1950s.

 

  • As we were leaving Russia for Poland, the bus passed lines and lines of cars waiting on the side of the road. “What are they doing?” I asked.   “They have a one day pass to go into Poland to shop because that is where the supplies are plentiful, which they can’t get in Russia.”

 

  • In Poland, we met an elderly woman who had a fine business and a large home. Her story was when she and her husband were invited to South America to help with an agricultural project, their home was taken over by the government because the authorities believed it was too big for two people.  The house was divided up into several tiny apartments for more people to live in because it was “only fair.”  She had no freedom to complain.  After the fall of communism, she was told by the new government that she and her husband could “buy it back.”

 

  • Also while we were in Poland, we visited Auschwitz Concentration Camp where one of my Jewish students laid a wreath for the millions murdered.  We all know that when a government decides that some people are not wanted what happens to them. There are people around the world who are disappearing or hidden away in some horrible prison…many being political prisoners.  (A political prisoner is someone imprisoned because they have opposed or criticized the government responsible for their imprisonment. Wikipedia)

 

  •   When I was in Ukraine, I taught in a beautiful little place called Donetsk at a thriving University. Only recently, Russian-backed troops took over the University and sent staff and students home. Donetsk Christian University now houses the military. 

 

  • A friend of mine that I met at the Ukraine University writes us that the Russian government is now having committees formed by the government to decide if certain churches or Christian organizations can continue to have permission to be open in Russia.

 

  • Recently, I viewed a documentary about the one-child policy in China (now a 2-child policy) and the kidnapping of young boys in that country to be sold.  Couples are forced to get permission from the government to have children. If not, the unborn child should be aborted, as have millions of babies in China…even until the 8th or 9th month.  Should the couple refuse, they said that they knew eventually they would have to sell the child because the government would then come in and take away everything in their home, leaving them totally unable to function.  They told a handler, who deals with the government and those who can pay to buy a child, that they hope he could “find a good home for the child…perhaps somewhere in the West.”  The young couple interviewed talked about the trafficking and selling of children and teenage girls to become mothers, for more trafficking of babies. (UTube “China’s Stolen Children”)

 

  • During the Nazi invasion of Norway, all radios were confiscated from the people. A lady we visited there told us that they raided her home and removed her radio. With any aggression the first thing to go is communication.  Even now, we know that what news comes out of a communist country is tightly censored, which makes one question the real numbers relating to the Coronavirus.

These are only a few of the tragedies that happen when a country thinks it would be better off becoming a socialist country.  Some may say, ” What about the good things that are part of European governments, that consider themselves to be socialists? They get free health care etc. etc.”  Yes, and their taxes are huge!   As to health care, I was once told by a European that it is true that they can get “free” health care, but if you want the best or quickest care….you “pay under the table”, so to speak.

What About Reform?

Is our American government perfect?  Of course not. We need reform in many areas. Reform in areas, like health care, immigration and policies of all kinds, should be seriously looked at by our freely, elected government representatives…that is when they decide to get to work on reforms rather than fighting one another!   No government is perfect because people are imperfect, but some are greater than others.   Ask any veteran who fought to give us freedom of speech and openness of the press, freedom of religion and a right to be, do and live our own lives without government intervention…or fear of imprisonment or torture. It is what we have in America…at least for now…and how blessed we are!

Again, I would admonish our young voters to “Wake up, do your homework and give yourselves a great future that you will work hard for and deserve!”  


Where EVIL lurked…9-11 Revisited

 

9-11 towers burning (2)One never knows where evil lurks!  The terrorists of 9-11 most likely walked or rode bikes by our home in Venice, Florida. This was the beginning of their journey to murder as many people as possible and to die.

Venice is a peaceful, quiet place situated on the Gulf of Mexico in the U.S.A.  Families enjoy the beautiful beaches that are quiet and serene, especially as the sun begins to set in the West. Yet, evil was among them.

Venice, FL USA Terrorist train in flight (2)

Venice Beach in Florida, USA

Late one evening, my husband and I walked down to take a look at the sunset.  A group of young people from Italy were there.  As we listened to them speak in Italian, we asked them if they were tourists.  They replied, “No, we are training at the Venice Airport.”   It was not uncommon to have people from around the world, who in good faith wanted to learn to fly in the U.S

.Venice, FL USA Terrorist train in flight2

Yet, no one would have dreamed that evil was lurking there behind the controls of the small aircraft. The pilot trainee was learning to fly in order to murder not only Americans, but thousands from different countries… even people from their own country, who were simply doing business here.  On leaving Venice, they planned to go on to other airports in Florida to learn to fly large aircraft.  Coming to the U.S. through Hamburg, Germany, they blended in and were like many other foreigners who had trained in Venice.

We were told that the employees at the airport were kind to the foreigners and even offered for two of them to stay in their home until they could find a place of their own during training.  Because they were so rude to the employee’s wife, they were asked to leave.

Venice, FL USA airport Terrorist train in flight2 (2)

Venice Airport

A Christian friend of ours was a flight instructor at the Venice Airport.  Unfortunately, he had been given the assignment to train these men. After much frustration with them, he decided to complain to the airport managers. The men wanted to learn to fly, but oddly did not want to take instruction on landing.   Another instructor took over.  Neither the Venice Airport or local authorities in the area had been warned by federal agents about the men’s possible connection to the terrorist group Al Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden.   Yet, here they were in the small town of Venice, ready and willing to learn, take their time and then strike like great, poisonous snakes for their Jihadist cause.

Do we remember their names?  No…a thousand times NO!  Their names are not worth remembering!

We do remember, however, the honorable, decent human beings who were the first responders, volunteers, and people from around the world who cared about humanity.

St Paul Chapel3 inside survived 9-11frist responders praying

A Fireman rests while others pray

9-11 police memorial

Honoring the fallen

We remember and pray for those men and women who are still sick from exposure at the 9-11 sites and the families of those who will forever grieve here and around the world.

9-11 Father and children remember

We must never let our children forget.

We give HONOR to the victims of 9-11. (Slide presentation)

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Hard Things to Understand

We don’t usually like things we don’t understand…especially when those things become personal.  We want things to make sense, especially in our thinking about faith and beliefs.

The fact is that some parts of the Holy Scripture that hit a raw nerve and seem to be totally against the loving, compassionate God that we believe in, we recoil and would rather be like Scarlett O’Hara and think about it another day.

As an example, priests and ministers of most Christian churches have a Lectionary of Holy Scriptures that are followed weekly when preparing for the message given to the congregation. It is often difficult for a minister to follow faithfully these Scriptures and to find something to tell the people sitting in the pews that might have an inspirational meaning.  Some are quite difficult, such as this one: Luke 14:26

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

Hate is a very strong word.  Did He really say that or did the translators of the Greek get it wrong?  We’d like to think someone flubbed up somewhere or is there an underlining meaning to these hard sayings that we are missing? Family people I know would do anything for their children, spouses and parents. Turning the back on any of them would be out of the question. Yes, there are family divisions, but it usually is not in order to serve Christ.  To say that this particular Scripture is a “hard one” is putting it mildly.

Stephen Dass, a priest and his wife are missionaries to the street children, teens and young adults of Sao Paulo, Brazil. He writes in part these words about this difficult teaching of Jesus:

“Jesus demands that we give up everything that we possess including our families. It sounds like Jesus is going against everything that the modern church has termed as “family values.” Jesus tells us that they are a hindrance to our salvation. No one in their right mind would think that these so-called “family values” are wrong, even the Pagans would agree with us. They (families) are the fabric of every society.

Nevertheless, Jesus always swam against the current of cultural norms. He challenged whatever our culture told us was right and good. Almost every saint in our church calendar took these words of Jesus literally and seriously. We can try to make it more amenable in order to deal with it. This attempt would only serve to dilute the intensity of the gospel. These words are what they are. Therefore, we have to do something about it.

Most of us are just common people. We are not saints like those in the past. We sense a responsibility to our family. We need to have possessions in order to survive in this world. Yet, we want to follow Jesus and take His words seriously. There are no easy answers… We need to think and struggle with these difficult issues. There are no easy answers. Perhaps, there are no answers at all.”

I think that this last sentence might hit the nail on the head.  There are some things that we will not understand.  Perhaps, the most simplistic way to phrase it is that Jesus doesn’t want anything…wealth, friends, family, vocations, or…ANYTHING to get in the way of a person following Him and the Gospel of love and salvation for which He died to redeem man.  If we are drawn away from Him by even the most treasured thing, we must rethink our relationship to it.

Christ was clear that “Where your treasure is…your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:19-24 is not only the chapter of the Bible with “The Lord’s Prayer” but gives some stern warnings that also use the word “hate” which is a word so abhorred today.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,  your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (or any other thing that comes between you and Christ)

Ultimately we decide what and Whom we will serve. We choose the road we will follow. One of my favorite poems is by Robert Frost. His choice made a difference to him…and so will ours.  Give this some thought. 

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves, no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

 

Video:  Turn up sound


Climate Change, Pollution and Native American Beliefs

We look around us at pollution of our waters and land. There is much political debate about how the gases in our air will change the world. When our animals are suffering from lack of polar ice or fires in the Amazon, that provides not only habitat, but the air we breathe. Some of the world’s cities are blanketed with smog.  It will take a worldwide effort to change much of what we have brought upon ourselves.

The question remains:  How long does the world have to make changes that should have been made long ago?

Strangely, I found a video of one indigenous person here in the U.S.A. who has his own view of the situation.  This Native American believes his ideas and those of the Hopi Indians in North America are the right ones. He even sees them as “prophetic.”  He believes that when the first Europeans came to America to settle the land, they didn’t give honor to the pure water and sacred places of the earth made by the Creator and now we are paying for it.

Little Colorado Basin and Falls

Katherine Locke is quoted in the Navajo Hopi Publication as saying the following about the court fight and water rights that the Hopi Nation must have to sustain their life around the Little Colorado River Basin:

 “The adjudication is designed to quantify each claimant’s water rights, both federal and state law rights and to determine claimants’ priority to the limited water in the Little Colorado River basin. This case does not involve claims to Colorado River water, which is outside the basin.

The Hopi Tribe’s water rights will be tried in several phases, the first to determine the Hopi Tribe’s past and present uses of the Little Colorado River basin. The second phase will begin in December 2019 and the court will hear testimony about the amount of water necessary for the Hopi Reservation to serve as a livable and permanent homeland for future generations. A third phase, which will be set for 2020 or later, will focus on the ranch lands south of the Hopi Reservation.

“Water sustains Hopi life,” a press release from the Hopi Tribe said. “There are many competing demands for water. The judicial proceeding will determine water rights for our children and grandchildren.”

The Hopi Tribe said during the trial, the long history and unique culture of the Hopi Tribe in Arizona will be presented by both witnesses and documents.

“Over a millennium, the Hopi Tribe has endured enormous hardships to sustain its way of life and developed a unique agriculture to sustain itself in a harsh and dry environment,” the Hopi Tribe said. “There is still a long road and many trials ahead before resolution of all claims. At each step of the way, the Hopi Tribe will continue to seek a just resolution of claims with its neighbors in the Little Colorado River basin.”

Native American cultural dance

My thoughts are that environmental problems should be looked at with great concern for all of us. History tells a real story of what we have done to our lakes, rivers, streams and even our oceans.  Our air didn’t become unpure overnight. All have been in the making for decades. What we have considered being an advancement to society, the industrial revolution may have become the world’s downfall. Factories belch black smoke and people around the world wear masks.  It can’t come soon enough to clean up after ourselves of man-made pollution. We must find and initiate the answers before it is too late.

The Hopi Native American in the video below also believes that we have lost our understanding of the spirit within us and the spirit of all living things made by the great Creator of us all.  He may well have a point.

Video on thoughts from a Native American (Turn up your sound)


The Cross…A Symbol of HOPE

It has been some time ago that the world, through their TV channels, watched the spire of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris fall into the blazing fire and smoke below.  Yet, a cross that hung in the cathedral survived.

It may be time now to think about the power of the cross as a symbol of hope.  The cross is not a symbol of hope fo everyone. Yet it is powerful, whether they think so or not.  There may have been some who rejoiced as the cathedral burned because they wished any symbol of Christianity to be destroyed. Just as terrorists wanted the World Trade Towers to no longer be the symbol of economic power, their evil minds set out to destroy them.  Symbols, in themselves, do have power to renew our minds and thoughts to something that can become even greater. That is true of the two symbols that are written about in this blog post.  The cross being our greatest hope…not wealth, but faith.

A Cross was erected from the rubble of 9-11

In place of those fallen towers, where thousands died…Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and many others with faiths… as well as atheists and agnostics, a great new tower was built. A grand memorial to all who died and suffered that terrible day now stands deep in the belly of the new, grand building.

We remember also over 2,000 First Responders who have died or sick years afterward from illnesses that came upon them trying to reach the victims. This has led President Trump to sign the 9-11 Victims’ Fund to those still suffering.

Tragedies often bring about in the human spirit a desire to rebuild, to remember and to fight against such atrocities and those who propose them.

First Responders in front of St Paul Chapel

St. Paul Chapel became a resting place and prayer for first responders.  (Associated Press)

Instead of shocking, deliberate attacks, such as those on the World Trade Center, Pentagon or the intended attack on the White House, a few are accidental as the burning of the great Cathedral of Notre Dame.  The world was dismayed for another reason as we recognized the value of a great work of architecture that had stood for over 850 years, having taken 200 years to build. It was a prize of history, being one of the most famous Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages. This church was not only a symbol of Christianity but of the culture and the magnificent antiquities of France.

 

In the Cathedral of Notre Dame hung a cross, which was only exposed after the fires were put out.  Miraculously, it still hung as did some of the magnificent stained glass windows.  The French are determined to rebuild this great church and in doing so, we also can believe that it will be a revival of a great symbol of renewal, endurance, and hope.  The world needs symbols of hope and none is more powerful than the cross and the great buildings in which a cross is lovingly placed.

Recently, I saw a video of a church standing on an island in Japan. Inside was a great cross, stained glass and though the island is now almost deserted, the church still survives in an unlikely place.  Someone build it years ago and it is a symbol of their faith.

Fire ruins of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris

For all Christians, the real symbol of hope was never burned in that terrible fire in Paris…the great cross of Christ.  That cross, shining bright, amid the ruins of the cathedral, sent the message around the world that the cross of Christ is the true symbol of hope for the world.

Yes, the cathedral will be rebuilt eventually, but the message of Christ in the cross will still shine after the burned rubble is cleared away.   The message it brings is forgiveness, a renewed life, and the promise of life eternal through Christ, the Son of God.

The message in the clearing away of the rubble of the Twin Towers in New York City is that out of the ashes rises the great Phoenix of hope, freedom, democracy and renewal. Even in that terrible attack, St. Paul’s Chapel next door to the towers was not destroyed even though the debris fell all around it.  The 1st President of the United States, George Washington, worshiped in this church.

It was not the first time, however, that this Christian church had escaped being destroyed.  In the first days of the American Revolution, the invasion of British troops sparked the Great Fire of 1776, which destroyed 432 structures in New York. The fire spread to St. Paul’s Chapel and very nearly overwhelmed it, but a bucket brigade managed to squelch the fire.  It is now named as the oldest surviving church in Manhattan.

Symbols are important in our lives.  Some are international, national, or even personal, but they are often a message of joy, inspiration or hope.

(ABC News tour video)  Important:  In order to hear sound on the video, you will have to unclick sound symbol.

https://abcn.ws/2VYew0o

 


Whatever happened to SS General Kammler after WWII?

In 2016, I wrote my first historical novel. This was available online as a blog and then published as a paperback.  More recently, I renewed this book called The Seeds and the updated version is now available on Amazon.

What is this book about?    A brief summary is below:

The Seeds asks the question: “Whatever happened to SS General Hans Kammler?”

After World War II, a number of high-ranking officers fled to places like Argentina. This question seemed to be of great interest to my blog readers. Some readers wrote emails that they knew where General Kammler had lived. One even said the General was an uncle who was elderly and had escaped prosecution.

General Kammler, as portrayed in this book, is entirely fiction. However, the accounts of him, are based on historical facts.   From 1944, General Kammler was head of advanced weapons development in Nazi Germany, including the Me-262 jets, the V-2 rockets and perhaps even the exotic Bell Project. The enormous interest in General Kammler led me to explore the thoughts of where he might be hiding and exciting portrayal of him in The Seeds novel evolved.

Locations as described in this novel, such as the World Seed Vault in Norway…sometimes referred to as the “Doomsday Seed Vault”… are actual places that are active today.  For many readers, other locations, people and culture of the Middle East are generally not understood by people around the world. The story involvement in the Middle East only increases the mystery behind the writing of this historical fiction.    Link to The Seeds 


A Visiting Professor’s Observation

statue of liberty

It is interesting how someone can come to the United States and have a completely different perspective on the word “democracy.”  We, who live here, become used to how things work in our free society.  The thoughts of a foreign visitor, who is used to a much different society,  brings a new dimension to the very meaning of the word…democracy.  We ask the question then…

“How much does religious freedom play as an encompassing part of democracy?”

 A visiting Chinese professor may have great words of wisdom concerning this matter. Clay Christensen, a professor at Harvard Business School, found friendship with this visitor, who was on a Fulbright Scholarship to the United States, and shares with us his words.   Pay close attention to his final statement.  It is quite chilling.

Short Video:  Please turn up your sound and click the link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch_p opup?v=YjntXYDPw44&sns=em 


Belief…and the magic of Christmas

Christmas is a time of celebration and belief…belief in the true Christmas when the Savior of the World was born…belief in the joys that surround Christmas.  Many of these joys come in different forms.  It may be the decorating of the Christmas tree with all the old ornaments that have been carefully put away for another year.  It could be baking of a special pie or the wrapping of a present for a special person.  The choirs that sing our once a year music and the garlands and wreaths that are hung… bring a light and hope to  our lives and in our churches.  Some of those lights are bathed in sunlight and swaying moss from the trees, as here in my home state of Florida or in the beautiful snow-covered churches further up north.

Trinity Episcopal in Mt Airy NC

Trinity Episcopal Church in Mt. Airy, N.C. Winter snow of 2018

Some say that Christmas is for children.  We know it is a special time for them, but the true meaning of Christmas is for everyone.

“For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  Isaiah 9:6 

To have the faith of a child…to be able to hear the ringing inside a small bell when grown-ups have ceased to hear it because of disbelief…is the theme of one of the most loved and cherished of Christmas films, The Polar Express.    available online

Recently, my husband and I sat down and watched the entire film.   It had been many years since we had seen it, but the “magic” was still there.   Tom Hanks plays various parts with different voices, which is analyzed in the video below to the meaning behind the characters presented in this great film.

At this special season, Boyer Writes would suggest that you gather your children or grandchildren around to enjoy the full-length film.  You are never too old to bring the joy of belief into your life.   In today’s world, we all need to seek to believe in the sacred meaning of Christmas and also in the joys and magic of Merry Christmas that we may have left behind in our childhood!


Icons…Lesser Known in Modern-Day Faith

Only the students of religious history may be aware of how much icons play a part in the worship of Christians now and in the past.    Some faiths, such as more contemporary Christian groups, previous leaders of various churches and those of the Muslim faith have either condemned outright pictures of these great men and women of faith or believe that religious paintings are not necessary for worship today.  The reason for opposition to the use of icons was mainly that they did not want them to become an object of worship. That would often include statues of the saints and  Jesus Christ. Making them any type of idol was not the purpose intended even though it had its many critics then and now.

Oldest surviving icon of Christ Pantocrator, encaustic on Panel 6th century at St. Catherine's Monastery Mt Sinai, Egpt

The oldest surviving icon of Christ Pantocrator, encaustic on panel, c. 6th century (Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai, Egypt).

Either way, I found that these works of art had great meaning throughout history.  Sometimes it was the only way a person, who perhaps could not read or was not allowed to read and interpret the Holy Scriptures, was able to think of and be reminded to pray in their everyday devotions outside of the actual church.

Some interesting facts and pictures:  (from Wikipedia)

  • Christian tradition dating from the 8th century identifies Luke the Evangelist as the first icon painter.
  • At least some of the hierarchy of the Christian churches still strictly opposed icons in the early 4th century. At the Spanish non-ecumenical Synod of Elvira, (c. 305) bishops concluded, “Pictures are not to be placed in churches, so that they do not become objects of worship and adoration”. 

After adoption of Christianity as the only permissible Roman state religion under Theodosius I, Christian art began to change not only in quality and sophistication, but also in nature. This was in no small part due to Christians being free for the first time to express their faith openly without persecution from the state, in addition to the faith spreading to the non-poor segments of society. Paintings of martyrs and their feats began to appear, and early writers commented on their lifelike effect…

The Annunciation icon in Macedonia

A key piece of Palaiologan Mannerism – the Annunciation icon from Ohrid in the Republic of Macedonia.

 

Icons can be found in private homes, in churches to remember martyrs, as seen in the pictures below.  They also could be made from different materials as in the one made of metal.

 

 

Some icons were so special that they were decorated with precious jewels.

elaborate Russian icon Jo of All Who Sorrow 1862

Russian icon “Joy of All Who Sorrow” 1862

 

This past week I have been privileged to find out the difficulty in which actually making an icon can be as I was taught how to enjoy painting and praying while working on a special design.   Kara Nelson visited St. James Episcopal Church in Florida to share this knowledge with those interested.  Being an artist with my own style, I decided to see exactly how much talent this would take.  Because all of my own artistic endeavors have been of a freestyle, I was somewhat amazed at the detailed work involved in painting an icon of the Good Shepherd, who is Christ my Lord.

First, in our week-long retreat,  we had Holy Communion with Father Tom Trees and my husband, Fr. Bill Boyer,  and then shared our own walk of faith and concerns.  After instructions by Kara of the steps to be taken, we began to draw a design, which was to be our own painted icon when finished.  (shown in slides below)

 

 

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I chose to paint The Good Shepherd, which called for layers upon layers of paint.  Kara kept telling us that the first layers would look rough and not to be discouraged because as we progressed, the painting would improve.  Miraculously, she was right…as seen in my rough draft.

process in painting the Good Shepherd

Rough beginning of the icon: My lamb is unpainted and the orange color will eventually be filled in with real gold leaf.  See finished icon below.

 

 

Finished Good Shepherd icon 2018

 

the Good Shepherd and the Madanna and Child icons

Madonna and Child and Good Shepherd painted by Kara Nelson. Students in the class had a choice to paint either icon.

 

What have I learned about painting icons?   A great deal.  It is difficult work.  Nevertheless, the act of doing this painting represents the love of a Christian for the Savior, Christ Jesus, and the stories of the saints who have gone before…many of whom were martyrs.

Just as the first Christians and monks who wrote the Holy Scriptures by hand, the painters of Icons showed a similar dedication.    In a world of turmoil, the joy of knowing that Christ’s love has transcended throughout the centuries through this beautiful art form is indeed inspiring. After finishing our icons, we placed them on the altar for dedication and prayed that God would use these as a special blessing for whomever we had made them.

Fr. Tom blesses icons

Fr. Tom Trees prays for a blessing on each icon made by individuals in the group at St. James Episcopal in Leesburg, FL

Take special notice in churches and cathedrals that you may visit throughout the world of these beautiful icons.  Museums may also have special rooms to display the art of dedicated Christian believers.  Look at the details, imagine the hand that painted it and the stories behind the lives.  Show them to a child that may be with you and retell the Bible story that each may represent.  Many a young person may not even know what the word “icon” means. We must not lose the appreciation of this great art form and those who painted them.     To God be the Glory.  Amen

Christ the Redeemer by Andrei Rublev 1410

Christ the Redeemer by Andrei Rublev 1410   

12 century icon Archangel Gabriel called Golden Locked Angel in State Russian Museum

12th Century Archangel Gabriel in Russian State Museum

For information on Icon Painting Workshop/Spiritual Retreat

Contact Kara Nelson at karanelson314@gmail.com

 

 


Holocaust Remembrance Day….”NEVER AGAIN”

Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial Hall of Names in Israel

Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Hall in Israel

Holocaust Remembrance Day is a time to remember and proclaim “NEVER AGAIN.” 

Having just posted about the horrors of Syria, which may be another Holocaust if a solution is not found to bring peace to the area, it is fitting to think about World War II and all those who perished under the Nazi dictator, Hitler.  It is estimated that over six million men, women and children died in the death camps.   Memorials can be found around the world.  One special one is the children’s memorial, Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem.  The day my husband and I visited this memorial, there were little lights on the ceiling and the name of each child was read aloud continuously.

Yad Vashim Children's Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem

Yad Vashem Children’s Memorial

 

It doesn’t seem like any time since I took Student Ambassadors to Poland and we visited Auschwitz, one of the death camps.  None of us will ever be the same.  I, as a Christian, walked beside a young Jewish student who laid flowers at the very wall where so many were executed.  I noticed that he wore his shorts but respectfully put on a tie and sports jacket as he approached the wall.

Auschwitz memorial at Yad Vashem

Auschwitz pictures at Yad Vashem (Photo credit Getty Images)

 

As we traveled, this same young man also wanted to find the apartment building where the Israeli Olympic team had been murdered by terrorists.  We looked and looked; finally finding a small plaque outside an apartment building to remember the event.  Given the gravity of this terrible tragedy, it seemed far too small.

Our student group spent time looking at the ovens where the bodies were burned.  One amazing fact was that the home of the military commander and his family was right next to the grounds of Auschwitz.  We saw the place where he was executed after the war by hanging.  Eye glasses, shoes and suitcases were piled high in glass cases.  One could see the torture chambers where a cross was scratched into the wall…indicating that not only Jews were interned there, but political prisoners and Christians.

shoes-yad-vashem

 

Steven Spielberg has made it his mission to record the lives of survivors so that future generations will understand what hatred, prejudice and war can do to people. Once the people who fought WWII and the Holocaust survivors have died, their voices will be silenced forever….except for these recordings.  Just as our World War II veterans are passing away by the hundreds each day, so are the survivors of the Holocaust.

It was my privilege to have the veterans and survivors come to my classroom of 5th graders and talk to each one of the students about their experiences.  Because each person’s story was different, the students took notes that they wrote us and presented orally to the class the following day.  Those students are adults now.  Many have finished college and have families of their own.  I pray that they have not forgotten that experience and are passing along what the Holocaust was and why we can never let this happen again.

After returning from that trip, I felt that the students in our Florida county needed to know as much about the Holocaust as possible.  With financial help from the community and parents of students, we raised enough funds to place in every school library tapes, books and age-appropriate material about the Holocaust.

Holocaust plaque St Annes Church Poland

I read about a grave-digger who was told to bury all the Jews in the woods. These were those shot on a death march.  Instead, he buried them in  St. Anna’s Roman Catholic Church in Swierklany, Poland.    This is only after he had carefully copied all the numbers from each victim’s arm.  Some seventy years later and with research from Yad Vashem in Israel, some relatives now know that Christians carefully buried the bodies of their loved ones.  A new memorial has been erected with a cross.   The new plaque at the previously unmarked grave in Swierlany, Poland now reads:

“In memory of the death march victims from Auschwitz-Birkenau”

and lists the victims’ concentration camp numbers or names.  The caring of one grave digging man, who believed differently from those he buried, made all the difference over 70 years later to a family who simply wanted to know what had happened to their loved one.

Today on Holocaust Remembrance Day, as the sirens wail,  in some places people will stop in the streets and cars will stop on the highways …wherever they are…to remember again. We too must never forget!

It is not our purpose here to try to re-create the horrors that went on here.  Probably the closest to that would be to watch Schindler’s List, produced by Spielberg, about a Christian businessman, Oskar Schindler,  who saved many Jews by taking them to work in his factory.

Oskar Schindler (28 April 1908 – 9 October 1974) was a German industrialist and a member of the Nazi Party who is credited with saving the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunitions factories in occupied Poland and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.   (Wikipedia)

VIDEO:     This music is played in honor of John Williams and his contribution to the telling of this story of the Holocaust and the saving of many lives.    (Turn up sound)

The Music from Schindler’s List, written by John Williams.


Why do Christians call it “Good Friday?”

Crucifixion was one of the most gruesome deaths that a person could endure.  Because of this, it is difficult to understand why the Christians remember that day as “GOOD Friday.”   Let me explain.  It is not the torture of the crucifixion that is considered good…but the message of what this death meant to the people of the world.

1Peter 2:24 tells us, “He Himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By His wounds, you have been healed.”

Mary cries at the foot of cross

Christ’s Mother, Mary, at the foot of the cross

What exactly is crucifixion?  Have we ever really given it sufficient thought? Perhaps this description taken from Wikipedia will help:

Crucifixion is a method of capital punishment in which the victim is tied or nailed to a large wooden beam and left to hang for several days until eventual death from exhaustion and asphyxiation… Crucifixion was most often performed to dissuade its witnesses from perpetrating similar (usually particularly heinous) crimes. Victims were sometimes left on display after death as a warning to any other potential criminals. Crucifixion was usually intended to provide a death that was particularly slow, painful, gruesome, humiliating, and public, using whatever means were most expedient for that goal. Crucifixion methods varied considerably with location and time period. The Greek and Latin words corresponding to “crucifixion” applied to many different forms of painful execution, from impaling on a stake to affixing to a tree…  Seneca the Younger, a Roman philosopher, wrote: “I see crosses there, not just of one kind but made in many different ways: some have their victims with head down to the ground; some impale their private parts; others stretch out their arms on the gibbet”…In some cases, the condemned was forced to carry the crossbeam to the place of execution. A whole cross would weigh well over 300 lb…Upright posts would presumably be fixed permanently in that place, and the crossbeam, with the condemned person perhaps already nailed to it, would then be attached to the post. The person executed may have been attached to the cross by rope, though nails and other sharp materials are mentioned in a passage by the Judean historian, Josephus, where he states that at the Siege of Jerusalem,  “the soldiers out of rage and hatred, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest”…While a crucifixion was an execution, it was also a humiliation, by making the condemned as vulnerable as possible. Although artists have traditionally depicted the figure on a cross with a loin cloth or a covering of the genitals, the person being crucified was usually stripped naked. Writings by Seneca the Younger state some victims suffered a stick forced upwards through their groin. Despite its frequent use by the Romans, the horrors of crucifixion did not escape criticism by some eminent Roman orators. Cicero, for example, described crucifixion as “a most cruel and disgusting punishment”, and suggested that “the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears”…Frequently, the legs of the person executed were broken or shattered with an iron club, an act called crurifragium, which was also frequently applied without crucifixion to slaves. This act hastened the death of the person.

Christ on cross

Painting by Guido Reni 1575-1642

From the writings of those who heard the last words of Jesus, He said these sentences as the hours past and He eventually died on the cross:

  • “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”   Luke 23:34
  • “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43  This was said to the thief dying on the cross next to Him.
  • “Woman, this is your son.” (Said to his Mother, Mary, who had given Him birth)
  • This is your Mother.”  (Said to His disciple John to take care of His mother Mary)   John 19:26-27

    Sorrowful Mary at cross

    Sculpture of Mary, the mother of sorrows

 

  • My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 (This was after 3 hours of darkness, which was only 3:00 o’clock Judea time in the day.)
  • “I thirst.”   (This was the expression of his human suffering. He had been scourged, crowned with thorns and was losing blood.)
  • “It is finished.”  John 19:30
  • “Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit.”  Luke 23:46

It was by His death that we are redeemed.  “For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave Himself as ransom for all.”   1Timothy 2:5-6

Procaccini_Giulio painting

Procaccini_Giulio painting

 

 The Biblical Text of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ  taken from Matthew 27:33-56  And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull),
 they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.   And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots;   then they sat down and kept watch over him there.   And over his head, they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.”   Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.  And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”  So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying,   “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.   He trusts in God; let God deliver him now if he desires him; for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'”   And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.   Now from the sixth hour, there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.  “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “This man is calling Elijah.”   And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink.   But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”   And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.   And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split;   the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised,   and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.   When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”   There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him;   among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

(Turn up sound)


What is Maundy Thursday?

My last post during this Easter season was about the temptation of Christ in the desert.  Today we look at another special day in the week before the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus at Easter.

What exactly does Maundy Thursday mean?   The word Maundy is a shortened form of mandatum, which is Latin.  The word means “command”.

Passover Super

The last Passover meal with the disciples

Jesus celebrated the final Passover meal with His disciples. It was during this time that He gave a command to them, as He washed their feet in a great gesture of compassion and humility.  This was usually the job of a servant.

004-jesus-washes-feet

Christians today and in centuries past believe it was also a command to show love and humility to others.  He said the following to them:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34

Some Christian congregations today have the ceremony of foot washing, after the example of Christ.  The Pope has gone to prisons and washed the feet of prisoners, usually kissing their feet after they were washed and dried.  He too was obeying the command and example of Christ.

Do we all have to ask to wash people’s feet? The answer would be “no” in that there are many ways to show love and compassion as well as humility.  Think of how you can show God’s love at this Easter season and throughout the year. God will show you how.

Humility and Love is the real lesson Jesus gave us as Christians.   Christ said that in this way, people will know that you are His followers and disciples.

VIDEO:  Turn up sound

 

 


Visualizing Music

 

black_hole_horizon_1024

 

Is sound able to be visualized?  Technology has made it possible.

Some have said that even our voices and the speech that goes out of our lips and into the air…moves further and further out from us… until it goes into infinity.  We can stretch our minds and wonder…Does it go into a black hole or up to the throne of God?

It is certainly a scary thought if every word or sound I utter should continue to travel and someday be gathered from outer space and brought back to let me hear my every word.

Please, God, help me to be more careful in anything I say…should you want to restore it…and ask me when I meet You Face to Face, “Are these your words?” 

Want to visualize this music produced in our technical world? 

Hungarian Rhapsody by Liszt

 

( Technical acknowledgment:  andy fillebrown, Oct 2012, This video was made using Blender (http://blender.org). The MIDI file used to make the Blender model is by Bernd Krueger (http://www.piano-midi.de/midi_files.htm).


A Message Heard Around the World

The Reverend Billy Graham at crusades

 

Some points of interest as Billy Graham is laid to rest:

  • His casket was in the Nation’s Capitol Rotunda for two days.  Only a few private citizens have had this honor. Dr. Graham’s son, Franklin, was given the flag that flew over the Capitol while he is body was there.
  • The casket, shown in the pictures below, was made of pine plywood by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary.   It is lined with a mattress and topped with a simple wooden cross. The names of the inmates are carved on the casket.

 

 

The Reverend Billy Graham died at age 99, but his message of faith and hope was heard around the world in that brief time in history.  One of his favorite sayings is also memorable:

” This world is not my home. I’m just passing through.”   We should all remember this.

His message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ spoke to every human being…the gang member, the elite, Presidents, the average person, and those who felt hopeless…everyone…because it was the message of love from God to all mankind.

The song that always was a part of the Graham ministry was “Just as I Am”.  The hymn was written, first as a poem,  in 1835 by a British woman, Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871), who had convinced herself that her physical disabilities left her nothing to offer God at midlife.  A minister asked Charlotte whether she had truly given her heart to Christ. The question upset her in some ways but later she told the minister, “I want to serve God but I don’t know how.” He replied, “Just come to him as you are.”

Perhaps we should hear Billy Graham’s final message to the world as he knew his time was drawing near.   If you watch this video to the end, there is a special invitation to you from Dr. Graham.

VIDEO  (Turn up sound)

 

Franklin Graham heads the international Christian relief ministry to help people in distress,  called Samaritan’s Purse.

“After sharing the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus said “Go and do likewise.” That is the mission of Samaritan’s Purse—to follow the example of Christ by helping those in need and proclaiming the hope of the Gospel.”   

Go back to the video above for Dr. Graham’s message.

 

 


Is the State of the Union Address Important?

congress Getty photo

Photo by Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images

Neighbor friends of mine have said, “I’m not watching it!”   Other elected officials from various states have decided to “boycott” the State of the Union address also…even if they have not asked those who elected them whether it was a good idea and did they approve?  Some Congress members have already decided that they will not stand or applaud even when what is being said is for the good of all Americans…simply because they are determined to be oppositional. That may be why many Americans see the Congress as a “do nothing” organization.

We ask at Boyer Writes the question: Is the State of the Union Message of any importance to Americans…the rich, the poor, the small business person and economists, the elderly, those who receive government aid, environmentalists,  our military, the immigrants…legal and illegal, who may be hoping to be citizens of the USA and all others who would put themselves in any category? 

We will address first the meaning of the State of the Union and its history…in case some should not know:

It is a Constitutional Duty.

“Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution provides that the President “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

  • The Address is to be informative to the Congress and to every citizen of the United States…whether listening or not.   (Any elected official who does not show up to hear probably should be close to a T.V….just to be “informed”.)
  •  It is a part of our established history.  The President of the US has been giving this message in person to the Congress and the American people for 105 years since 1913 by President Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President.  With the advent of TV and the internet, it has been easier to reach the average person.  (Some may even ask why the average person should not be able to hear or know the direction of our country…just as the elected officials are informed?)

The Early history:  George Washington delivered the first annual address to Congress in 1790.  Thomas Jefferson discontinued the practice because he felt it was too monarchical, as similar to the “Speech from the Throne”.  He wrote it out and sent it to be read by a clerk.

There was controversy in 1913 when President Woodrow Wilson planned to reestablish the speech.  (Oh my, “controversy” also has a long history!)    There have been only a few exceptions by the U.S. Presidents of delivering the address in person to the Congress and to the American people, with the last being President Jimmy Carter in 1981.

  • Important enough to designate a SURVIVOR:   Whenever Congress meets together to hear the President speak, there is a designated survivor appointed. What does this mean?

“Since the ’80s, a designated survivor has been selected for the State of the Union. This is a member of the president’s cabinet who does not attend the event, in case a disaster or attack kills the president and everyone in the line of succession. The first designated survivor was Reagan’s Housing and Urban Development secretary, Samuel Pierce. The two cabinet positions most often selected to serve as designated survivor are the secretary of the Agriculture Department and the secretary of the Interior Department; both positions have been selected six times each. The only person to serve in the role more than once was George W. Bush’s Commerce secretary, Donald Evans.”   (taken from PBS News)

US-POLITICS-HOUSE

photo credit  BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Does history or tradition mean anything to the American people today?   Is it too old-fashioned to spend an hour before our TV sets or online to hear what the President has to say?

Do the personal opinions about the particular person elected to the office of President cloud a more important aspect of being American?   We must all remember that we are in it together for at least the 4 years the President will serve.  Decisions made by Congress will effect us all…and might be why they should be listening rather than protesting at this point.

Free speech (and opinion) is part of our right guaranteed in the Constitution.  The President is following the requirements of the Constitution to make this address.  That is why it is my opinion that we lay aside, for one hour, to check out what we may be up against for years to come…for good or bad.  Those who say, “I hate him and everything he stands for”… should remember that the State of the Union message is important for this reason. It is not a State of the Union on a Personality, but on our country and the future of our country.   If we don’t like the things said or the things proposed to follow in the next year or the next three years, try our other right…your VOTING RIGHT!   At least you will be able to say you’re informed.

Yes, We still have elections and the leadership choices are still made at the ballot box and not at the end of a gun as they are in some nations.  Thank God!    Therefore, in Honor of the office of the Presidency...whether you approve of the sitting President or not…here is HAIL TO THE CHIEF performed by the United States Army Band  “Pershing’s Own”.

 

Some information is taken from Wikipedia.    For more information on the State of the Union 


Ellis Island and Immigration

In January 2018, I wrote about Ellis Island where so many of our Immigrants saw the new land of hope and promise for the first time.  I thought it might be a good thing to look at them again and their struggle.  I highly suggest that if you have not seen The Emigrants featured on PBS, that you settle in for a long, but fascinating presentation.  If you are a descendant of one of those immigrants, you will never think of them the same.

TO ELLIS ISLAND:   The trip was terrible in most cases as the ships came into the New York harbor.  Isolated on an Island called Ellis was a building of hope for freedom from about every imaginable circumstance.  Yes, this was my relative and possibly yours unless your relatives were brought by force on a slave ship.

The following pictures are from the New York Public Library, photographed by A. Sherman.

immigrants arriving Ellis Island 1916

Herded off the ships and onto Ellis Island, where they had to answer questions and be examined for diseases, the people were part way to a new life.

Arriving Ellis Island

What exactly is the history of Ellis Island?  (Taken from History by Evan Andrews)

“On November 12, 1954, the once bustling immigration inspection port at Ellis Island was shut down after more than 62 years in operation. Opened in 1892, the small island in New York Harbor served as the processing center and point of entry for more than 12 million new arrivals to the United States. The island has since become a storied and often controversial symbol of the plight of the immigrant, and it is estimated that more than one-third of all Americans can trace their lineage to someone who passed through its doors.”

 

 

Even after arriving and allowed to enter the city and the country, living conditions were harsh.  Many died.  Others faced persecution from others who did not understand them, their language or their culture.  For those who managed to adjust to a new way of life, generations would follow them.

A Couple facts of interest about Ellis Island:

  • Used for Hangings:  Long before it became a way station for people looking for a new beginning, Ellis Island—named for its last private owner, Samuel Ellis—was known as a place where condemned prisoners met their end. For most of the early 19th century, the island was used to hang convicted pirates, criminals and mutinous sailors, and New Yorkers eventually took to calling it “Gibbet Island” after the wooden post, or gibbet, where the bodies of the deceased were displayed. It reverted to the name “Ellis Island” in the years after the last hanging in 1839, and later served as a Navy munitions depot before being repurposed as a federal immigration station.
  • Three unaccompanied children were the first immigrants: Ellis Island accepted its first new arrivals on New Year’s Day 1892, when the steamship Nevada arrived with 124 passengers from Europe. The first would-be immigrant to set foot on the island was Annie Moore, a teenager from County Cork, Ireland who had crossed the Atlantic with her 11 and 7-year-old brothers en route to reuniting with family in New York. A U.S. Treasury Department official and a Catholic chaplain were on hand to welcome Moore, and Ellis Island’s commissioner awarded her a $10 gold piece to mark the occasion. Today, a statue of Moore and her brothers is kept on display at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

Annie Moore by Jeanne Rynhart

Moore became the public face of the immigrants who had passed through Ellis Island, but it turned out that the face put forward was a case of mistaken identity.

For years it was thought that Moore had married a descendant of the Irish nationalist Daniel O’Connell, moved to New Mexico and met a tragic end in a 1923 streetcar accident in Fort Worth, Texas, that left her five children orphaned. For years, the woman’s descendants were invited to ceremonies at both Ellis Island and Ireland.  (from History)

Take a look at these pictures and the faces of those who came from all over the globe:

 

 

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Today we live with concern over illegal immigrants who have not come here legally.  We worry that they have a belief that they should overthrow the very country that welcomes them or destroy the American belief of freedom of choice.  It is a difficult decision on how and where to limit those who come.  It probably was also difficult in the early 1900’s when so many fled persecution, famine, and no future.

Those who first came had to prove themselves that they truly wanted to be Americans and live by the laws of this country.  Nothing was perfect in receiving these previous immigrants.  Some slipped through and did not contribute to society.  Even today we are being forced to make difficult choices concerning the future of many.

Those in charge of immigration during the early years took a chance.  Our country and the people of Europe in modern times have taken a chance with some difficult results.   It sometimes takes years for people to assimilate into the American way of life and our society.  They have to want to do so.  It can be done, however, if those who come want to truly be American and give their best efforts and talents to being a part of a free nation even with all its blemishes.  Had there not been those in charge of receiving the first immigrants…our ancestors.. and taking a chance on them, we would probably not be living here today.

The American values are not often the values of people of other countries.  We may ask ourselves many questions with mostly unknown answers.

  • Do the immigrants of today look at the Statue of Liberty or the meaning of Ellis Island the same as those who first came?
  • Does it truly stand for Liberty for All?
  • Will they be willing to immigrate legally and follow those who do so?
  • Will they be grateful for a land of opportunity and contribute to society?
  • How do we protect our borders from drug dealers and criminals?

Probably the hardest question of all for us today is:  What about the children born here or brought here by illegal means?   What to do about the young people who have known no other life but living in America and were taken by the hand to cross the border by an adult who knew they were breaking our laws?  crossing the border

 

Difficult… most difficult decisions will be coming to our nation.  Prayers are needed for our government leaders to have wisdom as we struggle with these issues here in the United States and abroad.  Is the Immigrant struggle today different from those of the past?

 

Click on this link:  Tells of the making of the film, The Emigrants  

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200 Year Old Scroll is brought to Jerusalem from Iraq

At Christmas time, we read the Holy Scriptures that a Savior was born to save the people of the world.  We hardly think of the origin of the scriptures or the ancient ones that are still out there somewhere, waiting to be discovered.  It seems that there has been a great discovery in Iraq. Surprises happen when one is least expecting them.

When American soldiers were in Iraq, they may have discovered an old scroll that those who had hidden it hoped that someday…even if it was to be 200 years later…would be found.  The people of the world would know that there was a thriving Jewish people who were forced to leave everything behind…including their most sacred objects.   These were hidden away in hopes of preserving them.

ANCIENT TORAH SCROLL 2015

This is the story behind the find according to a writing by Daniel Estrin for the Associated Press:

“…The scroll is a remnant of Iraq’s 2,500-year-old Jewish community, one of the world’s oldest, which all but disappeared when large numbers of Jews left for Israel following the creation of the Jewish state in 1948. Only a handful of Jews are left in Iraq today, following decades of war and instability.

Like other ancient Jewish texts from Arab lands, the scroll’s path to Israel remains unclear, with Israeli officials offering different theories.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the scroll’s journey from Iraqi intelligence storage to a synagogue in the ministry “represents the fate of the Jews.” Jews have been persecuted, he said, but “in the end they come to Israel.”

Iraqi authorities forbade Jews who left for Israel from taking ritual objects and other property with them. During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, American soldiers discovered ancient Iraqi Jewish Torahs and other community documents in the waterlogged basement of Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Baghdad and took the manuscripts to the U.S. for restoration. They have gone on display in the U.S., and American officials have promised to return the items to Iraq.

Foreign Ministry officials say the scroll is Jewish property and belongs in the Jewish state. To celebrate the scroll’s restoration, Lieberman and an Israeli chief rabbi marched with the scroll around the perimeter of the Foreign Ministry building, with some 300 ministry employees, from workers in the diplomatic mailroom to ambassadors, trailing behind them throwing candy, clapping and singing.

The head of storage at Foreign Ministry headquarters in Jerusalem, Amnon Israel, said he stumbled upon the scroll, moldy and torn and without any label marking its origin, in the ministry’s storage room on his first day on the job in late 2013.

He was told that American soldiers took the scroll from Iraqi intelligence storage during the war and handed it to Israeli diplomats in Jordan for restoration in Israel. On the back of the Torah scroll, in a section from the Book of Exodus, is a round black splotch that Israeli foreign ministry officials say is an Iraqi intelligence stamp.

But Israel, the storage head, says he is not sure that’s the real story.

An Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the Iraqi Torah’s existence in Israel is a potentially sensitive diplomatic issue, said someone brought the scroll to Israel’s embassy in Jordan around 2007. Security officials at the embassy X-rayed the scroll to make sure it was not booby-trapped before showing it to the Israeli ambassador, the official said.

In 2011, after an Egyptian mob ransacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo, Israel’s Foreign Ministry ordered diplomats in Jordan to transfer all non-essential items from the embassy in Amman to Israel.

“There was great fear that people in Jordan would hold demonstrations and burst into the embassy in Jordan, and there was an order to take out any object that didn’t necessarily need to be kept at the embassy,” Israel said.

The scroll was brought to the Foreign Ministry in 2012, where it sat undisturbed in the storage room. Only when Israel invited Jerusalem scribe Akiva Garber to inspect the scroll did it become clear the Torah was from Iraq…”

It is interesting that the Holy Scriptures have passed through wars, many countries, and still many years later surface to once again show that God has preserved his Word.  He wants the world to know the truth of His love and goodness.  At this Christmas time, amid all the hustle and bustle of shopping and parties, take time to be quiet and reflect.  God wants our hearts to be calm and at peace with the good news that a child is born Who will be the Savior of the World.   God’s Word will not return void.  It will speak to you with a message that He wants you to know.

So pick up that Bible that may have a touch of dust and read…asking God to speak to you through His Holy Word.

Isaiah 55:11   So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Video   Turn up Sound


A LIFE PHILOSOPHY THAT MAKES SENSE

Often we hear a philosophy or belief in a specific culture that makes a great deal of sense.  For instance, the Japanese believe that when a person turns 60 years old, they are able to start a new cycle of life.   They call this special age, kanreki.

60-kanreki

  It is a time for people to arrange things in a proper place.   Some Americans may call it “getting things in order…or even downsizing.”  The Japanese think it is a time of celebration and the beginning of a new life cycle, so they celebrate the 60th birthday by giving gifts that are red and having a party.   The gift could be a red shirt, scarf, or even red underwear.

kaneki celebration

Celebrating Kanreki

Now the color red is a vivid color that has energy and stands out from other colors.  Perhaps this infers that this new phase of life should be taken on with a new enthusiasm and with new prospects for the future.

According to Japanese Society, “achievements are celebrated and a lifetime’s troubles are forgotten as the celebrated individual enters a new stage of life with all the joy and possibilities of a newborn.” 

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kaneki cat

Funny Gift Cat at kanreki

 

Perhaps we Americans should think more along this line and have more fun. We often hear people say things  like “Getting old..or older…is not for the faint-hearted.”   This seems pretty pessimistic to me.  Life is not over…it is just a new chance at a new beginning.

The Japanese also refer to this year as a Year of Reflection.

60-year olds are expected to use this year as a year of reflection. They are to look at their lives and achievements and use this time as a good opportunity to plan the direction in which they would like to move as they begin their second sixty-year cycle of life.  Beyond the Kanreki, they celebrate the Koki (70 years old), Kiju (77 years old), Beiju.(88 years old), Sotsuju (90 years old), Kajimaya.(97 years old), Hakuju (99 years old), and Hyakusai No Ga (100 years old).  (from online Japanese culture)

As a Christian, we would say to be “Thankful” for a long life and give God honor for all He has blessed us with in life.   The Japanese think it is a time to forget the past and move on…leaving it behind.    This seems like a very good philosophy of life.  If you are passed the age of 60, you can still celebrate…for you have lived longer.  If you are not age 60 years old, dedicate your life to the beauty of living…for the years that you may have before you.

Another thing I read about recently was the way the Japanese look at a snowflake.  It is a perfect example of symmetry and each one is different.   The pictures below were made by Wilson Bentley.

SnowflakesWilsonBentley

 

As you can see, each snowflake has a different shape.  We could compare them to the fact that every human is made differently and wonderful. The snowflake is beautiful as it floats from the sky to the ground.   The time of its forming until it melts on the ground is a short time.  So is life.   The days of men and women are numbered and short, but much of life is beautiful…especially if we try to see that beauty.  Your life was specifically formed to be only you.  Each one of us will live and each one will die…as the snowflake sheds beauty on the world until it is no more.

Even the Japanese cherry blossoms come only for a short time in all their glory. Sometimes they even look like snow drifting …drifting…gently drifting.  Shortly they will reach the ground, sharing their beauty one more time.

 

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Try to share your special beauty with someone around you today.  Celebrate Life!

 

Enjoy Kyoto in the Snow video.  Turn on sound.

(Taken by Althea Pan)

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Feeling Sorry for Yourself? Consider the People of the World

We know that we in the West can’t solve all the world’s problems.  Nor can we be the “Policemen” of the world.  We have problems of our own to solve.  Nevertheless, it is not a bad idea to consider what the ordinary people of the world go through when there are such things as ethnic cleansing and unstable governments as well as years of war.

children in Afghanistan 2

Internally displaced Afghan children stand outside their shelter. The number of internally displaced Afghans rose to 1.2 million people in 2015. (Newsweek)

We complain that our Congress “can’t get things done” in a timely manner.  We worry about the future, but nothing can compare to the PRESENT distresses that many in the world are going through. That is why I titled this….”Feeling sorry for yourself?”  I also want to highlight the women who are mothers, sisters, and wives around the world.

If you are for any reason feeling down, consider what is happening each night when you go to sleep in a warm bed.  Consider also those who have no food when you cook a delicious meal.  Think about the children who had no voice in coming into this world or where they would be born.  If you have a husband who cares for you, kisses you “goodnight” and treats you with respect, think about the women who are under great restraints and persecuted through cultural beliefs.

When you sit down with friends to watch football, have a drink and put your feet up to relax…consider that mud is not under your couch or chair as it may be for those who are fleeing their countries.  Is all this to make you feel guilty….NO…just THANKFUL… that you have freedoms to do and be what you want to be and where there are no wars at your doorstep.

Say your prayers for those who are the persecuted.  We know a loving God cares for them…that He can help them through their crisis times.   God does not promise that it will be easy going when men, or women, with evil intents, carve out brutal paths for their people to take.  He did ask us to humble ourselves and to seek Him.   So much of human suffering is made by mankind and by government leaders.

Afgan woman Time Magazine

Disfigured woman Time Magazine photo

Our heavenly Father won’t force goodness in the minds of the wicked who would persecute the innocent, intimidate their women or harm innocent children.  Dictators and Government Officials are decision makers, who through greed and power, often care little for the needs of their people.  It has always been that way and will be…until the day of the coming of Jesus Christ.    That will be when every knee will bow and everyone will become accountable for all that has been said and done to those around us.

In Afghanistan, there is a resurgence of the madrassa, which is, in this case, a fundamentalist Muslim religious school for young girls.  They are taught only religious beliefs and rarely math, science or literature.  The building program for these schools is said to be wide-spread, with thousands of female students. One may think there is nothing wrong with teaching the young the religion of the region and praise the fact that girls are attending schools, but there is also the concern by some Muslims that this teaching is indoctrination that their more moderate practice of the faith is not according to the Koran…as well as being anti-West.  To learn more about this Madrassa teaching, read this article:   Madrassa

I recently found online an award-winning photojournalist named Paula Bronstein. Paula has spent time in dangerous and interesting places around the world.  Her years in Afghanistan have given her the ability to talk to the women of the area, whereas her male photojournalists did not have that access.

Here is a video that will shed some light on the history of the living conditions as well as cultural rules that are forced upon women in many parts of the world.   Perhaps there will be a change in the future, but change is often difficult… especially in war times and with certain cultures.

Paula Bronstein

Paula Bronstein, Photojournalist

VIDEO   Turn up sound   (taken from u-tube,  Paula Bronstein)

 


Understanding Those Who Leave this Hectic World to find Peace

valaam_trees

There are times when one will want to just forget about the world around them.  Things seem too hectic…too confused…too dangerous in our modern world that some would say has gone “MAD”.   A few make the choice to leave it.  They desire to find peace…to know God…and to rest from the frays of life.  They choose another way.

Today I will share with you what some in a  Russian monastery say is their reason for leaving the world, their families and all that the modern life holds.  We try to understand why they have made this choice…as have many in other parts of the world.

When the ice on the lake melts, many pilgrims, men and women,  come to the Monastery to seek out a spiritual life through a visit, worship, and prayers from the monks.

The following slide presentation of photographs are by Paul Miller, who was also invited to live at the Monastery for a period of time and photograph their lives.

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Just down the Blue Ridge Parkway from where my husband and I live is a scene of rolling hills and a monastery set in the arms of our lovely mountains.  Outsiders are not welcome to visit there.  They have their purposes. The men there care for the grounds of this beautiful place and other chores they may be assigned.  They have left the world that is just in sight out their windows… as tourists ride the Parkway.

One wonders about the Monasteries world-wide.  Do they wish to have their normal life back after being there for a while?   The men in this video try to explain their reasons, beliefs and their feelings about this question.

Boyer Writes shares with our readers the life of Russian Orthodox monks on the islands of Valaam. The Valaam Monastery is often referred to as the Athos of the North.  It is located north of St. Petersburg, Russia on an island on Lake Ladoga.

The music is: “Liadov: 8 Russian Folk Songs – 6. Cradle Song” by Orquesta Filarmónica de la Ciudad de México, Enrique Bátiz


CARVED IN STONE…the Sweat and Toil

Pieta Christ and the virgin

Michelangelo’s Pieta. … In 1497, a cardinal named Jean de Billheres commissioned Michelangelo to create a work of sculpture to go into a side chapel at Old St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

To chisel in stone a creation takes more than the idea…but also the sweat and toil that goes with it.  To carve any statue or a part of a building took hands and a hammer…with usually a price to pay.   Recently I watched where statues that were carefully created are being removed and stored in some place to possibly be forgotten.  Our children will not be able to see the beauty of a carved work of art, regardless of who may be represented in the statue.
Removal-of-Confederate-statues-Baltimore-USA-16-Aug-2017Gen Lee statue removed

In the Middle East, ISIS destroyed works of art carved into hillsides and in temples and museums.   Gone from the earth because of dissent, mistrust, and complete disrespect for beauty or labor in stone…never to be seen again.

ISIS destroying statues Iraq or Syria

If ISIS could take over cities in Europe or the Vatican, would they also destroy the priceless statues and antiquities that were made in the name of the Christian faith, as they have done in the Middle East to museum works of art that are thousands of years old?   See video link of destruction

The amazing works of art and marble statues could have been lost forever during World War II if it had not been for those who hid them or those who discovered them when it was ordered that they should be destroyed if Hitler should lose the war.  The most famous true story of this is when the American army sent art experts to find where the Nazi regime had hidden them.  This is better known by the film called Monuments Men.  

Perhaps the greatest sculptor in stonework in history was Michaelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, 1475-1564.  He aimed high for perfection in all that he made out of stone and in the paintings that he painted.  He had the greatest influence on art in the Renaissance period and beyond.  Not only did he produce some of the greatest stone works of art, but his masterpieces upon the walls of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican are beyond beautiful and inspiring.

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The Last Judgment by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel.

vatican-sistine-chapel ceiling paintings by Michaelangelo

Sistine Chapel Ceiling Paintings by Michelangelo

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The word Renaissance means “Rebirth”. His story in the video below is not only his search for meaning in life, but about his ability as a sculptor to make stone into an almost breathing piece of life.  His life as a sculptor and artist, after hundreds of years, should be an inspiration to all of us to protect the monuments in stone that speak of history, faith, and of artistic beauty… that if lost…can not be replaced.  Consider…if for no other reason, the hands that chiseled and the sweat that poured to make something wonderful for the world to enjoy is worth protecting and preserving.  Perhaps we need a new “rebirth” period in our modern age.

 

 

AMEN and AMEN