Archive for January, 2008

Capital Punishment

Biblical basis for believing in capital punishment is based on the following.
It is first spoken of in Scripture in Genesis 9:6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, (murder) by man shall his blood be shed (the state exercising capital punishment.) [Parentheses added as an interpretation.].
Thereafter in the Mosaic Code of 613 laws found in the first five books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, it is expanded on.
The commandment rendered “Thou shall not kill” in the Hebrew text is literally, “Thou shall not murder.”
In John 19:10 Pilate said to Jesus, “Do you not know that I have power to crucify you (capital punishment) and power to release you. [Parentheses added.]
Jesus said to him “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above ,” (that is by God.) John 19:11 [Parentheses added.]
Thus Jesus was saying capital punishment is authorized by God.
Upon facing the death penalty enforced by Roman Law Paul said, “If I have committed any thing worthy of death, (capital punishment) I refuse not to die….” Acts 25: 11. He was aware that capital punishment was legitimate. [Parentheses added.]

Peter affirmed government as an instrument of God given authority “for the punishment of evildoers” (I Peter 2:14ff; Titus 3:1).
The civil government is shown to be ordained by God to maintain law and order in Romans 13:1. “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God….”
Revelation 13:10 “he who kills by the sword (an individual who commits murder) must be killed with the sword (action by government in punishing murder). [Parentheses added.]

Israel Part 3

This is not to say who is right and who is wrong in Israel. It is to say what is.
There are three regions governed by three separate codes of law. Along the Costal Plane and Gaza Egyptian law prevails. Around Bethlehem, Jericho, and suburban Jerusalem Jordanian law is applied, and in Israel and the part known by many since the Six Day War as the West Bank Israeli Law, which is primary British, is in force. Confusing isn’t it. Why is this important?
The region called the West Bank by Israel was conquered in 1967 and has since been called the West Bank by Israel. The Arab world calls it “the occupied territory.” Who is right? By ,Israel appears to imply the Arabs, even though they contend it is not occupied territory.
The reason some consider some regions occupied territory is that International Law says that if a country occupies another, those conquered must be governed by their own laws. The fact the people in those territories are governed by their own laws implies they are occupied territories.
To compound the issue is the question of what law prevails on the Temple Mount, site of the Mosque of Omar, better known as the Dome of the Rock, the third holiest place in the Arab world.
Israel is a mosaic of diverse cultures. In addition to the complexity of law, there is the compounding matrix of religion. There are many faiths that propagate in this cradle, though there are three principle ones. Israel is the home of Judaism and Christianity. It is a primary fountainhead of Islam. The faiths of two of these are embraced by various states, Judaism by Israel and Islam by the Arab countries. Christianity has no national base of support. The other two often form a vice putting pressure on the Christian community.
This is observable in Bethlehem which was once 95% Christian. Today it is about 28% Christian. There have long been seven quarters to the city. Six were long Christian and one Muslim. Now four are Muslim and two about equal. Every time a piece of property comes up for sale it is purchased by a Muslim, rather for a Muslim. The money comes primarily from Saudi Arabia. Cost does not matter. One business man told me that if he put his business up for sale for $5,000,000 they would pay $10,000,000 rather than a non-Muslim obtain it. In the heart of old Bethlehem, all the property around Nativity Square and the Church of the Nativity is being purchased by Muslims.
A sub confusion comes from the fact some Christians are Arabs and some Israelis. These are often in conflict with the faith of their heritage and those who espouse it.
Another layer of confusion is the pluralism of the population. Immigrants from all over the world have moved into the country. Israel has a very liberal immigration policy for Jews wanting to “come home.” Assimilation of the many diverse customs into one is difficult. Many youth grow up not knowing who they are. The Israeli government has a good program to help acclimate young Jews to their new society but children of other cultures have no roots. This causes emotional problems.
Don’t try to solve all this. Do comply with the ancient admonition: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”

Israel Part 2

If you get a chance to visit Israel, the land of the Bible, go. Don’t let the following discourage you.
On this our thirty-third trip to Israel my wife and I ventured out of the tourist sphere several times. I pruned olive trees and grape vines in a friend’s garden and visited deep into two regions of the off beat desert. I am writing about the Bible character Nicodemus and lucked up on finding his grave on the Costal Plain at Beit Gemal near where David fought Goliath in the valley of Elah.
Just my wife and I were on this trip. Walking in the Old City of Jerusalem by ourselves we ventured into the Arab section. Each quarter of the city has its own enjoyable atmosphere. We knew our way around and enjoyed leisurely visiting places of interest. However, there was one difference this time. Small groups of admirably brown boys with moosed curly hair enjoy walking in packs and engaging tall white men in combat walking. They took delight in taunting me verbally in a language I don’t know, tugged at my shirt and often bumped me.
Later in telling an adult about it I said I understand their frustration and don’t hold it against them.
He said, “You can forgive them but they won’t forgive you.”
I asked what he meant. He asked if I knew why they hated me simply because I am an American. He explained every week in the mosques of the land, including the mosque on the Holy Mount, they hear the same hate message. He explained the Arabs have a term used for “raiding the well.” In the old Arab culture if the well of a tribe wasn’t producing they would raid the well of a neighboring tribe and get their valued water. He said they are taught Americans are raiding the wells of the Arab people in Iraq. Because of this, they are taught to hate Americans.
The person telling me this is well educated. He said Americans are not the ones raiding the Iraqi wells-it is the British who have been doing it for years as the British Petroleum Company. However, it is to the advantage of the religious leaders in that part of the world to preach such a message of hate.
To maintain calm in this pluralistic society, extremists must be dealt with. A police officer represented himself to me as being in investigation. I presumed that meant investigating crimes after the fact. It meant investigating potential happenings in order to prevent them. He said it isn’t always democratic but it is essential for the welfare of both sides to infiltrate and deal with potential problems in order to prevent them. Surveillance is a constant necessity.
That is a delicate essential in our own country. Constant vigilance in investigating what might happen in order to prevent it is basic to safety. Doing so in our democratic society is all the more difficult. That is what some of our recent investigative legislation is all about. Like it or not it is necessary.
Don’t let my recent experience deter you from going to Israel. Stay with your group and there is no problem. Arabs and Israelis alike assured me the terrorist know the tourists are good for the economy and not one has been a target.
The spiritual benefits are worth the efforts.

Israel Part 1

Having just returned from my thirty-third trip to Israel I found the situation as complicated as ever. This is not an attempt to take sides-just to report an experience.
I said to an Arab-Christian friend in Bethlehem, “I  understand some of the extremist holdouts from the stand-off at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem are trying to get back in the country.”
Calmly but confidently he said, “Those were not extremists.” I wanted to interrupt and assure him they were because I heard it on the news in America. He went on to say he was supposed to be one of them. Just before the most recent invasion of Bethlehem that precipitated the stand-off word got out there was going to be a raid by Israeli Security forces to arrest a few known extremists and in the process a number of other innocent persons in order to intimidate them to keep the terrorists from gaining popularity.
My friend’s influential father in America, knowing of the pending arrests, called his son and told him to go to the church as a sanctuary against arrest as an innocent person. As he was leaving to go to the church a nun from a convent called and told him to come there for safety. He elected to do so and therefore wasn’t in the Church of the Nativity.
As the siege continued and interest in his whereabout waned, he returned home. His wife picked up the story at this point saying that during the shelling of their neighborhood she kept the children in a basement room. There she played loud music and played games with them to try to prevent them from understanding the gravity of what was going on as debris from exploding shells crashed through their home.
Against that background he shared that the people with all differences can get along with each other. It is the political leaders who cause the problems. He related how Israeli friends called their home several times during the bombing to enquire about their welfare, asked if they had food, and offered to bring them food.
After the conflict ended, business in Bethlehem was very bad. He owed several Jewish business men elsewhere in Israel significant money. Each called and urged him not to worry about the debt, that they knew things would get better and when they did he would repay them. Things have improved significantly and he has repaid them.
Several things about that conversation stand out. Our news represented those in the church as all being extreme terrorists. They were not. A few were but others were simply seeking sanctuary against being made an example of. That slant was never in the news.
Next, the citizens with different religious, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds can co-exist and in general do.
The courage of the populace is amazing. Israelis live with the threat of terrorist bombings and Arabs of further incursions into their neighborhoods.

Shorter College: A Synergy of Scholarship and Faith

Crowning one of the seven hills of Rome (Georgia) is a small college committed to excellence in education. Confirming this is being listed in the “Princeton Review” among “America’s Best Value Colleges,” in “U.S. News” among “America’s Best Colleges,” and is listed in the “2007 Colleges of Distinction Guidebook.”
It’s academic excellence is further attested to by the fact that out of all the college and university professors in Georgia one member of the faculty, Dr. Carmen Acevedo Butcher, was chosen “Georgia Professor of the Year” by the Carnegie Foundation.
The new band director is a five-time Fulbright Scholar and founder of the Bucharest Pops Orchestra and the Romanian National Jazz Ensemble.
The percent of pre-med students admitted to various medical schools is among the highest in the nation.
Renovated dorms and a newly constructed dorm await students. A student friendly, redesigned and expanded plaza in the center of the campus adds charm.
New Athletic Director, Bill Peterson, son of famed former Florida State football coach, has raised the standard for academic/athletic excellence.
The divers sports program excels in several fields. The city of Rome is excited in that the school’s bid to host the National NAIA Football Championship makes Rome one of the three finalists. The football team is expected to contend for the Mid-South Conference football championship this year.
A former University of Georgia basketball player has just come as the new basketball coach. His experience at Hampton Sidney and The College of William and Mary has heightened hopes for the hoops program.
In addition to the Rome campus, even more students are enrolled in the off campus programs in Atlanta. The school of business and the newly expanded education majors are increasingly popular.
A bright future for the school is suggested by a record enrollment and financial stability. An air of optimism exists among faculty and staff. These disciplines share a commitment in aiding each student to achieve his or her optimum potential. The faculty-student ratio enables there to be a healthy exchange between the two disciplines.
All of this is enhanced by an environment summarized in a statement on banners on all lamppost along the scenic winding entrance drive: “A Christian College Committed to Excellence in Education.”
It has been my good fortune to serve as Chairman of the Shorter Board of Trustees. This board and the Board of Advisors are jointly committed to perpetuating the school’s outstanding academic record and providing an atmosphere conducive to the development of students academically, physically, socially, and spiritually. Even the students adhering to no religious faith are inspired by such an environment.
Students still undecided about where to go to college would do well to check it out on the web (www.shorter.edu) and consider visiting the campus.

World War II Heroes

     A generation of giants is dwindling. Most of them are in their late 70s to early 90s. They are the living legends of World War II. Look around, there may be one near you. If so, get to know that person, observe his or her lifestyle, become aware of their values, get to know their character.
     An illustration of them is found in the lives of the three following public figures. You may have thought you knew them, BUT….
     Actor Lee Marvin was well known for his war heroics. He was awarded the Navy Cross for his valor at Iwo Jima. He said he served with the bravest man he had ever known. He earned the Navy Cross for conduct in the same battle as Marvin. Lee said this little guy stood on Red Beach on Iwo with bullets flying and bombs bursting and directed his men forward. More than once he exposed himself as the main target of gunfire to preserve the safety of his men. That brave warrior was Bob Keeshan, better known as Captain Kangaroo.
     A U.S. Navy Seal has to be tough. This one was well trained in hand-to-hand combat and small arms like all Seals. He was combat proven in a number of battles. Later in life as a TV character he wore a sweater and long sleeves to cover the tattoos on his forearms and biceps. Perhaps you knew him best as the gentle Mr. Rogers. After the war he became a minister who dedicated his life to helping children make right choices.
     Remember James Arness? Perhaps you knew his better as Marshall Dillon on Gunsmoke. If you thought the sheriff was tough, you should have known him as a combat-proven soldier. His bravery in many battles nearly ended his life in one. His wounds were so severe he spent eighteen months in hospitals at the end of the war. His citations for bravery were many.
     If you know one of their kind you are fortunate. I had the good fortune on running into one of them at The Varsity on the Fourth of July. If I were to use his name it would embarrass him and most people who have lived around here would know him well. He is a real life hero and ultra modest about it. I felt fortunate to see him on that day and say thanks again for making every Fourth of July cause to celebrate people like him.
     Through my television ministry I corresponded with many such heroes. One helped raise the flag in that legendary photo of the raising of the American flag on Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima. One was the officer in charge of the noted German POW, Wernher von Braun. He built such rapport with the General that one day the German genius asked, “Would you like to see my plans?” Von Braun unscrewed the end off a piece of pipe and pulled out the blueprints for his rocket that gave birth to our missile program.
     My little home town was listed in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” as having the highest percent of commissioned officers per population of any city in America during World War II. Out of a population of only about 450 there were three generals plus many high ranking officers.
      Growing up they were my heroes. In an era bereft of heroes, find one. In doing so you will have found a modest person of character worth getting to know, one worthy of your thanks.
     Every war has produced heroes like these. They deserve comparable gratitude and respect. We are in their debt.

The Foundation of Our Constitution

     Democracy alone is not enough. Democracy is not the soil out of which morality grows. Morality is the essential soil in which democracy thrives. A certain ethos, a characteristic spirit of a culture or community, is required.
     That is an elementary principle precipitating the complexity of trying to establish democracy in Middle Eastern tribal cultures. The ethos that supports their social structure is not conducive for a thriving democracy. It is a different morality.
     Our founding fathers knew morality was the basis of democracy. President John Adams stated, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”
     The growing climate of lawlessness and immorality in America is resulting in a generation that can by no means be described as “moral and religious.” If the statement by Adams is true the future of our nation functioning well under its Constitution looks bleak.
     President James Madison, recognized by many as the architect of the Constitution, framed this great truth: “We have staked the whole future of American civilization not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”  Madison indicated a social environment based on the Ten Commandments is essential for the survival of democracy.
     A case in point indicating our country is rapidly moving away for such a foundation is a court case in Kentucky where a judge ordered a copy of the Ten commandments removed from a school “lest the students looking upon them daily should come to believe in them.” Horrors! Imagine such a dastardly thing.
     In countries where the ancient Code of Hammurabi fashioned in 1760 B.C. it is still basic to the social structure that democracy doesn’t do well. That Code in simple summary is “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” It doesn’t provide for democratic law to prevail.
     The point is democracy requires a certain culture. For democracy to work in the Middle East or any place a certain culture is essential. This is not to suggest all Middle East countries must become Christian, but it does indicate a culture of a different morality is essential. Changing the shared culture of multiple nations with a legal system and code of ethics based on Sharai Law is highly unlikely. It will never be done by invading them and insisting on a democratic government.
     For democracy as we know it to survive in America, a reversal of our growing immoral trends is essential. Presently the national media has and is changing our total culture. As evidence of this compare the day in which Clark Gable shocked the nation with the “D” word in “Gone With the Wind” with the subject matter and language in current sitcoms.
     Contrast the lyrics of the Doo Wop music of 50 years ago with those of rap music today and a moral decline is evident.
     Another indication of our changing cultural climate is this column. There was a day the concept expressed herein was the norm. Today it will be attacked as fostering religion.
     Like most, I don’t want to impose religion on any person, but there is a point where religious and non-religious people must have a common ground on which to advocate morality.

One Nation?

     That E PLURIBUS UNUM on our coins, what does it mean?  It has gotten to where it means practically nothing. Some say it mean “one of many,” indicating this is just one coin out of many.
     In reality, it means “out of many one.” Initially it spoke of two things. First, it referred to many differing people from different countries coming together to form one union, America. In a secondary sense it spoke of the several states being one nation.
     They brought with them different languages, customs, and beliefs which they blended to form one ethos. I don’t want to insult the intellect of anyone but since “ethos” is not a word used often I share a definition of it. It means the characteristic spirit of a culture or community.
     By no mean were all the people British or Christians, but those two factors combined to dramatically influence the ethos as expressed by our Constitution.
     ethos is referred to as “One nation under God.” How many nations? One!
     The factor of one has been a defining characteristic of America. That elementary principle has never been so contested as today. To a great extent America was developed by immigrants. However, those coming in have never made a more concerted effort to remain separate and change the nation to conform to them than now.
     I lived in New Orleans for years. There is the well know French Quarter, the Irish Channel, and other quarters, but those living there did not demand the others conform to their standards. While preserving much of their heritage, they accepted a new common denominator called America and its ethos.
     Today, some want us to have two official languages. Some are demanding their emerging immigrant population be governed by laws other than those of America. Others want voter ballots made available in many different languages.
     There are existing cultures where division within exists and confusion abounds. Czechoslovakia is divided into two republics. Belgium has a schism because of two official languages and Canada is struggling to prevent the predominantly French section from separating.
     Germans are historically and currently an example of people who have come in to blend and become part of the one. There are more people of German extraction living in America than any nationality.
     By no means are all Americans Christians, but the laws of our nation were dramatically influenced in their inception by the Christian ethic and basic Biblical morality. The people making those laws had a British heritage. Now there are those who deny that and want to have any evidence of it removed. Some of the Founding Fathers were not Christians, and some who were weren’t very good ones, but they knew such ethics and morality would contribute to the new ethos.
     In an era when pluralism and multi-culturalism is the battle cry it remains to be seen if we will be “out of many one,” or “one of many” divided.  Americans must always welcome legal aliens who qualify to come to this country to become part of the “one nation” not divide us.

Creation and Science

     You don’t know what you don’t know, you know!
     I marvel at the genius of mankind. Chemistry, physics, technology, and a variety of sciences have pushed back the frontiers of knowledge and opened the doors of creativity in mind stretching ways. I applaud those who mentally go where I can’t even conceive of adventuring intellectually.
     I marvel over accumulated knowledge. Inquisitively I muse over speculation and hypotheses based on assumption. Just when scholars think they have it figured out who we are, where we came from, and how long it took, along comes the Creator and says, “Surprise!”
     Astronomers have just found-did you get that-just found, a vast cosmic hole in deep outer space void of stray stars, galaxies, black holes, and not even unidentified black matter. It is 1 billion light years across. That is 6 billion trillion miles of nothing. Such space exists but this is 1000 times larger than any scientist ever imagined.
     I know this is an equation out of which some desire to omit God. That is a bigger void than the one just discovered. Many revere Him as Creator. Through the Old Testament character Job (38:4,5)the Creator asked: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements?”
     As we shuffle for answers, the Creator is depicted by the Psalmist (2:4) this way: “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh….”
     Remember those creative cartoon-like drawing depicting human evolution?  They start with a stooped knuckle dragger and step by step show man evolving into homo sapiens. Along the way there are other hominids. They reputedly represent the various stages of our alleged development. Just recently palaeontologists have encountered a startling conflict. Two of these models, one of which supposedly preceded the other, were found to have lived at the same time. Though this refutes the progression scientists have given assurance there is an explanation not yet known.
     Right! You don’t know what you don’t know, you know?
     There are some basic misconceptions regarding evolution. One is that all reputable scientists believe in evolution-NOT!. There are multiple scientific societies composed of persons with advanced degrees from highly reputable universities that believe in creation.
     A second misconception is that all scientists agree on the evolutionary progression-NOT! Go on the Internet and check on recent scientific articles on the subject. You will find conflicting articles by evolutionists who hold diametric positions on the same issues. Each postulate how the other could not be possible.
     Tonight go outside and search the sky for what looks like a small cloudy area. It is called Andromeda. It is so far away no individual member of the cluster is identifiable by the unaided eye. It consists of 100 million galaxies containing 100 billion suns larger than ours.
     There is so much order and design to all this millions call it creation. You know, like “endowed by their Creator….”

Ministers Salaries

      Randy and Paula White, Benny Hinn, David and Joyce Meyer, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Bishop Eddie Long, Creflo and Taffi Dollar vs. Billy Graham.
     What a contrast! The first lineup is under investigation by Congress. The suspicion is financial mismanagement. Billy Graham, a man of integrity, lived a modest life in his mountain home with a board of directors that oversaw his finances.
     Regarding the first group, they have been dealt with in a most unusual way. It would have been appropriate for the IRS to be called on to investigate them if they were to be investigated. Such is usually done quietly and if indiscretion is found then it is made public. These persons may have done nothing wrong, but aspersion have been cast on them.
     I admire the norm for ministers. There are exceptions but most live within the lines of propriety. I respect the many who live at below the average income and never complain. I feel for those who when they retire they have little or no savings simply because their income has provided living expenses but not enough for retirement. There are many of these.
     Those who flaunt their affluence cast reflections on all who live prudently.
     There are various classifications of ministers who live lavishly. One group is simply self-indulging. A few even violate not only propriety, but the law. Even though they are very few some represent them as the norm. By no means are they.
     A second group consists of ministers who are willfully sumptuously provided for by their constituents. You might not like this and I don’t like it, but there are those members of congregations who know they will never be wealthy and they want their minister to live evidencing affluence. Why? Again, you may not like this and I don’t like it, but they want it so they can live vicariously through them. One such minister said, “I only have what my people want me to have.” He told the truth. No matter what the motive, excess always is wrong.
     I know one minister who had an international TV ministry  and a congregation of over 10,000 members. He was on salary and didn’t even know what it was. Years ago he called for a meeting with the Personnel Committee and his wife and instructed them to deal only with his wife in matters of his compensation. He asked her not to hint to him what it was. His trust in her was such he always signed the audited IRS report without looking at any figures. His reasoning, he said he wanted to do what he did for the joy of doing it and not for what he got by doing it.
     I am persuaded that is the motivation of most ministers.
     Back to Billy Graham. One of his first crusades was in Atlanta. As he was boarding a prop private plane to leave the city the treasurer of the crusade handed him a sack containing the offerings from the crusade. A photographer snapped a shot of him holding the moneybag just before the plane door closed. The press exploited the photo. He made it a point never in any way to be associated with crusade receipts. His many ministries and philanthropies have benefitted through the years.
     Long live integrity.

Time to Understand Time

The number one most successful word in sales is “new.” Products that are new attract.
Likewise, a new year excites interest. The dawning of a new year makes us conscious of time. If you love life, don’t waste time. Time is what constitutes life.
Here comes a new year offering us 8,760 new unspent hours. On average people will spend 2,000 hours working, 3,000 hours sleeping, 550 hours eating, and 1,500 hours watching TV.
A question often asked is where does all the time go. Priority Management, Inc. has the answer. In an average lifetime, the typical American will spend:
– Six months sitting at stop lights.
– Eight months opening junk
– One year looking for misplaced objects.
– Two years unsuccessfully returning phone calls.
– Five years waiting in line.
– Six years eating.
– Seven years in the bathroom.
– Twenty-one years sleeping.
Don’t rush away from the fast fading old year without pausing to reflect on it. Savor your achievements, enjoy your successes, rejoice over your wise decisions, and marvel over your blessings. Before you file these and other good memories in your memory bank, evaluate what lessons can be learned from them.
Who deserves an expression of thanks for helping you make it through the old year? Take time to thank them. Expressing thanks is beneficial to the one receiving thanks and the one giving thanks.
To what cause are you willing to commit yourself in the new year. What purpose should color your days? What spirit will you manifest? What is going to be your overall attitude toward life?
Not only can the coming days bring you a new year, but in reality, a new you! The father of modern day psychology said the greatest discovery of the 20th Century was that we can change our lives by changing our minds.
We don’t have to be held captive by old habits, stay in bondage to a pessimistic spirit, be enslaved by an unprofitable and improper overall attitude, or remain mired in failure.
The motivational speaker Charlie “Tremendous” Jones says we become the sum total of the people we meet and the books we read.
Let me suggest the reading of the one book that improves ones overall life more than any other.
The average reader can read the entire Bible in seventy hours. The Old Testament requires fifty-two hours and the New eighteen. Regardless of whether you are a person of Christian faith or of a different faith, there is much to be gained by reading the Book of Psalms, it will take about four and a half hours. Reading it will give a person an attitude adjustment.
I don’t want the new year to slip by without saying, HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Peace on Earth

“Peace on earth and good will toward men” are worthy objectives to be sought in the new year. Yet, the angels’ message is mocked by skeptics who say such a prophecy has not been fulfilled. In the last three centuries there have been more than 275 wars in Europe alone.
The classic poet Henry Wordsworth Longfellow wrestled with the proclamation.
In December 1862 Generals Robert E. Lee and Ambrose E. Burnside commanded their formidable armies at the battle of Fredricksburg on the Rappahannock River. The battle raged for several days leaving approximately 50,000 men dead or wounded. 48,000 were Union forces. The battle was so stunning it went unreported until Christmas Day. Among those listed in the paper as “seriously wounded; not expected to recover” was the son of Longfellow.
To commemorate he event the church bells in Washington rang every five seconds all day long. Wordsworth wrote in his diary, ““Merry Christmas’ say the children but that is no more for me.”
His grief was compounded by him and his wife being seriously burned. His face was so scared he could not shave thereafter and hence his beard. His wife Fanny died.
On Christmas day 1864 he wrote his timeless poem, “Christmas Bells” which was later set to music by John Baptise Calken in 1872. In a depressed state he wrote:
“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
There is no peace on earth, I said;
For hate is strong;
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
It is from that perspective many interpret the angles’ message. However, Longfellow with his attitude adjusted and his spirit revived continued to write:
“Then peals the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead; nor does He sleep!
The wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Longfellow evidently had a conversion of his thoughts by realizing what many have yet to comprehend. The angelic proclamation was not a prophecy of peace but a prescription for peace.
The one at whose birth the prescription was offered later in life assured His followers, “I guarantee all of you that in this world you will have tribulation on a regular basis.”
Then after a teaching time He said, “These things I have spoken to you that you might have peace.”
Indeed, experience has proven certain principles applied do lead to personal peace. Many Christians, as well as those who are not Christians, study these teachings and personally find they do bring peace and result in good-will.

Switzerland: A Land of Enchantment

Elevated heights lead to elevated thoughts. For the optimum upper, visit Switzerland. It is one of the few places in the world that exceeds ones anticipation of what it is like. If you have ever visited a highly anticipated place and found it a downer, Switzerland is the place to redeem those disappointments.
It is easy to visit all regions by comfortable, fast trains. For those of us unfamiliar with how to catch what train, it can be challenging. Rushing to get on a coach only to find you are on the wrong train going the wrong way gives you opportunity to see parts of the beautiful country not on your itinerary.  It is not a loss, I know. We covered the country from the German to the Italian borders by train.
A couple of places that stood out in more than one way are the Jungfrau, known as “The Top of Europe” (11,333 feet), and the Matterhorn.
The quaint village of Grindelwald is an ideal place from which to visit the Jungfrau by rack rail. The cafeteria, gift shop, and viewing rooms are also an ideal places from which to overlook the Eiger Mountain and Eismeer glacier. The myths of the Eiger North Face remain undiminished. It is a ninety minute adventure up the slopes. A change of trains at Klein Scheidegg is required. This was the setting that drew me back to this country after seven years. I wanted to go back, sit on the mountain side and listen to the cow bells. When you get on the tram at the Zurich airport there are background sounds of cow bells, a mooing cow, and a person yodeling. That is all lived out on this mountain side. Miss your connecting train and wait an hour for the next one to enjoy the views and melodious cow bells.
At the Jungfrau you are above 95% of the atmospheric pollution of the earth.
The snow and glaciers cover the mountains all year. The Ice Palace has been carved in the glacier. Long corridors and spacious rooms are made the more interesting by stunning ice sculptures.
Snow flakes that fall on the Jungfrau flow through the lower Grindelwald Glacier in the form of ice crystals for 200 to 250 years before melting and becoming part of the streams in the valleys.
This is a marvelous place to study global warming. A 10,000 year record shows a rapid change every 2,000 years from colder to warmer or warmer to colder. That is earth’s history.
From Grindelwald a three mile cable car ride to the area of First is a matchless way to see the forest and idyllic cultivated countryside up close.
A three hour rail trip from the hub city of Interlaken, itself a must visit town, near Grindelwald takes you through many tunnels, narrow valleys, and lofty passes to Zermott. It is the “WOW” route. The many enthralling views that surprise you result in frequent wows.
There are no automobiles in Zermott. It is the base from which the captivating view of the Matterhorn can be enjoyed. A rack rail trip to the summit of Gornergrat lifts you above most of the mountain peaks of the area and brings you face to face with the magnificent Matterhorn which appears to hold up the sky.
Go if you can. If you can’t, I hope this virtual trip has been interesting and uplifting.