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A Proud Hispanic Heritage

Portrait of Bernardo de Galvez, Source http://bdgsar.org/galvez.htm (PD-Art, PD-old-100)

Few outside Texas are today taught about the 18th Century Spanish leader, Bernardo de Galvez [1].  But the Colonial Governor of Spanish Louisiana played a crucial role in the American Revolution.

Mustering men from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Venezuela, and the Canary Islands, Galvez defeated the British at Baton Rouge, Natchez, Mobile, and Pensacola [2].  This opened the Mississippi, allowing essential munitions and supplies to reach Americans.

The City of Galveston (Galvez’ town) is named after him. 

Migrant Caravan of 2018

“The caravan..started out…from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, one of the most dangerous cities in the world…I have walked the dirt lanes of that gang-ridden [city]…If I lived [here]…I would do anything to protect my children from being recruited into a gang, murdered by a gang or gang raped.  Walking more than 2000 miles to the US border?  You bet.  Until I dropped from exhaustion and had to be carried.”

-Lynn Monahan, “The roots of the caravan”, Maryknoll Magazine, March/April 2019

Fast forward to 2018, when a Central American migrant caravan approached the US border [3].

Fleeing poverty, corruption, drug wars, and gang violence in their countries of origin, some were seeking refuge.  Others were hoping to secure jobs that would allow them to send money to families back home.

The large group size was meant to serve as a defense against human traffickers. Read more…

Isolation and God

Isolation at Glacier Point, CA, Author Ben Bowens rndmben13, Source https://unsplash.com/photos/ooxY4kyg79g (CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication)

During this coronavirus pandemic, many have experienced loneliness, isolation, and alienation.  The following is excerpted from an articled titled “We Belong to God – and one another” by Joseph Venerosa which appeared in the March/April 2019 edition of Maryknoll Magazine:

“…One of the ironies of modern life is that while the world is more populated than ever, people feel more isolated and alienated from one another.  One of the worst feelings is of not belonging…

In the Gospels, we see Jesus…going to the margins of society, to the sinner and outcast, the sick and the poor, and accepting people where they are, without preconditions, and making them family….So when did we become such strangers to one another – and to God?”

Read more…

The Center of America

American flag, East Burke, VT, Author Artaxerxes (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

These are profoundly dangerous times.

Our nation’s Capitol was this week assaulted by followers of Pres. Donald Trump, incited to violence by the president.  This was not peaceful protest.  It was insurrection.

Yet, 147 Senate and House Republicans persisted in objecting to legitimate electoral outcomes in Arizona and Pennsylvania – perpetuating a lie that many have been led to believe, a lie that the election was “stolen” [1].

In so doing, those Republicans ignored numerous unsuccessful lawsuits contesting the election; a brazen attempt by Pres. Trump to pressure Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, to subvert election results; and the impassioned plea below from a fellow Republican [2].

Please, pray for America.

“I don’t think we want to tell the Americans that come after us that this Republic is broken; that this is just a banana republic; that our institutions can’t be trusted…

America isn’t Hatfields and McCoys, blood feuds forever.  America’s a union.  There’s a lot that’s broken in this county, but not anything that’s so big that the American people can’t rebuild it…

Generations of our…ancestors have spilled blood to defend the glories of this Republic.  Why would they do that?  Because America is the most exceptional nation in the history of the world.  And because the Constitution is the greatest political document that’s ever been written.

Most governments in the past have said that ‘Might makes right’ and we saw some of that…today.  Might makes right.  No, it doesn’t!  God gives us rights by nature, and government is just our shared project to secure those rights.

America has always been about what we choose to do together…

[B]ut the heart of America is not government.  The center of America is not Washington, DC.  The center of America is the neighborhoods where 330 million Americans are raising their kids, and trying to put food on the table, and trying to love their neighbor.  That’s the center of America.” Read more…

The Beauty of the Lord

Lot 329: William Shakespeare Burton oil, King of Sorrows

“King of Sorrows” by William Burton (c. 1897).

Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!” (1 Chron. 16: 29).

Enmeshed in our own lives, we often take for granted the beauty of the Lord. Our needs, our desires take precedence, despite the fact His beauty is all around us.

That beauty is reflected in infinite ways by the natural world – not only by flowers and trees or majestic vistas, but by the relationship of His creatures to one another.  Great and small, they are interconnected.  Great and small, they are dependent on Him.

We are not excluded from this picture.  We, too, depend on Him for our existence.  Were He another kind of god, He might demand our obedience on pain of death.  Instead, He asks for our love. Read more…

DNA from Medieval Manuscripts

Illuminated manuscript showing Cistercian monks at work and prayer, Cambridge Collection (PD)

Scientists have succeeded in extracting DNA from a 1000 year old manuscript known as the York Gospels.  The manuscript contains the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, along with clergy oaths and land records [1].

Illuminated Manuscripts

Medieval monks crafted illuminated manuscripts which other churchmen read and handled, down the centuries.

Human and Animal DNA

That DNA from such individuals should have been obtained is nothing short of amazing.  DNA has, also, though been obtained from the cows and sheep whose skins became the parchment onto which the York Gospels were written.

Using animal DNA, researchers can trace medieval trade routes, or discover how a particular disease pathogen impacted medieval herds.  Three samples yielded enough DNA to compare cattle genomes from the Middle Ages with today’s.  The most complete parchment genome was similar to modern Holsteins and Norwegian reds. Read more…

A Child Is Born

Newborn nursing in the NICU, Author Czechpeas (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9: 6).

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 8.28% of American infants (some 240,000) are born with low birthweight [1].  Over 194,000 are born to teen mothers as young as 15 [2].

More than 5 in every 1000 will die in infancy – a rate 71% higher than that of other developed nations [3][4].  Another 862,000 will be aborted before birth [5].

Approximately 40% of American children are born out of wedlock [6].  19.7 million (1 in 4) live without a father in the home [7]. Read more…

The Heart of Darkness

Mugshot of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand (c. 1948), Source http://www.cuvantul-ortodox.ro/recomandari/2015/11/23/richard-wumbrandt-convertire-ortodoxie/, (Romanian Decree No. 321/1956, Law No. 8/1996, and Law No. 285/2004)

When we see evil and ignorance on the rise, we may be tempted to self-isolate, to keep a low profile.  Two men took another course.  Despite impossible odds, they continued to work for good.

Felix Kersten (a physical therapist coerced into treating Heinrich Himmler) prevailed on this architect of the Holocaust to release Nazi prisoners [1][2].  Through Kersten’s efforts, the lives of 60,000 Jews in concentration camps, along with hundreds of Norwegians and Danes, were saved.

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian of Jewish descent, spent 14 years in Communist prisons [3][4][5].  Tortured for his faith in Christ, Wurmbrand authored well over a dozen books, during his lifetime.  He would go on to found Voice of the Martyrs https://www.persecution.com/ – a worldwide ministry providing support to persecuted Christians in 68 nations.

May these men inspire us, too, to confront the heart of darkness.

You are the light of the world” (Matt. 5: 14).

[1]  Wikipedia, “Felix Kersten”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Kersten.

[2]  The Kersten Memoirs by Felix Kersten (1956).

[3]  Wikipedia, “Richard Wurmbrand”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Wurmbrand.

[4]  Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand (1967).

[5]  With God in Solitary Confinement by Richard Wurmbrand (1969).

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  https://avoicereclaimed.com

The Size of Our God

“…God transcends physical dimension.  It is not possible to define Him by human standards of size and measurement.  This is the God who created the universe, and the atom, and everything we see and feel and experience [1].”

Individually and in small groups, 20,000 children orphaned or separated from their families by the brutal Sudanese civil war, set off to walk 1000 miles through the African bush to safety [2].

Without adult help or supervision, without provisions, the children (some as young as 7 y.o.) dodged bullets; eluded gangs out to recruit “child soldiers”; braved wild animals; and forded raging rivers – all the while battling hunger, thirst, disease, and exhaustion [3][4].

For some, the journey lasted two years [5A].  Half died before finally reaching refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya.  A large number spent the remainder of their adolescence in those camps [5B]. Read more…

Maid of Orleans

“Joan of Arc” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1882), Author/Source Fitzwilliam Museum/University of Cambridge (Accession No. 685) (PD-Art, PD-Old)

We live at a time when terrorists (foreign and domestic) pride themselves on taking the lives of innocent men, women, and children then style themselves “martyrs” engaged in a holy war.

It may be worth recalling what devotion meant in the day and age of a real martyr.

During the Hundred Years War, an untutored peasant girl led a small French force to victory against a larger English army, lifting the siege of Orleans.  It was from this battle that Joan of Arc derived her title as the Maid of Orleans.

Captured by the English in 1430, Joan was placed on trial for heresy and witchcraft.  Questioned by church officials, Joan responded with amazing insight and unfailing faith.  Despite that, she was burned at the stake at the age of nineteen.

Her testimony, however, was preserved.  Here are a few excerpts:

A:  I was thirteen when I had a Voice from God for my help and guidance. The first time that I heard this Voice, I was very much frightened; it was mid-day, in the summer, in my father’s garden…

Q:  This Voice that speaks to you, it is that of an Angel, or of a Saint, or from God direct?

A:  It is the Voice of Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret. Their faces are adorned with beautiful crowns, very rich and precious…

Q:  What was the first Voice that came to you when you were about thirteen?

A:  It was Saint Michael; I saw him before my eyes; he was not alone, but quite surrounded by the Angels of Heaven…

Q:  Do you know if you are in the Grace of God?

A:  If I am not, may God place me there; if I am, may God so keep me. I should be the saddest in all the world if I knew that I were not in the grace of God.  But if I were in a state of sin, do you think the Voice would come to me?  I would that everyone could hear the Voice as I hear it… Read more…

Mayflower Compact

“Interview of Samoset with the Pilgrims” (1853), Source Baharris.org (PD)

A foundation stone for democracy on this continent, the Mayflower Compact was the first document under which the Plymouth Colony was governed.  The agreement, which established an elected authority all would obey, was signed in 1620 as the Mayflower rode at anchor in Cape Cod Harbor.

For the Sake of Freedom and Equality

The Pilgrims were actually comprised of two groups:  Separatists and non-Separatists.

The Separatists sought religious liberty, specifically the right to separate from the Church of England. They had initially emigrated to the tolerant Netherlands, but found the Dutch culture at odds with their own.

The non-Separatists — like many to follow them — sought economic and social opportunity, and the chance for a better life in America.

In the broadest terms, all risked their lives for the sake of freedom and equality. Read more…