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1849 cholera prevention poster by NYC Sanatory Committee, under sanction of the Medical Counsel, Source New York Historical Society (PD)

In the course of human history, hundreds of millions have died of widespread infectious diseases.

In the mid-1300s, the bubonic plague or “Black Death” killed 20 million.  In the 1600s, smallpox wiped out an estimated 70% of the Native America population [1].  In 1918, influenza a/k/a the Spanish flu killed 50 million worldwide [2].

Yellow fever, typhus, typhoid, malaria, measles, and HIV have all taken their toll [3A]. Read more…

An Old Heresy in New Garb – The Enneagram

“Adam and Eve in Paradise (The Fall)” by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1533), Berlin State Museum (Accession No. 567), Source Google Cultural Institute (PD-Art, PD-old)

The heretical belief is spreading rapidly among Evangelicals and Roman Catholics that a personality typing system called the Enneagram offers the key to spiritual growth and understanding [1A].

Evangelical publishers are flooding the marketplace with books on this subject.  That these are being sanctioned by clergy makes them all the more dangerous [2].

Every Person Perfect

Similar to the now debunked Myers-Briggs system but claiming ancient origins, the Enneagram classifies personalities into 9 types, based on desire and motivation.

The personality is viewed as a set of coping mechanisms built around a person’s “true” identity [1B].  Followers are encouraged to engage “lovingly” with their flaws.

Oscar Ichazo (the humanist who created the Enneagram in its present form) maintains that “every person is perfect, fearless, and in loving unity with the entire cosmos” [1C].  There are no clear distinctions between good and evil.  Sin, if it exists at all, is merely a destructive tendency to be corrected.

Therein, of course, lies the rub. Read more…

The Harlan Bible

Bible, Author Vortix (PD)

The following excerpt is from an article titled “An Exceptional Gift” by Judge Darrell White (Ret.) [1].  It concerns a little-known historic artifact, the personal Bible of Justice John Marshall Harlan.

Every US Supreme Court justice has signed the Harlan Bible since its dedication in 1906.

“John Marshall Harlan was born in…Kentucky, in 1833, into a politically-prominent slave-holding family….[However, in 1861 he] organized the 10th Kentucky Infantry Volunteers for the Union Army and served as its commander…until…1863, when he assumed his father’s law practice following the elder Harlan’s sudden death…

Partly from practical political considerations and partly from revulsion at the Jim Crow laws and vicious acts of ethnic violence committed in the aftermath of the Civil War, Harlan…spoke out boldly in opposition to the execrable institution he had once defended…

A longtime leader in Washington DC’s New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, Harlan went on to bear genuine fruit of a changed heart.  He was the only justice to dissent in two pivotal Supreme Court cases concerning ethnic relations.  The first came in 1883, when constitutionality of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was at issue.  Harlan…dissented alone as his colleagues on the Supreme Court nullified important federal legislation guaranteeing everyone, regardless of ethnicity, color, or previous condition of servitude, entitlement to the same treatment in public accommodations (i.e., inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement)…

When Harlan’s Supreme Court colleagues ruled in the infamous 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case that ‘separate-but-equal’ passenger facilities on railroads were constitutionally justified, Harlan defiantly stood alone, dissenting in language that is still quoted today:

‘In view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens.  There is no caste here.  Our Constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.’

…Justice Harlan was dead serious about the Bible’s importance to America’s system of civil government…

‘I fully believe in both the Bible and the Constitution…I believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.  Nothing which it commands can be safely or properly disregarded; nothing it condemns can be justified.  No civilization is worth preserving which is not based on the doctrines or teachings of the Bible.  No nation that habitually ignores or violates the rules prescribed by it for the conduct and government of the human race, can long last.’…”

[1]  Journal of Christian Legal Thought, Vol. 9, No. 1 (2019), pp. 3-6, “An Exceptional Gift” by Judge Darrell White (Ret).


Modern Feudalism

Medieval reeve and serfs harvesting wheat, illustration from Queen Mary’s Psalter (c. 1310), British Libarary (PD)

feu·dal·ism (noun) – the dominant social system in medieval Europe, in which the nobility held lands from the Crown in exchange for military service, and vassals were in turn tenants of the nobles, while the peasants…were obliged to live on their lord’s land and give him homage, labor, and a share of the produce…in exchange for military protection.

Oxford Dictionary

The complexities of the modern world are giving rise to a new feudalism in which large corporations hold increasing power over individuals.  The Middle Class is particularly at risk.

High Cost of Living

The coronavirus aside, the economy has been booming.  Large corporations have benefited greatly.  Though the unemployment rate can be deceptive, unemployment is the lowest it has been since 1969 [1][2].

Nonetheless, the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, reports that the median annual wage of a male employee will no longer cover the cost of living for a family of four [3].

As of 2018, basic living expenses – housing, transportation, education, and healthcare – totaled $54,441 per year.  According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, full-time male employees required 53 weeks to cover these; full-time female employees, 66 weeks.  Unfortunately, there are only 52 weeks in a year. Read more…


“Job and His Friends” by Georges-Auguste Lavergne, Ecole Nationale des Superieure Beaux-Arts, Paris, France, Author VladoubidoOo (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Behold, I am vile…” (Job 40: 4).

“One cheering word, poor lost sinner, for thee!  You think you must not come to God because you are vile.  Now, there is not a saint living on earth but has been made to feel that he is vile.  If Job, and Isaiah, and Paul were all obliged to say, ‘I am vile,’ oh, poor sinner, wilt thou be ashamed to join in the same confession?  If divine grace does not eradicate all sin from the believer, how dost thou hope to do it thyself?  And if God love His people while they are yet vile, dost thou think thy vileness will prevent His loving thee?

Believe on Jesus, thou outcast of the world’s society!  If, now, with all thy heart, thou wilt  say, ‘I am vile, wash me,’ thou shalt be washed now.  Oh, may the Holy Spirit give thee saving faith in Him who receives the vilest!”

–Charles Spurgeon


A Forgotten Story of Courage

Allied liberation of Paris, Source US National Archives and Records Administration (Identifier 531215) (PD)

Late in 1943, Huguette and Marion Muller – German Jews – made their way to the Alps in search of refuge [1A].  The Holocaust had already claimed their mother, Edith, who was gassed at Auschwitz.

The sisters fled to France, when Hitler came to power.  Now, they were headed to the small resort town of Val d’Isere, near the French/Italian border.

This choice was not without danger.  The region was Roman Catholic and highly right-wing.  Nazi soldiers there regularly pillaged and burned the homes of anyone who failed to report for assigned factory work.  Residents still refer to the Nazi occupation as la terreur.

The sisters found themselves in real peril when Huguette broke her leg.  The local physician, Dr. Frédéric Pétri, said the break was so severe the teen should be moved to a nearby hospital.

Their parents had baptized Huguette, so there was no “J” on her identity card.  However, the mere fact that she was born in Berlin would have been sufficient to send her to a death camp on arrival at the hospital.

Afraid their secret would be discovered, the girls resisted.  But Dr. Petri surprised the sisters by offering to take Huguette in, till her leg healed.

Unbeknownst to them, Dr. Pétri had already spent two years in a German prisoner of war camp.  Yet at the risk of his life, he cared for Huguette in his own home, while she convalesced.

Both sisters survived WW II.  Dr. Petri took their secret to his grave.

“He [Dr Frédéric Pétri] was driven by a passion, not for plastering broken legs, but for caring for people.  He was profoundly generous and all his life he did everything he could for others.”

-Christel Petri, daughter of Dr. Petri [1B]

From 1940 – 1944, about 75,000 Jews were deported from France to concentration camps.  It was not until 1995 that Pres. Jacques Chirac acknowledged French responsibility in the Holocaust.

[1A and 1B]  BBC News, “Val d’Isere:  The doctor who hid a Jewish girl – and the resort that wants to forget” by Rosie Whitehouse, 1/5/20,


Run for the Roses

Few animals on earth are as extraordinary or beautiful as the horse.  Few of mankind’s animal companions have proven as constant or significant.

Horses have been used for transportation, agriculture, hunting, herding, exploration, warfare, entertainment, sport, police work, and most recently therapy [1].  Apart from service, they have provided milk, meat, hide, hair, bone, and pharmaceuticals. Read more…

Wasted Time

Stopwatch, Author TheJosh (PD)

But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’  My times are in Your hand…” (Ps. 31: 14-15).

The practice of law involves a great deal of “hurry up and wait” – the rush toward urgent deadlines, conferences, trials, and other aspects of litigation then delayed by circumstance.  Whether in court or in traffic; with clients, adversaries, or witnesses, the waste of precious time can be infuriating.

The Bible is filled with examples of delay.  Abraham waited 25 years for the son he was promised by God.  Sold into slavery, Joseph spent over 20 years in Egypt before being reunited with his brothers.  The Israelites waited 400 years for liberation from bondage, then spent 40 more years wandering in the desert.  Anointed by Samuel, David had to wait another 20 years or so before ascending to the throne.

Alot of downtime, assuming it was pointless.

Our own lives are packed with delay – the “in-between” days, months, and years when nothing important seems to be happening to us.  We may have waited with anticipation for true love, that first big break, or our 21st birthday. We wait on job interviews and promotions; on exam results, verdicts, and diagnoses – good news and bad. Read more…

Smuggling Digital Bibles

A military spokesman for al-Shabab issues a statement south of Mogadishu. Feisal Omar/Reuters

The following article is excerpted from “Smuggling the Digital Word” in the April 2019 edition of The Voice of the Martyrs Magazine.  It drives home how precious the Word is.

“Al-Shabab militants came for Christian schoolteachers Philip Okumu and Daniel Wekesa in the middle of the night.  They surrounded the men’s house in their small Kenyan village…then tossed a grenade through a window.  As flames spread…Philip and Daniel ran for the door and were shot to death…for sharing the gospel with their students…

Although based in Somalia, al-Shabab terrorists move freely across the country’s borders with Kenya and Ethiopia…

Somali Bibles are impossible to obtain inside the country and… even difficult to find…in…Kenya, a majority Christian nation…[G]etting caught by al-Shabab with a Bible almost invariably results in immediate execution.  Christians, therefore, prefer digital versions…”

Read more…

Rural America at Risk

Dairy Barn at Malabar Farm State Park, Lucas, OH, Author OHWiki (PD)

  • 25% of rural American children live below the poverty line [1].  As of 2013, that translated to over 2.6 million children.
  • 25% of rural Americans are unable to obtain regular health care due to distance [2].  Over 100 rural hospitals have shut their doors since 2010.  Burnout among overworked rural physicians is high.  Family medical practices in small towns are closing down.
  • Nearly 25% of rural Americans – 14.5 million – still have no access to broadband [3].
  • Meanwhile, large retailers like JC Penney, Sears, and Macy’s are abandoning rural America in droves [4].  Apart from requiring longer drive times by shoppers, this has resulted in a loss both of sales tax revenues and jobs.

Rural communities are being stressed from nearly every quarter [5].

Overseas Markets

For the second year in a row, soybean farmers have been left without a buyer for 60% of their crop due a trade war with China [6].  America’s soybean exports (which fell more than 70% in 2018) recovered in 2019, but remained down more than 34% from their 2017 total.

Wheat growers are likely to face the next challenge [7].  Middle East tensions threaten wheat exports.

Farm Bankruptcies

Not surprisingly, farm bankruptcies rose in September 2019 to their highest level since 2011, even as the stock market soared [8].  They included Dean Foods, America’s largest milk producer. Read more…