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Miners in the Earth

Image result for free downloadable images by artist josef herman

A Polish Jew who fled to Wales during WWII to escape persecution has much insight to offer on the plight of today’s American miners.

Ordinary Men

Josef Herman, a realist painter who lost his family to the Holocaust, embraced the coal mining community of Ystradgynlais (where he lived from 1944-1955) [1][2][3][4].  Herman’s works celebrate the miners – ordinary men who daily risked their lives to earn a meager living, in the process building a tight-knit community and a culture that is now lost.

A Connection to the Earth

Herman actually accompanied the miners down into the pit.  He spent hours in that dark, dirty, dank, and dangerous setting, sketching them by the light of a miner’s lamp.  Herman recorded the miners’ camaraderie and courage, their connection to the earth imbuing them with a kind of nobility.  His images are powerful and moving.

Dignity in Labor

What Herman observed and what he tells us is that there is dignity in labor, heroism in everyday life.  He tells us that we are stronger working together than standing alone.

Dismantling Communities

What he asks us to consider is whether we have the right to dismantle vibrant communities and destroy an entire industry, even for the sake of what we may think is a greater good. Read more…


Advent wreath with one rose candle and three purple candles, all lit, Author Jonathunder (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7: 14).

Advent is a season of spiritual preparation in the Christian calendar.  It recalls the period of anticipation as the world awaited the coming of the Messiah.

The use of a wreath and candles during Advent is a longstanding tradition, dating as far back as the Middle Ages.  The circular shape of the wreath symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life believers have in Christ.

The individual evergreens comprising the wreath, also, have symbolic meaning.  Pine, holly, and yew are symbols of immortality.  Cedar is a symbol of strength and healing.  Laurel is a symbol of victory over trials and persecution.  The pine cones decorating the wreath symbolize life and resurrection.

The candles have special significance.  Four candles are lit in turn during the four weeks of Advent.  Three of these candles are purple because that liturgical color signals a time of prayer, repentance, and sacrifice.

  • The first Advent candle represents hope.  This is, also, called the Prophecy Candle – referring to the prophets, particularly Isaiah who foretold the birth of Christ.
  • The second candle represents faith.  It is called the Bethlehem Candle, as a reminder of the journey to Bethlehem.
  • The third candle (which is pink or rose) represents joy. This is called the Shepherd’s Candle.
  • The fourth candle represents peace.  It is called the Angel’s Candle, reminding us of the angelic message, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2: 14).

In recent times, use of a fifth, white, candle in the center of the Advent wreath has become popular.  This represents purity.  Called the Christ Candle, it is lit on Christmas Eve.


Room at the Table

Homeless man with sign, Author Enver Rahmanov (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported).

IRS statistics indicate that the gap between rich and poor in the United States is the largest in nearly a century. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that gap is widening. The average income of the wealthiest 5% is thirteen times more than that of the poorest 20%.

A few of the websites with figures relating to poverty can be found, below. But an onslaught of numbers is mind numbing to most of us. A snapshot may convey more.


Picture yourself a single or divorced mother. You are more likely to be white than black. You and your children live in rural poverty, on an army base, or in what is now politely known as the “inner city” (apparently a more acceptable term than the older “ghetto”).


You work outside the home, in a full or part-time job (sometimes two). Since you have no more than a high school diploma, you are limited to minimum wage, blue and pink collar jobs. Never mind that you grew up in poverty, yourself. Never mind that you somehow survived a drug addicted mother and absent father, without succumbing to drugs or alcohol, yourself.


Childcare is an ongoing challenge, sometimes costing you jobs. When a child is sick, you miss work. Child support is little more than a fantasy. Even if involved in their lives, the children’s father may be out of work, himself.

Health Issues

Poverty and all it entails is a recognized cause of chronic health problems. You may already be suffering from depression or heart disease. Your children still have their dreams. They, also, have asthma. Read more…

BOOK REVIEW – Uncommon Poems for the Common People

In Uncommon Poems for the Common People Charly Priest has penned a book of poetry for the rest of us.

Charly Priest, for those who do not know him, is a funny and irreverent blogger with a zest for life.  A Spanish veteran, a man of faith and courage, and a devoted son, Charly writes free verse on topics ranging from war to romance.

Like Mark Twain before him, Charly calls things as he sees them, deftly using irony to highlight the ridiculous.  This approach and occasional coarse language may offend some readers.  But Charly Priest’s purpose is not to offend.  It is to open minds to new ideas and different viewpoints.

While Charly enjoys playing with words and ideas, his most outstanding quality may be his honesty.  Charly fearlessly confronts difficult subjects, employing dark humor to deflate enlarged egos, pillory hypocrites, and undermine political correctness. Read more…

The Water of Life

Small waterfall at Furnas Dam, Brazil, Author Marilia0102 (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22: 17).

“Jesus says, ‘Take freely.’  He wants no payment or preparation.  He seeks no recommendation from our virtuous emotions.  If you have no good feelings, if you be but willing, you are invited; therefore come!  You have no belief and no repentance — come to Him, and He will give them to you.

Oh, how many there are who are rich in their own good works, and cannot therefore come to Christ!  ‘I will not be saved,’ they say,’in the same way as the harlot or the swearer.  What?  Go to heaven in the same way as the chimney sweep.  Is there no pathway to glory but the path which led the thief there?  I will not be saved that way.’  Such proud boasters must remain without the living water; but ‘whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’ ”

–Charles Spurgeon


The Peace Cross

The Peace Cross, Bladensburg, MD, Author Ben Jacobson (Kranar Drogin) (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

The Peace Cross (a 40 foot cross of concrete and granite displaying the words courage, valor, endurance, and devotion) is a memorial in Bladensburg, MD honoring those from Prince George’s County who died in WWI.  A cross-shape was chosen to echo the grave markers of servicemen buried overseas.  The names of 49 local men are inscribed.

Although the cross was originally built on private property using private funds, the land and monument were acquired by the State of Maryland in 1961 by reason of traffic concerns.

In 2017, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that public maintenance of the cross was contrary to the separation of church and state [1]. Read more…

“Mrs. Cooper’s Resolve” by Samantha Fitzpatrick

Philadelphia from South Street Bridge, Author King of Hearts/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia

Below is one of countless stories from Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia, the organization which is the successor to a small faith-based legal clinic a handful of other Christian lawyers and I founded years ago.

Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia (which now has seven locations) does great work in the inner city, spreading the Gospel as well as providing free legal assistance to the poor.  Please, consider donating, if you can.

“My time at Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia has taught me a valuable lesson about human resolve.  Through our clients, I have seen how the desire for a happier life will serve as the catalyst to overcoming a host of challenges.

For Ms. Cooper, a happier life meant marrying her longtime fiancé. In order to achieve that goal, she needed a divorce.  The problem was that she had no contact information for her estranged spouse in over twenty years.

During our initial consultation, I could see that Ms. Cooper was not helpless.  I would later learn the number of obstacles she was fighting on a daily basis. That knowledge confirmed my initial observations…

Early on, I knew that my clients would struggle with health, finances, and even family.  I also knew I would not be able to help every person.  But, I knew in my spirit that Ms. Cooper did not need me to fix it.  She needed me to show her that she had the power to do it on her own.  I was thrilled to be able to help Ms. Cooper by drafting the appropriate petition and providing her with an advice letter that walked her though each step of the process.” Read more…

Human Dignity

Eleanor Roosevelt holding poster of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Source flickr, Author FDR Presidential Library and Museum (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948.  Its drafters appealed to the “common intuition that every person, regardless of circumstances, challenges, privileges, or merits, has an inherent value, equal to that of all other persons” [1A].

The document was, however, a product of consensus.  It represented an attempt to reconcile wildly divergent worldviews by using ambiguous language [1B].

“It is not surprising that much of the fight over human rights concerns our core physical and existential needs…Freedom, understood as the absence of any limitations, represents the pinnacle of our modern ambitions, and anything that stands in the way is branded an illegitimate shackling of the person and denial of human rights.  ‘Sexual rights’, abortion, the elimination of parental rights, and radical sexuality education for children thus constitute the prevalent social issues in dispute at the UN today” [1C].

–Elyssa Koren, UN Counsel, and Paul Coleman, Exec. Dir. of ADF International

Modern slavery, sex-trafficking, religious persecution, and ethnic cleansing demonstrate how far the world is from implementing the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The problem is that ethical and moral obligations do not derive from the natural world [2A].

Charles Darwin believed that morality emerged from the evolution of human social instincts.  Even he, however, acknowledged the shortcomings of this belief.

“If…men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters; and no one would think of interfering.”

–Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, pp. 102-103

“Whichever characteristic we choose to ground human dignity, some human beings will not possess the characteristic at all, and some will possess it to a higher degree than others…” [2B].

–Angus Menuge, Chair of Philosophy Dept. at Concordia University

The Bible does not base human dignity on such variable qualities.

“Human beings are the center of God’s creation and nature…Our creation in the image of God ‘forms the deep ontological foundation of a Christian theory of human dignity, human worth, and human rights’…Our dignity is found in our having been created, that is, on our dependence on God…We have dignity not because we have willed, evolved, or merited it, but because God has graciously chosen to confer it upon us, when he did not need to do so…Because all human beings have been created by God with inherent worth (dignity), no one may decide whether or not another human being has human rights…Ultimately, the proper understanding of human nature, and consequent treatment of each person…depends on love of neighbor.  Human rights are not simply about individual rights claims, but rather ‘what we have a duty to give to, or protect in, others.  Rights thus become an obligation of justice and mercy…’ ” [3].

–Andrew DeLoach, Dir. of the Center for Human Rights at Trinity Law School and of the International Human Rights Program at the Hague

[1A, 1B, and 1C]  Journal of Christian Legal Thought, Vol. 9, No. 2 (2019), pp. 8-10, “The Universal Declaration and the Distortion of Human Rights” by Elyssa Koren and Paul Coleman.

[2A and 2B]  Journal of Christian Legal Thought, Vol. 9. No. 2 (2019), pp. 11-17, “Human Rights and Their Counterfeits” by Angus Menuge.

[3]  Journal of Christian Legal Thought, Vol. 9, No. 2 (2019), pp. 1-6, “Human > Rights” by Andrew DeLoach.


“Going Forth” by Joseph Veneroso

“Moses Viewing the Promised Land” by Frederic Church (1846), Photographer/Source Art Renewal Center (PD-Art, PD-Old)

“Exiled from Eden eons ago
Sojourning with Abraham
Delivered from slavery
Wandering around the world’s wilderness
Taken into captivity in Babylon
Till we return from whence we came
Each of us is called to leave
Behind familiar faces and places
And go forth to foreign lands
To find our way back home
To God.

We follow in the footsteps
Of him who left heaven’s glory
To dwell among the poor
And oppressed of the earth
And set them free with the truth
That they as sons and daughters
Of God in whose image they were made
Are thus deserving of all help, hope
And dignity, for they too are called
To go forth from poverty and despair
To dwell in the Promised Land.”


Dry Spells

Aramaki Rose Park, Itami, Japan, Author 663highland (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Below is an excerpt from Barriers by Ann Aschauer who blogs at Seeking Divine Perspective

Barriers examines prayer from a biblical perspective.  I recommend the book to anyone who wants a closer relationship with God.

“…when roses…[are] watered just a little every day, their roots spread out just under the surface of the ground.  Then when winter …[comes] and the top soil…[freezes], the roots …[freeze] with it and the roses…[die].  However beautiful they were during the warm weather, because their roots were shallow, they couldn’t survive the winter.

However…when roses are soaked heavily just once a week, the water sinks deep into the ground.  Then when the weather gets hot and dry between waterings, the roses will stretch their roots down to where the water is.  When winter comes and the top of the ground freezes, the roses’ roots remain safe deep underground, ready to send up new shoots in the spring.

In other words, the dry spells are what help the roses survive the winters.”

Read more…