Monday, April 30, 2012

Pray4America (part 1) - National Day of Prayer



America Needs
a Declaration
of Dependence


In his booklet of the same name, the author, Dr. J. Vernon McGee, puts forth three steps that precede the downfall of any nation:

1.  Religious Apostasy 

2.  Moral Awfulness

3. Political Anarchy

(Many blogs could be written, filling the details of the three points above.)

As for the United States of America , one of the quotes given in Isaiah - Thru the Bible Radio applies to our current state of affairs:

“America is coasting downhill on a godly ancestry,  and God pity America when we hit the bottom of the hill.”
 Dr. J. Gresham Machen


And Dr. McGee expounds on this downward spiral with an example in history, a summary from the historian Edward Gibbon of the main reasons for the decline and fall of the Roman Empire:

1.  Undermining the dignity and sanctity of the home, which  is the basis of all society

2.  Higher and higher taxes, the spending of public money for free bread and circuses

3.  The mad craze for pleasure, sports becoming every year, more exciting, more brutal, more immoral

4.  The building of great armaments when the great enemy is within — the decay of individual responsibility

5. The decay of religion, fading into mere form, losing touch with life, losing power to guide the people

(Reference the booklet - America Needs a Declaration of Dependence)

Sounds like today?

The problems we face today may seem enormous and complex.  But the problems of the day have always seemed so in other times of history.  And clergy (such as Dr. McGee, in point #1)  and historians (such as Edward Gibbon in point #5)  have some consensus that the root cause of  the decline of a nation is spiritual.

Decline has its genesis in religious apostasy as the religious institutions fail to have any meaningful effect in personal lives or provide moral guidance and ballast for the individual, the home, and the nation.

It makes sense that the start of a way out of a downward spiral is to look up.  And we have a great opportunity to pull up out of the tailspin - now.  And a national event coming in the next few days may just be the kick start we need.

This May 3, 2012 has been set aside as the National Day of Prayer.



Is it true ....
"We learn from history that we learn nothing from history" ? 
George Bernard Shaw

Are we doomed by our own amnesia?

Many of our past presidents have relied on prayer, especially during difficult days when it looked the nation would not survive. Such words from George Washington and Abraham Lincoln indicate their dependence on God, as in the link given below:

*  Pray for our President.

Ronald Reagan also said much about prayer and his faith in God, as shown in this clip below, which gives an insight for his optimism in America, even in the troubled times.



Keep praying for America
for ...

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord ...  
Psalm 33:12
(NIV)

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Previous posts on similar subjects:


New Years 2012 - the Good worth fighting for! (2011)

America in Decline?!  (2011)

A Royal Inspiration (2011)

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Ecards for National Day of Prayer:

*  Please join me in prayer May 3rd

*  America's Hope

*  May We Remember 

*  Let's Pray

* Testimonies of Prayer

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Photo from WikipediaCapitol Prayer Room

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Culture 101 (part 3) - Paul Revere's Ride


The Shot heard around the World!

This phrase has come to represent the beginning of many historical events - like the American Revolution (1775 - 1783).

And its genesis can be traced to  Ralph Waldo Emerson's Concord Hymn -

"Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world ..."


Emerson words immortalized the American Minutemen resistance to the British forces back in 1775, as the British were on a mission to seize and destroy the American militia ammunition and weapons.

Emerson's poem marks the Battle of Lexington and Concord (April 19, 1775), the start of the American Revolution (1775-1783).

But the night before ....

April 18, 1775

 ...and early morning the following day ..

Paul Revere crossed the Charles River and rode to Lexington to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were coming.

One if by Land, Two if by sea

To alert the Charlestown colonists of the British troop movement, Revere had instructed the sexton to signal by the code of the number of lanterns set in the tower of Boston's North Church.  From the other side of the Charles River, Revere spied the two lanterns to indicate the British would be crossing the river ... "by sea."

Paul Revere with William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott continued on toward Concord, warning many along the way.  Revere and Dawes were stopped by the British, but Prescott got away to finish the ride to Lexington.

Cool map: Virtual Midnight Ride

* Paul Revere's Ride *

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote this poem in 1860 lionizing this event that ignited the Revolutionary War.  It's told through the eyes of the landlord and has become a classic in American culture.  Fortunately, for kids and big kids, too, Warner Brothers did an animated version of this poem with characters from their Animaniacs.  Here is the story as told by The Flame.





The genius of this animated clip is to make American history and literature entertaining as well as educational ... while most of us don't even know it.  Cartoons convey the culture, especially in this age of satellite TV and the internet.  And that need not be a curse - it can be a good thing.

As noted in the part 1 of Culture 101, Ronald Reagan had expressed in his farewell address  for carrying on the American culture -

"An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? ...
...
"The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America
was special. TV was like that, too, through the mid-sixties."


 And Reagan's warning reverberates into the 21st century.

"I'm warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. ...
...
"Younger parents aren't sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children."


Have we heeded this warning given almost 25 years ago?

It seems we haven't as so many kids don't know ... or don't have it as a priority to know ... the basics in American history and culture as shown in this clip below.




President Reagan was so prescient with some of these last words in office -

"We've got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom -- freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It's fragile; it needs protection."
 
But there is some hope ....

Some of the Animaniacs cartoons do just that - entertain as well as educate us about our special American culture.

Nothing new under the sun?

Likewise, Reagan's warning is nothing new, but needs to be repeated every generation.  In the Good Book, Moses likewise encourages God's people to impress the Lord's commandments upon the children as well as adults -

5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6
(NIV)


And Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, Paul Revere's Ride - retelling an important part of American history - is part of American literature and is a part of American culture
which will continue to be reinforced in this blog ...


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Animaniacs teaching American history and geography:

Wakko's 50 State Capitols

Presidents Song 

Other history posts:

The Shot Heard Around the World - 235 years ago (2010)

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Previous posts on Culture 101:

Culture 101 (part 1) - Reagan's Challenge (2012)

Culture 101 (part 2) - Easter Eucatastrophe (2012)

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Photo from Wikipedia:  Paul Revere's ride

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What a Ham I am (part 6) - 100 years of Ham Radio and the Titanic


Ham radio is 100 years old in the US - as celebrated in this February article:

 *  Ham Radio USA - 100 Years and Counting

And also 100 years ago, amateur radio rendezvoused with headline disaster on  ...

 April 15, 1912  ...

when the unthinkable happened to the unsinkable.

And on that date, the Titanic - which "God Himself could not sink this ship" - was sunk by an iceberg.  (In all fairness, the Titanic was not advertised as unsinkable.)

So much went wrong that cost more than 1500 lives.  Not enough lifeboats.  The design that could not take a five compartment breach.  Lack of uniform wireless radio procedures - as wireless was in its infancy.

Much has been written about this disaster and many movies have been made about it.  The top grossing film Titanic (1997) likewise has been released in 3D for the centennial.  The following scene so captures the catastrophe while the passengers stood on the brink of eternity:



As mentioned in a post on the Titanic two years ago -

 *  Titanic Voyage - 98 years ago -

 my grandmother had attempted to board the Carpathia in 1912 as she was immigrating to America.  The Carpathia was out of 2nd class tickets.  Grandma could not afford 1st class.  And she wasn't going in steerage.  So she waited till 1913 - a year before World War One started.  Lucky her.  Luck me.

But it was that very voyage of the Carpathia, which Grandma had attempted to board, that had rescued the survivors of the Titanic.  Oh, what stories she could have told.  And it's another what might have happened.

Back to the Radio Shack ...

As the Titanic was sinking ... and most passengers did not know this - the shock of the collision too slight - the night too calm and beautiful to forebode of death - the radio shack broadcast the general distress call to all vessels for immediate  assistance -

CQD - CQD - CQD

The operator of the nearby SS Californian had put down his ear phones and retired for the night.  And the crew did not recognize the distress flares sent by the Titanic.  But the call for help changed the courses of other ships, including the Carparthia.

For a good reference for the radio assistance in the Titanic disaster -

*  THE TITANIC RADIO PAGE

Amateur Radio and the Titanic ...

Half way across the Atlantic, in a South Wales bedroom, Artie Moore was one of the first to learn that the Titanic was sinking, two day before the news got to the United Kingdom.  The local police first dismissed Artie's report ... that was until the news reached the British press.

*  Museum remembers radio enthusiast who heard Titanic’s call for help from his Valleys shack

Maybe there was something to this amateur radio thing?  This perhaps was the beginning of Ham Radio in assisting in disasters and catastrophes.

Aftermath of the Titanic ...

After the rescue of the Titanic survivors, the blame game began as well as a 100 years of the inquiries, documentaries, articles, theories, historical accounts, stories, movies, ....



And as in any disaster came new rules and regulations - a more orderly approach to radio and the air waves. - which was a good thing.

*  How the Titanic disaster pushed Uncle Sam to "rule the air"

Lesson learned - in any disaster - especially one of Titanic proportions - Ham Radio can be so important.

The future?

Who knows how many Titanic-like disasters will come.  But in this life, disasters do come.  Natural or man made - systems will fail, various communication infrastructure brought down.  How will we deal with it?

May the Hams be there to stand in the gap!

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Posts on this subject:

Titanic Voyage - 98 years ago (2010)

Previous post in the "What a Ham I am" series:

What a Ham I am (Part 1) - moving on up! (2011)

What a Ham I am (Part 2) - When lightening strikes (2011)

What a Ham I am (Part 3) - Hams make Contact (2011)

What a Ham I am (Part 4): Have you hugged your Elmer today? (2011)

What a Ham I am (Part 5) - Winter in the Rockies  (2012)


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A sample of some interesting Titanic sites:

History of The Titanic  (titanic-facts.com)

The unseen Titanic: Photos reveal life aboard doomed ship  (FoxNews.com)

Titanic : Resonance and Reality (scientificamerican.com)

Unseen Titanic  (ngm.nationalgeograpthic.com)

The Unlearned Lesson of the Titanic  (theatlantic.com)

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Photo from Wikipedia:  Titanic

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Culture 101 (part 2) - Easter Eucatastrophe

Eucatastrophe?

Sounds like a made up word ... and it is.

J. R. R Tolkien - famous for his works, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, coined it.

What does it mean?

First, let's look at the familiar word at its root, which has quite the opposite meaning - Catastrophe

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionarya catastrophe is -

1:  the final event of the dramatic action especially of a tragedy
2:  a momentous tragic event ranging from extreme misfortune to utter overthrow or ruin
a:  a violent and sudden change in a feature of the earth
   b:  a violent usually destructive natural event (as a supernova)
4:  utter failure : fiasco


We see catastrophes reported in the news every day -

* the natural disasters:  earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, out of control wild fires, drought,  famine, pandemics, ...
* the man made disasters:  nuclear meltdowns, serious security breeches, stock market crashes, wars, genocide, economic collapse, toxic pollution, ...

Then we have its opposite - Eucatastrophe

Eucastrophe is Tolkien's  neologism  from

Eu - from the Greek for good
Catastrophe - as defined above, simply put - destruction


According to Tolkien Gateway -

"I coined the word 'eucatastrophe': the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears ..." 

The climax of Lord of the Rings is a eucatastrope.

At Middle Earth's darkest hours  ... as Frodo had succumbed to the evil power of the ring and turned back from the quest to destroy it ... as Gollum wrested the ring from Frodo ... as the evil forces of Sauron seemed certain to be victorious ...

Then there was a sudden turn of events for the good ... the eucatastrophe ... which destroyed the ring and broke the power of Sauron.

Below are images of the highlights of the trilogy - over ten hours into four minutes - ending in the eucastrophe:




Likewise, there is another epic story - it would be no exaggeration to call it the greatest story ever told -

* The Easter Story *

The promised Messiah was betrayed by one of His own ... rejected by His own people ... handed over the Romans to be cruelly abused ... ridiculed by the elite religious leaders ... crucified as the lowest of the criminals.  He died and was buried.  His followers' were disillusioned - their hopes totally crushed.

Yet, at this dark time in history when all the forces of hell seemed to have prevailed came the eucatrastrophe ... the resurrection.

Out of death came life.  Defeat became victory.  Despair turned to Joy. Good triumphed over evil.

The Psalmist wrote of eucatastrophe in the following verses :

... weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning

...

You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

 
 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
LORD my God, I will praise you forever. 


Psalm 30:5, 11, 12 (NIV)

Handel's Messiah captured the Easter Eucatastrophe setting Holy Scripture to music in these verses:





Lyrics above were taken from I Corinthians 15 (KJV):


21For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
 ...
54   ...then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

55O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

As Professor Tolkien wrote in Letter 89:

"The Resurrection was the greatest "eucatastrophe" possible ..."


Death - Resurrection of the dead

In Adam all die - in Christ all shall be made alive

*  *  *  *

This Easter Season presents a wonderful lesson in Culture 101 - 

Christianity and the literary contributions of Professor Tolkein are part of Western Civilization and the American culture

which is to be continued ...


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Previous post on Culture 101:

Culture 101 (part 1) - Reagan's Challenge  (2012)

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Previous posts of subject:

Eucatastrophe for 2010?  (2010)

Earth Shaking Easter - a wake up call (2010)

Easter - The Sign of the Prophet Jonah (2011)

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Photo from everystockphoto.com:  My precious