February 28, 2009

Another reason to love Lynchburg - Kemper Street Station

David has always loved transportation. He loves cars. He loves trucks. He loves trains. He loves anything with wheels. He even likes things that fly such as airplanes and the space shuttle, but if we see them on the runway, he's most fascinated by their wheels.

I don't know. I can't explain it. But that's how it is with David.

When David was in first grade, his teacher told my wife that she would be surprised if when she arrived at old age David had not yet invented a new form of transportation that would change our world. David is an extreme boy—he lives all out on the edge—and things said about him tend to be extreme as well. But I think this teacher had a good grasp on both David's abilities and his potential.

When we lived in Northern Virginia, we regularly went to the Stafford train station to watch the Virginia Railway Express pick up and discharge passengers. We regularly went to the Fredericksburg station to watch the freight trains pass through at high speed. We took trips into Washington, DC, on the commuter trains and then spent all day in DC riding the metro trains rather than visiting museums or watching muggings.

But we haven't taken the time to visit the local railway station since we moved to Lynchburg. There are so many tracks around here that we see trains driving by quite often. But visiting an actual station is a different experience—and one that David relishes.

Today we decided to go to the local train station, and in good Lynchburg fashion this train station is wonderful and a delight to visit.

Because this is a commuter train station and today is Saturday, the station was empty. We saw an few people, but no one was waiting for a train. So we spent the first few minutes that we were there exploring the station, which is quite attractive and quite different from any station we have been to before. We also spent that time trying to lower David's expectations of seeing a train drive by today. David tends to get very excited about such things and we really didn't want him to be disappointed if no trains came by.

So imagine our surprise when David, who has amazing ears and can hear things no one else can, said, "I can hear the tracks singing." This is something he has always been able to detect long before the train shows up. He can actually hear the sound of the train coming through the tracks. And that's without putting his ear to the track, which could be a bit dangerous. A few minutes later the train came around the corner. David pumped his arm in the way boys do when asking a truck driver to honk his horn. The train engineer obliged by responding with about eight long blasts on his horn. David was overjoyed.

We stood on the platform for about a half an hour after the train went by, but no further trains visited us. But it was great fun while it lasted and we promised David that we will bring him to the train station another time when it is more likely that we will see lots of action.

It's so wonderful to live in a city where even the train station is surprisingly wonderful by comparison to any other cities we have visited. We love Lynchburg.

February 25, 2009

Blog Header - February 25, 2009

Graphic blog header showing woman looking at mountains

Today's blog header was initially created for a friend who was setting up a blog to support abused women. I created a variety of different blog headers and presented them to my friend to get her feedback on what she was looking for. She went in a different direction from this photo, but I really liked this one so I decided to use it for my own blog.

The Little Red Hen - Updated for today's economy

The Little Red Hen simply stated: "“Who will help me plant my wheat?”

“Not I,” said the cow.
“Not I,” said the duck.
“Not I,”' said the pig.
“Not I,” said the goose.

“Then I will do it by myself,” said the Little Red Hen, and so she did.

The wheat grew very tall and ripened into golden grain. “Who will help me reap my wheat?” asked the Little Red Hen.

“Not I,” said the duck.
“Above my pay-grade,” said the pig.
“I'd lose my seniority,” said the cow.
“I'd lose my unemployment compensation,” said the goose.
“Then I will do it by myself,” said the Little Red Hen, and so she did.

At last it came time to bake the bread. “Who will help me bake the bread?” asked the Little Red Hen.

“That would be overtime for me,” said the cow.
“I'd lose my welfare benefits,” said the duck.
“I'm a dropout and never learned how,” said the pig.
“If I'm to be the only helper, that's discrimination,” said the goose.
“Then I will do it by myself,” said the Little Red Hen.

She baked five loaves and held them up for all of her neighbors to see. They wanted some and, in fact, demanded a share. But the Little Red Hen said, “No, I shall eat all five loaves.”

“Excess profits!” cried the cow.
“Capitalist leech!” screamed the duck.
“I demand equal rights!” yelled the goose.
The pig just grunted in disdain.

And they all painted “Unfair!” picket signs and marched around and around the Little Red Hen, shouting obscenities.

Then the farmer came. He said to the Little Red Hen, “You must not be so greedy.”
“But I earned the bread,” said the Little Red Hen.
“Exactly,” said the farmer. “That is what makes our free enterprise system so wonderful. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But under our modern government regulations, the productive workers must divide the fruits of their labor with those who are lazy and idle.”

And they all lived happily ever after, including the Little Red Hen, who smiled and clucked, “I am grateful, for now I truly understand.”

But her neighbors became quite disappointed in her. She never again baked bread because she joined the “party” and got her bread free. And all the Democrats animals smiled. “Fairness” had been established. Individual initiative had died, but nobody noticed; perhaps no one cared ... so long as there was free bread that the rich were paying for.

February 24, 2009

Arlo Guthrie wants to be known as Fannie Mae

In the late 1960s Woodie Guthrie’s son Arlo introduced a song about drugs to a stoned audience at Woodstock. In his song “Coming Into Los Angeles,” Guthrie proudly proclaimed that he was carrying illegal drug contraband into the United States and he plead “don’t touch my bags if you please, Mr. Customs Man.”

Well, now the drug-crazed folks Arlo Guthrie was singing to are in power. They’re making decisions about how to handle the financial CRISIS!! Maybe Arlo should have been singing this song 40 years ago instead of using cannabis for his inspiration.

Arlo Guthrie presents, “I’m Changing My Name to Fannie Mae”:

And here he is 40 years ago at Woodstock
(warning, graphic depictions of drug use):

February 23, 2009

Harvesting the evolutionary crop - The Ota Benga story

Stephen Jay Gould,
Ontogeny and Phylogeny, 1977
Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1859, but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory.

He crouched in the corner of the cage. With his head between his knees and his arms pulling his legs tightly to his chest, he shielded himself as best he could from the crowd. The iron bars around him offered a certain level of physical protection from the mob that swirled around him—but they did nothing to protect him from the stares, from the laughter, from the jeers that rained down upon him day after day after day. Coins and stones pelted his flesh, the crowd hoping to instigate some sort of reaction. His infrequent backlashes of anger only incited them further.

Thousands of miles from his home and the graves of his slaughtered ancestors, he dreamed of the days when he moved freely and intently through his homeland. He longed to hunt again with his kinsman. He starved for the warm immersion of fellowship with his wife and children.

But that was all behind him now. His family and his tribe had been murdered in the name of evolution. And now he cow­ered in the cage, a prisoner in Darwin’s plantation.

A Man Named “Ota”

Ota Benga was born in 1881 in Central Africa where he grew strong and keen in the ways of the wilderness. The husband of one and the father of two, he returned one day from a successful elephant hunt to find that the camp he called “home” had ceased to exist. His wife, children, and friends lay slaughtered, their bodies mutilated in a campaign of terror by the Belgian government’s thugs against “the evolutionary inferior natives.” Ota was later captured, taken to a village, and sold into slavery.

He was first brought to the United States from the Belgian Congo in 1904 by the noted African explorer Samuel Verner, who had bought him at a slave auction. At 4' 11" tall, weighing a mere 103 pounds, he was often referred to as “the boy.” In reality, he was a son, a husband, and a father. Ota was first displayed as an “emblematic savage” in the anthropology wing of the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Along with other pygmies, he was studied by scientists to learn how the “barbaric races” compared with intellectually defective Caucasians on intelligence tests and how they responded to things such as pain [ref].

The July 23, 1904, Scientific American reported:

They are small, ape-like, elfish creatures … they live in absolute savagery, and while they exhibit many ape-like features in their bodies, they possess a certain alertness which appears to make them more intelligent than other Negroes … the existence of the pygmies is of the rudest; they do not practice agriculture, and keep no domestic animals. They live by means of hunting and snaring, eking this out by means of thieving from the big Negroes, on the outskirts of whose tribes they usually establish their little colonies, though they are as unstable as water, and range far and wide through the forests. They have seemingly become acquainted with metal only through contact with superior beings.

They failed to mention 1902 research by H.H. Johnston in the Smithsonian Report that found the pygmies to be a very talented group. When studied in their natural environment, Johnston found that they were experts at mimicry, and they were physically agile, quick, and nimble. They were exceptional hunters, with highly developed social skills and structure. While outsiders considered them primitive, the pygmies actually held strong monotheistic beliefs about God. More recent research has confirmed, “The religion of the Ituri Forest Pygmies is founded on the belief that God possesses the totality of vital force, of which he distributes part to his creatures, an act by which he brings them into existence or perfects them .... According to a favorite pygmies saying, ‘He who made the light also makes the darkness.’ [ref] When Verner had visited their African king, “He was met with songs and presents, food and palm wine, drums. He was carried in a hammock.”

But the Darwinists failed to take note of any of these things. Such observations didn’t fit their preconceived notions of evolution or their view that the pygmies were inferior, sub-human beings. When the pygmies were in St. Louis, they were greeted with laughter, staring, poking, and prodding. “People came to take their picture and run away ... some came to fight with them .... Verner had contracted to bring pygmies safely back to Africa. It was often a struggle just to keep them from being torn to pieces at the fair. Repeatedly ... the crowds became agitated and ugly; pushing and grabbing in a frenzied quality. Each time Ota and the Batwa were extracted only with difficulty.” [ref]

Entrance to White Rock Cemetery, Lynchburg, VA -
Ota Benga's final resting place

The exhibit was said to be “exhaustively scientific” in its demonstration of the stages of human evolution. Therefore, they required the darkest blacks to be clearly distinguished from the dominant whites. Ota’s presence as a member of “the lowest known culture” was meant to be a graphic contrast with the Caucasians, who represented humanity’s “highest culmination.”

Meanwhile, the anthropologists in charge of the display continued their research by testing and measuring. In one case “the primitive’s head was severed from the body and boiled down to the skull.” Believing that skull size was an index of intelligence, the scientists were amazed to discover that the “primitive” skull was larger than that which belonged to the statesman Daniel Webster. [ref]

After the fair, Verner took Ota and the other pygmies back to Africa. Ota soon remarried, but his second spouse died from a poisonous snakebite. He was also ostracized from his own people because of his association with the white people. Back in his homeland, Ota had found himself entirely alone. He returned to America with Verner, who said he would return him to Africa on his next trip. It was not to be. Once back in America, Verner tried to sell his animals to zoos and sell the crates of artifacts that he brought back from Africa. Verner was also having serious money problems and could not afford to take care of Ota.

Four unmarked graves. Ota Benga was reportedly
buried in an unmarked grave.

When Verner presented Ota to Dr. Hornady, the director of the Bronx Zoological Gardens, it was clear that he would again go on display—but this time, the display took on an even more sinister twist. On September 9, 1906, The New York Times head­line screamed, “Bushman shares a cage with Bronx Park apes.” Although Dr. Hornady insisted that he was merely offering an “intriguing exhibit” for the public, the Times reported that Dr. Hornady “apparently saw no difference between a wild beast and the little black man; and for the first time in any American zoo, a human being was being displayed in a cage.”

On September 10, the Times reported:

There was always a crowd before the cage, most of the time roaring with laughter, and from almost every corner of the garden could be heard the question “Where is the pygmy?” The answer was, “In the monkey house.”

Bradford and Blume, who extensively researched Ota’s life for the book Ota Benga; The Pygmy in the Zoo, noted:

The implications of the exhibit were also clear from the visitor’s questions. Was he a man or a monkey? Was he something in between? “Ist das ein Mensch?” asked a German spectator. “Is it a man?” ... No one really mistook apes or parrots for human beings. This “it” came so much closer. Was it a man? Was it a monkey? Was it a forgotten stage of evolution?

Dr. Hornady was a staunch believer in Darwin’s theory. The New York Times on September 11, 1906, reported that he had concluded that there was “a close analogy of the African savage to the apes” and that he “maintained a hierarchical view of the races….”

The display was extremely successful. On September 16, 40,000 visitors came to the zoo. The crowds were so enormous that a police officer was assigned to guard Ota full time because he was “always in danger of being grabbed, yanked, poked, and pulled to pieces by the mob.” [ref]

Not all condoned the frenzy. A group of concerned black ministers went to Ota’s defense. The September 10 Times reported Reverend Gordon saying, “Our race ... is depressed enough without exhibiting one of us with the apes.” On September 12, however, the Times retorted by saying, “The reverend colored brother should be told that evolution ... is now taught in the textbooks of all the schools, and that it is no more debatable than the multiplication table.”

The media frenzy eventually led to Ota being released from the cage, but the spectacle continued. The Times reported on September 18, “There were 40,000 visitors to the park on Sunday. Nearly every man, woman, and child of this crowd made for the monkey house to see the star attraction in the park—a wild man from Africa. They chased him about the grounds all day, howling, cheering, and yelling. Some of them poked him in the ribs, others tripped him up, all laughed at him.”

Eventually, Hornady himself was worn down (either by the media pressure or by the exhaustion that the spectacle had created). Ota was released from the zoo. In the following months, he found care at a succession of institutions and with several sympathetic individuals. In 1910, he arrived at a black community in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he found companionship and care. He became a baptized Christian and his English vocabulary rapidly improved. He regularly cared for the children, protecting them and teaching them to hunt. He also learned how to read and occasionally attended classes at a Lynchburg seminary. Later he was employed as a tobacco factory worker.

But Ota grew increasingly depressed, hostile, irrational, and forlorn. When people spoke to him, they noticed that he had tears in his eyes when he told them he wanted to go home. Concluding that he would never be able to return to his native land, on March 20, 1916, Ota pressed a revolver to his chest and sent a bullet through his heart.

Reprinted with permission of Answers In Genesis, Darwin’s Plantation, Ken Ham and A. Charles Ware, pp. 15–21, Master Books, Green Forest, AR

February 22, 2009

God says, “Hang in there”

Psalm 37

  1. Don’t be annoyed by anyone who does wrong, and don’t envy them.
  2. They will soon disappear like grass without rain.
  3. Trust the Lord and live right! The land will be yours, and you will be safe.
  4. Do what the Lord wants, and he will give you your heart’s desire.
  5. Let the Lord lead you and trust him to help.
  6. Then it will be as clear as the noonday sun that you were right.
  7. Be patient and trust the Lord. Don’t let it bother you when all goes well for those who do sinful things.
  8. Don’t be angry or furious. Anger can lead to sin.
  9. All sinners will disappear, but if you trust the Lord, the land will be yours.
  10. Sinners will soon disappear, never to be found,
  11. but the poor will take the land and enjoy a big harvest.
  12. Merciless people make plots against good people and snarl like animals,
  13. but the Lord laughs and knows their time is coming soon.
  14. The wicked kill with swords and shoot arrows to murder the poor and the needy and all who do right.
  15. But they will be killed by their own swords, and their arrows will be broken.
  16. It is better to live right and be poor than to be sinful and rich.
  17. The wicked will lose all of their power, but the Lord gives strength to everyone who is good.
  18. Those who obey the Lord are daily in his care, and what he has given them will be theirs forever.
  19. They won’t be in trouble when times are bad, and they will have plenty when food is scarce.
  20. Wicked people are enemies of the Lord and will vanish like smoke from a field on fire.
  21. An evil person borrows and never pays back; a good person is generous and never stops giving.
  22. Everyone the Lord blesses will receive the land; everyone the Lord curses will be destroyed.
  23. If you do what the Lord wants, he will make certain each step you take is sure.
  24. The Lord will hold your hand, and if you stumble, you still won’t fall.
  25. As long as I can remember, good people have never been left helpless, and their children have never gone begging for food.
  26. They gladly give and lend, and their children turn out good.
  27. If you stop sinning and start doing right, you will keep living and be secure forever.
  28. The Lord loves justice, and he won’t ever desert his faithful people. He always protects them, but destroys the children of the wicked.
  29. God’s people will own the land and live here forever.
  30. Words of wisdom come when good people speak for justice.
  31. They remember God’s teachings, and they never take a wrong step.
  32. The wicked try to trap and kill good people,
  33. but the Lord is on their side, and he will defend them when they are on trial.
  34. Trust the Lord and follow him. He will give you the land, and you will see the wicked destroyed.
  35. I have seen brutal people abuse others and grow strong like trees in rich soil.
  36. Suddenly they disappeared! I looked, but they were gone and no longer there.
  37. Think of the bright future waiting for all the families of honest and innocent and peace-loving people.
  38. But not a trace will be left of the wicked or their families.
  39. The Lord protects his people, and they can come to him in times of trouble.
  40. The Lord helps them and saves them from the wicked because they run to him.

Blog Header - February 22, 2009

I don’t remember where or when I took this photo, but it is most likely one of my early photographic experiments. I was fascinated by backlighting, reeds, sea oats, and streams when I first started exploring photography. I had to scan this one in since it was taken well before digital photography hit the scene.

I recall one photography expedition that quite likely produced this picture. I had just recently returned home from college and took a walk (with my camera) in the woods near my parents' house. There was a small stagnant stream there that presented a unique challenge. The stream was stagnant, strewn with litter, and surrounded by muck. It has long since been obliterated by residential housing. I was determined to transform the look of that stream by using unique viewing angles and extreme lighting.

February 20, 2009

Conscious selection

I have not kept up with my posts about the Answers in Genesis conference I attended earlier this week. I apologize for that. It was a fantastic conference.

I was mostly struck with Ken Ham's description of evangelistic targets as "Jews" (meaning those who have an understanding of God and believe that God is the Creator and motivator of all things) and "Greeks" (those who view the world through a naturalistic lens and discount God in the entire process). I will discuss that more fully in a future post.

But another thing that really struck me in this conference is the all-pervasive nature of the evolutionary world view. Just as a Christian's world view should affect every area and every discipline of life, the same is true of those who view the world through the Evolutionist's naturalism glasses. This world view impacts not only their biology and geology, but also such things as morality, self-image, business practices, and all other areas of life.

I am currently reading The Long War Against God by Dr. Henry Morris. In this book, Morris discusses the pervasive nature of the evolution-tainted world view. One quote in the first chapter of this book really struck me with the dangerous potential outworkings of a naturalistic world view.

It is essential for UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization] to adopt an evolutionary approach... the general philosophy of UNESCO should, it seems, be a scientific world humanism, global in extent and evolutionary in background.... Thus the struggle for existence that underlies natural selection is increasingly replaced by conscious selection, a struggle between ideas and values in consciousness.

Julian Huxley, "Evolution and Genetics," What is Science

Notice that the concept of survival of the fittest is being proclaimed as the method by which our society should determine which people and ideas should live and which people and ideas should become extinct. He said, "the struggle for existence that underlies natural selection is increasingly replaced by conscious selection." So Huxley is saying that survival of the fittest will be up to us as a culture. We will be the determining factor in who is the least fit and should be slated for extermination. Does this remind you of Adolph Hitler's world view? It should.

But then Huxley goes on to mention, "a struggle between ideas and values in consciousness," showing that he believes it should be taken further than just the ethnic cleansing policies of Adolph Hitler and should include which ideas and values should be slated for extinction. It appears that Huxley believes that the global "fittest" of society should determine who should be allowed to survive and who should be exterminated based on their ideas and values.

God help us all.

February 17, 2009

Blog Header - February 18, 2008

Today’s header is a photo I took from the steps in front of our house. The moon was almost full and the sky was quite clear, so I grabbed my tripod and grabbed this shot.

“The Heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” Psalm 19:1

“The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge!” Psalm 50:6

With Endurance

Hebrews 12:1-3
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I’ve read this passage a good many times, but today I picked up on some things that seemed more obvious to me this time. I thought I’d share those thoughts with you today.

“let us lay aside every encumbrance AND the sin...” In the past, I’ve always thought about the sin that so easily entangles me. But today I spent time thinking about “every encumbrance” that entangles me. Sometimes we have to set aside good things or things that are “benign” when they become encumbrances. Elsewhere, the apostle Paul writes, All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. There’s going to be a lot more prayer and thought given to this today, but I’m afraid I’m going to be asked to give up some things I like a lot so that I can be equipped to run more swiftly.

I also thought about this race that I’m running. The focus here is the word endurance. Like most Americans, I want results right now. Our industrial culture has really brainwashed us into thinking that the only results worth working for are the ones that can be measured in time and volume—too much time, not worth it; not enough volume (or instant reward), not worth it. In a more agrarian society there was the planting, the cultivating, and the harvest. Endurance was a daily principle understood by all.

One area where I constantly have to remind myself of the endurance principle is parenting. I struggle to remember that learning is a process not an event. I may need to teach a lesson several times before that lightbulb goes off. It is unrealistic of me to think that the first time (or the fortieth, in some instances) that I teach my children a principle that they should immediately grasp and start utilizing that concept. After all, that’s how I am spiritually in my learning. How many times has the Lord confronted me with the same issues that need my attention? Jesus spent three years with his disciples, teaching them the same things over and over, and they still didn’t get it until after He left them.  

That’s why it’s so important for us to remember that our spiritual race doesn’t have a series of finish lines—just one. We aren’t done until it’s completely over. The real rewards come at the end of the race. We exhaust ourselves looking for rewards every few feet, and we also cause ourselves to stumble. When we don’t master it in the first fifteen kilometers of the race, it doesn’t mean it’s over.

I also thought about the fact that the goal of this race isn’t to finish first. Finishing well is the goal. That takes a little pressure off, doesn’t it? I can focus on the things God brings to my attention without looking around to see if I’m ahead of the rest of the pack. In fact, looking around is what causes us to stumble. We need to “Fix our eyes.” That word, fix, reminds me of glue. You put your eyes on Jesus and just leave them there. Don’t look around at the crowd to be sure they’re cheering you on. Don’t look to see where you are in the standings with the other racers. Just fix your eyes on Jesus. WOW!! How much easier this race would be if I could just do that thing alone!

Finally, I remembered why this passage is so precious to me. “who for the joy set before Him.” What was that joy? It was US. He endured all that so that He could have eternal fellowship with us. How absolutely amazing! So what is there in this life that I cannot endure when it means that my prize is HIM?

If I meditate on these principles today for more time than it takes to write this post, then perhaps my day will have more eternal value than most days. I am notorious for doing what is in front of me, not necessarily the most profitable thing. I want to see immediate fruit for my efforts, too. Hopefully, having been reminded of these principles, today will be a little different. If not, I’ll keep running anyway!!

February 16, 2009

Blog Header - February 16, 2009

I took today’s header photo this past Saturday when we were in downtown Lynchburg for Valentines Day. It was a gorgeous day and there was a group of young people hanging out at a small canal bridge near the riverfront. I took a picture of these two girls at that top of the bridge while their friends took pictures of them from below the bridge.

In a world filled with questions - finally, some Answers

God has blessed us in many ways since moving us from the Washington, DC, area to Lynchburg, Virginia. Most of those blessings have come in the form of personal relationships and enjoyment of this delightful city. But yesterday began a new blessing.

We live very close to Thomas Road Baptist Church (TRBC). When we moved to Lynchburg, TRBC was not one of the churches we considered. We disagree with some minor points of theology, but we have attended churches before where our beliefs did not completely conform. The reason we were not interested in TRBC was really because it is simply too large a church for us. But there are benefits to large churches—such as their ability to bring in high profile guest speakers.

The Sunday evening worship service at TRBC yesterday was the kickoff of Answers for Darwin, a conference presented by Answers In Genesis. Kim alerted me to this conference a few weeks ago and I have been eagerly awaiting it since then. It did not disappoint.

Ken Hamm of Answers In Genesis launched the conference with his introductory session on “Darwin and the Culture Wars.” He included in his presentation some photos from the Mount St. Helens eruption. I have never seen these photos before and was simply amazed at what I saw. The blast and resultant fallout from that eruption created what looks like a small Grand Canyon. There are 100-foot walls of rock, ash, and mud with deep rivulets running through them. If no sense of scale is given, one would be sure that these were pictures of the Grand Canyon, but that the Sante Fe River had dried up at the bottom. This mini-Grand Canyon is 1/40th scale of the true Grand Canyon, but it was created in one day, whereas we are told that the Grand Canyon took hundred of millions of years to be carved out by the river below. A cataclysmic act of nature created the entire thing in a very short period of time.

The next speaker was Dr. Andrew Snelling who presented “Answers from Geology—The Catastrophe of Noah's Flood.” Dr. Snelling clearly presented the geological evidence of a world-wide flood. He showed pictures of the geological record of sedimentary rock, fossils, petrified trees, etc. And he demonstrated by the evidence clearly shown by an observation of these things that a world-wide flood is the likely producer of this geological record.

Of course, our geological community would quite likely be fully on board with this interpretation of the geological record were it not for one problem—a world-wide flood is proclaimed by the biblical record as well as the geological record.

Liberty professor, Dr. David DeWitt, wrapped up the evening with a discussion of “Answers from Biology about Darwinian Evolution—Unraveling the Origins Controversy.” One of the things he emphasized was the fact that evolution education requires the student or observer to fill in many blanks because it is filled with holes. Once the student of evolution begins to fill these blank holes in, he develops a bit of mental inertia that leads him to foregone conclusions that simply are not evident in an observation of the evidence.

Dr. David DeWitt

Our minds are used to filling in missing information. If we look at a building behind a tree, we think we have seen the entire building. Our mind fills in the portion of the building that was blocked by the tree. We see the pattern of the bricks and the lines of the roof and we fill in the area that was blocked, leaving us with the impression that we have seen the entire structure. We do the same thing with history and creation. We look at the world around us and think that the way things happen now are the way they have always happened. We disregard the possibility of supernatural involvement and cataclysmic events.

2 Peter 3:3-6  Scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.

Interesting stuff and I can't wait for tonight’s continuation of the conference.

February 15, 2009

It Doesn't Grow Old

I gave Lance an early Valentine's gift.  I bought him an inexpensive MP3 player and loaded it with romantic jazz music.  It was a really neat surprise since he wasn't expecting it early, and I usually get him a supply of chocolates, so this was something unexpected.  

When he arrived home from work Saturday, he brought me two of the sweetest early daffodils.  As he handed them to me, he said, "I didn't promise you anything for Valentine's Day, did I?"  I told him no, and these were a beautiful idea.  I put them in water, and then went to do a task while he washed up.  A few minutes later I heard the front door close.  Then I heard crinkling paper along with Lance and my eldest daughter's giggles.  I came downstairs to a treat of a dozen and a half roses.  I thoroughly enjoyed cutting and arranging them, and Brooke and Lance took pictures for me to post to my Facebook account.  

You'd think after all these years(21!), our romance would have grown old.  But I'm still crazy about him, and it doesn't hurt a bit that he's a great romantic.  My kids tease us endlessly about our relationship.  My youngest says I have a smile just for dad that I get when he calls in the middle of the day.  He also says I "twinkle" when I talk about dad (well, at least when I'm not upset...).

I'm so thankful that I get to spend everyday with my best friend. We spent a lot of our time dating just talking.  I still love to talk to him.  He's a great story teller, and so when he gets home, I try to get him to tell me about his day.  He's very witty, too, and we laugh LOTS.  

As a young girl, I prayed that God would give me a Christian home, but I got a whole lot more than I asked for.  God has spoiled me rotten by giving me such a super guy!

Another reason to love Lynchburg - E.C. Glass High School

Yesterday was Valentines Day. Yesterday was Saturday school for David. So we had a long and full day.

So we began the day by dropping David off at the school and then we headed down to the Lynchburg Market, where they were setting up for the annual Chocolate contest. People make amazing concoctions from chocolate and present them in an artistic way. The judges determine the winners based on the uniqueness of their presentation, the aesthetics of the presentation, the quality of the chocolate, and of course the taste. It was fun to see the displays.

After the market, we spent a few hours at our favorite coffee shop, and probably what has become our favorite place in all of Lynchburg—The White Hart. We even saw some friends from church at The White Hart this week. We're glad to see that more people are beginning to find out about this great place.

After our son finished his school activities, we went to another one of our favorite places in Lynchburg—the Depot Grille. This restaurant is housed in the old Lynchburg train depot from the early days of Lynchburg. It was a central railroad hub during the War Between the States.

The train station has been decorated in a true train station theme, with the rough hewn ceiling supports, wooden pew benches for seating, and large Norfolk & Western Railway signs. It’s a great place with wonderful atmosphere, but the best thing about it is the food. It’s fantastic!

Our waitress had colored her hair with intense pink highlights for Valentines Day, so David was quite impressed and, of course, flirted with her as she took our orders and delivered our food. And about four times during the meal he jumped up and ran to the door to watch another train go by. You just can't beat a restaurant with good food, great atmosphere, and a live train track.

After lunch, we headed to the high school David will be attending next year. This high school has a reputation for having one of the best drama programs in the nation. And they were presenting "Beauty and the Beast" live. We were excited to get a glimpse of David’s new school and for him to see how much different high school is than middle school. But we weren't expecting the amazing performance that we were treated to.

These teens were simply fantastic. The orchestra was very good. The props and sets were beyond belief. The dancing was precise and fluid. And the acting and singing was top-notch. We were thoroughly impressed and David is excited about going to school there next year.

Unfortunately, photography was not allowed during the performance. But as soon as the performance was over and the cast was taking its bows, I began shooting pictures. The picture below is of Belle and the Beast/Prince. You can see the incredible castle set that Belle is stepping from.

We continue to find more things that make us love this city. And we wish we could share it with everyone. But if everyone found out what a great city this is, they would all move here and it just wouldn't be Lynchburg anymore.

All in all, it was a great Valentines Day and we had a great time as a family.

February 14, 2009

Love song for Valentines Day

A hometown band (from Washington, DC, and from Liberty University - Lynchburg, VA) singing about love. Happy Valentines Day.

Jesus Christ:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13:34-35

February 13, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!!

Today's blog header photo is of my beautiful wife. The photo was taken at Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson's retreat home in Forest, Virginia. Kim is leaning on the wall of the backyard flower garden. If you're a lover of beauty, visit Poplar Forest. It is beautiful and peaceful. And if we happen to be there when you visit, you can enjoy my wife's beauty too—from a distance. Up close, she's all mine.

I love you, Kim. Happy Valentines Day.


I have always loved the guitar skills of this group. I thought I'd share one of their songs with you. Enjoy.

February 12, 2009

Still crazy after all these years

A few years ago I attended my high school’s 20th reunion. It was great to see some of the old crew, now much older than last time I saw most of them. But I noticed that I tried very hard to present an image of myself that would be seen in a positive way by those who didn't know any better. After that reunion, I wrote an article about my desire and the obvious desire of others to present ourselves in a more positive light than may have been the complete truth.

Hopefully I have matured a good bit since that reunion.

But then Facebook happened. And once again I found myself face-to-face (well, kind of) with people I haven’t seen for quite some time. Once again I find myself tempted to cast myself in a more positive light. I’m tempted to post profile photos from my college days. I'm tempted to list myself as a publications technician or simply as a graphic designer rather than as a designer/desktop publisher.

And so I am reminded of that article I wrote a few years ago. Perhaps rereading it will help me to get refocused. And I’ll share it with you as well. Perhaps it will help all of us.

Hiding Behind the Mask

by Richard D. Gelina

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, was traveling in London and decided to play a joke on a handful of his friends whom he expected to meet with during the London visit. The joke was simple, but effective. Doyle wrote a note to each of these friends. The note read simply:

All is found out.
Flee at once.

Doyle expected to have a good laugh with these 12 friends when he caught up with them later that month. But he never was able to enjoy his practical joke. Because of the note he had sent them, within seven days all 12 friends had fled from England.

Apparently, many people have things hidden from public view that they never want to get out. Apparently, many highly respected people have skeletons in their closet—skeletons they are so adamant about not facing that they would rather leave their country, possibly for good, than have to face people who know their secret. Apparently, I was not the only person who was afraid to attend the reunion because I thought my old friends would be able to see through the mask that I have so carefully crafted over the years to hide my true self from those around me.

Why do we try to hide from friends? Why are we afraid to simply be ourselves? Do we really believe that a lie is going to be better than the truth when we re-establish 20-year-old friendships?

I don't know the answers to these questions, and I'm not qualified to make an educated guess about anyone other than myself. But I suspect that most of the people at the reunion are a lot like me. We certainly had many things in common 20 years ago. Not that much could have changed over the past couple of decades.

For my part, I had grandiose dreams 20 years ago. I was certain I would be famous—probably as a musician. I was certain I would have had a strong impact on society and culture by the time I was 40 years old. I was certain I would be well-loved, well-known, and well-respected.

But here we are in the 21st century and very few of my dreams have come true. I'm not a famous musician. I'm not wealthy. I'm not well-known, in fact I'm probably less well-known now than I was in high school. I'm overweight. I drive a Mitsubishi instead of a Porsche. I live in a duplex instead of a mansion. I am facing unemployment.

Jeremiah 9:23–24

This is what the Lord says:“Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the Lord.”

Looking at all the apparent failures in my life, I have crafted a mask that I hoped those who knew me 20 years ago would accept. They'd look at the mask and say, "Wow, Rich is a great guy—just like we always knew he was."

But the mask will never work. As we look at each other's masks, we don't truly connect with each other. After the initial rush of adrenaline caused by seeing people we haven't seen for years, we all go our separate ways once again because we haven't really connected. I've shown my mask to you and you've shown your mask to me, and we've each admired the other person's handiwork. But deep down inside we all know the masks are false through and through.

I would like to propose a theory about what causes us to think about ourselves this way and what causes us to be so false with each other.

I think we sometimes feel like failures and we present falsehood to each other because we are not seeing our lives and each other's lives through the lens of Jesus' love and forgiveness. We will never reach the greatness we conceive in our own minds as long as we are seeking to do it on our own and for our own glory.

This is what the Lord says:

"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the Lord.
Jeremiah 9:23–24

I look at my life again, but this time I look at it from God's point of view. Now I see a man who was chosen specially by God to be the recipient of his favor. I see a man who has been redeemed—washed in the blood of Jesus Christ. I see a man who stands before God completely blameless, having no shred of sinfulness because of what Jesus Christ did, and is doing, for me.

When I look at my life now, I see Almighty God determining my fate so that I am Jesus' brother; I see God calling me to himself; I see God justifying me and even glorifying me, a reality I will not know until I reach heaven (Rom 9: 29, 30). I see God doing all these incredible, fantastic things for me personally for only one reason. Because I deserve it? Far from it, otherwise I would never have needed to create the mask. God did all these things for me "to the praise of his glorious grace."

Praise God! I don't need a mask. I need only the blood of Christ, which was shed for me and applied to my account before the foundations of the world were laid.

What glorious love is this? Thank you Lord Jesus Christ.

I'm forever grateful to you
I'm forever grateful for the cross
I'm forever grateful to you
That you came to seek and save the lost.

February 09, 2009

Some romantic reading

For those of you who are getting into the Valentine's Day spirit, I'd like to direct you to a series of posts my wife did for Valentine's Day last year. This series of posts tells the stories of the romances that produced enduring marriages—including ours.

An anecdote to go along with this:

I advised my wife to not publish these posts. I didn't think people would find them particularly interesting. Boy was I wrong! They have proven to be the most popular posts on her blog. And quite likely have contributed to the fact that she has about quadruple the regular readership of my blog.

Check the series out here.

February 08, 2009

Blog Header - February 08, 2009

Yesterday our family went to Northern Virginia. I had an early morning photography shoot that was scheduled to wrap up before noon. So I took the family with me and after the gig was done, we visited President George Washington's home, Mount Vernon. Having grown up in this area, my wife and I have visited Mount Vernon many times, but we thought this would be a good chance for our son to get a dose of history.

Mount Vernon is a beautiful place. The view of the Potomac River is one of the best I have ever seen. And the house, while not having the architectural style of Thomas Jefferson's homes at Monticello or Poplar Forest is still quite beautiful. And the tour was fantastic with very knowledgeable and friendly guides.

One thing that really jumped out at us was the fact that George Washington is the only president in our nation's history to be unanimously elected by the electoral college. For all the bluster from recent presidents about "mandates" and "the people overwhelmingly rejected those old ideas about the economy when they went to the polls in November," Obama and Clinton need to check out our nation’s history if they'd like to see a true "mandate."

George Washington was an amazing man. And perhaps most amazing was the fact that when his tours of duty were over, he retired to private life as a farmer. When he was no longer needed to command troops, he resigned his commission. After two terms as president, even though the two-term limit had not yet been enacted, he resigned the presidency. He had a great love for his country and for God.

It was a fun day. The food at the Mount Vernon Inn was wonderful. And the DC traffic, although quite bad as usual, at least did not come to a complete stop at any point on the way home. Anytime the highways around DC actually show movement in the traffic it is a good day.

February 07, 2009

A Typical Shopping Trip, Part 2

I have left my readers hanging long enough.  It's time to tell the last part of my shopping trip. (Be sure to read “part one” if you haven't yet done so)

Now that the children are safely buckled in the car, fed, and starting to doze off, I start my journey home.  The twenty minute ride is fairly peaceful, and I drink it in, knowing what is coming next.

Getting up the snowy hill isn't too bad this time, so I'm hopeful that the driveway will welcome my homecoming.  As I approach it, I take a wide right turn and floor it.  It appears, hope against hope, that I will make it to the top of the driveway!  But alas, just over halfway up, the tires spin and will go no further.  Since I'm too exhausted to fight the good fight today, I just park it at the bottom of the driveway, and start the winter routine...

I make sure that the emergency brake is on and that the wheels are turned hard so that if the car starts a slide, it will end up in the woods, not the road (and, by the way, it did slide into the woods more than once).  I find the bright orange toboggan to the side of the driveway and steel myself for the work ahead.  I open the van door, and extract two children who are awake, plop them on the toboggan and pull them up the driveway.  I plant them on the porch and close the gate so they cannot escape.  I return to the bottom of the driveway to bring up two more children, one in an infant car seat and the other sitting directly behind, now fussing because they were awakened.  Once at the top, I gather all four and herd them inside.  

Next, we take off the winter gear (four sets of hats, gloves, mittens, boots, and snowsuits) and leave it in the hallway to be scooped up and put away at a later moment. I dispense juice to all in sippy cups, stopping to wipe up a spill or two, wipe a runny nose, or settle a disagreement.  Then begins the diaper/pullup/potty routine.  Finally, I place my properly hydrated and dry-bottomed children into the living room and turn on PBS or a Psalty video, then secure the gates so that the sweet, angelic munchkins don't wander off while I go retrieve the groceries.

Once again, I don my winter gear, grab the toboggan and carefully descend to the car.  I've learned from some not so pleasant experiences that if I stay out of the tire tracks and instead walk to the side of the driveway, there's a litte more traction, which prevents an unpleasant slip or fall.

Back at the van, I carefully load up the groceries on the toboggan.  I smile smugly as I remember the disdain on the bagger's face when I asked for paper instead of plastic.  The paper bags sit neatly on the toboggan, and I don't have to stop to retrieve slippery plastic bags that fall off on the way up the hill.  Bummer, I think, as I see there are more bags than will fit on the toboggan for one run.  Alas, I must trek back up the hill and plop these bags in the kitchen, so I put on my happy (now winter blasted) face and trudge up the hill once again.

Arriving at the top of the hill, I silently wish for a dumb waiter or ramp so I can just pull the stuff up the stairs.  But no, I carry a bag in each arm up the stairs and put them in the kitchen.  "Nuts!"  I exclaim as I retrieve the five year old ADHD child (who has escaped the gated living room)from the pantry cabinet.  At least, I think, she didn't open the gate and let the younger ones out.  I return her, with a stern warning (or was it an open threat??) to the living room.  I scowl as I walk back to the kitchen, realizing that I have tracked dirt and snow across the kitchen floor and down the hallway.  I hastily put away the freezer items and head back out for trip number two(or is that four??).  

After putting the last of the bags on the toboggan, I check for left behind bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers, or a misplaced glove or boot.  I lock the doors and begin my final ascent.  There's a sense of mixed relief and dread.  I am "done" with the driveway debacle, but inside are a week's worth of groceries that must be put away, and there is no way any sane woman would ask her toddlers to help do that.  I count my blessings and arrive blessedly peaceful at the house.  

That peaceful feeling is immediately turned to panic as I step inside the kitchen to see that TWO have escaped, and are rummaging through the grocery bags.  For a moment I dream that these two cherubs have decided to help mommy put away the groceries.  The bubble bursts when I see that they have found a snack and are trying to open the box.  I growl loudly and warn the monsters, (sorry... I meant angelic cherubs) that "mean mommy" is just outside the door and if they don't hastily retreat to the living room, I am going to let her in.  The scurry back to the living room, properly terrified, and I can begin the process of putting away groceries.

I would love to tell you that once I started unloading bags, I kept up until those bags were all emptied, folded and put away.  But, I'm being honest here, so I  must report that I put away only those things that would spoil if left out.  Once that's done, I pass wearily by the stacks of dishes that should be done, through the dirt/snow covered hallway to dump my coat and boots on the pile of winter gear that must be put away at a future moment, and then retire to the couch for a snuggle session with the kids.

About an hour later I awaken to the sounds of children who are bored with the TV and fighting over some toy which both must have "right now". I also hear a howling infant who has realized that it's been a few hours since the last feeding.  Ahh, this is the music of my day.  Share the symphony with me!

A few minutes later after baby is fed and changed, I get out the crayons and paper for the two oldest (the others are napping now...) and head back out to the kitchen to put away the last of the groceries.  Then I tackle the pile of clothes in the hallway.  I'm feeling majorly productive, and a bit worried since the girls aren't interrupting me.  I peek in the living room and they are still busy with crayons and paper.  What a gift!! I use the extra time to load the dishwasher and wipe up my mess on the kitchen floor.  

Suddenly, two sweet baby girls call me into the living room.  "Mommy, come look!" they beg.  I groan inwardly, wondering which wall will need some some masterpiece scrubbed off of it.  But instead I am greeted by two smiling faces and two love notes (two of many that I have kept).  Suddenly the toy strewn floor and the overturned crayon box are invisible.  We walk out to the refrigerator and put my love notes up where I can see them while I work.  Then, in a fit of playfulness I hug, kiss, and start tickling my toddlers.  The giggles peal out like bells on Easter Sunday.  

You know, maybe it wasn't so bad after all....

February 06, 2009

A Yankee Trick

My wife is doing geneological research. She started researching our geneology more than a decade ago and had to put it on the shelf when we adopted our son. She recently began the search for our ancestors again. And she has found it to be tremendously easier with today's technology than it was in the early days of the Internet.

But as she has done her research, other interesting tid-bits have come to light.

As Kim searched for records of her 5-times great grandfather's murder, she found an article about the murder in the Lynchburg Virginia, the newspaper that served the Lynchburg community at the time—“the time” being during the War Between the States.

A contiguous article in the paper that carried the news of her ancestor's untimely death dealt with a shocking revelation about the behavior of the Yankee troops at the battle of Fredericksburg. Here is that article:

SATURDAY,...........................DECEMBER 20, 1862

A Yankee Trick

The report which comes to us through several sources, that the Yankees actually propped up their dead at Fredericksburg to present the appearance of pickets, and cover their design of retreat, must be accepted as veritably true. And what a picture of depravity it presents! We cannot recur to an instance of similar character on record. It is a new feature in civilized warfare. Heretofore, amongst all people claiming to be one removed from barbarism, the first practise after a great battle has been to care for their wounded, and to endeavor to give to their slain the sacred rite of sepulture. But the Yankees rob the grave of its due, that they may turn even the dead to good account. Grinning, ghastly human forms, upon which the process of decay had set in, are festering in the sunlight, to excite loathing and disgust towards those who placed them there—But perhaps, it is fitting that they who came to rob, plunder, and destroy, should be denied a grave in the soil they have desolated. If the fair bosom of Virginia could throb with the impulses which now animate her sons, it would eject those alien enemies who have been pillowed there, and stir up her own patriotic dead to compel their removal from her soil. In the sublime language of the grandest prophet of the old testament, they would say, "Hell (the grave) from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming; it stirreth up the dead for thee. But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sward, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden under foot.—Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people; the seed of evil doers shall never be renounced."

Do these people deserve to be "joined in burial" with ours? Guilty of the grossest inhumanity towards the innocent people whom they invade, and of the most shameful neglect of their own whom they abandon, are they fit to be classed amongst civilized men? They seem to be of a different race and more like Mongol Tartars than Anglo-Saxons. The record of their doings at Fredericksburg, their bombardment of a town full of women and children; their wanton destruction of property of every kind after it fell into their hands; their violation of the universal customs observed towards the dead, and their posting of putrid carcasses like so many scarecrows, to frighten away their enemies, will all tend to sink them to a level with common barbarians.

There is another fact to be deduced from this last named Yankee trick, which will go a great way towards moderating the boasts of the enemy. It proves that they were alarmed for their safety, and therefore resorted to this extraordinary expedient to conceal their flight. Such, we are led to infer, was their panic and fright, that living men could not be induced to take the post of danger to insure the safety of their companions. What an end to the much vaunted "on to Richmond" movement of McClellan's successor!

Lynchb’bg Virginian, December 20, 1862

Today's homework

Stop the Stimulus Bill

Call your Senators today at 202-224-3121 and tell them to oppose the stimulus package. And for good measure, send them an email too.

Greensleeves - The King Singers

February 04, 2009

The gate to heaven

Blog Header - February 4, 2009

Can you believe it's February already?

Today's blog header photo is from the Amusement Square sidewalk in downtown Lynchburg. The sidewalk to the left is part of the Black Water Creek bicycle and walking trail that winds through Lynchburg beginning about a mile from our house, running through the downtown area, crossing the James River and ending up on an island on the far side. It's a great trail and a beautiful place to ride a bike.

On the right you can see part of the track from the old railroad that was one of the most important depots in the War Between the States. Lynchburg was an important and highly trafficked hub for the Southern supply lines. The old depot has been converted into a restaurant (the Depot Grill, and it is fantastic!) but the track still remains in place. It runs along the James River and is still used, although the train stop has now been moved to another location.

February 03, 2009

Freedom's fragility

Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children what it was once like in the United States when men were free.”

February 02, 2009

Super Bowl Highlight Film

While everyone else is discussing and posting videos of their favorite Super Bowl highlight, I'm going to post this one. There were some amazing plays on the field. Both teams played well and the athleticism was impressive.

But Jennifer Hudson was awesome:

Fiscal irresponsibility

Man, is this ever scary!! During this election campaign season, I heard so many people say things such as, "This time I'm not going to fall for the fearmongering." Perhaps they should have been afraid. I know I am.

Tax and spend has a whole new meaning under this administration. Apparently their fiscal irresponsibility knows no boundaries.