Wednesday, September 27

Film Conference

A weekend for lovers of discussion, worldview, film...and food--that is how we are billing the Second Annual King’s Meadow Film Conference on October 27-28, 2006. We will be watching Eat Drink Man Woman, Mostly Martha, Babette’s Feast, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Our theme is festivity, naturally--how a Christian should embrace the call to joy and celebration even amidst all the woes of this poor fallen world. Discussions and lectures will be led by the brilliant Greg Wilbur, the marvelous filmmaker Thomas Purifoy, and me. The conference nicely coincides with the Franklin Pumpkin Festival. So come watch, eat, drink, and be merry! For more information, read our conference brochure or download our most recent ministry newsletter.

September Newsletter

The September King's Meadow ministry newsletter is now available for download from our website. You won't want to miss the articles by Greg Wilbur, Susan Sadler, Sophia Wilbur, and Dave Raymond on the subject of feasting and festivity. Not coincidentally, that is the subject of our upcoming film conference--you can read all about that event and all the other happenings at King's Meadow in the newsletter.

Tuesday, September 26

17 Days Until the Uttermost

Yes, you read that right. Three days. 175 miles. And yes, I am going to attempt to do all of it. With the students of Franklin Classical School and Artios Academy, I will be running (about 70 miles of the total), walking (about 10 miles), and cycling (the remaining 95 miles) in an effort to raise support for some of the most remarkable missions organizations I know of--including Servant Group International, African Leadership, Blood: Water Mission, and Mercy Children's Clinic.

Won't you help us attain our goal? Visit our Uttermost website, read about our mission, and pledge your support today!

Monday, September 25

Islam and the Modern World

The greatest conflict of the past century has not been between Communism and Democracy. It has not been between Liberalism and Conservatism. It has not been between Socialism and Capitalism. It has not been between Rich and Poor, Proletariat and Bourgeoisie, Industrialism and Agrarianism, Nationalism and Colonialism, Management and Labor, First World and Third World, East and West, North and South, Allied and Axis, or NATO and Soviet. All of these conflicts have been important, of course. All of them helped to define the modern era significantly. None of them should be in any way underestimated.

But while every one of these conflicts has pitted ardent foes against one another and as a result, has actually altered the course and character of recent history, none of them could be characterized as the most convulsive conflict of the past century. The most convulsive conflict of past century--and indeed, the most convulsive conflict of the past millennia--has undoubtedly been between Islam and Civilization; it has been between Islam and Freedom; it has been between Islam and Order; it has been between Islam and Progress; it has been between Islam and Hope. While every other conflict pitting men and nations against one another has inevitably waxed and waned, this furious struggle has remained all too constant. The tension between Islam and every aspiration and yearning of man intrudes on every issue, every discipline, every epoch, and every locale--a fact that is more evident today than perhaps ever before.

The recent hubbub over the Pope's much-maligned comments served only to underscore this reality once again.

Despite all this, most people today actually know very little about Islam. Certainly, most Christians know only the most rudimentary facts about this extraordinarily potent adversary, this extreme cultural threat to everything they hold to be good and right and true. The conflict between Islam and the rest of the world may dominate the headlines, define our foreign policy, and give new urgency to the day-to-day mission of our churches, but why that is the case is still not very well understood.

It is for that reason that my good friends at Vision Forum asked me to spend some time developing a Christian Worldview perspective of the conflict at their recent History of the World Mega-Conference. To purchase my Islam and the Modern World lecture--as well as the other audio recordings from the conference just visit the Vision Forum webiste.

Sunday, September 24

Desperate for Permanent Things

On this day in 1904, after several years of experience publishing quality books at popular prices, Joseph Malaby Dent (1849-1926) began to flesh out an ambitious vision for a series of reprints he would call the Everyman’s Library. It was to be a massive and diverse selection of one thousand classics--practically the whole canon of Western Civilization’s great books--sold at affordable prices.

Though the experts had decreed that the classics were dry, uninspiring, and hardly suited for the fast-paced industrial world of the twentieth century, Dent believed that properly presented, the great books would prove to be as appealing as ever. He was convinced this was due to the fact that while the classics exhibit distinguished style, fine artistry, and keen intellect, they also create a whole universe of imagination and thought. In addition, unlike the simplistic nursery tales manifest in the literature of modernity, he believed the classics portrayed life as complex and multifaceted, depicting both negative and positive aspects of human character in the process of discovering and testing enduring virtues. He also believed that the classics had an inevitable transforming effect on the reader’s self-understanding--stretching, shaping, and confronting him.

He thought they invited and rewarded frequent rereadings--they were ever new. They had the uncanny ability to adapt themselves to various times and places and thus provided a sense of the shared life of humanity over the course of space and time. And finally, he held that their mere endurance across all the varied times and seasons of human experience demonstrated an interminable permanence amidst modern temporality that was simultaneously comforting and challenging.

Though the venture was obviously a commercial risk, Dent was confident that the very thing that made the classics classic would ensure success for the series. He was right. Public demand for books in Everyman's Library exceeded every expectation. Production began in 1906 and more than a hundred and fifty titles were issued by the end of that first year.

Wartime inflation and shortages of supplies more than doubled the price of each volume during the First World War. After the conflict, inflation and shortages actually worsened. Dent responded to the setbacks by expanding book sales to international markets. He expanded distribution to North America by setting up a Canadian subsidiary and by allowing E. P. Dutton to distribute Everyman titles throughout the United States. In addition, Dent hired agents to sell Everyman titles in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and most of continental Europe.

The Everyman’s Library finally reached the millennial volume with the publication of Aristotle’s Metaphysics in 1956. In just fifty years total sales of the Everyman’s series had exceeded sixty million copies of the classics. Though his company was finally sold by his heirs in 1988, almost exactly a century after he founded it, the impact of the little publisher that dared stand against the tide of the modern conventions of uniformity, conformity, and efficiency is still felt.

I love the Everyman’s Library volumes--especially the small, pocket-sized, older editions. I find them in antiquarian bookshops at very reasonable prices. Beautiful, inexpensive hardbacks in a clean typeface and crisp acid-free papers: what more could an inveterate reader want? I have two whole bookcases of them. Indeed, I often tell students that these are the best and most immediate way to begin building a substantial library of great books.

Joseph Dent’s literary habits reintroduced the pertinence, puissance, and propriety of the classics to a world all too desperate for permanent things.

Saturday, September 23

Harvest Home

Traditionally, the people of medieval England began the fall harvesting on this day, at the "Feast of Gathering" or "Harvest Home." To celebrate, wagons were decorated with fruits of the harvest and displayed in the village square amidst celebration, thanksgiving, and song:

Harvest-home, harvest-home
We have ploughed, we have sowed,
We have reaped, we have mowed,
We have brought home every load,
Hip, hip, hip, harvest-home, hurrah!

Thursday, September 21

Oxfordian Wonder

Few provincial cities anywhere are more crowded with incident and achievement than the English university city of Oxford. In a short stroll visitors may pass the house where Edmund Halley discovered his comet; the site of Britain's oldest public museum, the Ashmolean; the hall where architect Christopher Wren drew his first architectural plans; the pub where Thomas Hardy scribbled his notes for Jude the Obscure; the track where Roger Bannister ran the first sub-four-minute mile; the meadow where a promising young mathematician named Charles Lutwidge Dodgson refined The Formulae of Plane Trigonometry, An Elementary Treatise on Determinants and, of course his famous children's trifle called Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Walk down the broad and curving High Street, thought by many to be the most beautiful in England, or through the maze of back lanes that wander among the golden, age-worn college buildings, and you will be able to follow in the footsteps of Samuel Johnson, Adam Smith, Edward Gibbon, Jonathan Swift, John Donne, Roger Bacon, Cardinal Wolsey, Oscar Wilde, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, T. S. Eliot, C. S. Lewis, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Arthur Quiller-Couch, Indira Gandhi, Hilaire Belloc, and Margaret Thatcher, to name just a few who have lived and worked and studied here.

The heart of the city is Carfax. The name comes from the Latin quadrifurcua, or “four-forked.” It is from here that the city's main streets run to the four points of the compass. This was the center of the walled medieval city--built on the foundations of an early Saxon trading settlement which was located near the ford in the river there for the cattle and oxen (hence the name "ox-ford").

It was in this remarkably rich environment of Oxfordian wonder, on this day in 1921, that the esteemed professor of etymology, J.R.R. Tolkien, began to recount the stories of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, Hobbits of Middle Earth--one of the most remarkable achievements in English literature.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, was born in South Africa in 1892. After a brilliant undergraduate career, he became a medieval scholar, philologist, and professor at the university. His scholarly work at concerned Anglo-Saxon and medieval literature.

His depth and breadth of scholarship is most evident in the epic works he created about the fantasy world he called Middle Earth. He wrote The Hobbit in 1937 as a children's book. Its sequel, the trilogy entitled The Lord of the Rings--finally published after much anticipation in 1954 and 1955--included The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. The work is an imaginative masterpiece that has captured the imagination of generations ever since. It is a profound tale of the conflict between good and evil told against a backdrop of rich cultures, vibrant characters, and stunning prose and poetry. And just for the record, the books are far better than the blockbuster films.

Tolkien’s close friend and fellow professor, C.S. Lewis, commented, “such a tale, told by such an imaginative mind, could only have been spawned in such a place as Oxford.” Oxfordian wonder, indeed.

Wednesday, September 20

Change of Heart

Although the nomination and election of the dark-horse candidate for president, James Garfield, surprised many Americans, the nomination and election of Chester A. Arthur (1830-1886) as his running mate was even more of a shock. Many a citizen feared the worst when Garfield was assassinated with three and a half years of his term remaining. And for good reason.

Arthur, who loved fine clothes and elegant living, had been associated with the corrupt New York political machine for almost twenty years. In 1878 he had even been removed from his post as Collector of the Port of New York by President Rutherford B. Hayes, who had become alarmed at his brazen misuse of patronage.

But in spite of his questionable record, Arthur was nominated to run for vice-president--largely to appease the powerful party establishment. Thus, when Arthur became president on this day in 1881, following the death of Garfield, there was every expectation that the free-wheeling spoils system that had reigned in New York would be firmly established in Washington.

But Chester Arthur fooled everyone--friends and enemies alike. Somehow, the responsibilities of that high office seemed to transform this corrupt, petty politician into a man sincerely dedicated to the good of the country. Courageously, he established his independence by vetoing a graft-laden rivers-and-harbors bill, by breaking with his former machine cronies, and by vigorously prosecuting members of his own party accused of defrauding the government. And, most important, instead of a spoils system, he supported a Federal Civil Service based on competitive examinations and a non-political merit system.

By his change of heart--evidenced by these courageous acts--Arthur won over many who had first feared his coming to power, but he lost the support of the political bosses. Although he was not an inspiring leader of men, he earned the nation’s gratitude as the champion of the Civil Service system.

Sunday, September 17

Endurance 50

Dean Karnazes has done some amazing things during his forty-three years of life. Somehow this San Francisco businessman, husband, and father of two has found time in his busy schedule to set virtually every long-distance running record imaginable. He has won all the big ultras--up and down the mountains of the brutal Western States 100-Miler and through the withering heat of the Badwater 135-Miler; across the crushing crests of the Vermont 100-Miler and across the barren wasteland of the Antarctica Marathon. Once he ran 350 miles straight--over the course of three days and two nights--without stopping! No wonder he has earned the moniker of the “ultra-marathon man,” which not coincidentally is the title of his New York Times best-selling autobiography.

Beginning today, Karnazes tackles his toughest challenge yet: 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states. Really! 50 in 50 in 50! Over the course of those 50 days, Karnazes plans to run 1,310 miles at about a 10-minute per mile pace--burning over 150,000 calories. I honestly don’t see how such a feat is possible. But then, I really don’t see how it is possible for a human being to do what he has already done.

During the course of the North Face Endurance 50 Karnazes will tackle some of the most famous marathon routes all across the US. Today for example, he runs the Lewis & Clark Marathon in St. Louis. Tomorrow, he will be in Tennessee to run the St. Jude Memphis Marathon in Memphis. Then on Tuesday, he’ll be in Mississippi for the Mississippi Coast Marathon. Wednesday brings him to Arkansas for the Little Rock Marathon. Next, he’ll be in Kansas for the Wichita Marathon. Then it is to Iowa for the Des Moines Marathon on Friday. On Saturday, he will be in Omaha, Nebraska for the Lincoln Marathon. Then on Sunday, he runs the Boulder Backroads Marathon in Colorado.

And that is just week one! He will then criss-cross the entire country in a tour bus running 26.2 miles day after day for six more weeks!

Along the way, he’ll run in the LaSalle Bank Marathon in Chicago and the Boston Marathon from Hopkinton to Boylston Street. Finally, he will finish in New York City on November with the ING New York Marathon.

Now of course, these big marathons are run on weekends. So, Karnazes is not running in the actual organized races during the next month and a half of Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Instead, he will run the official race routes those days--along with runners in each city who have volunteered to pace him along the way. During the weekends though, he will have the opportunity to run in the actual marathons.

In the process, Karnazes will be supporting running clubs and runners across the nation and raising funds for a non-profit organization he founded to support, encourage and motivate youth to get outside and become more physically active. He hopes to make marathon running, the ultimate individual sport, a symbol of what people can achieve if they aspire to explore their personal limits.

However you cut it, Karnazes is doing something more than a little remarkable. Its enough to inspire us ordinary Joes to tie on our trainers and head out around the block a couple of times. You can visit either my Run Blog or the official Endurance 50 website to follow Karnazes' progress.

The Constitution

Though they did not have the formal authorization of Congress and were thus, technically in violation of the laws of the land, the Constitution of the United States was completed and signed by a majority of delegates attending the constitutional convention in 1787 on this day in Philadelphia.

Saturday, September 16

Samuel Davies

Though he lived only 37 years, Samuel Davies helped to shape American life and culture like few other men had even done before or since. Born in Newcastle County, Delaware, 1723, he was descended from sturdy Welsh stock on both sides of his family. His parents were both devout, but his mother especially exhibited an ardent piety. Indeed, years later Davies would say, “I am a son of prayer, like my namesake, Samuel the prophet, and my mother called me Samuel, because, she said, I have asked him of the Lord.”

When the Rev Samuel Blair opened his famous school at Fagg's Manor, Pennsylvania, Samuel Davies was put under him and there completed his formal education--both classical and theological. The slender frame of the young man was very weak when he completed his studies; however, he was licensed to preach by Newcastle Presbytery in 1746. The same year he married, and the following year was ordained an evangelist for the purpose of visiting vacant congregations in Virginia. Due to his inexperience, feeble health, and a fear he would dishonor the ministry, Davies was reluctant to go--but in obedience to Presbytery he set out.

Alas, shortly afterward, on this day in 1747, his wife and son died in a sudden and afflicting manner. The brief notice in his own Bible beside the wife's name says, “September 16, 1747, separated by death, and bereaved of an abortive son.” Grief broke his already weakened constitution, and his physical condition gave his friends great concern. In such a condition Davies was unwilling to receive a call to any congregation, but traveled from one vacant pulpit to another; his ministrations always being well received so that he received a number of earnest calls for his pastoral services. Among them was one from Hanover County, Virginia, signed by heads of about 150 families and delivered personally by one of their elders.

After many entreaties he finally accepted their call and sudden blessing was poured out upon the region. He had a remarkable vision for church planting--and he set out immediately to implement it as far and as wide as he could. At first there were five meeting houses in which he preached, and then seven in six counties, and later as many as fourteen separate meeting places over which Davies had charge. Some of these were more than 30 miles from one another.

Like Whitefield and Wesley, he read while riding on horseback from one charge to another, being all alone in that vast wilderness. The meeting house closest to where Davies lived, was a plain wooden building in Hanover County capable of holding 500 people. Amazingly, the building was too small for the multitudes that assembled--including large numbers of African-American slaves and freedmen. So great and steady was the progress of the church in that region that under his leadership the first presbytery in Virginia was organized in 1755 with five ministers, all younger disciples of Davies.

Hanover became the mother Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in the South--and became the seedbed of fervor for independence in the coming conflict with Britain. As Patrick Henry, a congregant in one of the churches established by Davies, later said, “Were it not for him, America freedom would have been still-born. In the Gospel he preached, the energy he displayed, and the courage he lived day by day, he modeled the true American temper.”

Friday, September 15

Oriana Fallaci

Oriana Fallaci, the brilliant, iconoclastic Italian journalist died today in her home city of Florence following a decade-long battle with cancer. She was 77.

She first gained global renown during the sixties for her Vietnam War reporting and her forthright interviews with the world’s most prominent people. Fallaci was often dubbed “the journalist to whom virtually no world figure would say no.” Among many others, she interviewed Ayatollah Khomeni, Yasir Arafat, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Nguyen Van Thieu, Richard Nixon, and Henry Kissinger.

A glamorous figure with “Sophia Loren” looks and confidence, Fallaci believed she had the obligation to always ask “the toughest questions, cutting to the heart of the hardest issues.”

“How do you swim in a chador?” she asked Khomeni in 1979, not long after he came to power in Iran in 1979. “How can you say that you’re not a crook now?” she asked Nixon following Watergate.

That kind of courageous, plain-spoken honesty earned her a whole new generation of admirers--and not a few detractors--after she published two books about Islam, terrorism, and the future of Western Civilization. The books, The Rage and the Pride and The Force of Reason were stunning diatribes against the barbaric character of Islam, the Koran, and the unilateral capitulation of Western society to Muslim cultural incursions. “Europe is no longer Europe,” she charged. “It is Eurabia, a colony of Islam, where the Islamic invasion does not proceed only in a physical sense, but also in a mental and cultural sense. Servility to the invaders has poisoned democracy, with obvious consequences for the freedom of thought, and for the concept itself of liberty.”

Her candor earned her a fatwah from Muslim clerics around the world and indictments in two European countries, including her native Italy, for “religious hate crimes.” Unlike Salman Rushdie however, Fallaci refused to cower in hiding. She simply carried on as she had for the previous four decades: “telling it as I see it.”

But, it was not just celebrities and Muslims that she angered. She was, it seemed, an equal opportunity offender. Her stunning 1976 pro-life novel, Letter to a Child Unborn gained her scorn from ideological Feminists. And her political thriller, Inshallah stung the political Left.

For a woman who mercilessly prodded others into self-revelation, Fallaci always managed to resist the temptation to talk about herself. “To speak of oneself means to lay bare one’s own soul, expose it like a body to the sun,” she once told a reporter. “To lay bare one’s own soul is not at all unlike taking off one’s brassiere on a crowded beach!’’

A life-long Atheist, in her final years Fallaci warmed to the Christian faith saying that “a bold, masculine Christianity was Western Civilization’s unique heritage, and perhaps its only future hope.”

Gouverneur Morris

His words are among the most recognizable in our nation's history--yet most Americans would have a hard time recognizing his name: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

In his own day, Gouverneur Morris (1752-1816), was an eloquent, though sometimes windy, speaker who literally set the rhetorical course for the Founding Fathers as they launched their fledgling experiment in freedom. Thus, he was charged with the primary responsiblity to write the final draft of the Constitution. Members of the New York legislature, the Constitutional Convention, and the Senate were often swayed by his masterful blend of logic, wit, and imagination. Although he had strong aristocratic tendencies, and as late as 1774 wrote, “It is in the interest of all men to seek for reunion with the parent state,” in 1776 Morris spoke in the New York legislature on behalf of the colonies and against the King. He early recognized the need for a united, strong national congress. Of Morris, historian David Muzzey wrote, “he was a nationalist before the birth of the nation.”

In the Continental Congress Morris was chairman of several committees and his gifted pen produced such important documents as the instructions to Franklin, as minister to France, and detailed instructions to the peace commissioners, which contained provisions that ultimately appeared in the final treaty. As a member of Congress, he supported and signed the Articles of Confederation.

At the Constitutional Convention Morris participated in debates more than any other delegate. He argued that the President and the Senate should be elected for life, and that the Senate should represent the rich and propertied, to counterbalance the democratic character of the House of Representatives. This was, of course, rejected, but his proposal for a Council of State led to the idea of the President’s Cabinet, and he proposed that the President be elected, not by Congress, but by the people. When the Constitution was completed, Morris was given the task of editing and revising it, and he then wrote the famous words of the preamble.

Once the Constitution was formally accepted, Morris proved one of its most devoted supporters. On September 15, two days before the delegates signed it, Morris made an impassioned speech answering Edmund Randolph, who refused to sign. Many of the delegates later attested that it was his speech that swung the tide of opinion in favor of ratification.

As minister to France in the 1790s, Morris found himself in the wrong country at the wrong time. Although he was recognized by the French revolutionists as one of the leaders of the American Revolution, he was nonetheless a Federalist with clear aristocratic sympathies. In Paris he became involved in attempts to help French nobles escape--including the Marquis de Lafayette and the King, and the revolutionists demanded his removal. After he returned he served in the Senate and, later, as chairman of the group that developed the plan for the Erie Canal, the waterway that opened the path for westward expansion.

But for all of his other accomplishments, he will forever be known as the author of those immortal words in the Preamble to the Constitution.

Guy Rodgers

Guy Rodgers, a long-time friend of mine who has been a leader for Christian, conservative and pro-family causes for 20 years, has launched a new consulting firm, Strategic Consulting Services. Guy has experience with everything from political strategic consulting to lobbying, fundraising to message marketing, grassroots organizing to public relations. If you, your company or your organization has needs in these areas, you would be well-served to contact Guy at, or 850-478-3005.

Thursday, September 14

The Anthem's Other Verses

The War of 1812 was still fiercely raging when Francis Scott Key, a Washington attorney was sent to the British naval command to secure the release of a prisoner when the fleet began to bombard the placements of American fortifications in Baltimore at Fort McHenry. Key had to watch in agony, wondering if his nation could possibly withstand such a barrage.

Though the battle raged through the night on this day in 1814, the American defenses stood firm. The sight of the flag still flying over the fort the next morning inspired the young lawyer to pen the immortal words of the Star Spangled Banner.

Later it was set to a popular English hymn tune, Anacreon in Heaven, and it became a standard in the patriotic repertoire. Congress officially confirmed it as the national anthem more than a hundred years later, just before the First World War.

Though the first verse of the anthem is well known-sung at the opening of most political and sporting events--the other verses are almost entirely unknown:

O! say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming:
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming,
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there:

O! say, does the star-spangled banner still wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mist of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream.

‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is the band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country would leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave!

And the star-spangled banner in triumph cloth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O! thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the foe's desolation;
Bless'd with victory and peace, may our heaven rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just,
And this be our motto, “In God is our trust!”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Technology Snafus

This just in from Amy, King's Meadow's office manager:

Craziness! That's what ultimately happens this time of year when new things are beginning and you think you can at least rely on the constancy of the old things when life gets overwhelming. But we should know better. The world never runs according to our best whims and fancies even in the blessed realm of ministry. We'd like to make note that while God has called us to take dominion over our tools, occasionally--since we live and work in this poor fallen world--our tools take dominion over us. We are working tirelessly to redeem the days and to set nature (and technology) back in its place as servant rather than task master. We ask you to bear with us as all of the last few months of e-mail correspondence has been wiped from our main office computer and web server. And if you have been in touch with us recently and not received a reply, do try again and except our apologies for the inconvenience. For further questions or follow-ups, e-mail our office at:

Just a note of clarification: it is probably best to never, ever, let a PC-only techie mess with a Mac. Invariably, when they mess up, they really, really mess up. And then, they blame it on the Mac. Fortunately, I work with my tech friend and partner Matt, who is a pretty capable switch-hitter. But, Amy, who offices a couple of miles away at the study center, called in a PC guru to work on her nifty new MacBook and kaboom! As Amy says, this is just one of the woes of living and working in this poor fallen world.

So, if you have sent in speaker requests, e-mail queries, or other correspondence via the web, it is likely that your records have disappeared into tiny fragments of indecipherable 0s and 1s. Please contact us again.

Tuesday, September 12

Roger Sherman

A Yankee cobbler who taught himself law and became a judge and a legislator, Roger Sherman (1721-1793) helped draft four of the major American Founding documents--the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

Sherman had almost twenty years experience as a colonial legislator behind him when he arrived on this day at the First Continental Congress--a week after it had convened in 1774. He quickly won the respect of his fellow delegates for his wisdom, industry, and sound judgment. John Adams called him “one of the soundest and strongest pillars of the Revolution.” In Congress Sherman was one of the first to deny Parliament’s authority to make laws for America, and he strongly supported the boycott of British goods. In the following years he served with Jefferson and Franklin on the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence, and on the one that drafted the Articles of Confederation. He also served on the maritime committee, the board of treasury and the board of war--all of first importance to the Revolution.

A Puritan of simple habits who performed all tasks with thoroughness and accuracy, Sherman gained more legislative experience in his years in Congress than any other member; by the time he left he was perhaps the most powerful, and most overworked, of congressmen.

Sherman’s greatest contribution--and the best known--was the “Connecticut Compromise” he proposed at the Constitutional Convention: by proposing that Congress have two branches, one with proportional, one with equal representation, he satisfied both the small and the large States, providing a solution to one of the most stubborn problems of the Convention. In Connecticut he defended the Constitution, writing articles in the New Haven Gazette, and helped win ratification in January 1788. Connecticut was the fifth State to ratify.

Sherman was the oldest man elected to the new national House of Representatives. In the first Congress he served on the committee that prepared and reviewed the Bill-of-Rights Amendments. By coincidence, the year that the Bill of Rights became part of the Constitution, Sherman was elected Senator--so that the man who conceived the “Connecticut Compromise” had the opportunity to represent that State in both of the legislative branches that he helped to create.

Monday, September 11


Five years ago, as tens of thousands of Americans watched on television with a sense of surreal horror, the two towers of the World Trade Center collapsed into flaming steel, rubble, and dust, and vanished from the skyline of lower Manhattan. Just hours earlier, the most brazen and horrific terrorist attack in human history was carried out when extreme Muslim partisans crashed commercial airliners into both of the towers as well as the Pentagon in Washington, DC. A fourth hijacked plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania when the passengers realized what was transpiring and overwhelmed the terrorists. The death toll rose to nearly three thousand--including scores of police, fire, and rescue workers who ran into the buildings to save those trapped in the infernos that ensued. And thus the nation was suddenly transformed--and unified--by adversity in a way that prosperity never could. That unity did not long endure of course, but it was palpable while it lasted.

Sunday, September 10

Reforming Music

One of the most remarkable features of the Reformation was the veritable explosion of creativity it provoked. Painting, sculpture, music, literature, technology, architecture, oratory, and engineering, the likes of which had not been seen since the halcyon days of High Medievalism filled cities like Geneva, Frankfurt, London, Zurich, Edinburgh, and Amsterdam. Beauty, goodness, and truth became the natural handmaids of Reformed thought.

Though a good deal of that creativity revolved around the teeming worlds of commerce and industry, not a little focused on reviving the once moribund services of the church itself. This was particularly evident in the sudden prolificacy of sacred music and hymnody.

In Geneva, the poet Clement Marot and the theologian and Protestant reformer Theodore Beza collaborated on a magnificent new translation of the Psalms into an familiar vernacular French. They also set each Psalm to one or another of several standard metrical verse forms, which made them particularly accessible to musicians and composers.

The new translations were introduced by the reformer John Calvin as a vital part of his liturgical renewal there in Geneva--and from there, they were quickly adopted by the various Reformed churches in France and Switzerland. The French musician Louis Bourgeois either composed new hymn tunes or selected old folk melodies that might be used interchangeably with any number of the Psalms--and the result was a lively, refreshing, and dynamic form of worship.

Two other French Reformed musicians, Claude Goudimel and Claude Le Jeune, composed stunning four-voice settings for the Bourgeois melodies, which became standard for the churches seeking to conform worship to confessional forms. But visitors--for some reason expecting that the worship of the Reformers might be dour and somber--were often surprised by the vigor and enthusiasm of the new settings. Indeed, these Psalms were so lively that they were popularly dubbed Genevan Jigs.

English translations of the Genevan Jigs were published in 1562 by the Puritan writers, printers, and publishers Thomas Sternhold and John Hopkins. And then on this day in 1612 a similar Psalter was published in Holland by the English Separatist clergyman Henry Ainsworth--in fact, it was the Ainsworth Psalter that the Pilgrims brought to America on the Mayflower in 1620. Thus, quite contrary to the popular caricatures, the music and the worship of the Calvinistic Puritans and Pilgrims--as well as their kith and kin amongst the Covenanters--was creative, vibrant, and exhilarating.

Saturday, September 9

It's Showtime

Apple revolutionized the world of computing with the Mac. Then, they transformed the world of portable handhelds with the Newton. Next came their blockbuster paradigm shifting innovation with iTunes and iPod. Their OSX and associated software applications--iPhoto, iDVD, Keynote, Pages, iWeb, GarageBand, and iMovie--have begun to fulfill the promise of putting the creative power of computing into the hands of ordinary users. On Tuesday, many experts believe Apple may be ready to do it again. Will it be a new digital movie downloading service similar to iTunes only faster and easier? Will it be a new video handheld device like iPod only bigger and better? Will it be the much anticipated iTalk mobile phone? Will it be some combination of all three? Will it be something else altogether? Only Steve Jobs knows for sure. The one thing we do know, when Apple sends out invitations for a product announcement press conference, it's showtime.

United States

On this day in 1776 the Continental Congress decreed "that in all Continental commissions and other instruments, where heretofore the words United Colonies have been used, the style be altered, for the future, to the United States." The name "United States" had been used sporadically since 1774, but now sporadic use was no longer adequate.

Tuesday, September 5

August Newsletter

Ever read the work of Evelyn Waugh? You'll certainly want to after reading this month's King's Meadow Study Center newsletter. Visit our home page and click on the "what's new" link. There you can read not one but two insightful articles by Greg Wilbur on Waugh's stunning Brideshead Revisted. You'll also appreciate Dave Raymond's take on Waugh's practical (and normal) covenantalism. And as an added bonus you'll find updates on our upcoming film conference and Uttermost missions project. Read the newsletter and then pass the word to all your reading and thinking friends.

Monday, September 4

The Beginning of the End

The Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, fficially denounced Liberation Theology--an odd mélange of Marxism and Christianity which had been growing in popularity in Latin American countries. At the time, Ratzinger was a close ally of Pope John Paul II, thus his pronouncements carried a great deal of weight. Indeed, his decree, issued on this day in 1984, marked the beginning of an all out war between the Vatican and Communism that would ultimately provoke the collapse of the Soviet empire. Of course, just over two decades later Ratzinger would succeed his friend, John Paul II, and ascend to the papacy himself as Pope Benedict XVI.

Friday, September 1

The Power of Symbols

During the nineteenth century Scottish nationalism was reborn after a century during which the once proud nation had all but surrendered both its distinctiveness and its independence to England. Sir Walter Scott fanned the flames of Scots pride with his swashbuckling historical novels, Robert Burns stirred the embers of Scots romanticism with his affecting bucolic verse, and Thomas Chalmers revived Scots vision with his confident covenantal worldview. There was a reawakening of interest in Scottish culture, Scottish history, and Scottish heroes.

By the middle of the century a group of prominent Scots formed a National Monument Committee. Their idea was to capitalize on the new fascination with all things Scottish to build a lasting testimony to faith, family, and freedom--the essential virtues they saw emerging from Scotland’s great legacy. It would be a monument featuring the greatest of all the Scots heroes, William Wallace. Initially the preferred site for the monument was Glasgow Green, however, on the instigation of the Rev. Dr. Charles Rogers, the chaplain at Stirling Castle, the site at Abbey Craig was selected.

The land had much to commend it. A high craggy mound overlooking the river Forth and the broad field of Bannockburn, it was the site of the old Cambuskenneth Abbey--which had been founded around 1147 by King David I. But more importantly, it was at one time also the site of a hill fort where in 1297 William Wallace camped before defeating the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge.

A public subscription was launched and a design competition was organized. The winner was an Edinburgh architect, J. T. Rochead. His design for the monument was a fanciful Baronial construction with a soaring Medieval tower, arising from a broad Laird’s courtyard, with an overlook representing the recently recovered Scottish Crown Royal. It bespoke Victorian excess in the regional vernacular of Scotland--whimsically combining both secular and ecclesiastical elements.

When the foundation stone was laid in 1863, a crowd of 70,000 was present. But disputes amongst the National Monument Committee members and financial problems resulted in construction not being completed for six years. But when it finally was completed on this day in 1869, it almost immediately became an icon of the nation’s long-held aspirations and dreams.

The monument soared above the Craig nearly 220 feet. The walls were eighteen feet thick at the base, tapering to five feet thick at the pinnacle--utilizing more than 30,000 tons of stone. A fifteen foot tall solid bronze statue of Wallace was sculpted by David Watson Stevenson and situated approximately thirty feet from the ground. The total effect was altogether awe-inspiring.

Inside the monument, there were four rooms in the tower, of approximately twenty-five square feet, with vaulted ceilings thirty feet high. Each of the tower rooms were connected by a spiral staircase--with 246 steps to the top. The rooms were to serve as a national museum--the greatest artifact in the collection being the 700 year-old sword Wallace used throughout his remarkable career. The sword was a traditional two-handed broad-sword, nearly six feet long and weighing nearly fifty pounds. The size of the sword indicated that Sir William must have been at least six feet six inches tall.

Amazingly, the monument proved to be a catalyst for an even greater awareness of Scotland’s unique identity and heritage. As the designer, Rochead, asserted, “Symbols of things are often more powerful in conveying the essence of those things than the things themselves.”