Thursday, November 30, 2006


Saint Andrew is the Patron Saint of Scotland, and St. Andrew's Day is celebrated by Scots around the world on the 30th November. The flag of Scotland is the Cross of St. Andrew, and this is widely displayed as a symbol of national identity.

The "Order of Saint Andrew" or the "Most Ancient Order of the Thistle" is an order of Knighthood which is restricted to the King or Queen and sixteen others. It was established by James VII of Scotland in 1687.

St. Andrew is said to have been responsible for spreading the tenets of the Christian religion though Asia Minor and Greece. Tradition suggests that St. Andrew was put to death by the Romans in Patras, Southern Greece by being crucified. The diagonal shape of this cross is said to be the basis for the Cross of St. Andrew which appears on the Scottish Flag.

St. Andrews bones were entombed, and around 300 years later were moved by Emperor Constantine to his new capital Constantinople. Legend suggests that a Greek Monk called St. Regulus was warned in a dream that St. Andrew's remains were to be moved and was directed by an angel to take those of the remains which he could to the "ends of the earth" for safe-keeping. St. Regulus dutifully followed these directions, removing a tooth, an arm bone, a kneecap and some fingers from St. Andrew's tomb and transporting these as far away as he could. Scotland was close to the extremities of the know world at that time and it was here that St. Regulus was shipwrecked with his precious cargo.

St. Regulus is said to have come ashore at a Pictish settlement on the East Coast of Scotland and this later became St. Andrews. Thus the association of St. Andrew with Scotland was said to have begun.

Perhaps more likely than the tale of St. Regulus' journey is that Acca, the Bishop of Hexham, who was a reknown collector of relics, brought the relics of St. Andrew to St. Andrews in 733. There certainly seems to have been a religious centre at St. Andrews at that time, either founded by St. Rule in the 6th century or by a Pictish King, Ungus, who reigned from 731 - 761.

Whichever tale is true, the relics were placed in a specially constructed chapel. This chapel was replaced by the Cathedral of St. Andrews in 1160, and St. Andrews became the religious capital of Scotland and a great centre for Medieval pilgrims who came to view the relics.

It is not known what happened to the relics of St. Andrew which were stored in St. Andrews Cathedral, although it is most likely that these were destroyed during the Scottish Reformation. The Protestant cause, propounded by Knox, Wishart and others, won out over Roman Catholism during the Reformation and the "idolatry of catholism", that is the Saints, relics, decoration of churches, were expunged during the process of converting the Roman Catholic churches of Scotland to the harsh simplicity of Knox's brand of Calvanism.

The place where these relics were kept within the Cathedral at St. Andrews is now marked by a plaque, amongst the ruins, for visitors to see.

The larger part of St. Andrew's remains were stolen from Constantinople in 1210 and are now to be found in Amalfi in Southern Italy. In 1879 the Archbishop of Amalfi sent a small piece of the Saint's shoulder blade to the re-established Roman Catholic community in Scotland.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Brethren of the blogosphere,

It is my privilege to introduce you to the newest member of our blogworld, Anne of the House. She has just created a new blog and posted for the first time. Please visit her at The Wooden House. I have created a link for you in the sidebar. I would be grateful if you would make her feel welcome. I'm certain her thoughts and writing will bring some real literary class to our fraternity.

Thank you!

Friday, November 24, 2006


Some people get really upset about the commercialization of holidays. I try not to let it bother me too much. I can celebrate the holidays any way I want to and their personal preferences don’t get to me…much.

It really doesn’t bother me that the schools have almost all gone to “Holiday Concerts” and the music that is played and sung has nothing whatsoever to do with the birth of Jesus. Looking at Christmas decorations in early November doesn’t annoy me. I love Christmas and it just can’t last too long for me. I’m thrilled when two of our local radio stations go to all Christmas music all the time the week before Thanksgiving. The Easter Bunny doesn’t hinder my celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. And I’m not an enemy of Halloween when children dress up and get free candy.

I guess I’m either incredibly lax in my convictions or just really laid back. I don’t know.

But I got rather peeved the other day. I’m tired of hearing people on television wish me a happy Turkey Day. Turkey Day? When did it become Turkey Day? This is just over the top for me. No, I don’t feel like the Pilgrims are getting cheated. Our Thanksgiving celebrations don’t really go back to the Pilgrims. Thanksgiving goes back to President Lincoln who declared the day to be a national day of prayer and thanksgiving to God for bringing us most of the way through the bloodiest conflict our nation has ever known. The very name of the holiday begs the question. Thanksgiving! If we are going to celebrate Thanksgiving then there has to be Someone to whom we are giving thanks and to call it Turkey Day really bugs me.

I think I’m somewhat inconsistent here. I admit it. I should probably be more offended about Christmas and Resurrection Day too. Go ahead and point out my logical fallacies. For some reason, this really touched a sore spot for me.

We celebrated our first Thanksgiving in our new home today. Aaron wasn’t able to join us because he lives too far away. Caleb came down from university for the weekend. Today is also John’s 20th birthday. This may be our last Thanksgiving with these six kids around the table. John leaves for the Air Force in twelve days. Who knows how many years it will be until he can rejoin us for Thanksgiving? I’m grateful for my family, both here and in California. I’m thankful for God’s gracious provision, both spiritually and materially. I’m thankful to God. It’s not just Turkey Day here!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Where were you when you heard?

I was sitting at the lunch benches at George Washington Carver Elementary School in Long Beach, California. There was an announcement that came out from those gigantic bell-shaped outdoor speakers all the school used to have. The announcement was simple. “President Kennedy has been shot in Dallas, Texas. Please remember him in your prayers.” (Times sure have changed, haven’t they?) I was sitting with my friend, Seth Kravitz. Seth was very smart and pretty politically savvy. He took the announcement very seriously. Soon the bell rang for us to return to our classrooms.

I was in Mrs. McKee’s fifth grade class. We met in one of those mobile bungalow classrooms that the Long Beach schools put in the playgrounds when the Boomers exploded the capacity of the school buildings. As I went up the four steps into the classroom I could see that Mrs. McKee had been crying. Her eyes were all red and puffy. The regular schedule was being suspended while we awaited word from the office. Mrs. McKee began reading a Readers Digest version of PT 109. We didn’t have long to wait. She got about half way through the article when the intercom speaker buzzed and the voice said, “President Kennedy has died of wounds received from an assassin’s bullet.” Mrs. McKee broke down in tears. She couldn’t go on. She asked me to come to the front and sit on the stool and finish the story for my classmates.

What do you remember? These are the things that stick in my mind. Walter Cronkite choking up. Endless new commentary. The backwards boots in the black horse’s stirrups. John John’s salute. Sobbing crowds of people.

I look back on that day and think that it was all over before I really had a chance to take part. Yes, Viet Nam was still to come and there was still a lot to do in the Civil Rights movement. But that was the beginning of the end. With Bobby and Teddy and Martin still around there was still hope. They got Bobby and Martin and Teddy never could live up to his brothers anyway. The party would never again stand for the things it once stood for no matter how hard we tried to pretend. Camelot closed for business. Those who came after could only say, “I knew Jack Kennedy” or “You’re no Jack Kennedy.”

No, John Kennedy was not a perfect man. As a result of investigative reporting and the opening of sealed documents, we know that. In fact, he may not have qualified as a good man. He was an unfaithful husband. He consorted with mobsters. He was an immoral man. But something bigger than John Kennedy died on this date, 43 years ago. I always wonder what might have been.

I just wish we would have had a chance to find out.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, November 10, 2006


The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they called "Gitche Gumee"
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skys of november turn gloomy
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
Then the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty
That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the "Gales of November" came early

The ship was the pride of the American side
Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin
As the big freighters go, it was bigger then most
With a crew and good captain well seasoned
Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
When they left fully loaded for Cleveland
And later that night when the ship's bell rang
Could it be the north wind they been feelin'?

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
And a wave broke over the railing
And ev'ry man knew, as the captain did too
'twas the witch of November come stealin'
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the Gales of November came slashin'
When afternoon came it was freezin' rain
in the face of a hurricane west wind

When suppertime came the old cook came on deck sayin'
"Fellas, it's been too rough to feed ya"
At seven P.M. a main hatchway caved in, he said,
"Fellas, it's been good t'know ya"
The captain wired in he had water comin' in
And the good ship and crew was in peril
And later that night when 'is lights went outta sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Does anyone know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours?
The searchers all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
If they put fifteen more miles behind 'er
They might have split up or they might have capsized
They may have broke deep and took water
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
In the rooms for her ice-water mansion
Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams
The islands and bays are for sportsmen
And farther below Lake Ontario
Takes in what Lake Erie can send her
And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
With the Gales of November remembered

In the musty old hall in Detroit they prayed
in the "Maritime Sailors' Cathedral"
The church bell chimed 'til it rang twenty-nine times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call "Gitche Gumee"
"Superior" they said, "never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early!"

November 10, 1975. Thirty-one years ago today.

In the last couple of years I have had the privilege of spending a good deal of time vacationing in Sault Ste. Marie, MI. Our good friends, Tom and Brenda Benedict have a cabin up on the Saint Mary’s River and they have had us up there several times. One of the things I really enjoy about their spot is that the ships upbound and downbound from the Soo Locks go right past. With a good set of binoculars you can see the men on the ships and watch them as they steam past. It rather personalizes the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald to see the descendants of her sailors doing the same things they once did.

Today is bright and sunny in Michigan.
There is a storm scheduled to hit the Great Lakes tomorrow.
(Lyrics by Gordon Lightfoot)

Saturday, November 04, 2006



I must have seen the video clip of John Kerry's "joke" twenty times. I also heard his original explanation of his words as a "botched joke." I'll tell you what I think although it is very difficult to judge a person's intent.

I believe him. I think he botched a joke. It was pretty clear that when he finished his comment he looked around with a little smirk on his face waiting for laughter that never came.

When I told my lovely wife that I believed it was a joke she responded, "But it wasn't even funny!"

I told her I didn't think it was funny either but that doesn't mean it wasn't intended as a joke. For example, when someone tells a racist joke it is only funny to racists. We don't think it is funny but the teller does. He reveals that he is a racist and we learn what is really deep down in his heart and mind.

When someone tells a "joke" about how people with bad grades end up in the army it reveals something to us about what is really in his heart and mind. I think it is very clear what John Kerry thinks about the army.

Yes, he intended to take a shot at President Bush.

The only thing he succeeded in shooting was his future as a presidential candidate or even a senator with any credibility.

SC, you may have been a poor student in college; I don't know. But the reason neither you nor I ended up in Viet Nam had more to do with our lottery numbers than our grades!

Let's be honest here even though honesty seems to be a lost commodity in politics. I'm a registered Democrat and have voted Democratic in every presidential election up to the last one. That statement of Kerry's had to be one of the stupidest political snafus I have ever heard! Is there no one on his staff to keep him from destroying his own career?

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Cigars all around! I’m a grandfather!

While at the Harvard of Christendom last week I had a brief chat with the Yaks about my finches. They are experienced finch breeders. They told me so when I posted in September about my birthday gift of a dozen finches from my lovely wife.

My finches have been laying eggs like crazy. I’m not kidding. Each apartment has at least ten eggs in it. This has been going on for well over a month. The first eggs appeared well before our move three and a half weeks ago. The birds started doing the dad and mom thing; hanging around in the apartments, sitting on the eggs, and acting all protective.

I was starting to worry. I have been unable to identify any actual “couples” among the birds. What? Am I going to have to do DNA tests to see which eggs belong to which birds?

But that was the least of my worries. Nothing was hatching. So last weekend I raised the subject with the Yaks. I was pretty sure all my eggs were duds. They seemed to confirm my suspicions. The first batch of eggs is often infertile.

I decided that when I got back to lovely, suburban, Caledonia, I would take out the apartments and empty out all the dud eggs. We could start over. It wasn’t really an emotional decision for me.

I didn’t get around to looking into the apartments until Tuesday. We had bought a bunch of white, cottony stuff for the birds to use as nesting material. They had taken a bunch of it and almost filled the apartments with it. Just as I was about to reach into the cage one of the female birds went into apartment number five and lifted up the cotton and there, under all that cotton, were at least two newly hatched chicks!

I puffed out my chest and walked out into the living room and proudly announced that I was a grandfather. That’s when all the excitement began. Quick, the internet said to boil some eggs for them and give them the eggs with the shells too! Quick, boil some carrots! They need fruit! I had triggered a veritable flurry of bird chefs, anxious to prepare delicacies for the finches!

Honestly, I don’t know what to do now. I suppose the parents birds will know. Do finches eat their young? I was just wondering.

Yes, of course I have pictures. It's just that for some reason Blogger won't let me upload them right now! Hmmm....