TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE IMPEACHMENT

Posted: December 21, 2019 in Uncategorized

THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE FARMERVILLE GAZETTE AND THE RUSTON DAILY LEADER THE WEEK OF 12/22/2019

‘Twas the night before impeachment, when all through the house
Not a congressman was stirring, not even a mouse;
The articles were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that McConnell soon would be there;
The Democrats were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of removal danced in their heads;
And Nancy in her ‘kerchief, and Chuck in his cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the mall there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the TV I flew like a flash,
Turned on the set and listened to the trash.
The image of the moon on the new-fallen snow
Gave the luster of impeachment to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and plump,
I knew in a moment it must be President Trump.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, Abraham, now Richmond, now Higgins now Johnson and who knew!
On, Graves, Scalise, McCarty and VanDrew too
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
It’s time to adjourn; Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of surprises, and President Trump too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof                                                                             The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the stairs came President Trump with a bound.
He was dressed to the fours, from his head to his boot,
And his wife was with him, so elegant and cute;
A bundle of agreements he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a President just opening his pack.
His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the hair of his head was turning white as the snow;
The stump of a pen he held tight in his hand,
And the power it emitted was anything but bland
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know the Dems had everything to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
His team was in place in order to teach
It takes true crimes for Congress to Impeach.

And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the stairs he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT,  WITH A SPECIAL MESSAGE TO ALL REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS, LETS END THIS DESTRUCTIVE FIGHT!

Merry Christmas everyone and may the true meaning of Christmas exude its’ love and peace on all of us.

LEADERSHIP vs HYPOCRISY

Posted: January 18, 2021 in Uncategorized

THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE BERNICE BANNER THE WEEK OF 1/18/2021

Many years ago I had the distinct opportunity to attend the Louisiana Military Academy.  This was an academy to develop an officer corps for the Louisiana Army National Guard.  It was definitely a valuable experience in life’s lessons and it was tailored for the Army infantry officer.  As with all U.S. Military officer training, leadership was in the forefront of the training.  One iconic image was a statue of an infantryman in battle gear looking back, arm raised with rifle in hand as he summoned the men behind him.  Engraved on the base of the statue was two words, “FOLLOW ME”.  We learned in school a leadership term that all leaders should follow.  That term was “Follow me.  Do as I do”.  Unfortunately, there are individuals of powerful positions that haven’t subscribed to this aspect of leadership.

There are some in Washington or in state government or even in city government that enjoy a heavily regulated highly bureaucratic government structure that places these elected leaders at the top of the food chain.  From their perches atop the pillars of democracy they can provide guidance in the form of edicts and laws and then go behind closed doors and break their own rules; the same rules that everyone else is expected to follow.  This disappointment of the trust instilled by the citizens of America is one of the most disturbing aspects of American government today.  To make matters worse, on occasion when challenged, these officials will lie about their actions and expect the citizens to be so ignorant as to believe what is being stated.

At the beginning of the dreaded COVID Pandemic the President closed travel to China to stop an immediate explosion of the disease.  The newly elected President of the United States referred to the action as racist and xenophobic.  Even worse, the speaker of he house of representatives, marched in the Chinese New Year celebration and told people to come out and join her.  When she was later challenged about her actions she reflected the question by saying she was trying to be un-racist.  When California shut down hair salons the speaker had a salon open for her personal use and was captured on a camera with no mask.  All she could say was that she was set up but no apology.  The mayor of Chicago performed the same sin and dismissed it with a note that se is in the public and had to look good.  Later, on election night, the same mayor was in a crowd with no mask to celebrate the defeat of Trump.  Of course this action received a little more than a cursory explanation after so much condemnation of others and orders that everyone in Chicago had to wear a mask.

These stories are not isolated.  The governor of California, the Mayor of Detroit, the Governor and the Mayor of New York and others around the country installed edicts to address the COVID epidemic only to break their own rules.  This hypocrisy is what destroys the faith of the citizens and the confidence in the elected of a great and proud nation. 

Instead of burning the mid-night oil on capital hill in an attempt to provide economic assistance to the vast majority of American citizens, the House of Representatives was involved in impeachment hearings aimed at a president that will be out of office before the articles of impeachment are sent to the Senate.  To make matters worse, the articles of impeachment were passed by the House of Representatives in an emergency manner and now the speaker of the house has failed to send it to the Senate.  This is totally a political ploy and does nothing for the nation except to take valuable time that is needed to help the citizens of America.

There is no room for arrogance and especially hypocrisy in our government at any level.  Strong leadership that is coupled with tolerance and pride are hallmarks of the leadership that built America.  Let us hope that this will return to our great nation.

AND SO IT BEGINS

Posted: January 10, 2021 in Uncategorized

THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE BERNICE BANNER THE WEEK OF 1/11/2021

There will soon be a new administration to lead the United States from the cornerstone of Democracy, Washington, D.C.  A balance of power as envisioned by our founding fathers remains in place.  We have the three branches of government, just as was designed in the Constitution.  Each branch is equal and they hold each other as a check and balance so as to not have a dominant single branch of power.  Following the 2020 election the main difference is not with the structure of our government but instead the make-up of the political party that controls the government.  In essence the philosophy of how a country should be governed has changed.  Prior to next weeks inauguration of the new president and the swearing in of a new congress, we had a Republican President and a Republican Senate while the House of Representatives was Democratic.  Next week both branches of elected federal government will become Democratic.  This is where the balance of power no longer exists; not with the government structure but instead with the political philosophy that will guide America.

President elect Bidon has called for a unified nation in a speech he delivered last week.  This is so calming and gives hope to a hurting nation.  Then as the speech continued, hope begins to wain as he again had to attack President Trump and then threw a racial bias into the actions of the Capital Police and how they handled the riot last Wednesday.  I am reminded of being a child on the elementary school grounds and someone punches another kid in the arm and then throws his arms up declaring time out, no hitting back or running to the teacher and saying the other kid is going to hit him.  If we really want to heal our country, and it must be healed, our words must be our actions.   Don’t say it, do it.  There is no place for empty rhetoric. 

If we really want to heal our hurting nation and if we really want to get aid to the millions that are so suffering because of COVID, the Speaker of the House needs to stop this frivolous impeachment of President Trump. There is nothing to prove and nothing will come of it. Trump leaves office next week and Trump will not be removed from office before his term is up.  Valuable time that should be spent providing stimulus to the citizens of America is instead going to be taken up with a political cause that will do nothing more than deepen the wounds of America.  This comes as no surprise as the Speaker wasted months of valuable time delaying stimulus money in a move to depose President Trump.  It’s time that Americans and America be put first and use a non-biased stimulus as a way to heal our country. 

“Didn’t wait for the body to get cold” is a term to mean that actions begin prematurely before they are scheduled to begin and is usually used in a derogatory manner for someone wanting to take control before they should take control.  The mayor of Washington has already called for Washington to become the 51st state of the United States.  Washington is the home of our Federal Government and is owned by the people of America.  It is not a piece of property that should be owned by a few and thus declared a sovereign state. It is all political.   Bidon is not yet the president and all ready aliens that want to cross the southern border are getting ready to enter America illegally.  This is a result of campaign promises for laxed immigration laws.  While our southern border prepares to be invaded Korea is already sending warnings to America threatening to increase its’ nuclear arsenal and build nuclear submarines.  Perhaps this is a decoy to test the metal of President Bidon. 

The riot of Capitol Hill hast week is the most despicable act to have happened to our country last year.  Second to this are all the riots that took place across our country last year.  While they are similar in nature they are carried in the press differently.  Somehow the riots at the state level were sanitized in the press as if to sanctify the destruction and looting.  Lawless actions were pacified.  Defund the police was heard throughout the nation.  The riot at the capital has been carried nonstop on the news channels with little mention of the hundred thousand peaceful protesters standing outside the capital.  No one is calling for police defunding as there should be none, anywhere in America.

Let’s allow the actions for Washington to gain the trust of America to not go un-noticed.  Let there not be hollow words but deeds.  If changes in laws are required let these changes be based on need and not retaliation or revenge.  If there is a genuine desire to heal our country let it begin today, God knows we need it.

A NEW DAY HAS DAWNED

Posted: January 9, 2021 in Uncategorized

THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE RUSTON DAILY LEADER AND THE FARMERVILLE GAZETTE THE WEEK OF 1/10/2020.

Last year I would say, “It can’t get any worse than this”, only to be proven wrong; again and again.  Finally, the year 2020 came to an end and I said. “It’s finally over. It can’t get any worse”, only to have the travesty unfold before our eyes last week. 

When actions of Biblical proportions take place there are always counteractions that are executed in response to the bad events. At the beginning of World War II America sent thousands of Japanese families to internment camps to ensure American safety. A total overreaction just as blacklisting actors in the 1950s during the McCarthy era was overreaction to the threat of Communism. Unfortunately, the question of free speech and the question of free trade and the trashing of civil liberties has suddenly been sprung on the citizens of our great nation.

In 2013 I wrote an article pertaining to Big Brother. I would have thought that eight years later this threat would have been negated. It hasn’t and today it is even more prevalent than in 2013.  This article follows.

In 1949 George Orwell, an English writer, completed his final novel while dying of tuberculosis in Scotland. Little did he realize that terms he used in this novel would become ingrained in the American vernacular and used in normal conversation when discussing freedom and liberty. One such term is “Big Brother is Watching You”.

A few months before Orwell’s death, “1984” was published. Based on a future view of the world when there was continual war and military actions, the fictitious country of Oceana was dictated by a central government controlled by a privileged inner circle. Big Brother is the leader of the political party and enjoys a cult personality from the country. He is idolized much as a movie star would be. Independent thinking and individualism is viewed by the ruling party as worthless. The central government would provide for the population and the citizens need not think for themselves. To do so could lead to prosecution from the government for performing thought crimes.

The government had surveillance devices everywhere and thus led to the term “Big Brother is watching you”. This has led to the use of the term when people think that the government is infringing on the rights of the individual to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as provided by our Constitution. My first introduction to 1984 was an early black and white movie launched in the 1950s. As I watched this film on the Channel 8 after school movie, Showboat, I can still remember the uneasiness I felt as I watched how the citizens were continually being watched and monitored.

And now we are witnessing this behavior in our country as well as other countries around the world. The recent revelation that the Federal Government has captured millions of telco and broadband records is sending shivers up the spines of many as calls of Big Brother is watching you is being communicated throughout our country. But then it has to be asked, at what price do we have to pay to maintain our freedom. What trade off do we have to accept to fight the ongoing war against terror and those that wish to do us harm. The government is claiming that the threat from Al Quida is over. This is not correct and even if it were there are other subversive groups waiting to take its’ place.

There was a time that the use of video surveillance in public locations was viewed as Big Brother. After a while the concerns evaporated and recently public cameras were instrumental in capturing the Boston Bombers. While this has been an accepted method to keeping us safe the impingement on our freedom has been viewed as a necessary evil. The recent disclosure of personal communication records is different. The cameras that capture our public movements are in the public domain. Unlike “1984” the invasion of privacy inside the home has not been acceptable within the American borders. Now we have to ask ourselves the question, “Is it acceptable for government to indiscriminately capture personal communication records in an effort to thwart terrorism?” This is going to be a highly debated issue over the next few months. The primary question that has to be raised is the potential to use the records for activities other than originally intended. Then our basic rights to freedom have been usurped. Another thing that we must guard against is future generations becoming comfortable in a society that accepts that it is OK for Big Brother to watch them. This is a delicate balancing act and it will be interesting to see how our government and our citizens play this out.

Today, in 2021, the threat is even more sinister. It is not only government that is watching us but also enormous social media platforms. Not only has the President of the United States been excluded from various social media sites but Google has gone so far as to make inroads to eliminate a conservative social media site that allows free and unrestricted access to free speech. The one main knee jerk reaction to the debacle of last week is the insertion of the social media companies on how Americans live their everyday lives in a free and unencumbered existence. 

Strength from Our Past

Posted: January 2, 2021 in Uncategorized

THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE RUSTON DAILY LEADER AND THE FARMERVILLE GAZETTE THE WEEK OF 1/3/2021

The DNA of America is a strong bond of resilience, perseverance, freedom-loving and is divinely guided. The founding and building of our great nation was formed by a hardy lot that had the desire to live life in a new country where a person is allowed to pursue his or her desires, work hard, play hard and on Sunday kneel in prayer to God or whoever a person believes is the central point of their religion and give thanks for what they have received. This was not a prayer asking for more but a prayer of thanks and appreciation.

These men and women that carved a country out of wilderness wanted no more than to live free and have an opportunity to control their own destiny. Many would move West and fight the elements to establish a home for a family while providing a moral example for future generations. There were confrontations between the settlers and the indigenous people that occupied the land that the settlers wanted to live in. 

One such man held the virtue of honesty and the intestinal fortitude to seek a vision and follow through until the vision was achieved while living by a code that was built into the fiber of the man. A code that was not learned from books. He blazed a road into Kentucky in the 1700s and established a settlement that bore his name. As America flexed its muscles and declared independence from England he was building a life for his family and settlers in the wilds of a future state. Eventually he and several other men would be captured by the Shawnee Indians and taken prisoner. He learned that the British had formed an alliance with the Indians were to take the Kentucky settlement. The British would then have a clear path to attack the beleaguered American patriots from the west and quickly end the revolution. Our settler, explorer and frontiersman escaped the Indians and over the next four days ran the equivalent of one marathon each day to get to the settlement before the Indians arrived.  He did this, then prepared the settlement, alerted the militia and won the battle.  Thus Boonsboro survived and Daniel Boone became a true patriot of America and America was not attacked from the West.

Despite overwhelming odds, physical deprivation and a hostile landscape Daniel Boone would not be denied and his family, friends and country benefitted from his sacrifice. This is not an isolated case. For over two hundred years men and women have put their country above self interest and insured a strong nation. Today America needs to reflect on the people that came before it.  Instead of asking what America can do for me we need to ask what we can do for America. The iconic Democratic President, John Kenned, made this request at a time that Russia was pursuing world domination and America wanted to take a lead in the race to the moon. 

We have a lot of disruptive influences in America today that have tainted our vision when we view the magnificence of our nation. It has become too easy to be a critic; to look at the bad parts of a lovely country. Are there problems with America? You bet there are but there are so many more positive aspects to America. Instead of complaining and pointing fingers at other people we need to reflect on how we got hear, relish the victories and work together to  cure the ills that are present.

Actions speak louder than words.  Let’s repair America with our actions but tearing it down with vile rhetoric is not an option.   

What a Year

Posted: December 27, 2020 in Uncategorized

THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE FARMERVILLE GAZETTE, BERNICE BANNER AND RUSTON DAILY LEADER THE WEEK OF 12/27/2020

The year 2020 is now over and is in the rear-view mirror. What a year it was; was nothing I have ever experienced and hope our great nation nor our beautiful planet ever has to endure again. This year went out with a bang, literally and figuratively and that is why there was no article last week. Instead of wishing everyone a Happy New Year I joined thousands of Americans who had lost internet access, supposedly from an early morning bomb blast in downtown Nashville, Tennessee.  Fortunately, the internet was restored and I can wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Our 2020 began with an impeachment of the president of the United States; an impeachment that did little more than disrupt the executive branch of government at a time that would prove to be crucial to the life of the country. Nothing was accomplished other than bragging rights that the president had been publicly humiliated. This was accented by the poor display of leadership from the speaker of the house when she tore up the President’s State of the Union address on national television immediately after he had delivered the speech to the nation. 

Just when we thought that we had been through the worst start of a year that could have happened, the Chinese decided to keep the secret that a deadly virus had escaped their biological laboratory and thus allow the virus to expand throughout the world. Soon after discovering the virus was among us, the United States shut its doors with China. Amid screams of racism from the same speaker that embarrassed a proud nation, this same speaker walked through Chinatown and encouraged everyone to join the festivities of the Chinese New Year. Soon after this the United States began to shut down as did the rest of the world. The greatest test of the American economy’s resilience since the great depression ensued.

As America suffered from the lockdown and mental issues followed, a most despicable act was televised and America erupted. A black man was shown dying while a police officer held him down with a knee to the neck. It was the perfect storm and America exploded and in many cases over reaction was present. Peaceful protests began and by nightfall riots ensued. Seattle saw part of its city taken hostage as anarchist declared independence and incompetent leadership in the city allowed the debacle to continue much longer than it should have. Federal forces were offered but politics played into the hands of the rioters and the city leadership turned down the offer. Riots grew and anarchy expanded as politics, instead of the betterment of our nation, was emphasized. Screams of defund the police and take a softer hand for those that defy the law are not only witnessed by a sorrowful nation but the rhetoric is adopted by some running for public office.

The lockdown is lifted and it was as if America had become unshackled. With a presidential election pending, the pent up demand is released. Boat flotillas for Trump were nationwide as America was finally delivered from bondage. Campgrounds were packed and people went out to restaurants and finally sat down to a meal. What we did not do was to get a reprieve from a press that was more determined to rise by sensationalism instead of merely telling the news. Eventually the different press agencies took sides in the elections and the style was nauseating.

By October the country was ready for a debate between a bombastic president and a rival that was spending the entire race in his basement. To extremes existed. At the same time the nation’s speaker of the house was refusing to bring legislation forward to provide more financial support for the financially oppressed people of America. Once again Americans suffered while politics displaced the need of the nation. Finally, the night of the debate came and the most unpresidential performance publicly displayed took place. America continued to suffer and when the presidential election took place 51% of America cheered and 49% wailed as our president was displaced.

Following the election, the fight continues amid shrieks of voter fraud, election steeling and removal of a defeated president by force. The only place enjoying all of this pain and suffering and confusion is China as it laughs at America’s situation. Citizens are still going hungry and businesses are remaining shut as politics continues to be played.

But this is not a crippled nation that has curled up in the corner, cowering and trembling. It is a resourceful tough nation that was carved from a unique citizenry. Americans are pleading to get back to work and the protests are not to provide social engineering but instead it is to open the country back up and get to work. Not one but two vaccines have been developed in twenty percent of the time that many thought it would take to develop. The newly elected president is filling his cabinet with individuals that are far less socialistic than was feared prior to the election. Following the explosion in Nashville and the heroics of six young police officers, the cries to defund the police has gone mute.

2021 will be better than our previous year. It won’t be easy, but it will be much better. God Bless America.

THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE RUSTON DAILY LEADER AND THE FARMERVILLE GAZETTE ON CHRISTMAS WEEK, 2020.

Among all the negativity, all the divisiveness and all of the lack of respect for our fellow man, it’s time to take a time out and reflect on what is truly precious to us. The era of the cynic is among us and it is contagious if we allow this to influence our lives. Instead of thinking the glass is half empty, instead of wringing our hands in anguish and instead of declaring the nation is lost we need to reflect on what is truly important and be thankful for the many blessings we truly have.

Once I took my young granddaughter to Hot Springs to see the Christmas lights and enjoy the wonderment of the season. I was heartened as I drove past our courthouse and saw a lighted display of the Holy Nativity. A huge light display at the Oil and Brine Museum in Smackover, Arkansas welcomed a small child’s fantasy while a large nativity in Chidester, Arkansas, disclosed a swing of political correctness to a position of a more traditional and truthful Christmas.

My granddaughter was awe struck as we looked down from our room at the historical Arlington Hotel and witnessed the brightly lit flashing Christmas lights in the park below. The foyer of the hotel was brightly adorned with a nine foot Christmas tree while a monumental gingerbread hose made from thousands of pieces of candy welcomed a beautiful child.

I looked into the bright blue eyes of my granddaughter, eyes that were pure and innocent and saw nothing but good. I began to think of our world and the pain and suffering that surrounded us and I asked myself what the future would be for our children and if there was a correlation to the optimistic view of a child and the future of mankind. Does the spirit of Christmas really exist beyond the glitz and glamour of bright lights and carols coming from mechanical speakers. I then thought of a story that I heard long ago. The story first appeared in the New York Sun newspaper on September 1st, 1897. It was appropriate at that time and has endured the test of time to be just as appropriate today. This article follows and began with a letter to the editor.

“Is There a Santa Claus?

We take pleasure in answering at once thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of “The Sun”:

Dear Editor–

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

– Virginia O’Hanlon, 115 West Ninety-fifth street.

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

As I looked into my granddaughters eyes I said to myself, “Yes Ava there is a Santa Clause”.

This came not in response to a question from her but in my own realization that the wonderment of Christmas comes not from light and sound but from the beauty of a child’s face.

Merry Christmas everyone and there is hope for world peace. Dubai is the most progressive country in the Middle East and is home to the tallest building in the world. Dubai is also a Muslim country and was for generations an enemy of Israel. Last week after recognizing Israel and establishing diplomatic relations with the former foe, a large Menorah, a symbol of the Jewish faith, was erected on the side of the tallest building in the world to celebrate the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah.  “Yes world there is peace.”   

The Three Wise Men – Part 2

Posted: December 13, 2020 in Uncategorized

THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE FARMERVILLE GAZETTE AND THE 12/13/2020

Over the years this story of the Three Wise Men has been expanded and embellished to depict an even more historical event that provides more detail than the Bible to the three men from the East. This is not in conflict in any way to the Biblical interpretation but gives us an even better understanding of the men that came to worship Christ as an infant.

The following came from the internet and is both historical and legendary supposition pertaining to the Three Wise Men.

After Jesus was born, Wise Men came to look for Him, probably from an area which is now in either Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia or the Yemen. Although they are often called the ‘Three Kings’, the Bible does not say how many there were, or that they were kings. One theory is that they might have been Kings of the Yemen, as during this time the Kings of Yemen were Jews. Three is only a guess because they brought with them three gifts: but, however many there were, they probably would have had many more servants in a large caravan winding itself through the great Arabian desert to reach Jesus.

They were certainly men of great learning. The word Magi comes from the Greek word ‘magos’. This is also the root word for the English work, magic. Magos itself comes from the old Persian word ‘Magupati’. This was the title given to priests in a sect of the ancient Persian religions. Today we call them astrologers. At that time astronomy and astrology were part of the same overall studies and went hand in hand with each other. The magi would have followed the patterns of the stars religiously. They would have probably been very rich and held in high esteem in their own society and by people who weren’t from their country or religion.

They had seen an unusual new star or bright object in the sky, and knew that it told of the birth of a special king. No one really knows what the new star in the sky was, and there are many theories including comets, supernovas, a conjunctions of planets or something supernatural! Regardless of what the physical characteristics that caused the star are, it was a divine gift to announce the birth of the Christ child.

Legends are told about them and each king has been given a name. This is how they are often described:

• Gaspar (or Caspar), who has brown hair and a brown beard or no beard and wears a green cloak and a gold crown with green jewels on it. He is the King of Sheba. Gaspar represents the Frankincense brought to Jesus.

• Melchior, has long white hair and a white beard and wears a gold cloak. He is the King of Arabia. Melchior represents the Gold brought to Jesus.

• Balthazar, who has black skin and a black beard or no beard and wears a purple cloak. He is the King of Tarse and Egypt. Balthazar represents the gift of Myrrh.

Herod asked the Wise Men to find Jesus and tell him where he was. He explained that he wanted to worship the Child. In fact he wanted to kill the child. He thought that Jesus sounded like a new King that could usurp Herod’s power.

When the Wise Men found Jesus and Mary, they would have been living in a normal house as the Bible identified. By this time Jesus would have been aged between one and two. Then they gave their gifts to him. The gifts seem quite strange to give to a mere baby, but Christians believe that they had the following meanings:

• Gold: is associated with Kings and prized.

• Frankincense: is an incense and sometimes used in worship in Churches. It held high regard with the Jewish faith and was burned as an incense. A major supplier of ancient Frankincense was from Southern Arabia which is today Yemen.

• Myrrh: is a perfume that was put on dead bodies to make them smell nice. Like frankincense, myrrh comes from the sap of a specific tree that was found in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Ethiopia.

When the wise men were about to go to inform Herod of where Jesus was, they were warned in a dream not to do so and told of Herod’s plan to kill the child. The wise men quietly left.

Christmas is such a special time of the year. It is a time of giving and sharing. Even if the gift is not of a materialistic nature, the gift of love and caring can be even more special. Long after the toys are broken and discarded, the trees are gone and the food was long-ago eaten, the memory of the magic of Christmas will remain for a lifetime.

This year has been a period of turmoil in our noble nation and our beautiful world. As harsh and wicked as 2020 has been there are glimmers of love and assurances that the world will continue to survive. For years the nativity, the essence of the true meaning of Christmas, have disappeared from courthouse squares around our country. It is gratifying to drive by the courthouse in Farmerville and see a large nativity gracing the grounds of that building. In addition, there is a true treat for those that are Christian and believe in the Christmas story. In the early evening of December 21st, on the Winter Solstice, in the Western sky the planets of Jupiter and Saturn will be the closest they have been in 800 years. It will be the brightest point of light in the sky and have led many to believe that this could have been the light that led the Three Wise Men while traveling at night across a trackless desert to find the Christ child. This phenomenon happened in the year 6BC, a year many scholars say Jesus was born.  Also, the planet Mars joined the other two and the light would be even brighter that what we will be able to see this year. From the Fields family to everyone, a very Merry Christmas.

IT’S CHRISTMAS – PART 3

Posted: December 12, 2020 in Uncategorized

THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE BERNICE BANNER THE WEEK OF 12/12/2020

Unless you are totally isolated from all forms of mass media you can’t help but realize that we are in the middle of our holiday season. Carols are coming through the radio while television is showing Christmas galas.  Hundreds of shows ae available on television or for rent or for sale but few depict the true story of Christmas.  I began to ask myself where was the true meaning of Christmas depicted on television. Television shows that have a Christmas theme number in the hundreds. While many have Christmas in the name and others depict a celebration of the Holy birth, there was no show that actually portrayed the real reason for the holiday, the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Charlie Brown is still with us and Charles Schultz insured that the Christmas story would live in his Christmas special. Originally the television network told Schultz to write out the Charlie Brown segment where Charlie read the story of the Nativity. Schultz refused, threatened to end the project, the network backed down and one of the special moments of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is with us today.  Also, it is refreshing to see Jimmy Stewart holding his daughter by their Christmas tree and explaining that when a bell rang on the tree an angel received its’ wigs.

At first I was annoyed at the lack of a Christmas story and jumped to the conclusion that factions against the celebration of the true meaning of Christmas had won the battle of the networks and successfully removed the story of the Holy birth from television. Then I realized that I had never seen a movie or television show that told the story of Jesus’s birth. Perhaps it was there but I do not recall seeing it.  It was at church and at home that the story was passed down while the story is vividly depicted in the Bible. We did hear of the story at school while in elementary school but that has definitely disappeared and now even the name Christmas is under attack in our public institutions.

Hollywood has not subscribed to destroying Christmas by removing it from our culture. Hollywood has just not subscribed to bringing the birth of Jesus to the big screen. I’m not sure that Hollywood is totally to blame. To depict the Christmas story and capture it in a manner that leaves the viewer in a state of awe and depicts the movie as inspirational is a huge task and would task even the most seasoned director and cast. The story of Noah was released without the use of the word God. Despite a marvelous cast and great cinematography, it did not live up to expectations. Political correctness crept into the film and this took away from the significance of the movie. As magnificent as the story of Noah is, the Christmas story is even more grandiose and thus more difficult to produce. Hopefully, at some time in our lifetime one of Hollywood’s brightest and most daring producers will take up the challenge. Perhaps it will have the same impact as “The Ten Commandments” did fifty years ago when Charlton Hesston portrayed Moses and Cecil B. DeMill Produced and epic motion picture.

Much of our traditions are beginning to wane in the background of political correctness.  The Yule log has been a part of our Christmas jargon ever since I can remember. But what is this Yule log and where did this come from. The Yule log goes back to the time of the Norsemen, the Vikings. According to tradition a gigantic log was brought to a house and it had to be large enough to burn throughout the Norse Yule tide feast. The feast lasted for twelve days. This was the literal definition of the yule log. Another definition goes to the French culinary traditions. The French have a thin cake rolled with cream filing and covered with icing. Some of the Yule logs have bark and limbs made from frosting. This is referred to as the Yule log.

When did we first begin celebrating Christmas? The celebration was originally stopped by certain Christian groups during the early years of our country’s history. The Puritans did not allow Christmas to be celebrated. They felt that since the actual date of Jesus’s birth was unknown and bringing greens into a house for decorations was pagan, the celebration of Christmas would not be allowed. A pagan believes in multiple gods so this smacks in the belief of one God. Prior to the ban of Christmas the celebration lasted about two weeks. Fortunately the holiday has come back into our lives and even though it is under attack it will stay with us.

Different countries have different traditions that pertain to Christmas. In Ukraine the Christmas tree has a spider web ornament that brings good luck. In Oaxaca, Mexico radishes are harvested and displayed on December 23. These two foot long radishes are carved into nativity scenes and other art and used for table decorations. In Nuremberg, Germany prune characters are bought for luck while in Canada hard candy known as Chicken Bones are a tradition. In Slovakia a bread pudding is made. While making the pudding some dough is thrown on the ceiling and the more that sticks the luckier the family will be. Swedes make a Christmas feast that includes lutefisk. Lutefisk is fish soaked in lye until it turns to a jelly-like texture.

The Three Wise Men – Part 1

Posted: December 6, 2020 in Uncategorized

THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE RUSTON DAILY LEADER AND THE FARMERVILLE GAZETTE THE WEEK OF 12/6/2020.

It’s amazing what difference a year can make. A year ago I was scratching my head as I tried to come up with subjects to write about. After years of writing, everything I had called for had come to fruition. Regulations that strangled American business were disappearing. Stifling taxes were diminished. ISIS was defeated and the American military was once again the cream of the crop of military might. Wall Street had soared and unemployment was at a lower point than I had ever seen in my life. American’s believed in themselves and their country. All was good until a Virus from the bowels of China appeared that threatened to destroy the entire world and launched a year to forget. At this time there is so much to document. There is more stress on everyday life than what any human should be required to endure. As bad as things are it is time to reflect not on how bad our world is but instead of how fortunate we are. What a better way to do so than to think of the beautiful Christmas season, cast off materialistic wants and immerse oneself in the glory of the year; our Christmas season.

We have all heard and read the story about the birth of Christ, the time of the season that we are currently in. Part of this story deals with the Three Wise Men and I have all ways enjoyed this part of the birth story of Jesus. Men of wealth and power traveling from lands in the East to witness the Christ child and bring gifts. Here is how the Bible depicts this event.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'” Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Matthew 2:1-12

The story of the Three Wise Men is somewhat short yet we have heard the story in much more detail. While we think of the wise men as three men walking out of the desert with camels in tow, they were probably accompanied by an entourage of servants and beasts of burden. Also, the Bible identifies the gifts for Jesus as gold, incense and myrrh but has been changed in stories of our day as gold frankincense and myrrh. In fact frankincense is an incense that was used in the Mid-East. When I lived in Saudi Arabia we could purchase a small collection of frankincense and myrrh and thus see what the Bible is referring to.  Gold was not included.

As we think of the Wise Men crossing the empty expanse of desert, we visualize the star lighting the way. On December 21st, the planets Saturn and Jupiter will be the closest together that they have been in 800 years.  Many have theorized that it was this phenomenon that created the Christmas Star.  The bright celestial lights will be visible in the Western skies.

Next week we will look at an historical depiction of the story of the Wise Men and see how history can reinforce the stories of the Bible as we move closer to that special time of the year for all Christians, Christmas.

ITS CHRISTMAS – PART 1

Posted: December 6, 2020 in Uncategorized

THIS APPEARED IN THE BERNICE BANNER THE WEEK OF 12/1/2020

Approximately two thousand years ago Jesus Christ was born. Over the years and centuries and millenniums the story of the birth has for the most part remained the same. The actual date of the birth has been lost but that is to no avail as it is the birth that is magical, not a specific day on the calendar. Over time and across a diverse planet the ability to celebrate Christmas has differed. Many times political correctness or the perception of political correctness becomes the law of the land. Prior to my arrival in Saudi Arabia in the late 1970s the company allowed the employees to put up Christmas lights. Then just before I arrived it was announced by the company that lights were no longer permitted so that the Saudi’s would not be offended. In my own naïve protest I put my Christmas tree in a window that everyone could see. This was probably not a smart move but no one said anything negative and I can say I did not bow to pressures during a holiday I held precious.

When shipping items from America we were told to not identify on our customs declarations any imported trees as Christmas trees. Trees that came from home were to be identified as holiday trees. Then one night when going to Al Khobar with a friend there was a store with Christmas trees covered in lights. My friend asked for the price. When the store keeper told him the price my friends asked if that included the lights. The Saudi storekeeper broke out into a large grin and stated, “Would you buy a shirt without buttons? Of course it does.”

At work the Saudi workers were asking me why there were no lights being displayed on the compound. They said that since they had been children they enjoyed coming into the compound at night and looking at the Christmas lights. It was like driving through subdivisions we have in America with lines of cars meandering through the community observing the lights. It became evident that the protest of putting Christmas lights up in my compound did not come from the Saudi civilians, it came from a perception of my company to be politically correct so as not to offend the civilians. This same mentality is now enveloping our own country.

As a child the towns of north Louisiana were adorned by outdoor nativity scenes.  Christmas plays, live nativity scenes and caroling were common across America.  These have all but disappeared as we are so sensitive that someone may be offended by the celebration of Christmas.  Instead of using Christmas as a learning opportunity to teach understanding and diversity, Christmas has now been sterilized to a point that the true meaning of the Holiday is quickly being lost.

Over the next few weeks we’ll explore the traditional Santa Clause and trees and decorations and how they came to be a part of the culture of a country we call America.  Let’s take a look at that jolly ole guy, Santa Clause.

Santa is often referred to as St. Nicholas. There was in fact a true St Nicholas, came from Turkey and lived 1,700 years ago. His birthday was celebrated in many countries across Europe. In Spain and the Netherlands he would ask boys and girls if they were naughty or nice. The Dutch called him Sinterklass. When the Dutch came to America to help settle our great nation they changed the name to Santa Clause.

There was no American version of how Santa looked until 1823. In that year a poet, Clement Clark Moore wrote a poem that described America’s St Nicholas.

“His eyes –how they twinkled. His dimples how merry.

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry.

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow”

In 1881 Thomas Nast took these words and drew St. Nick, a.k.a. Santa Clause, and thus the image of Santa Clause was born.

Next week, unless the world blows up, we’ll look at what is becoming the lost holiday, Thanksgiving and explore why Santa comes down the chimney.