Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanks, Soldiers and Their Families

During this Thanksgiving season I want to express our family's gratitude for our military people. By that I mean current and past military, plus their extended families. Everyone in the family serves our country when someone is in uniform.

Our soldiers are the best and bravest, and they are known for their kindness throughout the world. In Germany, at the end of WWII, people said, "Get as close to the Americans as possible. You want to be captured by them, not the others."

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The First Thanksgiving - In El Paso, Texas?

A new Thanksgiving tradition has taken root in Texas. El Paso residents now claim the first Thanksgiving in North America. The modern event, first observed in April 1989, commemorates a day of thanksgiving celebrated by Spanish explorer Juan de Oñate and his expedition on April 30, 1598.
The History
Juan de Oñate was a member of a distinguished family that had loyally worked for the Spanish crown. His father had discovered and developed rich mines in Zacatecas, Mexico. Oñate, himself, had opened the mines of San Luis Potosí and performed many other services for the Spanish king. But he wanted to carve an unquestioned place in history by leading an important expedition into unexplored land.
San Elizario, above during a modern celebration, is at or near the site where Juan de Oñate staged a celebration of thanksgiving in 1598. Photo by Robert Plocheck.
He was granted land in the northern Rio Grande Valley among the Pueblo Indians by the viceroy of New Spain. The viceroy moved to a new post, however, and his successor was slow to grant Oñate permission to begin his expedition. Finally, in 1597, approval came. To reach his new holdings, Oñate chose to bypass the traditional route that followed the Rio Conchos in present-day Mexico to the Rio Grande and then northward along the Rio Grande into New Mexico. In the summer of 1597, Oñate sent Vicente de Zaldívar to blaze a wagon trail from Santa Barbara in southern Chihuahua, along which could be found adequate water supplies. Zaldívar underwent many hardships, including capture by Indians, in carrying out his instructions. No mention of the hardships was made, however, when he made his report to Oñate. (The trail blazed by Zaldívar has become the route of the modern highway between Chihuahua City and El Paso.)
By early March 1598, Oñate's expedition of 500 people, including soldiers, colonists, wives and children and 7,000 head of livestock, was ready to cross the treacherous Chihuahuan Desert. Almost from the beginning of the 50-day march, nature challenged the Spaniards. First, seven consecutive days of rain made travel miserable. Then the hardship was reversed, and the travelers suffered greatly from the dry weather. On one occasion, a chance rain shower saved the parched colonists.  
Finally, for the last five days of the march before reaching the Rio Grande, the expedition ran out of both food and water, forcing the men, women and children to seek roots and other scarce desert vegetation to eat. Both animals and humans almost went mad with thirst before the party reached water. Two horses drank until their stomachs burst, and two others drowned in the river in their haste to consume as much water as possible.
The Rio Grande was the salvation of the expedition, however. After recuperating for 10 days, Oñate ordered a day of thanksgiving for the survival of the expedition. Included in the event was a feast, supplied with game by the Spaniards and with fish by the natives of the region. A mass was said by the Franciscan missionaries traveling with the expedition. And finally, Oñate read La Toma -- the taking -- declaring the land drained by the Great River to be the possession of King Philip II of Spain.
Some historians call this one of the truly important dates in the history of the continent, marking the beginning of Spanish colonization in the American Southwest.  
A member of the expedition wrote of the original celebration, "We built a great bonfire and roasted the meat and fish, and then all sat down to a repast the like of which we had never enjoyed before. . .We were happy that our trials were over; as happy as were the passengers in the Ark when they saw the dove returning with the olive branch in his beak, bringing tidings that the deluge had subsided."
After the celebration, the Oñate expedition continued up the Rio Grande and eventually settled near Santa Fé. As one historian noted, when Jamestown and Plymouth were established early in the 17th century, they were English attempts to gain a foothold in the New World. Santa Fé was but one of hundreds of towns the Spanish already had established in the New World.
Sheldon Hall, president of the El Paso Mission Trail Association that sponsored the modern celebration, also said that the first drama presented in North America was part of the celebration. The play, written by a Capt. Farfan of the expedition, was produced by the soldiers and depicted the conversion of the Indians to Christianity.
The Celebration
More than 100 costumed participants re-enacted the celebration in the 1989 re-creation performed at the Chamizal National Memorial, a few miles from where the original observance took place. Tigua Indians of El Paso played the parts of the natives of the region who met Oñate at the Rio Grande.
Officials from Mexico and the United States were present, as well as Manuel Gullon y de Oñate, the Count of Tepa in Spain and a direct descendant of the colonizer. About 50 people also attended a reunion of the descendants of the members of the expedition.
San Elizario held a fiesta to note that the actual celebration by Oñate's expedition took place near the city, and a historical marker telling of the observance was unveiled.
The celebration is not an attempt to wrest the Thanksgiving tradition from New England. Ricardo Marti-Fluxa, Spain's consul general in Houston, attended the event and said, "We don't want to fight against any tradition. But we feel it was a deprivation not to acknowledge the full history of the United States of America." Hall, a Mayflower descendant and New England immigrant, hopes that the re-enactment will become an annual spring event in El Paso.
The First Thanksgiving
With El Paso's entry into the Thanksgiving sweepstakes, Texas now has two observances in what's becoming a crowded field of locales vying for attention as the site of the first Thanksgiving.
The second Texas claim was an event held earliest of all those claiming primacy. The Texas Society of Daughters of the American Colonists placed a marker in 1959 just outside Canyon. It declared that the expedition of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado in May 1541 celebrated the first feast of Thanksgiving in Palo Duro Canyon. Fray Juan Padilla said a mass at this observance. However, later research indicated that grapes and pecans were gathered by the celebrants for the feast, and neither grow in Palo Duro Canyon.  
There is now some doubt whether this was a special thanksgiving or a celebration of the Feast of the Ascension. It was held in Texas, but may have been on one of the forks of the Brazos River farther south, probably in Blanco Canyon.
Other Claims to the First Thanksgiving
There's no doubt that today's Thanksgiving tradition is New England born and bred. It's not a single tradition, however, but a combination of traditions, according to one researcher. Randall Mason, a researcher for Plimoth Plantation Inc., which operates a model 17th century village at Plymouth, Mass., says today's celebration is a cross between a British harvest festival and a special day of religious thanksgiving, both originally observed by pilgrims in New England.
In 1621, just months after their arrival from England, residents of Plymouth celebrated a harvest festival, which was indistinguishable from those observed throughout Britain at the time. It was a secular event with feasting and games. The only religious observance was the saying of grace before the meal.
Two years later, the governor of Plymouth colony called for a special day of religious thanksgiving for the end of a drought that plagued the colony. This was an extra day of prayer and religious observance, according to Mason. Special days of religious thanksgiving were called throughout the colonial period.
Connecticut is given credit for initially adopting an annual day of general thanksgiving. The first for which a proclamation exists was called for Sept. 18, 1639, although some may have been held earlier. Another on record was held in 1644, and from 1649 onward, these special days of general thanksgiving were held annually.
Massachusetts Bay Colony began annual observances in 1660.
Several other states, however, claim the first thanksgiving. Puritans who arrived to establish Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630 observed a special day of prayer that is often called the "first Thanksgiving." Even earlier in Florida, a small colony of French Huguenots living near present-day Jacksonville noted a special thanksgiving prayer. The colony soon was wiped out by the Spanish.
Maine, too, stakes a claim to the first Thanksgiving on the basis of a service held by colonists on August 9, 1607, to give thanks for a safe voyage.
Virginians are convinced their ancestors celebrated the first Thanksgiving when Jamestown settlers in 1610 held a service of thanksgiving for their survival of a harsh winter.
Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and Maine had annual thanksgiving observances before the 19th century. New York joined the group in 1817, and Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana soon followed.
Throughout the 19th century, Thanksgiving observances spread from state to state. Occasionally, special national days of thanksgiving were proclaimed by American presidents. George Washington called the first national observance in 1789.
Sam Houston proclaimed that March 2, 1842, Texas Independence Day, be a day of celebration of freedom and thanksgiving. But Gov. George Wood proclaimed the first Thanksgiving observance in Texas for the first Thursday in December 1849.
Abraham Lincoln initiated the tradition of a national annual day of thanksgiving with a proclamation in 1863, during the Civil War. Franklin D. Roosevelt deviated from the practice of observing the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving in 1939. Retailers noted that a November 30 observance of Thanksgiving that year would leave only 20 shopping days until Christmas, since the shopping season usually opens with the November holiday. A Nov. 23 observance was recognized by 23 states, and a similar number stuck to the November 30 celebration. Texas and Colorado commemorated both days. (Alaska and Hawaii, of course, were not in the Union at the time.)
In 1941, FDR signed the law making the fourth Thursday in November the nation's official Thanksgiving day. However, in 1944, 1945, 1950, 1951 and 1956, November had five Thursdays, and while other states changed their observances to coincide with the national law, Texas remained the lone holdout, observing the last Thursday in 1956. The Legislature changed the law in 1957 making the fourth Thursday in November the state's official Thanksgiving.
— adapted from an article by Mike Kingston, then editor, for the Texas Almanac 1990–1991.

Thanksgiving Eve, 2014

Thanksgiving Eve, 2014

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 7 PM Central Standard Time 

The Hymn # 558                All Praise to Thee                              4.44
The Order of Vespers p. 41
The Psalmody Psalm 100 p. 144
The First Lection 1 Timothy 2:1-8
The Second Lection Luke 17:11-19 
The Sermon Hymn # 574                Come Ye Thankful                  4.9

Thanksgiving To God

The Prayers and Lord’s Prayer p. 44
The Collect for Peace p. 45
The Benediction p. 45
The Hymn #361                O Jesus King                                           4.1

KJV 1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. 8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

KJV Luke 17:11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Thanksgiving To God

KJV 1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 

It is telling that in this world of great abundance, more people are turning to speaking of blessings in terms of material abundance. Lenski said it well, "People pray for what God already gives them." Certainly God has ordained that the natural world will give us all the food we need, plus many delights in terms of decorations and enjoyable creatures - gems, minerals, precious metals, birds, domestic animals, and decorative flowers, bushes, and trees.

If people take care of what God gives them, they have an abundance of healthy food and good water. Most of the world (90% within 100 miles of the oceans) live near the sea to enjoy the food and transportation provided there. We even have an abundance of medicine growing around us, from the  bread mold of penicillin to the many compounds available from herbs.

The saguaro cactus, with arms,
can only grow in a limited area of Arizona and Texas. 

The Desert Botanical Garden of Phoenix is a lesson for everyone.

This unique cactus garden has some cacti worth $25,000 and a tree worth $100,000. Because cacti are so easy to grow in the Sonoran desert, few residents of Phoenix view their own special garden - 165 acres. They take it for granted. On any given tour, most of the visitors are from other areas of the country and the world. It is difficult to get residents to go the first time, because they always say, "It is a few miles away. I will see it later. It won't move."

We take for granted what we have in abundance and that can easily be taken away from us, through neglect and abuse. That can be seen in the Means of Grace, abundantly offered to us through the Word and Sacraments. Once upon a time, about 1918, all the Lutherans used the same liturgy and creeds (with variations in settings) and sang almost the same hymns, and they listened to Biblical sermons.

I read today about Aimee Semple McPherson. She became so famous because she put on entertainment extravaganzas, with sets designed and approved by Hollywood workers and stars (like Charlie Chaplin). When a Lutheran pastor linked the story, I pointed out that it was now the ideal for "conservative" Lutheran pastors to put on similar shows, with traveling rock bands like Koine ($3,000.00 to show up), theatrical lighting, and heart-rending or spine-tingling entertainment.

3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

The purpose of the entire Bible is to teach us about Jesus, His love and compassion, and to fill us with faith in Him as our Savior. The grace of God moves us to faith, and in faith we receive this grace in abundance.

I teach Evangelicals all the time, and they often express their faith in harmony with the Scriptures. But another theme comes up at times, based on their teaching - not that they are awful and Lutherans are perfect. But this comes through more clearly through a silence about the Means of Grace.

The Evangelicals, above all, will talk obedience. They speak of obedience and reward. Like Karl Barth, the Calvinist, they see the gift of grace as a demand more than a blessing and an energy for serving God. It is easy to see how this is converted to social/political activism when faith is lost.

Not a Small Matter
Creating and sustaining faith is the purpose of the Scriptures.  The world and individuals in the world have a common burden - forgiveness of sin and the peace that comes with it.

There is so much confusion about this that many Lutherans, most Protestants and Catholics fail to articulate the answer. They see terms and actions and consider them all good, but they cannot explain in a few words how this all fits together in harmony with the Scriptures - unless they call upon their own authorities.

The simple answer is this - the Gospel produces and renews faith, and this faith in Jesus as our Savior receives the gracious atonement which He earned in our stead, His death for our life.

The preached Gospel and the Sacraments are Instruments of Grace because they clearly announce how this gracious forgiveness comes to us through faith in Him.

New book on the Holy Trinity

Complex Complexities
A watch is super-expensive if it has 24 complications that all work together. But the Bible has hundreds upon hundreds of complexities that all work together.

One issue is the Holy Trinity. Is it taught in the Scriptures, Old Testament and New Testament? The answer is clearly shown simply by going through the Scriptures and listing the clearest examples of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit expressed in close connection, within two verses. 

That is a long list that begins with Genesis and ends with Trinitarian references in Revelation. That is just one answer to one question, and it inspires faith in the Holy Trinity as true concept, not an invention of man - as the skeptics want to say.

Other Questions
If someone asks questions of the Scriptures, the same results will be found. Not only will clear examples of the doctrine be found, but hundreds of supporting verses will be clear to the reader who honestly and sincerely inquires.

God knows our weakness, our tendencies to grow tired of an abundance, even of spiritual treasures, and to become curious about something new. Marketers have found that by adding "new" to a label, sales increase. Every time a false teacher launches a new place to fleece the sheep, he or she announces something new and exciting. 

Thankful for the Spiritual Treasures
What keeps us close the benefits of the spiritual treasures is being thankful for them, not taking them for granted. God manages them even better for us than He manages the lives of sparrows, as Jesus promised.

The most solemn warnings come from Jesus because He knows the dangers of abandoning the truth. We do not say to children, "Try not to fall in the fire." Instead, we tell them the horrible consequences of carelessness near a fire. And we threaten them because of love. So in the same way, Jesus has dire warnings but also the constant  emphasis on wanting all men to be saved - 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

And how many times is that expressed throughout the Scriptures?

Origin of Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 22, 2007

History Channel - The First Thanksgiving

Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving

First Thanksgiving

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast which is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. This harvest meal has become a symbol of cooperation and interaction between English colonists and Native Americans. Although this feast is considered by many to the very first Thanksgiving celebration, it was actually in keeping with a long tradition of celebrating the harvest and giving thanks for a successful bounty of crops. Native American groups throughout the Americas, including the Pueblo, Cherokee, Creek and many others organized harvest festivals, ceremonial dances, and other celebrations of thanks for centuries before the arrival of Europeans in North America.

Food preparation
Historians have also recorded other ceremonies of thanks among European settlers in North America, including British colonists in Berkeley Plantation, Virginia. At this site near the Charles River in December of 1619, a group of British settlers led by Captain John Woodlief knelt in prayer and pledged "Thanksgiving" to God for their healthy arrival after a long voyage across the Atlantic. This event has been acknowledged by some scholars and writers as the official first Thanksgiving among European settlers on record. Whether at Plymouth, Berkeley Plantation, or throughout the Americas, celebrations of thanks have held great meaning and importance over time. The legacy of thanks, and particularly of the feast, have survived the centuries as people throughout the United States gather family, friends, and enormous amounts of food for their yearly Thanksgiving meal.

What Was Actually on the Menu?

What foods topped the table at the first harvest feast? Historians aren't completely certain about the full bounty, but it's safe to say the pilgrims weren't gobbling up pumpkin pie or playing with their mashed potatoes. Following is a list of the foods that were available to the colonists at the time of the 1621 feast. However, the only two items that historians know for sure were on the menu are venison and wild fowl, which are mentioned in primary sources. The most detailed description of the "First Thanksgiving" comes from Edward Winslow from A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, in 1621:

"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed upon our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakersof our plenty.

Did you know that lobster, seal and swans were on the Pilgrims' menu? Learn more...

Seventeenth Century Table Manners:
The pilgrims didn't use forks; they ate with spoons, knives, and their fingers. They wiped their hands on large cloth napkins which they also used to pick up hot morsels of food. Salt would have been on the table at the harvest feast, and people would have sprinkled it on their food. Pepper, however, was something that they used for cooking but wasn't available on the table.

In the seventeenth century, a person's social standing determined what he or she ate. The best food was placed next to the most important people. People didn't tend to sample everything that was on the table (as we do today), they just ate what was closest to them.

Serving in the seventeenth century was very different from serving today. People weren't served their meals individually. Foods were served onto the table and then people took the food from the table and ate it. All the servers had to do was move the food from the place where it was cooked onto the table.

Pilgrims didn't eat in courses as we do today. All of the different types of foods were placed on the table at the same time and people ate in any order they chose. Sometimes there were two courses, but each of them would contain both meat dishes, puddings, and sweets.

More Meat, Less Vegetables
Our modern Thanksgiving repast is centered around the turkey, but that certainly wasn't the case at the pilgrims's feasts. Their meals included many different meats. Vegetable dishes, one of the main components of our modern celebration, didn't really play a large part in the feast mentality of the seventeenth century. Depending on the time of year, many vegetables weren't available to the colonists.

The pilgrims probably didn't have pies or anything sweet at the harvest feast. They had brought some sugar with them on the Mayflower but by the time of the feast, the supply had dwindled. Also, they didn't have an oven so pies and cakes and breads were not possible at all. The food that was eaten at the harvest feast would have seemed fatty by 1990's standards, but it was probably more healthy for the pilgrims than it would be for people today. The colonists were more active and needed more protein. Heart attack was the least of their worries. They were more concerned about the plague and pox.

Surprisingly Spicy Cooking
People tend to think of English food at bland, but, in fact, the pilgrims used many spices, including cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, pepper, and dried fruit, in sauces for meats. In the seventeenth century, cooks did not use proportions or talk about teaspoons and tablespoons. Instead, they just improvised. The best way to cook things in the seventeenth century was to roast them. Among the pilgrims, someone was assigned to sit for hours at a time and turn the spit to make sure the meat was evenly done.

Since the pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians had no refrigeration in the seventeenth century, they tended to dry a lot of their foods to preserve them. They dried Indian corn, hams, fish, and herbs.

Dinner for Breakfast: Pilgrim Meals:
The biggest meal of the day for the colonists was eaten at noon and it was called noonmeat or dinner. The housewives would spend part of their morning cooking that meal. Supper was a smaller meal that they had at the end of the day. Breakfast tended to be leftovers from the previous day's noonmeat.

In a pilgrim household, the adults sat down to eat and the children and servants waited on them. The foods that the colonists and Wampanoag Indians ate were very similar, but their eating patterns were different. While the colonists had set eating patterns--breakfast, dinner, and supper--the Wampanoags tended to eat when they were hungry and to have pots cooking throughout the day.

Source: Kathleen Curtin, Food Historian at Plymoth Plantation
All Photos Courtesy of Plimouth Plantation, Inc., Plymouth, Mass.

Vast Solar Factories To Be Built in the Spring

Nothing compares to the massive seed production of the giant, or Siberian, or striped sunflower. The sunflower is a compound flower, so each flowerlet becomes a seed, and the pollen is so attractive to bees.

The seed-head is white at first, as the flowerlets fall off, then takes on the swirls of grey as the seeds become mature. Squirrels and birds love the seeds, but squirrels will even eat the flower. The seedhead has a musty, sweet odor.

The plant easily grows to 10 feet with broad leaves, so it makes a great screen. We are backing up our bamboo fencing with the sunflowers and backing up that row with Butterfly bushes. If the sunflower seeds are bought by the pound instead of packet, the screen can be thick.

The stalks are thick enough to saw down when they are done. I leave them up for bird perches in the winter. Birds love to rest on relatively low vegetation to preen and watch for food.

Sunflowers also benefit the soil it has penetrated with deep taproots by slowly rotting the roots over the winter.

Sunflowers, pumpkins, and corn are heavy feeders, because they are generous producers. To keep them happy, I provide plenty of water and organic matter. They need mulching, which helps keep the water in, and they signal a need for more water by drooping their leaves.

Sunflowers attract grasshoppers and other insects, but a healthy plant will shake off the damage and grow past it. The fragile fancy sunflowers have trouble getting past the predation, so I do not care to plant them unless they are discounted 90%.

Sunflowers convert solar power more efficiently than corn, and corn is the champion. Moreover, sunflowers are tops on the list of nutrition - protein, vitamins, and oil.

In New Ulm my squirrels were not eating from the cute corn feeder because they got into the garage and ate from the sunflower bag in the plastic garbage can. I left the lid off. When I found the criminal in the act I secured the lid. He had a tantrum, leaving a deposit on top of the lid and a mess in the loft (my Garage Mahal). No wonder the squirrels looked so sleek and well fed - they were well fed with the best food of all.

Apart from the obvious bird and insect life, sunflowers have to be massive centers of life. They provide leaf and stem surfaces for spiders and other creatures. They dig into the soil and make deals with the soil creatures below.

Sunflowers are real divas. Their plants exude chemicals that keep other plants from thriving near them. That is because they know it is in their best interest to hog the soil and and the sunlight. Millions of years ago, they became sentient and figured this out, I am happy to report. (OK, I am kidding.) They were created to prosper in the sun and harbor all kinds of life, above and below.

Believers know this is God's design and will. Unbelievers cannot grasp it.

Creation and Evolution - Two Opposing Views

The Little Red Hen garden -
everyone wants to be there at harvest.

I am starting to covet my neighbors' leaves. I have plenty to mulch-mow in the front yard and to compost or use as mulch in the backyard. If I had a larger yard and fewer trees I might revert to the Midland days, when I spotted bags of leaves on the curb, ready for pick up, stopped the car, popped the trunk and loaded them. Little Ichabod hid himself in the back seat, saying, "Why can't I have a normal father?"

And yet - no one turned down my Silver Queen corn. In fact, my neighbors became as anxious about my sweet corn as I once was about their leaves.

Besides, LI was happy to have me offloading the bunny compost below the cages of his pets. We had children's swimming pools filled with soil and earthworms - Mrs. I's idea. When a pool was ready to be refilled, the soil was simply a mass of earthworms, like drawing them out of a shipment from Uncle Jim's Worm Farm, but full sized and fattened up on bacteria. "Earthworms are cows that graze on bacteria."

Gardeners never have enough compost, mulch, or earthworms. The only thing I did was gather organic material and buy a few worms initially from Jimmy Carter's cousin.

Some people responded to a recent Ichabod link on Facebook, appreciating the gardening articles. One of my highschool classmates mentioned his favorite work on the topic - The Blind Watchmaker, by Dawkins - a book touting evolution.

Dawkins used the Watchmaker Analogy, which is famous among Creationists, to argue for evolution being logical, given enough time.

If I find a watch walking on the trail, I can hardly imagine it assembled itself by accident. The sale of a watch with 24 complications just sold for over $20 million. A plant cell has many more complications, plus the ability to change into the type of cell needed by the plant (roots, leaves, flower, fruit, seed).

I assume the problem with one watch complication is not going to stop the mechanism from working altogether. However, the failure of one cell mechanism can certainly keep that cell from living or thriving or multiplying.

On a macro scale, what mechanism allows the plant roots to offer carbon credits to fungus for nitrogen, metal ions, and water?

The gardening blogs tell me to scoop up soil and have it tested for what it needs. I do not have the facilities or motivation to do that. I would have to take my sample to a lab, whose tests would reveal too much or too little of this or that chemical. Where is the analytical lab in the rose that first notes its need for copper ions (for example) and sends the right signal to fungus to offer carbon in exchange for copper ions and a dash of nitrogen.

Obama failed to set up state exchanges for ObamaCare. Over 30 states refused to do that, imperiling the funding of the greatest invention since the Pinto. But plants have successful exchanges everywhere. In fact, scientists have found all plants (so far) have a fungus living within them to make them healthier and resistant to bugs and disease.

As children,  we learned that certain plants set up a symbiotic relationship, but now we know that all plants have one. If the fungus is kept away, the plant suffers. This astonishing relationship pales when seen in the light of all the microscopic creatures living with and prospering the plant at the root level.

Someone wrote:

I cannot overemphasize how bad my experience in public schools (high school and college) has been (singularly) with regards to evolutionists mocking Christianity.  It is unfortunate that it is ingrained (and indoctrinated) so much in our youth today.  I am thankful that there is a remnant throughout the earth who reject this abuse of the education system.

We must teach Creation from the Word, and not be surprised that the evidence is all around us. Most people have an instinctive regard for Creation and the Flood, so we have all the more cause to give a reason for the hope within us.

WELS Martin Luther College Running in the Red -
In Spite of Their New Diaper-Changing Degree

Names on the governing board are withheld,
just like the names of the people leading Evangelism Day.

  • Student fee increases of 5% were approved for 2015-16, bringing total tuition, room and board charges for full time students to $18,920.  A corresponding 5% increase in need based financial assistance was also approved.
  • Budgets for fiscal years 2016 ($19.5 million) and 2017 ($20.2 million) were approved. Each year features a synodical operating subsidy of approximately $3.0 million and includes annual wage increases averaging 1.75%. As approved, both years of  the biennium are dependent on the use of institutional reserve funds. The first year includes a deficit of about $325,000; the second, about $410,000.
  • Two additions to the master site plan were approved:
    • A structure with locker rooms and indoor practice space for spring sports at our soccer-baseball complex.
    • One or more dormitories in the area of 216 and 224 Summit Avenue (this addition would require the removal of up to three faculty homes) to replace the dorms we tore down to build the new diaper changing center.
    • The Evangelism Certificate Program, developed in cooperation with the Committee on Evangelism, was endorsed by the board and subsequently approved by the plenary faculty on October 7. Or we could just send them to Fuller or Willow Creek.
    • The  Administrative  Council  was  directed  to  develop  a  long  range  strategy  for  the purchase of properties adjacent to the campus.  Such purchases would help to maintain green space on the main campus and provide land that could be used for transitional housing, student housing, parking, etc.
Official photo of Jeff Schone at the WELS convention,
modeling his dress for success wardrobe.

Ah, life is good when
teen-agers borrow for life to fund your job.
GJ - Colleges are failing all over the US, but they are still a pot of gold for those who govern them. There is really no limit to what they charge for their services, since gubmint loans make up the difference.

WELS calls foreign students "walking bags of money." An American degree is golden, since few overseas people ask pointed questions about the college. Coming home with an American accent and a USA degree - fabulous. 

MLC takes the money from its students and drives out anyone who might displease them, leaving them with loans that must be repaid, no matter what. The students have the debt, WELS has the cash. 

Is this  MLC degree worth $80,000? Hardly. If some teenage boy thinks he will be a WELS pastor, think again. Just like Missouri, his chances are excellent - of being pushed away before or soon after graduation from seminary. 

The high school graduate is looking at an eight-year commitment (minimum) to become a pastor while the synod has none, zero. In fact, Holy Mother Synod will probably slander him on the way out, too. 

If the future shepherd meets a shepherdess, she is expected to work her way through his educational program. The biggest synodical suck-up can still be kicked out when it suits the suits at the Love Shack. In fact, I have seen established loyalists pushed out and left bitter and abandoned. Quite a few wives have been left behind too, but no one admits that anymore. The conservative Lutheran pastors emulate their financial idol - Marvin Schwan.

But wait - an MLC or Concordia college graduate could become a teacher. The WELS schools are dropping faster than the Notre Dame football standings.  It is difficult to get a good return on that bill and the high interest loans.

Change those diapers or DIE!

Huffington Post Article on Congregations Leaving ELCA -
But Not To Join the WELS, LCMS, or ELS Den of Thieves

Huffington Post - On congregations leaving the mainlines
Among the broader, longstanding concerns that convinced departing congregations that they no longer had a home in their denominations that Carthage College researchers found were:
• "Bullying" tactics by denominational leaders.
• A perceived abandonment of foundational principles of Scripture and tradition.
• The devaluation of personal faith.
"Speaking as a Lutheran of ALC background, I find the adulation of Walther by many in the LCMS and its derivatives almost nauseating. I can admire him without apotheosizing him, which is what some seem to do - much like some RC's do with the Virgin Mary. How dare anyone do that."
Lutheran layman

GJ - The author David Briggs knows the Lutheran situation quite well. He argues that congregations are not leaving the mainlines for LGTBQ issues alone, but for the other issues (listed above) as well.
That may explain why the congregations leaving ELCA skipped WELS, Missouri, and the Little Sect altogether. The Olde Synodical Conference trio licked their chops at the thought of easy gains when ELCA was forming. Lyle Schaller assured them of a rich harvest -  and he did harvest rich fees from them. WELS used to send out his newsletters  to all clergy.
But why join sects that share  the same issues with ELCA? In fact, their umbrella organization is an insurance company - Thrivent, the same business funding ELCA. 
The synods should be thankful for having anything left,
because people have caught on to the Humpty-Dumptyness.