Friday, November 30

Spitting In God's Face

When God breathed new life into a young George Whitefield, the world was about to change in dramatic fashion. A stale Church of England, filled with unsaved church members was soon to be turned on its ear as the praying, preaching, power and passion of an unknown boy took center stage, both in England and the Colonies.

There has yet to be a man like him behind a Christian pulpit. Here is an excerpt from a book by J.B. Wakeley written in 1870.


"This tract of land, in the suburbs of London, was a place for the rabble --- for wrestlers, boxers, mountebanks, and merry-andrews --- where fairs were held during the holidays, and where at all times the idle, the dissolute, and the reprobate resorted --- those who were pests of society, and those who were being trained up to succeed them in the ways of profligacy and wretchedness. It was one of Satan's strongholds, and Mr. Whitefield concluded to attack him there.

"He needed as much courage as did Luther at the Diet of Worms. He was warned of his danger, and told that if he attempted to preach there he would never come away alive. None of these things moved him; onward he went with the tread of a conqueror. Matters looked forbidding at first, and would have intimidated any but a stout heart. The table which had been placed for him [to stand on] was broken in pieces by the crowd, and he took his stand upon a wall that divided the upper and lower Moorfields, and there preached without interruption. This became his grand battle-ground, where he carried the war into the territories of the devil. . . ."

The Great Field Day

"He began with his praying people at six in the morning, before the enemy had mustered his strength. Not less than ten thousand persons were assembled, waiting for the sports; and, having nothing else to do, they for mere pastime flocked around his little field pulpit. 'Glad was I,' said he, 'to find that for once I had to the start of the devil.' Encouraged by the success of his morning preaching he ventured there again at noon, when, in his own words, 'The fields, the whole fields, seemed, in a bad sense of the word, all white; ready not for the Redeemer's but Beelzebub's harvest. All his agents were in full motion; drummers, trumpeters, merry-andrews, masters of puppet-shows, exhibitors of wild beasts, players, etc., etc., all busy in entertaining their respective auditors.' He estimated the crowd at from twenty to thirty thousand,and thinking that, like St. Paul, he should now in a metaphorical sense be called to fight with the wild beasts, he took for his text, 'Great is Diana of the Ephesians.' 'You may easily guess,' said he, 'that there was some noise among the craftsmen, and that I was honored with having a few stones, dirt, rotten eggs, and dead cats thrown at me while engaged in calling them from their favorite but lying vanities. My soul was indeed among lions; but far the greatest part of my congregation, which was very large, seemed for awhile to be turned into lambs.'

"Whitefield then gave notice he would preach there again at six in the evening. 'I came,' he says, 'I saw --- but what? Thousands upon thousands more, if possible, still more deeply engaged in their unhappy diversions, but some thousands among them waiting as earnestly to hear the Gospel. One of Satan's choicest servants was exhibiting, trumpeting on a large stage; but as soon as the people saw me in my black robes ascend the pulpit I think all to a man left him and ran to me. For awhile I was enabled to lift up my voice like a trumpet, and many heard the joyful sound. God's people kept praying, and the enemy's agents made a kind of roaring some distance from our camp. At length they approached nearer, and the merry-andrew, attended by others who complained they had taken many pounds less that day on account of my preaching, got upon a man's shoulders, and advancing near the pulpit, attempted several times to slash me with a long heavy whip, but always, from the violence of his motion, tumbled down.' Soon after they got a recruiting officer, with his drums, fifes and followers, to pass through the congregation.

"But Whitefield by his tactics baffled this maneuver; he ordered them to make way for the king's officers. The ranks opened, and when the party had marched closed again. When the uproar became, as it sometimes did, such as to overpower his single voice, he called the voices of all his people to his aid, and began singing; and thus, what with singing, praying, and preaching, he continued, by his own account, three hours upon the ground, till the darkness made it time to break up.

"So great was the impression which this wonderful man produced during this extraordinary scene that more than a thousand notes were handed up to him from persons who had been awakened that day, and three hundred and fifty persons joined his congregation. It was a splendid triumph, a stupendous victory, and that on the enemy's favorite ground . . . It is no wonder John Angell James, who was a great admirer of Mr. Whitefield, says, 'No such scenes since the Day of Pentecost under the sermon Peter preached as those of Whitefield's great field-day.' Never had he a grander day. Never did he exhibit greater heroism. It not only demonstrated his courage, but it exhibited his overwhelming eloquence . . . It was one of the most splendid days of his life."

Let me also add, for those readers who think Whitefield was like so many modern evangelists --- full of himself, that his humility exceeded his success. He said of himself, "Let the name of Whitefield perish." That prayer has been answered to a large degree. Few remember him and how God used him to change two countries. America was founded on the moral and spiritual legacy of the Great Awakening in the early 1700's. It's many blessings flowed from those early years of honoring God's Word and His Son. But, alas, the glory has departed, and she finds herself adrift on a sea of the bitter consequences of spitting in the face her Creator.

Saturday, November 24

The Other "Native Americans"

I found the following information when doing research on the Irish persecutions in America, Philadelphia particularly. There is an obvious contemporary parallel. This excerpt is from the book History of the American Party published in 1855, which recounts their Preamble and Constitution written in 1837.

“On the 4th of July, 1776, our forefathers proclaimed to the world the independence of these United States, and the equal right of all its citizens to the free and fair pursuit of happiness: on that day they affixed their names to that document, the most illustrious ever penned by the hand of man, and pledged ‘their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honour,’ to the support of the same.

“In 1790, a law for the encouragement of emigration was enacted, holding out certain inducements to the foreigner to come and make his abode amongst us; among others, he is entitled, after five years’ residence, to the right of suffrage, and thereby a representation in our councils. Of this we are now convened to complain. While, at the same time, we invite the stranger, worn down by oppression at home, to come and share with us the blessings of our native land—here find an asylum for his distress, and partake of the plenty a kind Providence has so bountifully given us, we deny his right (hereby meaning as foreigner any emigrant who may hereafter arrive in our country) to have a voice in our legislative halls, his eligibility to office under any circumstances, and we ask a repeal of that Naturalization Law, which, it must be apparent to every reflective mind, to every true son of America, has now become an evil. This we ask not so much for ourselves, as for our children. It needs no logic to prove how rapidly increasing is the foreign influence, even now by far too powerful in our country; and the day must come, and , we fear, is not far distant, when most of our offices will be held by foreigners—men who have no sympathy with the spirit of our institutions, who have never sacrificed aught to procure the blessings they enjoy, and instead of governing ourselves, as is our native-born right, we shall be governed by men, many of whom, but a few short years previously, scarcely knew of our existence. Is this the way to secure and perpetuate the freedom for which our ancestors bled and died? No, Americans, no! Let us come forward, then and prove that the spirit of ’76 is not yet extinct, and that we are not degenerate sons of worthy sires. Let us crush this rising power: it has already blossomed, let us destroy it in the bud, ere the fruit reach maturity.

“We have said that this law was an evil. At the present moment it is particularly so; for Europe is industriously ridding herself of an excess of population now become burdensome to her. And whom does she send? Her paupers, her convicts, the outpourings of her almshouses and jails. Even lately has a would-be-regicide been landed on your shores by a national vessel. We beseech you, by the shades of the heroes of the Revolution, to blot out this foul stain from our escutcheon, and leave the field as pure and bright as ever. The emigrants from Europe are principally of that class who, discontented and oppressed at home, leave there, filled with all the requisite materials to spread among our citizens anarchy, radicalism, and rebellion. Greedy of power, and regardless of civil restraint, they come to the land consecrated by the blood of our ancestors, ignorant of our customs, caring nothing for our laws, and strangers to all those essential qualities so necessary in self-government, and so indispensable to our existence as a free and happy people.

“Now, honestly and seriously entertaining the opinion that, by a repeal of the Naturalization Law, all the foregoing evils, with many others, would be removed, and believing that this object can never be effected by either of the great political parties of the day, singly, we, the American-born citizens of Germantown township [Philadelphia], and its vicinity, without any distinction as to political creed or religious faith, do unite together in an association to co-operate with all other similar institutions of native Americans, in order to obtain a repeal of the Naturalization Law, by all honourable means in our power.”

The Declaration of Principles
Of the American Republican Associations

"1st. We maintain that the naturalization laws should be so altered as to require of all foreigners, who may hereafter arrive in this country, a residence of twenty-one years, before granting the privilege of the elective franchise; but at the same time, we distinctly declare that it is not our intention to interfere with the vested rights of any citizen, or lay any obstruction in the way of foreigners obtaining a livelihood or acquiring property in this country; but, on the contrary, we would grant them the right to purchase, hold, and transfer property, and to enjoy and participate in all the benefits of our country (except that of voting and holding office), as soon as they declare their intentions to become citizens.

"2nd. We maintain that the Bible, without note or comment, is not sectarian—that it is the fountain-head of morality and all good government, and should be used in our public schools as a reading book.

"3rd. We are opposed to a union of church and state in any and every form.

"4th. We hold that native Americans, only, should be appointed to office, to legislate, administer, or execute the laws of their own country."

In 1844, Philadelphia suffered the worst Irish riots in their history. Two dozen were killed, neighborhoods burned and the instigating Irish took no responsibility. However, the popular belief that "No Irish Need Apply" when it came to jobs is challenged by Richard Jensen in his thoroughly researched article here: No Irish Need Apply - The Myth of Victimization

Thursday, November 22

One More Thanksgiving

Angel's Thanksgiving morning began after everyone else was up. My day began in the front yard, digging up an old brick border that had been overgrown with grass and moving it back a few feet using a different pattern. Had to fill in the resulting trench with topsoil, hoping new grass will cover it in a little less than a month. Yeah, right. Some new seed might help.

Then it was time to turn under the weeds in the flower bed, rake, sweep and come in for breakfast sometime during this whole endeavor. Angel enjoyed her bacon and eggs and huge cinnamon bun (except for the 'crunchy', dark bottom). Barb cleaned up the kitchen, getting ready to cook the bird and heat the dinner (we bought a package deal this year). Liz cleaned the bathroom. I cleaned the living room and washed windows. We were having a guest for our 2 p.m. dinner.

Mild California November sunshine graced the day. Angel wore her new dress and complained about the itchy long stockings while trying to find something to do. She played computer games, played in the street with a new remote control car (for about 5 minutes), dragged out her SpongeBob Game of Life and beat her mother on the first round.

Uncle Bob came and enjoyed the first good meal (he said) since we had him over the last time. Poor guy. We heard a number of his old 'growing up on the farm' stories, which I never get tired of. Especially the one where his father is looking through the bedroom window during a 1936 lightning storm one night in Iowa. Kids in bed in the other room. Lightning struck the huge oak tree outside, came down the eaves and wall, came inside and struck Bob's dad in the elbow as he was holding on to the iron bed, made two perfect 1/4 inch holes in the bed and shot backward, right over his wife's head and caught her hair on fire. Then it went through the room to the front room windows before exiting and grounding outside. Bob's dad's forearm was split in two, along with three of his finders exploding at their ends. Yeow! Didn't have any strength in that arm afterward. A few years later, the house would burn to the ground.

After dinner and Uncle Bob's leaving, Liz, Barb and Angel played clue.

Let's all be thankful for the many providential blessings of preservation in our own lives today of all days. Speaking of which, the following read will confirm your belief that God is in control. The Old Jersey Captive by Thomas Andros. The Revolutionary War English prison ships were hell-holes anchored off the coast of Long Island. Andros was taken prisoner, then escaped. This is the wonderful firsthand account of the horrible ship conditions, his escape and care while he tried to get back home to Connecticut.

Wednesday, November 21

Staten Island Sandhills

A morning trip north to Staten Island presented plenty of fowl life for my camera to capture. Unfortunately, just like the trip to Stone Lakes Preserve, my generic telephoto lens let me down again. But something is better than nothing, and it's always fun to see and hear these creatures in person, especially the Sandhill cranes.

Staten Island is out in the Delta, northwest of Lodi and just a few miles east of Walnut Grove. These are protected wilderness areas on private land, so you can't just wander willy-nilly. Have to stay on the dead-end road that runs its length. I heard a few shotgun blasts. Thousands of geese to choose from for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow! I think it was the guy who drove down a side road and flushed a huge herd of Sandhill cranes (you can barely see his truck in one of the shots).

I went out Woodbridge Road on the way back where there's a little drive-out loop and viewing area right off the road. Hardly any birds there, though. But on the way back, I pulled off the road to catch hundreds of cranes in someone's front yard. That's a lot of poop for your crop.

I only identified a few birds and didn't use my field glasses for that purpose. Snow geese, Whistling swans, Canvasback ducks, Least sandpipers, Coots, a single Whitetailed kite and some common perennials. Didn't stay long. Didn't take too many pictures. Didn't have a flat. Didn't go far - only 60 miles roundtrip.

Tuesday, November 20

Making the Old New

I confess: I hate to spend money! Especially when I don't have any. My inherited miserliness has been an inventor's tool through the years, and I've found ways to stretch the unstretchable and use that pioneer spirit to 'make do.'

I bought a wonderful, plastic leaf rake in about 1986. Man, it was the best --- wide and strong and just the right snap to it. But after years of abuse the poor friend started wearing out --- literally. The right angle tines got shorter and shorter. Some of them would completely break.

About two years ago I went rake shopping at Meek's Lumber. They were having a sale. Their sale rake was a cheap wire affair that felt weird. Their next in line had an extra thick handle with foam on it, but weighed about 5 pounds. I tried using it at the store and my arm started hurting! I left without a new rake. It was time to revitalize Ol' Betsy. The picture says it all. Nothing easier than using a fireplace lighter and pair of wide-grip pliers when the tine is toasted just right! The only problem is that this weakens the plastic at the bend and the ends may pop off if you catch them on something immovable. I lost three today raking backyard leaves. Oh, well, I saved $20, which is what I paid to get the oil changed in the car earlier this morning.

Another thing I'm revitalizing is the memory of my g-g-grandfather, William (Billy) Burk(e), who fought in the Civil War. The research has been challenging, but thanks to the Internet and Google Books, I'm collecting tons of info that can be used to put things in perspective and give a pretty accurate look at the life and times of a man I've never seen. Most Americans are clueless about early Irish Americans and the drama, sacrifice, and importance of those years. Not that an obscure memoir is going to make a difference. But who knows?

Friday, November 16

Celebrity Daze

Back in the days when Paso Robles was only a pitstop between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the crew from Rawhide was in town filming. Eric Fleming (Gil Favor), Paul Brineger (Wishbone), James Murdock (Mushy) and Clint Eastwood (Rowdy Yates) and the others camped out at the the Continental Wayside Inn after shooting in the hills some miles out of town. The town was buzzing about the honor and glory of hosting such a show, while certain crazed fans (including my aunt Naomi) followed the stars to the set for a more personal look.

I have to admit, this stargazing roped me and my cousin in one night as well. We decided to drive south a few miles to the motel and see everyone while they quenched their thirst at the local saloon. Seems that the management yielded to the request for lower lighting. You had to have cat vision to see anyone's face. And since it was unpolite to stare, we just glanced around while having a beer (I think we had a beer, maybe not). Must have been a short beer if we did, because there were no introductions, no autographs, no smiles. Just a two minute, perfunctory, one-two-buckle-your-shoe sort of visit by two stupid kids wanting to experience a brush with celebrity.

I just figured it out. There was no beer. We were both still teenagers. Guess that explains the whole thing right there!

Sunday, November 11

Eternity When?

The phone rang early this morning, but I didn't hear it. It was Liz's fiance, calling from an hour away. They had been in an accident and Liz was in the hospital. Ambulance, neck brace, x-rays. She and her girlfriend were sitting in the back of the car at a stop when someone plowed into them from behind. Barb took the call, but didn't wake me.

Thankfully, she wasn't hurt seriously. But she could have been. Not a very big stretch from a rear-ender to an end-lifer. Our assumed years may abruptly cross the finish line, and we will enter eternity without a second's warning.

May a gracious God have mercy on us --- while we are still in the land of the living: There will be no mercy on the other side.

"Jesus answered [Nicodemus] and said unto him, 'Truly, truly, I say unto you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.'" John 3:3

Remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31.

Thursday, November 1

The Cat's Meow

Poor Jack did NOT enjoy Liz's sports car swerving through downtown to the local Animal Shelter. His mournful meows didn't stop us from reaching our destination and long line of 20 or more dogs, cats and owners in front of us. We needed a rabies shot, a license and a microchip for the old guy. Yes, cats have to be licensed and microchipped here now! What a ripoff! I knew it. And Jack knew it!

Everyone was eager to talk about their pet while we were in line, of course. Puppies, kittens, St. Bernard to Pitbull --- they were there --- slobbering and pulling at their leashes. There was even this runt of the litter, black Pitbull. A little darling --- soon to grow up into a little Hitler on four legs, no doubt!

We finally turned the corner where the 'volunteer' vet was staged behind a small, very small toweled table outside the shelter. To his left were the three money changers who distributed the license and other tags. Everyone was very friendly and eager to accept cash or checks - both without I.D. Liz coaxed Jack back into his carrier (no easy proposition), I wrote the check and got the tags, and we were outta there!

What we won't do to keep the law - even if it's robbery on the scale of the ridiculous.