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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

THIS is OUR History! The COOLEST Stinkin' Badges!

Navasota, Texas is especially blessed with interesting history, and was at one time the home of an impressive array of Texans. And there are no more celebrated Texans than the members of the Texas Rangers, both real and artistically interpreted. Most towns the size of Navasota might be able to boast that they were the residence of a Ranger sometime in history, but Navasota can boast of at least five... and three of which we actually know of the exact badges they wore. This is unheard of. History yes... legends sure, in the books maybe.. but the actual stinkin' badges? Hardly ever!

Perhaps one of the oldest authenticated badges known in Texas Ranger history belongs to Dr David Fruchtman, an Arizona forensic scientist and criminal justice professor, who has recently shared a badge in his collection... with provenance, which was the Ranger badge belonging to the legendary western lawman,  Jeff Milton...

Milton was the adventurous son of the Florida Governor who came to Texas after the Civil War to live with his sister, who had married a Navasota merchant. He did not stay in Navasota long, and became a Texas Ranger when just 18, with the endorsement of Navasota attorney and former Attorney General of Texas, H. H. Boone. Milton's career with the Rangers was cut short after some tragic gunplay, and subsequent legal embarrassment to the Ranger organization... but he went on to become one of the most noted lawmen of the Old West. J. Evetts Haley wrote his biography in A Good Man With A Gun. You can read all about this Ranger's career at my blog below... just click on the LINK, after your read this!).

But you will not see his badge in the book... in fact you will not see it anywhere but right here!

There are several exciting things we learn from this badge. And some of what we learn challenges the conventional wisdom concerning these beloved icons of Western lore. First of all, we learn that at least some of them, HAD BADGES. The common belief is that they rarely had badges, and few Rangers ever wore them, as they were considered invitations to be murdered. Only on the force for a couple of years, Private Jeff Milton had this handmade star, with his company designation. This badge is crude, cut out of a disc of nickel, yet the lettering has been fairly masterfully done, with a popular zigzag technique, which is seen on many old badges. Unfortunately, the finding has been lost. On this badge, the wearer chose to inscribe RANGER, (singular)... not Ranger Force or State Rangers (plural). These details may seem insignificant, but they help establish what I have suspected... that is a total LACK of a pattern in the early badges. And just as importantly, it is not cut out of a Mexican Peso.

The exclusive use of etching on the badge suggests several things. Out west where the Rangers were ranging, and where they were most likely to try to scrounge up a badge of some sort... they had to settle for homemade badges, or ones made by frontier jewelers, who had very limited tools and materials. The right metal was scarce, and the tools necessary to work metals were usually not available. If a mistake was made in the cutting of it... like the chopped-up star in this badge, that was just too bad! There were few or no stamps available to hammer pretty letters into sheet metal.

So an engraver might have been the closest thing to a badge maker available. My guess is that another Ranger of Company B had this one made, and had a better one made when he could, and passed this faulty one on to the young Ranger... who did not need it long. It was soon just a keepsake for the young Floridian who wandered the west for years as he tried to grow up and get the respect he craved. Now the badge is a direct link to his life and times... and another intriguing link in our study of Texas Ranger badges.

Texas Ranger badges are rare. Let's just say so rare that I went most of my life collecting antiques and seeing hundreds if not thousands of fake Ranger badges being passed off and nobody ever expected to really find one... You would find diamonds in a diamond field faster than you would find a real OLD Texas Ranger badge in an antique market. Yet my neighbor dug one up in his yard, right here in Navasota. You can read that story (later!) here at this LINK:

The significance of this badge is hard to fully appreciate. It belonged to the Navasota City Marshal around 1911-1915. M. E. Bailey was a Ranger buddy of Frank Hamer's out in Alpine and came to help him in Navasota as his Deputy City Marshal. He took over as marshal when Hamer left Navasota. Hamer was a devoted fan of Bailey's and when interviewed after his death, claimed Bailey had once single-handedly arrested a handful of Mexican generals who were in Texas recruiting for Pancho Villa. What Captain Bailey could not have fully appreciated were the number of Texans who supported Villa and his revolution, and who made money off of the gun trade. This arrest made him a huge target, with enemies on both sides of the border, and this event may be why he left the Rangers and migrated around 1910 to civilization on the Brazos. Some way, some how this badge got dropped, thrown and buried in the flower bed of his residence in Navasota, to be dug up nearly a hundred years later, from dirt a foot deep.

The Bailey badge also teaches us several things about Texas Ranger badges. By 1910, some were being ordered and made by real honest-to-goodness badge manufacturers. Some were brass or bronze, thin, pressed by machine, and featured the ranger's name and rank and company. These were official but fairly cheap badges. This captain's badge suggests that even a ranking officer would have no more fancy a badge than any regular city lawman. But it also may be one-of-a-kind.

The only common denominator between most early ranger badges is the star inside of a circle. Several companies out west could have been contracted to do such work as shown in Bailey's badge... But my pick would be Anson Mills, who had a large operation with big money government contracts in El Paso. They manufactured a wide array of military issue belts and beautifully ornate, brass belt buckles... for several governments. Mills was a former Civil War Union General who came out west to make his fortune and did so. With his fame and connections and his handy geography, it is easy to imagine T. C. Orndorff, his brother-in-law who did much of the “heavy lifting” doing business with many regional law enforcement agencies. In fact there are photographs of Texas Rangers wearing his famous Anson Mills woven cartridge belts... sporting those beautiful buckles. Understanding the Mills'/Orndorff interest in the socio-political situation along the Texas border, it is easy to imagine that Mills made this badge (had his people make it) and gave it to the young Ranger for his daring-do... but probably the fancy brass badge only got to him after he left the force.

Bailey had moved on, probably despising the regime that forced him out because of divided loyalties... I can easily imagine it arriving in the mail one day while he was working in Navasota, and as he unwrapped it, cussing it and chunking it in disgust into the shrubbery outside his home... where it laid for a century.

The Texas Ranger badge worn by Ranger Frank Hamer.

Because of various auctions in the past decades, we have also gotten blurry peeks at the badges worn by Ranger Frank Hamer, before and after he served in Navasota. I have written extensively about Hamer on this blog, but we do not know what his City Marshal badge looked like, and in fact he might not have had one. He might easily have chosen to wear his Texas Ranger badge, which by then was a symbol of deadly authority. 

Recently I acquired a fantastic facsimile of Hamer's earliest Ranger badge, thought by his son and the auctioneers to have been made of brass or bronze. Few people have studied metals enough to know that really old silver, when not allowed to blacken from constant rubbing, will take on a deep yellow appearance. I have seen this most often on spurs, where the patina said brass but the polish revealed SILVER! Anyway I purchased this silver badge, which is the spitting image of Hamer's badge down to the scars. Possibly made by Langenbacher, the legendary badge copyist, it is unlike any other Ranger badge I have seen, replica or real. The design of this badge is unmistakably related to the Mills Texas Ranger buckle design, assumed by many to be fakes.

Later around 1915 Ranger Frank Hamer had one of the first classic “Peso Badges” which have become the Ranger standard we all recognize today. They were literally cut out of silver Mexican pesos. On the back one could easily observe the Phrygian cap in a sunburst, and dates up until 1910 when the silver was discontinued. Later “Cinco Peso” badges were made in the 1960's which were reminiscent of these early badges, with (on the back) a Mexican eagle perched on a cactus, tormenting a rattlesnake.

This Peso badge must have been the badge he wore for around seven years until he became the Senior Captain over the whole organization in 1922. His captain badge is truly magnificent. It was a manufactured catalog standard, custom made, gold plated, and no name, it had only his rank stamped in the badge.

For a LINK to a WONDERFUL short video about Frank Hamer and his service here in Navasota, go to the You Tube address below:

You might be wondering what these badges are worth. After watching real Ranger badges sell at auction, I would say that because of identification, fame, and provenance, all of these would fetch in the thousands of dollars. Anything can happen at an auction, but I would be totally amazed if they did not bring $4,000.00 - $7,500.00 each. Maybe more.

These are just a few examples of the Treasures of Navasota. I will share more of them in the future. These things testify to an exciting and legendary era in human history, when men had to kill or be killed in a struggle between good and evil. And when a lawman's badge was a sign of lethal authority, and outlaws were pursued, captured and eliminated with prejudice. Let's hope and pray we never need those kind of lawmen again. But whether we do or not, this is what we come from, this is our history. And history almost always repeats itself.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Nailing Jesus and Christmas- with Science

You would think in two thousand years, skeptics could have demolished this popular yet outrageous story... instead it has changed the the world, inspired millions, and is now supported and fortified, not only with Genealogy, but Astronomy, Astrology and Archaeology. (Not to mention hundreds of prophecies in the Old Testament). Today it is still where it should be, I believe where God would have it, right in the center of controversy, as cynics, skeptics and infidels stubbornly reject it.

I saw on the Science Channel where they found Caiaphas' grave and the stone box containing his bones. He was the pragmatic High Priest who masterminded the illegal execution of Jesus. In the dusty box researchers found two ancient, bent and corroded nails... which they immediately deep-sixed, separating them from the historic ossuary. They did not know... or want to know the significance of the nails. Like Caiaphas, whose bones they sorted, they did not want them to be of earthly or spiritual significance. Still, Caiaphas was so identified with these nails that his loved ones placed them in his little stone coffin, to rest and mingle with his remains forever. As if, for better or worse, they wanted to make sure Caiaphas met his Maker with them in his possession; Proof of his wisdom, or his eternal damnation.

Caiaphas was willing to stake his eternal destination on the rightness of destroying Jesus and his earthly ministry. Even after the profuse rumors of miracles, and Jesus' resurrection and the inspiration of a new religion... which had caught on among Jew and Gentile... he could not be persuaded. If they were crucifixion nails... and they were, he obviously thought they were irresistible souvenirs of his notorious career... Denying them their possible significance, he took the evidence of them to his grave. Over the centuries, how many Christians have wondered what might have happened to relics just like these, of Jesus of Nazareth? Caiaphas not only sought to kill Jesus, but to obliterate his legacy. In doing so, he gave science much more evidence, in our time, of the ruthlessness and pride with which he executed his duties.

Later another researcher learned of the misplaced Caiaphas nails... found them at a local university, and established they were THE nails, and that they were exactly the kind of nail used in crucifixion, AND found traces of human bone and cloth on them. The nails and the ossuary shared the same exact ancient sediments which served to connect them like DNA. The sudden implications of biased, unprofessional, malicious behavior, then and now, were mind-boggling. The science proving it is irrefutable. Raw hatred was at the bottom of all of it.

It is not just poetic justice... but Providential guidance, that has made modern science the most objective and effective advocate of God, his Son, and their story. Today people have to look past much more evidence than Caiaphas did, to ignore and ridicule, or try to destroy Jesus... as God proves that for some... there will never be enough evidence to humble and change them. And some day, tragically, they too will have their own “nails” in their own coffin... to meet their Maker with.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


A person like me must encounter some useful information along the way after fifty years of reading, researching and conceiving and creating art. You might think I have become unnecessarily opinionated in my search and exploration of truth and beauty (which often seem to me to be the same thing). That is why I try NOT to appear to be too overbearing … or dogmatic... But sometimes I must share something so essential, that I think, acting on my conscience, I must endorse it...

In my business, I go through thousands of pages... some while reading, but often just thumbing through old magazines looking for “scrap.” Scrap is the mountain of imagery that artists collect for reference material... and old magazines are an excellent source. Sometimes an old forgotten jewel pops up, and this one was an especially valuable discovery for me, entitled THE MOST IMPORTANT THING... by Dr. Frank Crane, who was famous for his "Four Minute Essays." With a title like that, I HAD to read it. 

Unfortunately, I did not pay attention to what magazine I tore it out of, but it was something like The Mentor or some other Turn of the Century periodical, which typically did not hesitate to moralize or attempt to shape the public character. Here then is a piece of long-since discarded conventional wisdom... wisdom which I believe we would do well to resurrect... and of course my interpretation of it! [Sorry about the small print!]

Acts make Motives”; We are familiar with the Darwinian ideas (survival of the fittest) which prove that motives inspire action; hunger inspires the hunt, greed inspires deception, righteousness leads to service... but the writer flips that axiom on its head to reveal a more subtle equation- that over time repeated actions lead to adoption of motives previously uncharacteristic to our habits...

There are two kinds of people...”; This is obviously simplistic, and was said to provoke introspection, so do not get prematurely derailed over this statement. Perhaps Crane might better have appealed to our generation by merely suggesting that there are lots of different kinds of people, many of which fall into two major groups; the strong and the weak, who are by his definition “capable” or “incapable.” This writer talks to his reader as if they are already his disciples, ready to listen to the coming major points, and willing to overlook his assumptions. He must neglect diplomacy in order to cover a universe of wisdom on a single page. So please bear with him.

The difference between them is this only: that the strong change their motives...”; Another over-simplification, and built upon the first. If I were writing this, I might have said, “I have found one major difference between these two types is...” Please hold on, because the writer, uncharacteristic of other such pontificators of his day, is about to dump his load... But may it suffice to say that he wants you to want to be counted among the strong... He is betting that you are already looking for your affinity with “the capable.” In fact, it would be the “weak” who would begin dismissing this wise writer out of self-defense, even before they have partaken of his wisdom, for fear of being offended, corrected, or challenged. The strong would not be afraid to read on... regardless of broad statements, or where they might lead.

There is no art in the world so important as the art of killing one longing and creating another in oneself.” Okay, so the guy is full of dogmatic, unprovable opinions, one built upon the other. A sanctimonious tower of cards... BUT, what if he is right? Even I had to question this... and had to prove this statement to myself. But, basing my analysis from another unproven assumption, that most people spend their whole lives in pursuit of happiness (which takes different forms for each of us) there would be general agreement from most folks who have read this far that happiness comes from personal fulfillment and contentment... which usually is the fruit of security and freedom from want... which is usually the result of someone's success and hard work... which will be made easier if we ( the provider as well as their dependents) willingly, selflessly adapt our wants and expectations... It would stand to reason then that a very important art in mankind would be ADAPTABILTY; The “art” of flexing one's questionable plans or goals into healthy, attainable ones.

The idea here is that this forced adaptation comes from within. But many of man's longings are based on selfish, predatory and even sinful motives, which also come from within, naturally. Modern civilization depends on men to stifle their animalistic urges, or there would be constant pandemonium and war. Today we call it “redirection,” when people's energies and ambitions are corralled and pointed in better directions, for the benefit of everyone concerned. It is a long-lost art for people to willingly do this, without tragic mistakes first, and today without professional analysis, counseling, and sometimes even hospitalization.

Then Crane unveils his “secret.” Just entering his fifth paragraph, he is already prepared to share the central truth of his essay. “... by repeating an action one can gradually induce a desire to repeat it...” and conversely, “by refusing a desire, one can eliminate it.”

I once had a young friend who put it this way... “Do anything (good or bad) three times in row, and it will become a habit.” I can't tell you how many times I have repeated that... to myself or others. It is true. Actions do shape motives. Conduct does reflect and affirm personal character. Repeated conduct even more so, and we decide which actions which we repeat... to form good or bad habits, and to our own benefit, or peril.

All you need to climb out of the slime is imagination..” This would be, in my mind, another long-lost secret. Dr. Ben Carson talks about how his mother planted in his mind, not the hopelessness of his environment, but the potential of his situation. She could not read, but made him read to her, as if she were supervising his reading development. She used nothing but sheer imagination to do that. Without imagination, “Faith” is almost impossible. In fact Faith and imagination are gifts from our Creator God who counts on our use of these things to transcend out earthly realities.

Today our society dismisses all the traditional systems of attaining prosperity, often born of human imagining... especially religion. But hope and optimism are often born not from the harshness of reality, not from financial security, not from education, as these things can help provoke success but are certainly no guarantee of it. Hope and optimism spring from an inner confidence built on powerful undercurrents of faith... in self, in justice, in the positive forces of humanity, and in a Supreme Being who brings order and ultimate justice to the Universe. Dr. Carson's mom had faith in God to deliver her children “out of the slime,” as Crane calls it. And eventually Carson himself believed... and imagination turned humble beginnings into an extraordinary life. People who have been chained to poverty and hopelessness for generations are really just victims chained to their own lack of imagination. .. who settle for something immediate and far less than God's plan, like addiction and crime or worse, blaming others for their own anemia. And they are the ones who need Crane's essay the most. But to add to their dilemma, they as a class do not read, do not listen to good sources of solutions... and with dormant imaginations, do not seek life-changing answers, as they amble on in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The process is slow.” Amen. But only, as Jesus put it, “because of the hardness of men's hearts.” Crane admits that much of his wisdom is common among an elite group he terms the “spiritual aristocracy.” It is not that they withhold these truths. It is just that most people could not care less about doing things that require discipline or flexibility or heaven forbid, obedience to a higher power. The process is so slow, that most people, especially parents, give up way too soon.

This is the only known road to real success. It leads to kingship.” By now our haughty, would-be mentor does not try to hide his confidence in his wisdom. You can take it or leave it. Kings have followed this advice... or so he flatly suggests. Jesus spoke of a wide road and a narrow path... the former used by most people... the latter for his followers. He knew that his followers would not, could not be successful without, as he put it, “First deny yourself, take up your own cross (of personal sacrifice) daily and follow me...” Jesus suggested that everything we are meant to do is a path that starts with self-denial; personal restraint, selflessness, deferring to others, and especially God, before we can be sure we are on the right road.

Crane skipped over that part, perhaps assuming his Victorian audience already knew that... but he reminds them of the final measure of our lives; how we used what God had provided to us... Our legacies. Are they legacies of service or demanding service? Are they legacies of contentment and generosity, or discontent and greed? Of grabbing for more, or giving more? Jesus not only settles the question, by “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” but Crane found where Christ pronounced a sort of eternal equation, of which we should all take heed: “To him that hath- shall be given, and from him that hath not shall be taken away, even that which he hath.”

We all start at a personal bottom, or find the literal bottom at some time in our lives. Few of us will ever be wealthy, so God diligently directs and blesses most of us in our various states of financial and physical and spiritual struggle, where we can either choose to turn to him, or not. Those who have Faith and pray have a very decided advantage. Those who do not are also likely the ones who cannot even imagine success, much less a creator/personal God. But even believers can be thwarted in their efforts if they see God as a secret weapon or magic wand. If they fail to use what God has given them, has provided in His wisdom at that moment, to be thankful for what is, and all the while to be content and generous to others...

Read the parable of the “talents”... where those given very little, and did very little, because of fear, suspicion, or small-mindedness... Their master took away what little they had. It turns out that we can seal our fates by expecting or doing nothing... or too little. The ne'r-do-wells in those parables were self-indulgent, even willful, leaning on their own wisdom, own preferences, rather than their master's. Bottom line, they lacked imagination; trust in “the master,” and more tellingly, the willingness to risk failure. These are critical elements to success at anything. These are the earmarks of Faith.

For those who do not believe, this stripping of the underprivileged is outrageous. Like Dr. Frank Crane, the author/authors of the New Testament, aka God, seems to be a presumptuous, judgmental, illegitimate authority, based on their own twisted sense of justice. They will instead, forever look to the government to solve all ills, feed all discrepancies, make right all wrongs. They will never admit that their system has always failed, because it assumes, (falsely) the inherent goodness, dignity and even nobility of all men. Christians assign those attributes to God only. Their Scriptures are rife with great leaders who fell far short of God's righteousness. Man-made systems always fail. Only an all-powerful God never fails.

For those who do believe, this seemingly twisted formula is the key to success; Make the best with what you have, be thankful, keep the faith and hope for better, obey God, and He will justly reward his own as it suits Him... As it serves His Kingdom, fulfills His plan... In His time. Jesus explained that the only way you can move up the ladder in his paradigm is by first using wisely, obediently, what God has already given you. If you waste it, hoard it, hide it, fail to even use it, whatever your motives, you are not able to move up to the next rung in the ladder. So... perhaps Crane was right... this idea of being able to imagine the next upward move... and act on that vision repeatedly, regardless of our circumstances, to the believer and unbeliever alike, is AT THE VERY LEAST, one the most important things.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Lanier Lectures: On the cutting edge of Eternity

Lanier Theological Library

 At a time when many serious Biblical scholars are announcing the decline of Western Christianity, and the rise of secular humanism, not to mention the visible groundwork for Armageddon, it was a striking detour to be ushered into the depths of theological debate thriving at the Stone Chapel in North Houston, sponsored by the Lanier Theological Library. To add to my already overloaded senses, was the sudden revival of memories which had flooded my mind, as the Lanier Library compound lies in the same place, once a forest wilderness, where my brother and I rode horseback as redneck teenagers. I actually courted my first sweetheart under the virgin pine canopy near there. I shook off those thoughts as I came into an Old World village complete with cobblestone walkways and a 6th Century Byzantine chapel, executed with Thomas Kinkadesque beauty and perfection. 

 Like a kid in a candy store... my brother Reynolds insisted that I come see this amazing facility... 

My brother had insisted that I come with him and showed me around the Lanier Theological Library, host of some 86,000 volumes... and sundry Holy Land artifacts. There was a panel discussion going on in the Chapel, on slavery of all things... I was still thinking about the unlikelihood of this kind of thing being tucked back in this wooded neighborhood.... as we took seats in the chapel and caught the end of the discussion...

You might, like me, wonder what slavery has to do with the price of beans. But there have been arguments made against the trustworthiness of the Bible... and the God of the Holy Bible, since it is perceived by some readers that the Bible condones slavery... an unforgivable stance to any modern, enlightened mind. Some modern thinkers reject the God of the Bible because he obviously was prejudiced and unjust, if not racist and downright narrow-minded.

 Incredible murals bring Old World flavor to this reproduction of a 6th Century Turkish church.
The panel discussion was tough for me to follow as a layperson, as some of these leading theologians, brought in from all over the world, would often use Hebrew or Greek to make their points... which were often answering some obscure premise thrown to the experts to chew on. The pitcher was Mark Lanier, who played the role of facilitator-host... pacing and postulating under the grandly adorned dome of the chapel, a sort of Donahue goes to Cambridge... stimulating and sometimes baiting discussion from the four fairly soft-spoken theologians. One of the youngest and most animated of them was Peter Williams, Warden at Tyndale House Cambridge in England, who would be the featured speaker that evening.

 Mark Lanier has built the most impressive theological library in the region. So far he has hosted thirty lectures.

The exchange was friendly and yet earnest, and a rare glimpse for Texans into Christian intelligentsia. But for me, on face value the questions illustrated an unkind assumption I have nurtured, perhaps unfairly,  that theologians are people with huge brains and long pedigrees who focus too long on the most insignificant things.

Still, we need them, to settle those stupid questions inspired by well-meaning, almost smart folks, people who fall under the cynical influence of the Evil One. The gist of the question, and I can only assume this because I missed the introduction, was: Were the assumptions valid which claimed that the Holy Scriptures endorsed the practice of slavery, thus rendering the God of the Bible as an ancient excuse for ethnic oppression? These seemingly absurd interpretations were used all the way up until the American Civil War. Actually they survived in some southern pockets long into the 1960's.

The panel revealed that the devil was in the details; that great harm had been done with ambiguous translations of the words for servant and slave; that translators have through the centuries allowed their cultural attitudes to color their somewhat subjective translations. As time has passed, when there was an option, later translators chose to emphasize a more hostile form of bondage, (Hebrew "ebed/eved": can mean servant OR bondservant) as opposed to voluntary indenture (servanthood). Where older texts sported a limited use of the word for slavery, later translations abounded with them. And lost to all of us are the cultural realities of Ancient times. In fact people, sometimes whole nations voluntarily placed themselves in servitude, for decades, to gain protection or avoid wholesale starvation. Slaves in ancient context had rights... and protection, and limited engagement. When God gave direction through His prophets concerning slavery, it was in the same vein as His laws on divorce... not because it was His Divine Will, but because of the hardness of men's hearts. 

A great deal more could be discussed when this is considered. Even God understood that the world is imperfect, and once relationships like ancient slavery had been established since the days of Pharaoh, it was not so simple to just declare instant justice and freedom for all. The interdependence between the parties, and the consequences from sudden liberation of a servant class with no education, no assets, no homes, and most importantly inadequate acculturation, could only lead to further chaos and injustice. In God's wisdom, the best solution to men's complicated social structure was to let them work it out gradually over time, laying down the bedrock concepts of mercy and justice as the underpinnings of society.

As Peter Williams pointed out (and hard for our modern minds to comprehend), for some disadvantaged people, ancient forms of slavery were the best thing for them at the time, and they were the first to admit it. Knowing this makes the actions of some slaves in the South, when they refused to leave their plantations when set free, and tearfully begged to stay, explainable. This loyalty was not because of ignorance, but because of personal knowledge of their questionable readiness for independence. But concepts of "justice" and a bloody war overruled common sense. 
Peter Williams took these observations about Hebrew and Greek nuances to their plausible conclusions, but he also offered some surprises. He has been doing some deep-sea diving in the currents of many languages, forging one authentic, holistic world view of these issues. Studying Germanic, Gaelic and Latin languages, he has done yeoman's excavation of these ancient words and their translations and how various peoples made them their own. They had no axe to grind and thus suffered less cultural distortion of these words... and perhaps a more clear understanding of the nuances... sometimes lost in our English translations.

 Peter Williams of Tyndale House, reads and studies in a dozen languages.
But Williams' brilliant twist came from his study and observations of the supposed slavery of the Jews while in Egypt. We have all grown up being told that the Jews were brought out of Egypt from the oppression of slavery and service to Pharaoh. And we have all been ignoring the scriptures which tell of when the Egyptians themselves willingly committed themselves into slavery to Pharaoh as well... via the negotiations of Joseph, father of two tribes of Israel, the Israelite placed at Pharaoh's right hand. In fact everyone was a servant of the Pharaoh, but the Israelites enjoyed a somewhat elevated status... more as hirelings, status they won upon their arrival in Goshen hundreds of years before under the protection of Joseph. Maybe Joseph had been forgotten, and the Egyptians were cruel employers, but the Israelite's confrontation with Pharaoh was more akin to a Victorian labor dispute.

Over the years cultural bias caused more than one translator to render these servants into “slaves.” In some cases translators, bending to their own perceptions, translated the same word for servant, used twice in one paragraph, differently. This subtle bending of semantics was not without terrible results. Sadly 600,000 Americans died in a Civil War where around half the country argued that the Bible justified their use of slavery, so this sloppy scholarship had very grave consequences, as provincial minds, assuming the veracity of English translations, bet their lives and futures on them...

 Q & A at the end of the lecture.

Peter Williams more than once wisely refused to pass judgment on participants in the American Civil War, ( known by Southerners as the War of Northern Aggression). He explained that each individual in the war, on either side, was there for his own reasons or rationale... and finally he quipped that if the audience wanted to know the proper understanding of the war, they would have to be there on Judgment Day. 

 Stairwell in the Lanier Library

Some things we do not get to grasp- on this side of Eternity. The path to perfect understanding is much like the stair rail in the Lanier Library. But for those things that can and should be grasped... the folks at Lanier can be trusted to flesh them out.

The Lanier Library is open from 9:00 to 5:00 on weekdays and until 9:00 on Tuesdays. You can learn more about it at:  www.LanierTheologicalLibrary.org.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Famous Entertainers of Navasota.

A couple of weeks ago at the Two Rivers Heritage Foundation History Mixer we talked about all the famous musicians from Grimes County and the surrounding area. The list of recording artists was so long it took all the hour just to do them justice. We introduced Blind Willie Johnson, Joe Tex, Texas Alexander, Jerry Jericho, and Big Lu and Los Muchachos and even played their records. We never had the time to bring up blues performers like Mance Lipscomb, Milt Larkin, or L. C. Williams.

This week we will introduce the rest of the entertainers who once called Navasota home. And with any luck with technology, we will let them speak for themselves...

Alvin Ailey- Alvin Ailey Dance theater

Gennie James with Dolly Parton in A Smoky Mountain Christmas

 Gennie James- Ad for Secret Garden (1987)


 Places in the Heart, (ending)
 The Secret Garden-

Robert Reed- Brady Bunch 
Florence Henderson explains the secret dynamics of the show...
The expose':

Chuck Norris- Walker Texas Ranger

Movie highlights-

Sunday, September 13, 2015

AN UNWANTED DEJA VU: Signing Off... Moving On... Looking UP

 The "Children of God" were an attractive bunch of hippies... inspired by a twisted "prophet" who led them astray- all around the world- and headed for hell.

The first time I remember being stunned by end of the world scenarios was when I chanced upon some of the notorious “Children of God” on the TCU campus back in 1973. I was a freshman and wet behind the ears and was amazed at so many weird young people confidently ready to kiss the world, as we knew it, good bye. I was just starting my adult life, and was not ready to accept such pessimistic outlooks. I read their wonderfully illustrated tracts and then tossed them on a heap of dorm room curiosities that ended up in the trash can.
Actress Rose McGowan's parents were early converts to the "Children of God," who were taught that the U. S. was the "Whore of Babylon."

Only later did their founder, David Berg emerge as a wolf in sheep's clothing. They were not yet instructing their female disciples to use sex to attract men into the cult... When Berg's apocalyptic scenarios began to turn people off, he began to offer the best and oldest sales tool known to man: Recreational sex. I fell out with his ideas very quickly but probably for the wrong reasons... I still thought America could pull out of her nosedive.

Sex was suggested as a great tool to attract converts into the Children of God.

It felt good to dismiss such moronic stuff, like the demonization of the United States, the so-called “Whore of Babylon,” the predictions of great betrayals of Israel, and the conjecture that some world leader was alive then who would eventually emerge as the Anti-Christ. Their would-be prophet named “Moses David,” later exposed as David Berg, turned out to be a seriously messed up person and of course, a child molester. His diabolic theological errors led to a falling away, and even his artist, Daniel McGowan, fled with his children after being asked to illustrate a pamphlet encouraging child molestation and incest.

 Artist Daniel McGowan had his moment of truth... a profound "Come to Jesus meeting" which saved his children from a lifetime of sexual slavery. Thank God he made the right choice...
Berg insisted the Anti-Christ was Libya's General Qaddafi. The main reason was that Berg surmised that the Anti-Christ would probably be Muslim and come from Africa... a rising continent, directly connected to the Middle East, and this last Anti-Christ would be young and attractive and be able to unify the world behind him... At the time Qaddafi was a handsome young warrior... and the European economy was organizing.  He was a promising choice to combine Europe with the Middle East to lead a confederation against Israel... and backed by the Russians his powerful forces would meet Israel at Armageddon. There the Western World and Russia and China would all blow each other up, right before Jesus came and wiped them all off of the face of the earth. And yet Israel would survive. God has promised.

We were warned by David Berg that the signal for the consummation of all of these prophecies would be simple... when the Catholic Pope joined forces with the Anti-Christ... which sounded pretty preposterous.

Then I lived my life. I found comfort in all those warnings in the New Testament about false teachers... false prophets... and studied my behind off.  I have resisted the doom-sayers. But with all of the developments (PLEASE see the You Tube videos by Jonathan Cahn) lately, there is no more place to rest my denials.

It has been over forty years since those outrageous religious tracts disturbed my youthful bliss. And now I find myself wishing I could compare "Moses David's" observations and expectations with my own today. The problem is David Berg was about 90% right about his end-time predictions... or very close.  That I find more disturbing now than I found his tracts then. I think it is possible that Berg had stumbled onto some nuggets of actual spiritual wisdom, perhaps from the Forces of Darkness who would have loved to have made fools out well-meaning young Christians. But David Berg was unprepared to face the barrage of temptation he invited into his life when presuming to become the prophet of doom based on Biblical prophesy. 

 David Berg poses with his "flirty fishers."

The devil went to work and in short order absolutely destroyed Berg's life and his credibility. The would-be prophet fell into Solomon's mental traps of fatalism and sexual indulgence. Berg turned out to be a sexual libertine, with few sexual boundaries, and thus not a follower of Christ, a flaming false prophet, but as in many cases a false prophet gains a following by subtly mixing some of his own agenda with truth... And now many of the truths he had discovered in the 1970's may be finally surfacing, but without Qaddafi.

In the coming days you will see the culmination of astounding realignments as nations and tribes and governments strangely fall into a remarkable alliance that will make Moses David's 1970's predictions look like child's play. 

I am afraid “this it it.”

I will not be blogging much anymore... my wonderful searching for beauty and truth and wisdom from our art and history is pretty much done. There are much more important ways to spend my precious time. We are all going on a great adventure, and yes, some will perish. Those of us who know our Lord and hear his voice will face it with wonder and fascination. The rest not so much.

Some of us have been paying attention to the news the media has protected you from. You will know soon enough. The many scandals in the news have been a convenient distraction while American forces have been shutting down radical Islam around the world. And American diplomats, with the aid of the Vatican, have been forging deals with Islamic leaders in every corner of the earth... those who are wise enough to deal... and world peace has been the objective... and along with it, major re-alignments of the world powers and the solidification of a world economy and most of all, a functioning New World Order.

In just a few days the Pope will meet with the President. He will speak to our Congress. He will also speak to the United Nations. Already, in a rare foreshadowing, the flags of Palestine and the Vatican fly over the U.N. The outrageous deal between the U. S. and  Iran is assured as the Republicans have yielded to the President like tamed tigers in a behind-the-scenes circus. They will do whatever to get their nibbles, out of our sight and far from our understanding.

AND, for the first time in ages, Israel will be left entirely on its own. All the pleadings of Prime Minister Netanyahu have been ignored. As David Berg seemed to know... We would eventually betray God's people. Americans are helpless to stop this colossal betrayal and shifting of world alliances. Much like the re-establishment of the State of Israel, it will be done in the blink of an eye. And not without persuasive rationale. The Pope is already being praised as a world unifier... as the refugee crisis in Europe cries for leadership and compassion. The stage is set.

 [UPDATE: (9-21-15) The ultimate symbol of Naziism and anti-Zionism , the German monolith Volkswagon saw its stocks plummet this morning after they were exposed for systematic cheating.]

And that is only the beginning, and if the recent swift alignment of historical circumstances are any indication, the rest will happen pretty fast... Very fast I think, unless God has some purpose in watching the world slowly devolving into hell... But eventually a shooting war will be unavoidable. Israel will not just helplessly stand by and watch, and after she is abandoned, she will be like a snake in a corner.  Somebody will blow up the Islamic Mosque in Jerusalem where the Jews want to rebuild their temple... (the main one in Mecca just got stepped on by a falling construction crane and hundreds were killed or hurt) and we will be off to the races. You can read all about what will happen next in the Book of Revelation.

Meanwhile I am trying to convert what I own into useful commodities... most of what we have and focus on today will be useless in the world to come.

I FEAR the United States will be reduced to a secondary player in world events... Some believe it will be dissolved. One supposed prophetess predicts a great tsunami will flood and destroy much of the North American continent. [Update: Swift moving hurricanes dumped record amounts of rain on the east coast, Texas] Most Christians who are paying attention agree with Jonathan Cahn that God must punish the United States for the same reasons that He did Israel two millennium ago... for leading the world in debauchery... misrepresenting HIM, and taking His name in vain. God has never tolerated that. 

“In God we Trust” is just ink on a declining dollar, now despised around the planet. Way back when we (the U. S.) went Liberal (or “Progressive”), we would have been better off to have claimed ourselves to be a pagan country... officially... pretty much as the President has suggested... not a “Christian” country... because in our present national condition, that invites sure Judgment; claiming to be a Christian country and then being lukewarm, or worse, the antithesis of it, even taking His name in vain, is an abomination to our All-Powerful God... He is very concerned about his reputation. About the authenticity of his messengers. About who or what his people worship.

Even God admits in His Ten Commandments, that He is a jealous God.

Our sin, insolence and lack of repentance has to be dealt with because we were once devoted to Him. We wrote it in to our original documents. We were once the light shining on the hill.  Like the people of Israel, He was once “our God and we were His people.” 

A good Father corrects His children. These same sins, idolatry, disobedience, and misrepresenting Gods message to his children and the world... were why Moses never saw the Promised Land... why no stone was left un-turned in Jerusalem after the official and popularly mandated rejection and crucifixion of Christ. Why David Berg was reduced to a Hollywood footnote. God's people cannot act on their own, make up our own standards of righteousness, and then claim God's favor or protection. God will not be mocked. Ever stiff-necked, the Jews were dispersed for two thousand years. God will correct his wayward children. He will destroy His enemies. 

The lines are being drawn right now. Some will return to God, others will shake their fists at him.

It has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life to bring my passions and talents to you on this and my other blogs. They will be here for awhile.. until someday the devils of the Internet take them off as they hate the things these blogs represent. I will be very busy or... maybe, hopefully, long gone... and so will this wonderful country... 

and freedom, 

and the hope of this earth. 

Of course I would love it if I was completely wrong about all of this... And go ahead and call me crazy... But my hope being in Christ, the risen Savior of the World... I anticipate some day soon Jesus will come back and claim his own... God Bless Him!

Come Lord Jesus!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

GETTING WARMER: The search continues for Hamer's badge

Several years ago I blogged about my search for Ranger Frank Hamer's marshal badge... I am almost convinced now that he just wore his Texas Ranger badge while serving as city marshal of Navasota. Just twenty-four at the time, and the target of skepticism and even retribution, he might easily have found comfort wearing the badge which gave him legal and lethal authority along the Texas border country. The city Council was not likely to have had a badge especially made for him, as he was not expected to last very long, and perhaps even to go down in shame like several of the previous marshals. So he might easily have just worn something far preferable, something he already owned... the most easily identifiable law enforcement icon in the world. But which badge was it?
 Marshal Frank Hamer

No pictures have been discovered which might shed light on this question, and to add to the mystery, his son sold off most of his personal possessions to Raymond Brown who in turn liquidated them at a Tom Keilman & Son auction in 1986, including the materials Captain Hamer had saved from his service in Navasota.. Sold were his guns,

 gun leather,

his Stetson hat, even his spurs... (and 602 above: Clyde Barrow's Colt auto)

  his certificates, his badges,

Hamer's famous Colt six-shooter he called "Old Lucky"...

AND in the pile was his first Ranger badge, what was purported to be a brass "handmade" badge...
Take Note: there were arc-like gouges facing each other on each side of the circle, almost hidden by the wreath engravings.
I have made a big deal about this badge for several reasons. Besides the fact that it was authenticated by Frank Hamer Jr., also a Texas Ranger, it possibly introduced/ established an entire different genre of Ranger badges during the turn of the century, previously unknown. Frank Jr. guessed the badge was in use around 1909-1913, or right after his father returned to Ranger service... but that would have been around 1915, as Frank Hamer Sr. was working in Navasota or Houston or the Hill Country as a cattle detective during the years (1908-1915) he suggested... Perhaps this was not the only history that Frank Jr. was a little fuzzy about...

This design, authenticated as "handmade" but at least partially machine-made, of bronze or brass, seems to have been related to a whole generation of "fake" badges which were presumed to have been totally without a basis in history. Still, they sport the EXACT FONTS and curly-cues. AND some strange yet persistent arcs on either side of the circle.

The latest being the pewter toy badges celebrated and reproduced from the most recent Lone Ranger movie.  (above)

Military style cartridge belt buckle of thin, pressed brass, thought by some to have been made by U.S. Government contractor Anson Mills. (And marked accordingly, and  PATENTED FEB 1, 1881) Anson Mills, a former Union General, based his operations in EL PASO, TX. The origin of this design???

Over the years I have seen and purchased the same or related design on a solid cast copper badge, a solid cast brass badge, and an "Anson Mills" cartridge belt buckle (above). The S scroll design work is unmistakably the same on several of the badges. And now a solid-cast silver badge...

This appears to be a painstakingly-made replica of Frank Hamer's earliest Texas Ranger badge. It is a whopping 2 inches in diameter. Note: the quarter inch arc-like gouges on each side of the circle, almost obscured by the wreaths, which show up over and over in less ornate versions. Question: Why would a forger replicate such a detail ???

Supposedly found in a jewelry box from an "old estate" and sold to me by an Ebay dealer... No one seems to know where it came from or whether it is authentic. Either way, it will go great in our Frank Hamer display at Blues Alley. I believe you are looking at the best facsimile of Marshal Frank Hamer's badge... no doubt handmade and faithful to the Brown Collection badge. It might even be from the period, and a brother to Hamer's first Ranger badge. We will never know.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

From your local film maker!

Having tons of fun and I have some more new videos... a nice short one called A Face in the Forest, featuring a gorgeous waterfall I have been commissioned to paint: (click on link)


A more lengthy video about the Conroe oil field, George W. Strake and baseball... "Stitching the Conroe Story"

 1933 Conroe Wildcats


And a two-part series about my favorite Texas Ranger, Frank Hamer.. each part is fifteen minutes of Texas Ranger action!

 Artist Kendal Bevil has made this beautiful collector's stamp envelope... using my sculpture of Frank Hamer!

 Part I:

Part II 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

There is a future for our history.

 But it may hurt.

 The supposed symbol of the Knights Templar, preserved by the Order of Freemasons, among others. Western culture has played policeman of the world for almost seven hundred years. How is that working out? The Latin motto quoting Constantine translates: "In this sign (the X or cross) conquer." A similar design is engraved on my great-great uncle's tombstone. These struggles may have been well-intended, but Christ never intended a shooting war.

History is not just a pile of confusing data. It is the heart monitor for the human race. When people disregard history, any history, they are showing carelessness for their own survival. If you want to be smart, study math or science. But if you want wisdom, study history.

It is no accident, that the Holy Scriptures are not math equations or science formulas. They are not about art or music or games. They are mostly concerned with history. So much so, there are cycles discernible within the Scriptures which show the basic truth that history, or the lessons of history, repeat themselves. The major point of the Old Testament is that in thousands of years, after many generations, neither God nor men changed at all.

To be ignorant of these things is to invite the same calamity that visited upon the people of Israel, God's chosen pilot project, several times, each time with worse results. The people of Israel seemed to really detest history, and found it extraneous. Eventually God would find them extraneous. First it was the enslavement in Egypt, then freedom and power until the tribes were swallowed up by the Assyrians and then the Jews were crushed and relocated by the Babylonians. They got one more chance, until they self-destructed and the Romans captured Jerusalem like a wounded bird. Each time they had a warning from prophets, and the LESSONS OF HISTORY. It made no difference. Today our own country is in a similar mode. We cannot be bothered by that old stuff. 

So thank goodness, no thank God that he had plan B.

The New Testament is even more history, but with a twist. Now God was offering a new plan, based on our chronic neglect of history. The Gospel was simple, just believe that Jesus knows the history, and knows your heart, and is STILL willing to pay the price for them. With his own blood. No more altar and fatted-calf and infinite laws for unsustainable righteousness. Just know the last additions in God's Revelation, and you will be fine, although the Old Testament is still an insightful diagram of society and an accurate picture of man's hard heart and thus his hopelessness. And that is a useful bit of history.

With that as an introduction, the rest of history is just same song, umpteenth verse. But still it is useful because in some cases it teaches us about our particular culture... It is good for young Germans or Chinese to learn about the history of their countries... and especially Americans, so that they might know our failures and not repeat the same stupid injustices and miscalculations of our fathers. We need to remind one another, educate our children, that we were morons and should be held accountable for what we have perpetuated. History might even cause us to mitigate our actions in the process of making it. If we knew it.

I'm sure President Bush II was not a very astute student of history, or he would have known that we tried to take the Middle East by force in the Middle Ages and found a resolute, treacherous society unwilling to even conceive of the teachings of Jesus; Mercy, God's Grace, forgiveness or loving one's enemy. Freedom, Human rights and Self-Government were out of the question in these societies. It turns out they had already been conquered by people even meaner and even more stubborn... And they found the perfect way to perpetuate their society... total intolerance. A costly, bloody, futile war was waged for centuries.

We barely evicted them from Spain. It was arrogant (recently) to think we could reform or rebuild such a country as Iraq, whose people said no to Christ and the Gospels when they converted to Islam at the point of a sword some fifteen or sixteen hundred years ago. Anybody that wanted something different left centuries ago. They are the desert sidewinders of the human race. A desert sidewinder is one of God's creatures. But he is also a cunning, poisonous survivor in a hostile environment. Some of his distant cousins are grass snakes... and he would eat them in a heartbeat. It would be senseless and suicidal for grass snakes to try to reform them. 

The only time rebuilding or reforming has ever worked for us (ONCE?) was when we first bombed our feisty enemies into oblivion, as we did to Japan... A lesson in history. Nobody wants to ever do that again. Our meddling in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have only proved that nothing less than total humiliation will inspire the kind of submission that might produce a lasting rebuild. And we lack that kind of resolve. We keep trying, in that classic definition of insanity... expecting a different result.

Whether it be Mexico, Spain or the Comanche Nation, surgical whooping-tail has never resulted in anything but hate and contempt between both parties. Show me one truly devoted ally among our rebuilds. In fact our most devoted, USEFUL allies are... our former kinsmen, of the "Western world."

And total annihilation is out of the question, since we base our society on those dimming premises found in... the Bible, full of those confounded lessons in history. No, Jesus intended the opposite of the Islamic technique, regardless of what we have done in his name. We were to love our enemies, carry their burdens, turn the other cheek... he forbade his men to use weapons to defend him... he hung on the cross instead... and they followed his lead to man. But he never suggested suicide... "be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves."

Somewhere, some time, some place where I was not in attendance, somebody, some group must have agreed that since we have it so good here in this God-fearing country, we were supposed to share/force our wealth and wisdom, whether the poor, hateful peoples of the earth wanted us to or not. This led to no small amount of saber rattling and intrigue... for National Security of course, and eventually, regardless of our benevolent intentions, we have been perceived as a decadent, boorish bully. All over the world. And some of that is not far off of the mark. Another lesson of history. Even countries like France and Italy easily forget what we have sacrificed for them, I'm talking tens of thousands of American lives, to preserve their freedom. And they are supposedly from our “culture.” What could we ever expect from Iraqis?

The lessons of history are many... but since you will not read them, here are some of my favorites.

George Washington was not kidding when he warned of foreign entanglements. “Father” knew best. We of course promptly ignored him. Like Moses... Jesus...

Lincoln learned the hard way that you cannot force men (of the South), even God fearing ones, to abandon their way of life, no matter how egregious, without a terrible fight. Yes he “freed the slaves,” only to leave them freed into a heartless society which persecuted them for ANOTHER ONE HUNDRED YEARS.

Mohamed was the only world leader who ever knew how to truly change minds- quickly and permanently. We lack the resolve for his methods as well. Today ISIS demonstrates how effective... and inhuman they are.

 But what makes America a very special place in human history, is we may be the only country that had a bloody, deadly civil war, who made peace and sent our enemies back home to their farms. No imprisonments, no mass executions. That is who we are. That is not who they are. That is an important lesson in history.

But we failed to even read or remember our own mail...

Lincoln's favorite generals, who did his bidding to save the Union, and “freedom for all,” turned around and exterminated or subdued the Native Americans using trickery, starvation and genocide (true it was "tit for tat"). The remnants of the Comanche, Kiowa, Sioux, Cheyenne and Apache people today are evidence of our LACK of proficiency at rebuilding and redirecting cultures. They graciously testify it has been a painfully mixed bag of ill-conceived policies.

The lessons of history demand that we Americans learn to mind our own business. Our best message to the world is to be the best in the world. The best provider, the best neighbor, the best ally, the best trade partner. We need to have a strong military... but only to protect ourselves and our land, and woe to anyone who threatens either. Although China made many mistakes she learned this lesson of history hundreds or thousands of years ago. Meanwhile, next door Russia has bankrupted itself repeatedly for its foreign entanglements. In turn they have been the worst provider, the worst neighbor, the worst ally and the worst trade partner. I guess that is why we are selling them all of our uranium. We are not afraid to give them a handicap or head start and hold one hand behind our backs...

As all of the sane people all over the planet rush here for refuge, and our enemies sharpen their swords, it is time to learn the ultimate lesson of history, that no great “empire” such as ours ever stood strong forever as they over-extended themselves in a world rife with violence and treachery. Persia, Greece, Rome, Spain, Great Britain, none could hold what they grabbed out of greed or ambition or benevolence. Most of these places are comic shadows of their former selves. They did not know when to quit, and eventually an unsympathetic world slapped back. And our all-powerful God allowed that.

During WWII, when the forces of evil conspired to finally wipe out the Jewish people, once and for all, God allowed us and our allies to intervene... with unimaginable forces never seen before... to SAVE THE JEWS  and end the conflict. We can only surmise that in this case, maybe the last time it ever happened, it was a case of "Just War." It is a cruel reality, that ruthless, intolerant societies and cultures who writhe in constant genocide and treachery are not our concern, and that is the kind of conflicts we constantly get sucked into. But to his credit, not under President Obama.

President Obama may have had the moral high ground, thus the right policy, but if this was his belief, he should have brought ALL of our military and ambassadors and EVERYBODY HOME. Instead it was a half-ass attempt to disengage... with terrible results. He tried to play footsie with the sidewinders and our people perished in his inexperience. He actually tried to demonstrate an old adage.. that love begets love, respect begets respect... Objectivity is better than playing favorites. But he made the same mistake that Bush II made, to try to overlay our Christian cultural assumptions upon a unregenerate society.

Perhaps this is the thinking behind the current foreign policy that drives many Americans crazy. Still, the frustrating reality is we have got to"save our bullets" and "pick our battles" very cold-bloodedly... or else find ourselves like Napoleon... broke and defenseless... we are already, in spite of the president's naive overtures, nearly friendless. And regardless of the president's ill-regard for Israel, The God of Judaism and Christianity made certain promises to His people, and he will keep them, in spite of our or our leader's failures. But he will not protect us from ourselves. And that, for us, is the next lesson in history.