Five Days of Godly Men

Give us Men! Men-from every rank, Fresh and free and frank; Men of thought and reading, Men of light and leading, Men of loyal breeding, The nation’s welfare speeding; Men of faith and not of fiction, Men of lofty aim in action; Give us Men-I say again, Give us Men!

There is a lot to be said of bloggers. I love writing, though I don’t do it as often as I need. I love reading the writing of others. But, there is another type of new media commentary, the video bloggers, or vloggers. One of the Vlogs I view on a regular basis is “For The Record” with Molotov Mitchell of World Net Daily. While I may not totally agree with everything he says, I love the passion and fire with which he says it.

One of his episodes a few weeks ago was about a thirteen year old boy who, for his birthday, was given a gift from his father which I think is one of the greatest gifts that can be given. Instead of something temporal, like a video game console or another toy, the father set up 52 meetings for his son with Godly men around the country. (The son is chronicling his journey at www.52godlymen.com.)

Give us Men! Strong and stalwart ones; Men whom highest hope inspires,
Men whom purest honor fires, Men who trample self beneath them, Men who make their country wreath them As her noble sons, Worthy of their sires; Men who never shame their mothers, Men who never fail their brothers, True, however false are others: Give us Men-I say again, Give us Men!

No individual reaches adulthood without the influences of people around them. It is a wise father who seeks to ensure that those surrounding people are Godly men of character. Now, I am far from thirteen years old. And I have never traveled to meet me. But, I have not needed to travel. God has brought a host of Mighty Men of Valor into my life to give me advice and to who me an example of the Christian life.

Over the next five days, in honor of Thanksgiving, I am going to be posting tributes to some of these men. The list will not be inclusive, but without them, I would not be who I am today.

Give us Men! Men who, when the tempest gathers, Grasp the standard of their fathers In the thickest fight; Men who strike for home and altar, (Let the coward cringe and falter), God defend the right! True as truth the lorn and lonely, Tender, as the brave are only, Men who treat where saints have trod, Men for Country, Home- and God: Give us Men! I say again- again- Give us Men!
~ Josiah Gilbert Holland

Remarks to the Fall 2010 GMC Honors Assembly

Ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed an honor to be here today as we celebrate academic achievement and excellence. I am proud to say I have once sat where you are now. However, I’m not quite so proud to say there have been times as I continued in my academic career when I was not eligible for academic honors you now enjoy. To that end, keep up the good work and maintain your standard of excellence.

The character of Sam Seaborne in the television series “The West Wing” once said, “Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything.”[1] Indeed, increased education leads to increased employability, increased lifetime earnings, and increased job security. Education benefits not only the individual, but society as a whole. An educated citizenry is more likely to participate in the political process, an idea which is very near and dear to my heart, and an educated workforce also increases economic development opportunities for a given area, which leads to more and higher paying jobs.

There are many places which offer an education. It is easy to offer classroom lectures and to assign textbooks, but there are very few places which offer such a complete education as Georgia Military College. The prep school boasts of “developing the intellect and elevating the character,” but this applies not only to the prep school, but also the entire institution. Life is more than possessing the ability to recite answers on an examination. A complete education requires both intellect and character, and both are well grounded in the history and the traditions of GMC.

Wherever we might turn on this campus, we are reminded of core values of “Duty, Honor, and Country” and to keep “Character above All.”[2] We are supported by a proud tradition of those who have gone before us. A few weeks ago, alumni from the last 75 years gathered to celebrate that tradition of which you now hold a part. They spoke of stories of times gone by. They remembered those who had walked with them and whose journey had been completed. The campus has changed since they walked these halls and stood formation on these grounds; the campus has even changed since my days as a student here. Yet, though the physical attributes of campus may change, the traditions do not. You are the heirs to their legacy as you continue your studies, graduate, and then venture out into the world.

The journey which you have undertaken is not an easy one, and yet, you have excelled. The journey which is before you will likewise not be easy. The words of one of my former professors, who was famous for his difficult exams, upon returning the first test in the class, which is typically the lowest grade, most certainly applies.

“Things will get harder. The further we go, the more you have to consider. You must learn more quickly than the difficulty increases.”[3]

You have set the standard for yourself. You have shown your capacity for excellence. Continue to follow that standard.

We are the children of the same traditions. We are the family of Georgia Military College. And now, as we continue on our journeys, I leave you with a paraphrase of the Charge to the Brigade from the epic film, Gods and Generals.[4] I trust when I shall hear your names in the future it will be of more noble deeds accomplished, victories won, and even greater excellence proven. Remember on your journey, “Character above all.” For when we from these halls have parted and life’s battles won, the great spirit of GMC shall inspire us ‘til eternal dawn.[5]

Thank you.

References:
——————

[1] Sorkin, Aaron. The West Wing: Six Meetings Before Lunch. Directed by Clark Johnson. Performed by Rob Lowe. 1999.

[2] Georgia Military College. (n.d.). Character education program. Retrieved from http://www.gmc.cc.ga.us/page.php?page_id=205

[3] Mabie, J. Class Lecture, Quantitative Techniques, Georgia College & State University, October 1, 2008

[4] Maxwell, R (Director). (2003). Gods and Generals [Film]. Atlanta: Turner Pictures

[5] Georgia Military College. (n.d.). Alma mater & cadet prayer. Retrieved from http://cadet.gmc.cc.ga.us/page.php?page_id=560

Independence Day 2010

I see fireworks! I see the pageant and pomp and parade. I hear the bells ringing out. I hear the cannons roar. I see Americans – all Americans. Free forever more! ~ 1776 – The Musical


Ok, so that’s not actually what John Adams said, but it’s close. And, he was right, at least for the most part. He thought the day would be celebrated on the July 2nd, not the 4th. His actual words, written to his wife, Abigail, were:

I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore. ~ John Adams, July 3, 1776

This time of the year, there is always talk of how great this is this country. But all too often, the reason which compelled the separation is forgotten. The Declaration of Independence sets forth 27 indictments against the British crown, submitted these facts “to a candid world,” and appealed “to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of [their] intentions. ” The document concludes with the pledge of the signers to support the Declaration with their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence. This groundbreaking Declaration?

That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.

Alexander Hamilton called this new nation an “empire in many respects the most interesting in the world. ” But why did this empire come to be? How was the line crossed between suffering the evils which were sufferable to the situation where the founders were compelled “alter their former systems of government? ” The answer is simple. Government had overstepped its authority.

The Ronald Reagan quote “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem ” is quite famous and repeatedly quoted by modern day conservatives. The sentiment was not new however. The Thomas Paine, in his great call to arms stating the need for separation from England wrote:

Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.

This pamphlet was called Common Sense. Several years later, during the darkest days of the War for Independence, Paine again wrote to his fellow countrymen to reassure them their cause was just, and necessary.

THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but “to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER,” and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.

There it is. John F. Kennedy summarized it in his inaugural address. He called it “the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.” The state cannot declare itself to have the authority that is reserved to God. That is the “wall of separation ” Thomas Jefferson wrote about as well.

We have come a long way since those days. But, as John F. Kennedy also said:

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans–born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage–and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge–and more.

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do–for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom–and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required–not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

I pray each one that reads this blessed and happy Independence Day. Remember that you are the heirs to that first revolution and the torch of liberty rests with you. Carrying the torch of liberty is not an easy task, but the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. Now, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”


References:


“Is Anybody There?.” Lyrics on Demand. Available from http://www.lyricsondemand.com/soundtracks/0/1776lyrics/isanybodytherelyrics.html. Internet; accessed 4 July 2010.

“Independence Day.” Answers.com. Available from http://www.answers.com/topic/independence-day. Internet; accessed 4 July 2010.

“Declaration of Independence.” Avalon Project – Yale University. Available from http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/declare.asp. Internet; accessed 4 July 2010.
Hamilton, Alexander. “Federalist 1.” Avalon Project – Yale University. Available from http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed01.asp. Internet; accessed 4 July 2010.

“Declaration of Independence.” Avalon Project – Yale University. Available from http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/declare.asp. Internet; accessed 4 July 2010.

“First Inaugural Address of Ronald Reagan.” Avalon Project – Yale University. Available from http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/reagan1.asp. Internet; accessed 4 July 2010.

Paine, Thomas. “Common Sense.” Available from http://www.ushistory.org/paine/commonsense/singlehtml.htm. Internet; accessed 4 July 2010.

Paine, Thomas. “The American Crisis.” Available from http://libertyonline.hypermall.com/Paine/Crisis/Crisis-TOC.html. Internet; accessed 4 July 2010.

“Inaugural Address of John F. Kennedy.” Avalon Project – Yale University. Available from http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/kennedy.asp. Internet; accessed 4 July 2010.

Jefferson, Thomas. “Letter to Danbury Baptist Association.” The Founder’s Constitution. Available from http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendI_religions58.html. Internet; accessed 4 July

Galatians 5:1

I dreamed a dream in time gone by…

Dreams are weird things. Memories are weird things. But the memories of dreams of yesterday are not only weird, they haunt.

“We must get away from shadows that will never let us be. Tomorrow to Calais for a ship across the sea. Hurry Cosette, say no more. Tomorrow we’ll away. Hurry Cosette; it’s time to shut a door and live another day.” ~ Les Miserables

Buried deep within the recesses of my hard drive, in an archive of an archive of an archive, there is a file that was written with Microsoft Word back when it only had a few more features than a typewriter. It is my life plan that I wrote my senior year of high school. I should have know better. It has chance quite a bit since then. Changed isn’t the proper term. Been totally and completely destroyed and replaced a few times is more like it.

That was seven years ago. Back then, I was to have been married and running a vigorous electrical company. Six years ago, I was to be finishing law school right now. Five years ago, I had decided to go to a different law school, and would have still be in it, and engaged. Not to some random person, but I “knew” who it was going to be. Three years ago, I abandoned the thought of law school, and opted instead for going straight for a PhD. At no time did I think I would be sitting out the summer of 2010 praying that I found a job before the money I had saved in grad school ran out.

“Why are entire years strewn on the cutting room floor of memory as single frames of one magic night forever flicker in close up on the 3-D IMAX of my mind.” ~ Rent

The last 72 hours has seen a parade of memories flowing through my mind. There was a time when my life was falling into place. All the pieces of my plan were there, they just had to be put together. But the problem was, it was my plan, not God’s plan. I was about to graduate from GMC, the girl I had been interested in for over a year had finally agreed to have coffee with me, and life was looking good.

We had coffee that day, and she told me about the new, wonderful guy she had started dating the day before. In the following weeks, my circle of close-knit friends began to split apart. To get over it, I buried myself in a campaign. From graduation day to Election Day, I breathed, ate, and lived the fight for the Georgia 8th. We lost. We lost by 1752 votes, or about one percentage point.

I recovered and moved on. I went on to intern at the capitol. My major plans changed again. I was told it would be stupid for me to go to law school (from someone how had just graduated law school…) and decided instead for a master’s degree.

So, what brought up this walk down memory lane? Sunday afternoon. I attended the Peach Pundit Roadshow and a meet-and-greet for a man I first met and came to respect during that capitol internship. He was a member of the committee I for which I worked and was chairman of one of the subcommittees. Rep. Scott is now a candidate for the same GA-8th. I was introduced around as having worked for Collins four years prior. I felt like one of the members of the light brigade. That started the gears of memory turning. How much I loved the game, even though I’ve never actually experienced the happy side of election day.

My old babysitter was there, telling stories from my childhood. (Yes, I really did call my neighbor, her dad, “Papa Fish-Fish”.) Then all my memories started swarming back. To top it off, as the evening was winding to a close, and we were walking to our cars, I looked up to see a familiar face walking towards the door, and me. She had the hair the color of setting sun, a smile that lit the late-night darkness, and as always, the voice of an angel.
That was it. My mind was lost in the land of what ifs. It’s been there ever since. That’s why I’m writing this. Maybe it with snap my mind out of thinking about:
  • What if I had gotten the duet I wanted instead of the solo I ended up with?
  • What if I had asked her out the week before?
  • What if I could have recruited 10 more volunteers to work for 8 more hours?
  • What if we had actually won that election?
  • What if 50 something other Republicans had won that fateful night in 2006?
  • What if I had went on to law school?
  • What if I had taken that job in Virgina three years ago? Would I have won that race?
  • What if I had taken that job in Atlanta two years ago?
I know these are questions without answers. But, they have been haunting me ever since that drive home Sunday night. I’ve given up on a plan. Now, I just wait and see what God does.

Wait for the Finale

Preface: I was recently “encouraged” to start blogging again by a not so subtle hint that “I follow your blog. You never post anything.” She didn’t even try to bribe me with popcorn or cotton candy, but I posted anyway. She had better comment. 😉

Alone, I wait in the shadows.
I count the hours ‘till I can sleep.
I dreamed a dream Cosette stood by;
It made her weep to know I’d died.
~ Epilogue, Les Miserables

I made a music mix to keep in my truck. I was in a hurry when I did it, and just threw in a bunch of songs I had enjoyed over the years. It is amazing the journey a collection of music can inspire. As I quickly scanned through the playlist, at first I was shocked as to the despair contained within the lyrics.

Never been in such a place before
or ever felt such strange fear.
Never been just so alone before,
but You know I am here!
~ Shout My Name, On Eagle’s Wing

Then, I started letting the songs play all the way through. The minors changed to majors. The lyrics changed. The despair and depression ended. Instead, these songs ended powerful anthems. Shout My Name ends with a proclamation that “this land” would know his name and the vocalist places his trust in God that it will take place. (It is worth noting that the character’s descendent went on to work for the President of the United States.)

Les Miserables moves from one lonesome man sitting alone to being in the company of those he loved as the torch was passed from one generation to the next. The scene ends with the entire company marches forward singing of a day when they can “live and breathe in freedom in the garden of the Lord” and “walk behind the plough share and put away the sword.” I have decided, in music, as in life, don’t judge it until the finale.