Under a Bright Blue Sky

Frost

February in upstate New York had the perfect color palette for Valentine’s Day. Snow would fall, snow on snow, and blanket the landscape in white. The icy cold would drive all clouds out of sight and leave the sky a brilliant blue. The sun, in its short trek, would set the snow to glittering and the icicles to sparkling. What better backdrop for cheery red and delicate pink hearts? As a child I loved the holiday. Continue reading

The Eikon of the King

Eikon

Blessed Lord, in whose sight the death of thy saints is precious; we magnify the Name for that abundant grace bestowed on our late Martyred Sovereign; by which he was enabled so cheerfully to follow the steps of his blessed Master and Saviour, in a constant meek bearing of all barbarous indignities, and at last resisting unto blood; and even then, according to the same pattern, praying for his murderers. Let his memory, O Lord, be ever blessed among us, that we may follow the example of his patience, and charity; And grant, that this our Land may be freed from the vengence of his blood, and Thy mercy glorified in the forgiveness of our sings; and all for JESUS CHRIST His sake. Amen.

This is the prayer for King Charles I in the Book of Common Prayer (until 1859) on the day of his execution, January 30.

Today, January 20th marks the beginning of Charles’s trial for treason against the English Parliament in 1649. His subsequent execution was commemorated with the printing of Eikon Basilike, illustrated with the above engraving. Continue reading

The Christmas Truce of 1914

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This week marks the hundredth anniversary of the Christmas truce of the First World War.

In the summer of 1914, the German army advanced into French territory, but after initial success, the Germans found themselves being pushed back by the French and the British who had come to their aid. The Germans dug trenches to keep from getting pushed back farther, and the British and French dug their own trenches parallel to the German ones.

In December of 1914, the two sides were still sitting in their trenches, which in some places were less than a hundred yards apart.

Neither side wanted to fight on Christmas Day, so the guns went silent for a while. And in the silence, someone started singing “Silent Night.” “Silent Night” is pretty much the same song in both English and German, and the two sides together started singing hymns celebrating the birth of the Christ.

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Jocks, Nerds, and Little Jemmy Madison

800px-James_Madison,_by_Charles_Willson_Peale,_1783December 15th marks the 223 anniversary of the adoption of our Bill of Rights. James Madison, considered the Father of the Constitution, was instrumental in the adoption of those first ten amendments that we now consider fundamental to the protection of our liberties.

Madison, one of the youngest of  our Founding Fathers, was considered by many of the Founding Fathers to be the most intellectual of the group.  He was also a nerd.  At least that’s what my daughter tells me. She was working on a middle-school project about the American Founding Fathers and asked me for a character sketch of the Father of the Constitution. After my brief description she concluded “Hmm. Sounds like a nerd to me.”

She’s probably right. James Madison was bookish, introverted, a hypochondriac, and not much of a fashion plate. And, what you may not know, is that he is still alive today. In the halls of middle schools across America, James Madison is routinely slammed into lockers when he walks down the hall.  He often elicits giggles in class.  The girls barely notice him. The teachers adore him. He’s brilliant, but socially awkward. You know the kid. In fact, you know most of our Founding Fathers. They can be found in middle schools across America today, just like the one my daughter attends. Perhaps you’ll recognize them from your own middle school days, if you only look a little closer.

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