Saturday, September 27, 2014

Which? A Poem About the Value of Children


What value is in a child?  The following poem from McGuffey's Fourth Reader gives a story of a couple that were very poor with seven children.  They found themselves in a position where they were given the opportunity to give up one of their children in order to get material gain.  They looked at each of their children before giving their reply. They found themselves refreshed by considering the blessings they had.  Here is the poem simply entitled:

Which? 

by  Mrs. E. L. Beers
Which shall it be? Which shall it be?
I looked at John-- John looked at me;
Dear, patient John, who loves me yet
As well as though my locks were jet.
And when I found that I must speak,
My voice seemed strangely low and weak;
"Tell me again what Robert said!"
And then I, listening, bent my head.
"This is his letter:"

"'I will give
A house and land while you shall live,
If, in return, from out your seven,
One child to me for aye is given.'"
I looked at John's old garments worn,
I thought of all that John had borne
Of poverty, and work, and care,
Which I, though willing, could not share;
I thought of seven mouths to feed,
Of seven little children's need,
And then of this.

"Come, John," said I,
"We'll choose among them as they lie
Asleep;" so, walking hand in hand,
Dear John and I surveyed our band.
First to the cradle light we stepped,
Where Lillian the baby slept,
A glory 'gainst the pillow white.
Softly the father stooped to lay
His rough hand down in a loving way,
When dream or whisper made her stir,
And huskily he said: "Not her!"

We stooped beside the trundle-bed,
And one long ray of lamplight shed
Athwart the boyish faces there,
In sleep so pitiful and fair;
I saw Jamie's rough red cheek,
A tear undried. Ere John could speak,
"He's but a baby, too," said I,
And kissed him as we hurried by.

Pale, patient Robbie's angel face
Still in his sleep bore suffering's trace:
"No, for a thousand crowns, not him,"
He whispered, while our eyes were dim.

Poor Dick! bad Dick! our wayward son,
Turbulent, reckless, idle one--
Could he be spared?  "Nay, He who gave,
Bade us befriend him to the grave;
Only a mother's heart can be
Patient enough for such as he;
And so," said John, "I would not dare
To send him from her bedside prayer."

Then stole we softly up above
And knelt by Mary, child of love.
"Perhaps for her 't would better be,"
I said to John. Quite silently
He lifted up a curl that lay
Across her cheek in willful way,
And shook his head.  "Nay, love, not thee,"
The while my heart beat audibly.

Only one more, our eldest lad,
Trusty and truthful, good and glad--
So like his father.  "No John, no--
I can not, and will not let him go."

And so we wrote in courteous way,
We could not drive one child away.
And afterward, toil lighter seemed,
Thinking of that of which we dreamed;
Happy in truth, that not one face
We missed from its accustomed place;
Thankful to work for all the seven,
Trusting the rest to One in heaven!
          ________________________

     Of special significance to me is that this poem tells of a family of seven children which is the number of children that my parents had.  My grandpa on my Mom's side came from a family of eight children.  One of them was my great-aunt, Aunt Liz.  When I was a caregiver to her I'd ask her questions about her childhood.  Her mind was keen and she had some wonderful stories to tell.  Sometimes, when you heard the stories of her or Grandpa, you'd  wonder how any of them lived to adulthood.  I didn't want her story to be lost and I asked her to write our family history down so it wouldn't be forgotten.  She took a notebook and wrote down what she thought was important.  She finished the story by giving a tribute to her mother who raised them alone because  her husband died while the children where young.  This was her tribute:  "She had everything in order, and believed God took care of all our needs and provided everything."   I really like the way she ended her story. It ends much like the poem above.  It is the heritage that I would like to pass on.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Freedom From The Trap of Tradition


      What do you think of when you think of tradition?  Do you think of a warm apple pie at Thanksgiving or do you think of the Pharisees tradition of washing hands?  Perhaps many would think of the song "Tradition" from the musical Fiddler on the Roof which gave some insight into how Jewish tradition is valued. I think of the church buildings and the hierarchical structure of church leadership.  Amish people are a group that are a prime example of the powerful influence of tradition.  Though it is easy to see how the Amish are seeped in tradition, they are not alone, but our whole culture has traditions that  powerfully influence us.


      Before looking at some traditions that influence people, let’s consider the moral ramifications of tradition.  Is tradition good or evil?  I studied the Bible for information about tradition and  found that most of the time it was spoken in a negative light.  Christ put a light on traditions that were blinding people to more important issues. Tradition was also used to circumvent God’s word.  There is a verse that tells us to hold onto good tradition.   So there are good and bad traditions, but God’s word must take precedence over any tradition.

     America has a lot of tradition.  My family was shopping in a store where there was another Christian family.  The mother had a headship veiling on and had a number of children.   Another  woman who was a shopper spoke to one of the little boys.  The woman said,  “Is Santa coming to your house?”  The boy looked confused.  The woman said, “You know who Santa is, don’t you?”  The boy quietly told her “no.” The woman’s demeanor changed and she angrily told the boy, “You’re lying!” She then walked away.  We can look back at ancient cultures and see the faults in people that had idols, but we have some very real idols in our American culture.   I know there are Christians that hold Santa dear, but he is an idol that competes with the affections that children need to apply to Christ.  The Scripture clearly tells of the need to cast “down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God."  It would be hard for us to hear Christ say, "Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition."

     The Amish have tradition that both knits families together and tears families apart.  Most heart rending are the stories where people have sought to please God in their lives, but tradition conflicted with obedience to God, and families have been divided.   Christ warning to the Pharisees about making the Word of God void through their tradition is lived out in many Amish communities.  There is the testimony of Ephraim Stoltzfus, who wanted to have a Bible study with friends and share the gospel with the community.  These things were not allowed in the Amish group he was a part of.  He had a choice to make.  Obey God or man’s tradition.  The choice became clear, and he faced the consequence from man.  He was excommunicated from his Amish community.  Most Americans would have no idea what this would be like because most people are more independent from the lives of others compared to the Amish.  After being excommunicated he felt the wrath of man, but came to know in a greater way the smile of God.

     When reading the definition for “tradition" in Webster’s 1828 dictionary I found it interesting that it gives an example of a difference in the Roman Catholic church, Jews, and the Protestant church in relation to the authority of tradition.  It states: “The Jews pay great regard to tradition in matters of religion, as do Romanists.  Protestants reject the authority of tradition in sacred things, and rely only on the written word.”
This is the issue Jesus spoke of when he gave warnings against making God’s Word void through tradition.  Tradition must never be given the authority of Scripture unless  the tradition comes from Scripture.  The Protestant Reformation helped bring to light the trap of human tradition.

The Jews believed that washing hands before eating was a large crime because of tradition.  They made up a story of a demon, called Shibta, that dwelt on men’s hands by night would be authorized to be on the food of those that would eat without washing their hands.  This evil spirit was believed to be harmful to those that didn’t wash their hands.  Those that didn’t wash their hands before eating would be excommunicated.  Jesus was found to be perfect concerning the law of God. It seems the best accusation that could be found against his disciples was this human tradition of washing hands.  When the scribes and Pharisees brought this to Jesus’ attention, he brought to their attention how they had transgressed God’s command by their tradition.   He told how they obeyed a man made tradition that allowed them to violate the command to honor their parents.  He charged them with hypocrisy saying, “Ye hypocrites...”  He clarified the situation by telling the multitude around him that it is not that which goes into a man’s mouth that defiles him, but that which comes out.   Jesus had a way of clarifying issues.


     Sometimes traditions are carried on, but people don't know why they do them.  The story is told of a woman who was preparing a holiday meal.  She cut a piece off the bottom of a ham before putting it in the pan to bake.  When asked why she cut it that way, she replied, "My mother always cut the bottom of the ham before putting it in the pan."  The question was asked to the mother who replied that her mother had always done it that way.  They were able to ask the matriarch of the family why she cut the bottom off the ham before putting it in the pan.  She replied that she cut the ham before putting it in the pan because the pan she used was to short for the ham to fit into.
  Some traditions can be an unneeded burden, but others can be a great way for families and friends to make some good memories.  May God grant us wisdom to discern which ones to hold on to and which ones to let go.

This video is a BBC documentary about Amish tradition, and gives the testimony of Ephraim Stoltzfus.  I think it will be a blessing to watch.  I believe his testimony will merit a post by itself, but please watch this to see how tradition can hinder God's Word.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Bumper Stickers & Slogans

     I live near to a small city called Ithaca.  Bumper stickers and slogans seem to be very popular in Ithaca.  A lot of the population has connections to two  local colleges (Ithaca College and Cornell University). Perhaps it is because it is a college town that prompts people to be expressive with their views.  The bumper stickers are not the type that seem typical in other areas. The slogans are often political.  In other areas you often see bumper stickers that are for a school a child attends or a favorite ball team.  The slogans you find in Ithaca are different in that they often clearly express ideas of a worldview.    A popular sticker that is an exception to the political expression is "Ithaca is Gorges."  This one is a creative play on words as Ithaca is gorgeous, and it has some beautiful gorges.

     There are often beggars in Ithaca.  It seems that some people know that begging can be a lucrative endeavor.  One sign I saw as I was leaving a parking lot was held by a young man .  The sign stated:  "Too Dumb to Steal, Too Ugly to Prostitute.  Anything you can give will help.  God Bless!"  Yuck!  It baffled me that someone would have that kind of a mindset.  It was as if he couldn't even think of a good way of making money.  Honest work was not even an option.

     A more subtle message I saw on a bumper sticker was "Hate is not a Family Value."  On the surface this looks convincing.  As an independent thinker, I ask myself, "According to what standard?"  As a  believer in Christ, I find parts of the Bible that say that I should hate evil.  If the person that carried the "no hate" message was honest, he would admit that he hates certain things himself.  The issue isn't so much whether we hate certain things, but rather if we hate the right things.  We live in a time when people do what the prophet Isaiah lamented of in his day.  They say evil is good and good is evil. (Isaiah 5:20)

     Another message that has been expressed in a number of ways, including a stop sign that had the word "WAR" spray painted on it, is the "End War" message.  Bumper stickers that say "War is not the Answer" and "Stop the Endless War" are rather prevalent.  This I can agree with.  Another bumper sticker gives the other side of the coin and also makes sense: "Defend or Die."  The real solution for war to end is the gospel of Jesus Christ to change hearts.  Christ is the Prince of Peace. Those that follow him will heed his command to be peacemakers.  The old slogan: "Jesus is the Answer" is spot on.

      I saw a bumper sticker in Ithaca that mentioned Jesus.  It said, "Jesus Didn't Heal For Profit."   On the surface this looks good.  The problem is that it is implying something that is not good.  It is the mindset that the world owes me something.  It is the same message as the "I Love Obamacare" bumper sticker.  It is the same mindset as the young beggar that couldn't think of an honest way to get money.  One of the things that Jesus reproved people for was that after he had given them food they came for that purpose and not for the truth that would benefit them for eternity.

     Here's a potshot: "Church + State= Taliban.  This one is false in not just what it implies, but also in fact.  The problem is the ideas that those in the Taliban carry.  "Ideas have Consequences."  As for religion and government, it is impossible to separate the two.  The choice we make is whether we acknowledge God who is unchanging and the ultimate Lawgiver, or trust in man who changes, and whose rules pass away like he does.

     Another bumper sticker showed a picture of a dog behind bars.  It said, "Liberate Laboratory Animals."  There are many experiments that probably shouldn't take place and it is a shame that animals are being used in unprofitable ventures.  I’m glad though when it is the guinea pig that is being experimented on and not me.  You and I are the “guinea pigs” that will be experimented on if animals are not.  It has been reported that in China experiments are preformed on prisoners.  It has also been claimed that the government of the United States has done this to soldiers in the military.  Human experimentation has taken place with embryonic stem cells which involves taking the life of embryos.  Human life has been devalued.  Human life needs to be of much greater concern than experiments on animals.  I have a bumper sticker that expresses this with a picture of a large hand tenderly holding the hand of a baby.  The message reads, “Life is Precious.”

     The following was on a teenager’s tee shirt:  “I can only please one person per day.  Today is not your day.”  Ouch!    What a way to greet everyone!  Another shirt worn by another man said, “My dreams are going to shatter yours.”  I don’t know the man, and maybe that’s best!  Christ gave a command that beats every slogan here when he said,  “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

     Sound bites and slogans can’t express things to the degree that is required for many subjects.  Witty and succinct sayings sound good, but truth isn't always flashy.  Though it is not always popular, truth must win in the end.




Monday, March 24, 2014

A Christian-Agrarian

  
  What is a Christian-agrarian?  Herrick Kimbal introduced me to this term.  The Christian part is easy enough to understand, but agrarian sounded a little different.  Basically it is someone that promotes living off the land.  Traditionally this would be a farmer, but the difference that is purposed in using the word agrarian is to differentiate the modern factory type farming from the traditional family farm lifestyle. An agrarian might not be a farmer, but has the desire to see the earth made fruitful in a sustainable way.   By adding Christian to agrarian it is the acknowledgement that life with Christ gives lasting purpose. It is the Creator who was the first gardener.  He created the world to produce sustenance by skillfully working the ground.  It could be understood that a family can be fulfilled in a richer way by a Christian-agrarian lifestyle.  Herrick has written a book to share this lifestyle and has sought to live it out as an example.  The name of the book is: Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian.

     The agrarian lifestyle is not anything new though it is counter-culture right now.  It is the lifestyle that was most common in this country until the Industrial Revolution.  Many people believe we lost something when families stopped producing their own food.  Herrick makes the case in his book that it is not just making a living that counts, but how you live.  He shows how work itself has tremendous value.  He challenges the idea that money is the most valuable thing by focusing on the value of relationships, hard work, and living life as it was intended. Herrick talks about a subject that I hold close to my heart: freedom.  Here's a quote from the fourth chapter of his book:

 "We see value in the satisfaction that comes with being able to take care of your own food needs and not being dependent on the industrial providers, even if it is just in part.  This is freedom.  This is part of what makes The Good Life good." 

A Christian-agrarian sees creation as a place to practice stewardship.  This stewardship is passed on to children with a multi-generational vision.  Herrick contrasts this lifestyle to systems that separate people from the ground where things come from and that vie for the time that is needed for relationships to be close.

Herrick wrote this book a number of years ago, but just had it published as a Kindle book making it very affordable. You can get the book downloaded to your Kindle device.  I just read the book in one day and it leaves you with a desire to leave this world a better place. Part of the book is a vision for a good life and another part is Herrick's testimony of how he is working that vision out. At the end of the book is an epilogue that has a special effect because it is an acknowledgement of seeing the fruit of his labors, and seeing much of his vision being fulfilled.

I strongly recommend this work as its message is much needed today.

Here is a link to where you can get this great book at Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J532CC2/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00J532CC2&linkCode=as2&tag=whizbook-20
If you don't have a Kindle, you can get a free program to read the book on your computer or a smart phone. Herrick has a link to this in his blog.
If you want to be introduced to Herrick's writings you can check out his blog at:
http://thedeliberateagrarian.blogspot.com

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Today's Pilgrims, The Romeike Family


     The Romeike family has experienced their share of emotional roller coasters. The Romeike family came to America in 2010 to escape persecution in Germany. They were granted asylum because of Germany's harsh laws that make the fundamental right of homeschooling illegal.    They fled to this country for freedom much like the pilgrims did.  In Germany, they would be subject to heavy fines, possible jail time and lose of custody of their children.  Asylum was granted because of the family's religious views that caused them to homeschool, and the improper motivations of German authorities to suppress home-schooling as a social group.   This ruling was challenged by the Obama administration.    I think of the irony of this circumstance when I consider the words of Emma Lazarus that are inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. These words have been an expression of the hopes realized by so many people that came here for freedom: 
 
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to be free,
The wretched refuse of your teaming shore,
Send these, the homeless,  tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."


     Is that golden door closed to homeschooling families?  What is very striking about this case is that asylum was granted by a judge, but the Justice Department, headed by Eric Holder, appealed the decision of the judge.  This is the same department that is well known for not enforcing a number of laws. Instead of going after those that had violated law, this department went after this hard-working and well-respected family.  This is the same department that allows millions of illegal immigrates through our borders with impunity.  The sixth circuit went along with the federal government.  The case was appealed to the Supreme court where the appeal was denied.  Public outrage was expressed and a Supervisor with Homeland Security contacted the attorneys of the home-school family and let them know the family had "indefinite deferred status."  This means the family should not be deported to Germany where they would lose custody of their children.  We rejoice that this family is allowed to stay here, but we also remember that the Romeike family is only one of many families in Germany that have been refused the basic right to raise their children as they see fit.

     Uwe Romeike, who is the father of the family, is a piano teacher.  He didn't  come to this land to just get a hand-out.  He has work and plans to keep working for a living. He's made it clear that he would stay in Germany if authorities would just leave their family alone and let them raise their children.  On the website of Home School Legal Defense, he is quoted as saying,

     “We are happy to have indefinite status even though we won’t be able to get American citizenship any time soon. As long as we can live at peace here, we are happy. We have always been ready to go wherever the Lord would lead us—and I know my citizenship isn’t really on earth.”

     When Uwe says that his citizenship is not really on earth, he is referring to heaven.  Uwe believes, as a Christian, he is just passing through this life to experience a life that is much greater after this life.  The Bible tells us that our citizenship "is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." Philippians 3:20.
 
Uwe thanked all those that helped his family and said,

"I thank God for his hand of blessing and protection over our family. We thank the American government for allowing us to stay here and to peacefully homeschool our children—it’s all we ever wanted.”

     In this post I have compared this family to the pilgrims.  I believe that this is an accurate comparison.  One of the primary reasons the pilgrims came here was a concern for the influences on their children.  William Bradford, who was a historian and a leader of the original Plymouth colony, spoke of this concern in his book where he said that one reason they had to leave Holland was that their children were being "drawn away by evil examples into extravagant and dangerous courses."  Uwe and his wife, Hannelore were deeply concerned about the witchcraft and other immoral teaching their children would receive in the German government schools.  In another post on this blog, it was reported that another German family, the Wunderlich family, had their children taken from their home at gunpoint.  The Wunderlich children are now forced to attend a government school.  Seeing the evil that is taking place in Germany, the lawyer for the Romeike family, Michael Farris, made a promise to Uwe.  He said this:

“When we lost at the Sixth Circuit, I told Uwe that he would go back to Germany over my dead body. I’m glad that wasn’t necessary! This is a courageous family and one that deserves to stay here. They are modern day Pilgrims.”

     We are so glad that these modern day pilgrims are here to stay, but we must not forget the others that are being persecuted for homeschooling their children in Germany.  Our government made the right choice in letting the Romeike family stay here.  It is my hope that we see this good judgment with other families fleeing persecution and that others won't have to go through what the Romeikes did in order to stay here.
  
    To every believer in Christ there is a promise of a better country.  The Bible tells us of those that "died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city."  

     If you are a Christian, you are a pilgrim!
 
 (The following videos are dated, but give an understanding of the subject matter of this post)





Sunday, February 9, 2014

Oklahoma, Land of the Free



     Part of my family lives in Oklahoma which makes it a special place for me.  It's a long drive from here in New York to Oklahoma.  When I've driven there it feels real good to see the sign welcoming you into Oklahoma.  When I've driven back it also feels real good to see the sign that you're in New York.  There's a big difference between the two states, and it's not just the geography.  There is a difference in  the ideology of the people.  This can change, but right now I believe Oklahoma is one of the freest states, if not the freest, in these United States.

     I believe it is the freest state because of one issue: the issue of education.  Oklahoma has a government school system just like all the other states, but one noticeable difference is that homeschooling takes place in the state without fetters.  Oklahoma is currently the only state to have homeschooling a protected right within the state constitution with no stipulations.  Parental rights are upheld.  Parents are acknowledged to be fully responsible for their children.  Parents have always been responsible for their children, but here is a state that acknowledges it without reservation.  I believe that the nature of the education of children is the reason that we have seen the nature of our nation change so quickly in the last few decades.  If more states allowed greater freedom by giving parents their rightful place, we may see some marvelous things for the good.

     There is a beauty in states that are different from others.  In Pennsylvania the car inspections are strict when it comes to rust.  Here in NY, rust is not an issue and you can find cars that are rusting to pieces.  In Oklahoma, if you were to ask about their standards of car inspections they might say, "What's that?"  because there are none there.  I like that.  Here in NY, you have to get an inspection every year if you want to drive without the threat of fines.  You have to take it to someone else, even if you've inspected it yourself all year long; and it typically costs around 20 bucks.  In Oklahoma, you might see some funny things driving down the road on occasion, though you're unlikely to see much rust because cars don't rust much there. By the way, while driving in OK, I never felt threatened by the non-inspected cars. 

     Here in NY, building inspections seem pretty important.  Some counties are probably better or worst than others.  And when I say worst, I mean more strict.  When I say better, I mean more free.  If you were to ask someone in OK about building inspections, he might say, "What's that?" Well, not exactly, but pretty close.  It's not the big thing there that it is here.  Some of the building code requirements in NY just go beyond the pail, and especially when they start making rules about the inside of your house.  I know a man that got fines for buildings that were about an inch longer than permitted by a code.  It's outrageous!

     Here in NY there was a gun control bill recently passed.   Many, many people are against it.  It's another encroachment of freedom.  I hope, like many others that it gets repealed.  Laws like this don't even see the light of day in OK.

     Another recent headline came from the state of Oklahoma saying that lawmakers from the state are looking at banning marriage.  It was a twist on words, but what the lawmakers there are saying is that government should not be in the marriage business.  People in Oklahoma do not want marriage to lose its meaning.  There are legal challenges being brought against the state to acknowledge other definitions to marriage other than the established meaning that it is a covenant of the union of a man and woman.  Oklahoma lawmakers are saying if you change the meaning of marriage in our state we will not sanction it with our approval.  Instead, we will give our people more freedom by getting government out of this realm altogether.  These courageous lawmakers are to be commended.  Rah, rah for the Sooner state!

      One of the largest encroachments to freedom in our lifetime is the recently enacted so-called "Affordable Care Act."  It looks like more people are realising the mistake this law is.  In Oklahoma there is legislation being introduced to nullify this law from being enforced in that state.  Here's an example to the other states!

     Many in Oklahoma recognise that their freedom comes from God.  At the state capital, a monument was recently set up that prominently displays the Ten Commandments of God. There have been challenges to this. It seems these challenges come from people outside of OK.... people from NY. This group claims that they worship Satan and believe that their bizarre statue of Satan has as much right to be at the state capital as a monument that recognises where just law and freedom come from. Once again, the media has emphasized a false premise that all religions are equal. This is obviously not what the founders of America had in mind. You don't see in the Declaration of Independence any need to acknowledge Satan after it acknowledges God as the giver of unalienable rights.  This is because absolute truth was still recognised.

     Oklahoma has become a lightning rod for a lot of these issues because of not following in the same rate the decadent flow that is taking place.  It is not an accident, and I think I know the reason for this.  Our family receives a publication from an electric company in OK.  In one issue it gave information about the lawmakers in OK.  It was an eye opener for me.  Often the schools these lawmakers came from were Bible schools.  Many of them have positions in their churches.  It is as if it is recognised by the people that their representatives are more fit for public office if they serve their church.  There are people there that are a God fearing people.  When people fear God there is a natural respect for private property.  This spells: FREEDOM.

     What I've written here could look like a comparison of NY vs. OK.  It's more than that.  It's a picture of what we could be in NY for the better.  I live in NY.  I've tasted OK.  I'd like everyone from every state to get a taste of what freedom is.  I think if freedom could be tasted and seen more clearly that more people will seek to better the plot of ground they are on....or maybe pull up their stakes and head to a place like Oklahoma.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The World of Chance

The following is a favorite story to my family. It is from Sander's Fifth Union Reader which was published in the mid-late 1800's.  This story was published around the time that Darwin's Origin of Species was popularized. It considers the fact that a world of order is a gift from a kind and omniscient Creator.  

      I'm posting this after learning of a recent poll that stated that 1/3 of Americans reject evolution outright.  The poll did not give options for the varied beliefs people have for evolution, but shows that, despite a strong propaganda campaign by government controlled schools to show only the position of naturalism, many people have not yet bought into the religion of naturalism.  Indeed, the world is filled with the testimony of God because "the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse." Romans 1:20





The World of Chance

by John Todd.

      At the foot of a noble mountain in Asia stood a beautiful cottage. Around it were walks, and shades, and fruits, such as were nowhere else to be found. The sun shone upon no spot more beautiful or luxuriant. It was the home of Hafed, the aged and prosperous. He reared the cottage; he adorned the spot; and here, for more than fourscore years, he had lived and studied.

      During all this time, the sun had never forgotten to visit him daily; the harvest had never failed, the pestilence had never destroyed, and the mountain stream had never dried up. The wife of his youth still lived to cheer him; and his son and daughter were such as were not to be found in all that province.

      But who can insure earthly happiness? In one short week, Hafed was stripped of all his joys. His wife took cold, and a quick fever followed; and Hafed saw that she must die. His son and daughter both returned from the burial of their mother, fatigued and sick. The nurse gave them, as she thought, a simple medicine. In a few hours, it was found to be poison. Hafed saw that they must die; for the laws of nature are fixed, and poison kills.

      He buried them in one wide, deep grave; and it seemed as if in that grave he buried his reason and religion. He tore his gray hair; he cursed the light of day, and wished the moon turned into blood. He arraigned the wisdom of God in His government over this world, declaring that the laws which He had established were all wrong, governed by Chance, or, at least, that, at his death, he might go to a world where there was no God to fix unalterable laws.

      In the center of Hafed’s garden stood a beautiful palm-tree. Under this Hafed was sitting, the second evening after he has closed the grave over his children. Before him lay the beautiful country, and above him the glorious heavens, and the bright moon just pushing up her modest face. But Hafed looked upon all this, and grief swelled in his throat; his tongue murmured; his heart was full of blasphemous thoughts of God.

      As the night deepened, Hafed, as he thought, fell asleep with a heavy heart. When he supposed he awoke, it was in a new spot. All around him was new. As he stood wondering where he was, he saw a creature approach him, which appeared like a baboon; but, on its coming nearer, he saw that it was a creature somewhat resembling a man, but every way ill-shaped and monstrous.

      He came up, and walked around Hafed, as if he were a superior being, exclaiming, -- “Beautiful, beautiful creature!” “Shame, shame on thee!” said Hafed; “dost thou treat a stranger thus with insults? Leave off thy jests, and tell me where I am, and how I came here!” “I do not know how you came here; but here you are, in our world, which we call Chance World, because every thing happen here by chance.”

      “Ah! Is it so? This must be delightful! This is just the world for me. Oh, had I always lived here, my beautiful children would not have died under a foolish and inexorable law! Come, show me this world; for I long to see it. But have ye really no God, nor any one to make laws and govern you as he sees fit?”

      “I do not know what you mean be the word God. We have nothing of the kind here, -- nothing but chance. But go with me, and you will understand all about it. “ As they proceeded, Hafed noticed that every thing looked queer and odd. Some of the grass was green, some red, some white, some new, and some dying; some grew with the top downward; all kinds were mingled together; and; on the whole, the sight was very painful.

      He stopped to examine an orchard: here Chance had been at work. On a fine-looking apple-tree he saw no fruit but large, coarse cucumbers. A small peach-tree was breaking down under its load of gourds. Some of the trees were growing with their tops downward, and the roots branching out into the air. Here and there were great holes dug, by which somebody had tried to get down twenty or thirty feet, in order to get the fruit.

      The guide told Hafed that there was no certainty about these trees, and that you could never tell what fruit a tree would happen to bear. The tree which this year bears cucumbers, may bear potatoes next year, and perhaps you would have to dig twenty feet for every potato you obtained.

       They soon met another of the “chance men.” His legs were very unequal in length: one had no knee, and the other no ankle. His ears were set upon his shoulders, and around his head was a thick, black bandage. He came groping his way, and Hafed asked him how long since he had lost his sight.

      “I have not lost it,” said he; “but when I was born, my eyeballs happened to turn in instead of out; and the back parts, being outward, are very painful in the light, and so I put on a covering. Yet I am as well off as others. My brother has one good eye on the top of his head; but it look directly upward, and the sun almost puts it out.”

      They stopped to look at some “chance cattle” in a yard. Some had but three legs; some were covered with wool, under which they were sweltering in a climate always tropical. Some were half horse and half ox. Cows had young camels following them instead of calves. Young elephants were there with flocks of sheep, horses with claws like a lion, and geese clamping round the yard with hoofs like horses. It was all a work of Chance.

      “This,” said the guide, “is as choice collection of cattle. You never saw the like before.” “That is true-- truth itself,” cried Hafed. “Ah! But the owner has been at great pains and expense to collect them. I do not believe there is another such collection anywhere in all this ‘Chance World.’” “I hope not,” said Hafed.
     Just as they were leaving the premises, the owner came out to admire, and show, and talk over his treasures. He wanted to gaze at Hafed; but his head happened to be near the ground, between his feet, so that he had to mount upon a wall before he could get a fair view of the stranger. “Do not think I am a happy man,” said he, “in having so many and such perfect animals. Atlas! Even in the perfect and happy world there are drawbacks. That fine-looking cow yonder happens to give nothing but warm water, instead of milk; and her calf, poor thing! Died before it was a week old. 


 
    “Some of them are stone blind, some can not live in the light, and few of them can hear. No two of them eat the same food, and it is a great labor to take care of them. I sometimes feel as if I would almost as lief be a poor man.” “I think I should rather,” said Hafed.

      While they were talking, in an instant they were in midnight darkness. The sun was gone, and Hafed could not, for some time, see his guide. “What has happened? said he. “Oh, nothing uncommon,” said the guide! “The sun happened to go down now. There is no regular time for him to shine; but he goes and comes just as it happens, and leaves as suddenly, as you see.”

      “As I don’t see,” said Hafed: “but I hope he will come back at the appointed time, at any rate.” “That, sir, will be just as it happens. Sometimes he is gone for months, and sometimes for weeks, and sometimes only for a few minutes, just as it happens. We may not see him again for months, but perhaps he will come soon.”

      As the guide was proceeding, to the inexpressible joy of all, the sun at once broke out. The light was so sudden, that Hafed at first thought he must be struck with lightning, and actually put his hands to his eyes to see if they were safe. He then clapped his hands to his eyes till he could gradually bear the light. There was a splendor about the sun, which he had never before seen; and it was intolerably hot. The air seemed like a furnace.

      “Ah,” said the owner of the cattle, “we must now scorch for it! My poor wool ox must die at once! Bad luck, bad luck to us! The sun has come back nearer than he was before. But we hope he will happen to go away again soon, and then happen to come back farther off the next time.”

      The sun was now pouring down his heat so intensely, that they were glad to go into the house for shelter, -- a miserable-looking place indeed. Hafed could not but compare it with his own beautiful cottage. Some timbers were rotten; for the tree was not, as it happened, the same in all its parts. Some of the boards happened to be like paper, and the nails torn out; and these were loose and coming off.

      They invited Hafed to eat. On sitting down at the table, he noticed that each one had a different kind of food, and that no two could eat out of the same dish. He was told that it so happened, that the food which one could eat, was poison to another; and what was agreeable to one, was nauseating to another.

      “I suppose that to be coffee,” said Hafed, “and I will thank you for a cup.” It was handed him. He had been troubled with the toothache for some hours; and how did he quail, when, on filling his mouth, he found it was ice, in little pieces about as large as pigion-shot!

      “Do you call ice-water coffee here?” said Hafed, pressing his hand upon his cheek, while his tooth was dancing with pain. “That is just as it happens. We put water over the fire, and sometimes it heats it, and sometimes it freezes it. It is all chance at work.”

      Hafed rose from the table in anguish of spirit. He remembered the world where he had lived, and all that was past. He had desired to live in a world where there was no God, where all was governed by chance. Here he was, and here he must live.

      He threw himself on a bed, and recalled the past, -- the beautiful world where he had once lived; his ingratitude; his murmurings against the wisdom and goodness of God. He wept like infancy. He would have prayed, and even began a prayer; but then he recollected that there was no God here; nothing to direct events; nothing but chance. He shed many and bitter tears of repentance. At last he wept himself to sleep.

      When Hafed again awoke, he was sitting under his palm-tree in his own beautiful garden. It was morning. At the appointed moment, the glorious sun rose up in the east; the fields were all green and fresh; the trees were all right end upward, and covered with blossoms; and the songsters were uttering their morning songs.

      Hafed arose, recalled that ugly dream, and then wept for joy. Was he again in a world where Chance does not reign? He looked up, and then turned to the God of heaven, the God of laws and of order, and gave Him the glory, and confessed that His ways, to us unsearchable, are full of wisdom. He was a new man ever afterward; nothing gave him greater cause of gratitude, as he daily knelt in prayer, than the fact that he lived in a world where God ruled, and ruled by laws fixed, wise, and merciful.


The End.
Source: Sander's Fifth Union Reader
Drawings are by my sister, Esther.