THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 211

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 211

Shangri-La is one proper adjective attached to describe Utopian perfection, though there is nothing on Earth, mythical or real, to compare it to…

NEWFOUNDLANDER follows in behind the withdrawing cover and as it descends to the altitude of an intercontinental supersonic transport, the planet of their fancy is revealed in its entire splendor.

“This is the most beautiful thing I have ever laid eyes on,” Celeste puts her hands to her chest, to contain her rapidly beating heart.

“My God Celeste, I believe we have discovered where Heaven is.” Put an X on this spot for further reference. It’s is one thing to have seen Mars in person for the first time, quite another to observe the incomprehensible.

Eridanus2 - Copy

There are no clear-cut continents or oceans below, or any typical land features for that matter. In the place of familiar geography, spiraling cities, on invisible stilts, rise randomly up into the pastel pink skies. The majestic lofty perches are scattered about the planet surface in no particular pattern. Nowhere to be found: sprawling industrial complexes, its attending pollution, gaudy interconnecting roadways for wheeled vehicles or skies plugged with crisscrossing contrails trailing flitting aircraft.

Shangri-La is one proper noun/adjective attached to describe Utopian perfection, though there is nothing on Earth, mythical or real, to compare it to and no word in the English language can do it justice.

Come to think of it, even the NEWFOUNDLANDER, now making an aerodynamic approach to the nondescript terra firma of this enigmatic sphere, looks strangely out of place. Yet it appears to be coming home like a long-lost relative or the family black sheep welcomed back with open arms, no questions asked; The Parable of the Prodigal Son (see Luke 15):

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

The largest of these towering edifices opens its low-level gates, in order to swallow the NEWFOUNDLANDER. The sliding door of giant size draw apart slowly and you can almost hear the creaking of the glides due to a drought of inactivity. The ship lumbers in, after the gap reaches its full extent.


Episode 211

page 191

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #32

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #32

…Remember Sara and Abram of the Bible, rumor has it that she came late John – she is only fifteen…

The Tallahassee Junior Women’s Club Summer Cotillion is this very night.

“Abigail Smythwick is going to be there.” Agnes knows the reason for her brother’s sudden cooperation. She is the daughter of Jefferson Smythwick, born in his sixth decade to the silence of her mother’s still heart.

“I almost forgot that we sent invitations to Midway and Quincy. They are not as refined as we are, you know, though Abigail’s daddy owns much land thereabouts,” Martha offers what she knows. “Is she pretty, how old is she, does she have any manners?”

“Yes in her own quaint way, fifteen I believe and I hope so, though she did not have a mother to help her.” Daughter fills in the blanks.

John Ferrell adjusts his new bow tie, as he walks by.

Fort Sumter3-001“John, sugar, do you know a Mister Smythwick from Midway?”

“Why do you ask?” he asks – a wondering.

“It seems that your son James has a fancy for the Smythwick girl. She will be at the cotillion this night and I do not want to appear ignorant of our neighbors to the west,” like it was a world away instead of 15 miles.

“Fort Sumter South, wealthy, quite old, I thought… his daughter would be forty. Has James taken a fancy for women the age of his mother?”

“Remember Sara and Abram of the Bible? Rumor has it that she came late John, she is only fifteen!”

He prefers to keep what he really knows about the man to himself. Why upset Martha by raising the still broiling subject of slavery. Her lectures, planned or spontaneous, about the difference between slaves and servants are legendary. They can wear a person out.

“Oh, I see. You mean like Mother Nature’s joke on a woman who has assumed her child Continuedbearing years are decades behind her?”

“That is a cruel way to put it,” she admonishes, “especially since her mother died giving birth.”

“That is too bad, I’m afraid,” John says, snatching his watch fob from out his vest pocket. “Say, we best be going, that’s if you want to set the tables before everyone arrives.”

Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #32

page 30

Commands – Do This, Not That

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Ronald Reagan

“I have wondered at times what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the US Congress.”
― Ronald Reagan

Golda Meir

“Let me tell you the one thing I have against Moses. He took us forty years into the desert in order to bring us to the one place in the Middle East that has no oil!”

― Golda Meir

“We take a cavalier approach to Scripture at our own peril. If the scientific and historical accounts are true, then the commandments, promises and penalties are much more so. The Bible is not just a guideline. It is the authoritative Word of God. Disobeying it has consequences. Obeying it has rewards. Yet we fudge. We compromise. We rationalize. We trade away our spiritual integrity for man’s approval and as we do, we gradually erode our ability to distinguish right from wrong, to see our own failings, and to turn back in repentance to God. We simply have no idea how this cavalier attitude towards God’s Word taints our witness and hinders the kingdom of God.”

― Craig Olson


10 Tough Bible Dudes

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Top 10 Toughest Characters in the Bible


For millennia, the Bible has served as the most influential and read book in human history.  It has been used and interpreted in many ways.  One recurring theme in the Bible is the astonishing bravery and determination of both people and divine beings alike.  This list features ten people and deities from the Bible who have excelled in their ability to stand up against difficult odds.  These individuals have been revered as heroes to many people for generations and as such have been depicted in everything from famous works of Renaissance art to modern cinematic retellings of their famed exploits.  Whether you are a believer in the Bible’s stories as historical events or just regard the book as something of a novel, you cannot deny the gripping nature of the following individuals’ impressive exploits that have been part of world culture for much of civilized man’s history.

10.  Yael


The Old Testament has a number of bold and inspiring women who stand up for what they believe in.  Esther, for example, influenced the Persian king, possibly Xerxes of 300 fame, to save the empire’s Jewish population from a potential massacre.  Thus, Esther has been celebrated ever since (I even acquired an Esther action figure and trading card from eBay!).  Yael’s historic origins go back even further than Esther, which is why I included Yael instead.  Moreover, she gets more personally and physically involved in her most famous action than Esther did.

Yael lived during a perilous time for Israel when King Jabin’s troops threatened Israel.  Leading Jabin’s army was a man named Sisera.  According to prophetess Deborah, God would give Israel victory after a woman slays Jabin’s captain, i.e. Sisera.  Yael would be that woman.  She initially treated Sisera as a guest when he came upon her tent after a battle, providing him with refreshments even, but when he fell asleep, she came upon him with a tent peg and a mallet.  She proceeded to forcefully hammer the peg into his temple, through his head, and into the ground, obviously killing him.  Israel indeed triumphed and as for Yael, she has been considered “blessed” for her actions.  Numerous paintings depict her decisive action.

9.  Ramesses II


Ramesses II  ruled as Pharaoh of Egypt from 1279–1213 BC.  He is one of Egypt’s most significant pharaohs and is one of the few to be known as “the Great.”  He was responsible for various building activity and monuments during his long reign.  Yet, he perhaps best known as a villain in the Bible for Ramesses II is the most commonly designated candidate for the role of “Pharaoh of the Exodus”.

Whether he actually was or was not is disputed, but he lived in about the right time and as such is contemporaneous with Biblical events.  Because it is not certain if the Bible is referring to him, I have placed him low on the list, but if he is indeed that particular pharaoh as so many suspect, then villain or not, he was an impressive and determined man.  In the Biblical sense, the pharaoh’s heart is hardened many times and in the faces of multiple disastrous plagues before finally giving in.  How many people would be so steadfast in the face of such hardships?  In the historic sense, Ramesses’s reign saw numerous campaigns and battles against Egypt’s neighbors in Syria, Nubia, and Libya.  Among other triumphs, he defeated sea pirates and fought against the Hittites in one of ancient history’s oldest recorded battles before the two sides agreed to a peace treaty.  Even if you do not believe the Bible’s version of history, other sources attest to this ancient ruler’s numerous accomplishments as a great builder and military commander.

8.  Judith


The second woman on our list and arguably the more famous of the two is a woman also known for getting her hands bloody for the sake of her people.  She too has been the subject of over a hundred paintings and sculptures, some of which are so-revered that they typically appear in textbooks.  I teach college history and books covering Renaissance and Baroque art, for example, frequently show such scenes.

Judith Slaying Holofernes by the Italian artist Artemisia Gentileschi, completed between 1611–12, is a common and particularly gory one that appears regularly in books I use for Western Civilization courses.  So, who was Judith and Holofernes?  Well, their story is somewhat reminiscent of Yael’s in that it too has to deal with an invading army and is set in tent.  In this case, Holofernes is an Assyrian commander working on behalf of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.  In that capacity, Holofernes besieged a Jewish city called Bethulia and cut off the water supply to the city.

In such a desperate situation, the beautiful Judith went to see Holofernes.  He fell for her and drank to the point of passing out while with her in his tent.  Like Sisera before him, he made a fatal blunder in trusting the supposed kindness of a woman coming from his opponents’ people.  Yet, instead of having a tent peg driven through his head, Holofernes suffered full on decapitation.  Once again, due to a woman’s bravery and willingness to personally execute an aggressor, the ancient Jews were saved from potential disaster.

7.  Noah


Noah may not have been a fighting man per se, but anyone who manages to build an ark capable of carrying a massive quantity of wildlife during a cataclysmic and lengthy flood is someone with an extreme degree of fortitude.  Considering that, according to the Book of Genesis, this flood resulted in the near extinction of mankind, someone not only surviving such an unprecedented disaster, but then going on to live for another 350 years and dying at age 950, Noah must meet some kind of extreme definition of “ultimate badass”.  Enduring for so long and surviving amidst such horrifying events and saving humanity and animal kind, too, earns a place on this list.

6.  Alexander the Great


Yes, Alexander III of Macedon is indeed actually mentioned in the Bible.  Although the Bible does not cover him at any great length, 1 Maccabees does summarize some key events and mentions Alexander to set the stage for Judas Maccabeus’s revolt against the Seleucid Empire, one of the Greco-Macedonian successor states to Alexander’s former empire.  Of any of the people on this list known for fighting prowess and military acumen, Alexander the Great far exceeds them.

The only reason he does not rank higher on the list then is because he is not featured as prominently in the Bible as the others on this list.  Nevertheless, few in history rival Alexander as a conqueror.  The man personally fought in battles, suffering numerous injuries and personally slaying various opponents.  He was almost killed in one battle and later went on to murder the man who saved his life!  He led men on a series of campaigns from Europe to Asia to Africa and then further into Asia in an era that predates automobiles and airplanes by millennia.  The amount of distance he and his army covered and the amount of fighting he personally participated is almost unmatched in all of history.  It is no wonder he has been the subject of multiple major motion pictures and has even been made into an action figure.

5.  Joshua


Joshua is one of several figures on this list to appear as the subject of an episode of the History Channel’s Battles BC (the others being Alexander, David, Moses, and Ramesses).  Joshua reportedly lived to the ripe old age of 110.  Perhaps not as impressive as Noah, but during those 110 years, Joshua served first as a major subordinate to Moses and then as his successor as leader of the Israelites.  As such, he endured the events of the Exodus out of Egypt and spied on behalf of Moses.  He then commanded the Israelites in their first battle against the Amalekites, in which Joshua triumphed.

According to the Bible, none other than God selected Joshua as Moses’s successor, which is pretty much the ultimate endorsement for any leader.  Joshua won his greatest and most celebrated victory by taking Jericho after his army blew down the city’s walls with their trumpets.  Joshua even managed to defeat the Amorite kings at Gibeon thanks to divine intervention.  In this case, God made the Sun stand still so that the battle could go on for  a bit longer during daylight.

Now, yes, many of these events may be disputed by people who are neither Jewish nor Christian, but again, for the purpose of this list, we are largely focusing on what the Bible either claims or does not dispute about the people described within it.  Moreover, even if you do not believe that God backed Joshua, then that means his historic victories were accomplished by more mortals means, which arguably makes his accomplishments even more impressive.

4.  David

The Story of David

David is not only the name of my brother (a police officer capable of bench pressing over 500 lbs and former wrestling team captain), it was also the name of one of Judeo-Christianity’s great biblical heroes.  David is the original Rocky Balboa.  After refusing to wear armor, David manages to slew the massive and formidable Goliath in one on one combat using his sling and a single stone to Goliath’s head.  But David does not stop there.  He then proceeds to behead Goliath as well.

David next becomes a commander in King Saul’s army and gets to marry the king’s daughter after bringing more than 200 foreskins (don’t ask!) of dead and defeated Philistines to the Israelite king.  After Saul’s death, David soon becomes the new king and continues the country’s military successes over various neighbors.  David’s forces even defeat a rebellion by his son Absalom.  The shear number of victories David wins and people he slays is incredible.  Not to forget that in the Biblical version of things, he also has the backing of God.  As such, in terms of someone you neither want to fight one on one or in battle, David is one of history’s ultimate badasses!

3.  Moses


One might visualize Moses as a stereotyped old man holding the Ten Commandments, but he is so much more both in the Bible and historically.  Once again, he has divine backing, which makes him and his cause a force to be reckoned with.  His Biblical odyssey has been retold numerous times and is one of the most celebrated stories in world history.  From the plagues of Egypt to crossing the Red Sea to receiving the Ten Commandments, being able to lead people through so many hardships and adventures is beyond remarkable.  In the aftermath of the Exodus, Moses’s people also faced military challenges.

Although Joshua did a good deal of Moses’s fighting, Moses was nevertheless the supreme human commander in a sense and as such was technically leader of the Israelites during their earliest military victories.  Thus, Moses led his people to freedom from Egyptian rule and in victory over the Amalekites and thereby put them in a position to enjoy continued success under Joshua before settling down and establishing a Kingdom of their own under Saul.

For playing such a key role in laying the foundations of three major world religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) amidst amazing hardships and struggles, Moses is definitely one of the key protagonists of the Bible and has been celebrated as such for so long that few in history have had such an enduring reputation among so many people in so many different places of the world.

2.  Jesus


On one hand, the suffering that Job endures while remaining faithful is about as determined and steadfast as one can find from anyone in the Bible.  Yet, Job’s story largely ends with the account of his perils and rewards for persevering.  Jesus, however, not only endures brutal torment and betrayal as reenacted in numerous passion plays and films, he also goes on to be resurrected.  Anyone who can perform miracles, come back from barbaric torture, and inspire billions of people for over nearly thousand years to do praiseworthy acts of charity is unique to history.

No one has been more polarizing and yet more influential in a religious sense (Christianity is the world’s most followed religion today) than Jesus.  Napoleon once said, “I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison.  Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires.  But on what did we rest the creation of our genius?  Upon force.  Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.”  Indeed, Jesus was not a military man.  He did not personally kill people and even advised his followers to literally turn the other cheek.  Yet, he did things and suffered in ways that no other person in the Bible did.  For his sacrifice, he must rank so high on our list, for as Napoleon recognized, Jesus towers over even Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and Napoleon as probably the most influential person in history.

1.  Yahweh a.k.a. Jehovah


Yahweh, Jehovah, God the Father, whatever you want to call Him is without a doubt the most significant presence in the Bible.  No man can compare to a God.  Nothing is more awe-inspiring than an omnipotent and omniscient being capable of creating worlds and life and destroying it when displeased only to start anew as well.  Throughout the Bible, any enemies of God meet frightening fates whether it be turned into salt or drowned in the Great Flood.  Those who persecute his chosen people suffer devastating plagues and catastrophic military defeats.

If there is anyone/thing you do not want to cross in the Bible it is ultimately God, because it is He who backs and motivates everyone else in this list and as such in the Bible’s version of things, none of the great victories of the Israelites would have been possible without Him.  Again, yes, it is of course a matter of faith whether you personally believe in God’s existence, but even if you read the Bible as a novel, clearly the most powerful “character” is God himself.  The fact that billions of people have been persuaded to believe in His existence in the real world makes him that much more astonishing.

No one or thing else in all of human literature has had anywhere near the influence on world events and attitudes as God from the Bible.  As such, nothing else could possibly justifiably come in first on this list.

10 Tough Bible Dudes

Religious Artifacts

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Gordon B. Hinckley

“Cultivate an attitude of happiness. Cultivate a spirit of optimism. Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine.”

― Gordon B. Hinckley

William Shakespeare

“The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.”

― William ShakespeareThe Merchant of Venice

Simon Van Booy

“The beauty of artifacts is in how they reassure us we’re
not the first to die.”
― Simon Van BooyEverything Beautiful Began After


Abraham and Isaac – The Real Story

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Abraham & Isaac; The Real Story

Abraham's Sacrifice of Isaac

Photo: Getty Images

Abraham’s Sacrifice of Isaac

 Scripture Reference:

Genesis 22:1-19

The Sacrifice of Isaac – Story Summary:

The sacrifice of Isaac put Abraham to his most agonizing test, a trial which he passed completely because of his total faith in God.God told Abraham, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” (Genesis 22:2, NIV)

Abraham took Isaac, two servants and a donkey and set off on the 50 mile journey. When they arrived, Abraham ordered the servants to wait with the donkey while he and Isaac went up the mountain. He told the men, “We will worship and then we will come back to you.” (Genesis 22:5b, NIV)

Isaac asked his father where the lamb was for the sacrifice, and Abraham answered that the Lord would provide the lamb. Saddened and confused, Abraham bound Isaac with ropes and placed him on the stone altar.

Just as Abraham raised the knife to slay his son, the angel of the Lord called out to Abraham to stop and not harm the boy. The angel said he knew that Abraham feared the Lord because he had not withheld his only son.

When Abraham looked up, he saw a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. He sacrificed the animal, provided by God, instead of his son.

Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Genesis 22:16-18, NIV)

Abraham and Isaac – The Real Story

An excerpt from CONSTANCE CARAWAY ~ Forever Mastadon

Billy Graham and Samuel Goldwyn are talking about life, its meaning and other matters on the bus trip back to Chicago. Sam is of the Jewish persuasion, albeit the non-practicing flavor, but like many of the crusade attendees, he has repeatedly heard the messages and cannot help having serious questions about the potential role of faith in his life. But it’s not only Judaism that haunts him. He can still hear his Grandfather speak of their centuries struggle against the Muslim world, right up to 1947 and when Israel was granted the promised homeland.

Much of the root confusion arises from the birthright of Abraham’s two sons, by different mothers; Abraham being the patriarch of the line of David.

“Why do Muslims claim that it was Hagar’s son, Ishmael, whom God spared from being sacrificed?” Young Goldwyn knows just enough scripture to be dangerous.

“… because it allows them to claim our God as their own. You see, sometime after Christ died on the cross, they changed the story in their holy book, the Koran, to fit their needs. But these same errant editors insist that their prophet Mohammed is like a god, which is pure hogwash. Mohammed has been allowed to write his own sacred manuscript to be passed off as divine. It is fiction by the strictest measure.

“In the real historical account, as transcribed by the apostles, our great God provided a 100 year old man with a son, by his wife of 90, a miracle that triumphed over the despair of barrenness. God ordered, ‘And you will call him Isaac’. So when He instructed Abraham to sacrifice his precious son on an altar, he was obedient. That obedience was proof of the man’s faithfulness and Isaac was spared; not Ishmael who has Egyptian blood and born of a concubine.”

Graham knows this story well.

“And I used to think that the Bible was just another book.”

Goldwyn sees the light.

Abraham and Isaac – The Real Story