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Among America’s Best, but Least Known, Theaters: Sight and Sound

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Ranked as the top faith-based live theaters in America, Sight and Sound Theatres are in two locations: Strasburg, Pennsylvania, and Branson, Missouri. With combined annual sales of over 1.3 million tickets, these entertainment jewels are still unknown to most Americans. My wife, Linda, and I have experienced every production in Branson. We highly recommend both theaters. Here is a bit more about them and their rather short but amazing history.

Glenn Eshelman (below left) grew up on a farm in rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Infatuated with the beauty of creation, he began painting landscapes as a boy. This passion eshelmanweddingexpanded to photography in his teen years. After marrying Shirley (right), he sold his artwork out of the trunk of his car. In 1964, he began presenting his narrated photography slide show in churches across the country. Although responses were overwhelmingly positive, the travel became a burden. The couple set up Living Waters Theatre in 1976 in Strasburg, near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for the nightly presentation of their slide show. In 1987, they transitioned to live stage production of Bible stories and opened The Entertainment Centre in 1991. These shows received rave reviews until 1997 when their theater burned to the ground. Devastated, they prayed for guidance, and God led them to rebuild, this time a 2,000 seat, state-of-the-art theater with a 300-foot wrap-around stage four stories high. By the early 2000’s, sell-out crowds convinced the Eshelmans to expand to a second location. Hot Springs, Arkansas, was among the few cities considered. Branson, Missouri was chosen.

In 2008, Branson’s new Sight and Sound Theatre opened with the initial production of Noah. Multiple levels of live and mechanical animals encircled the audience. Live animals on the main stage, very talented performers, and phenomenal stage settings made this a “must see” performance. Since then, Branson has hosted two-year stints of Joseph, Jonah, Moses, and Samson. Samson continues its second year this March. The Strasburg theater has produced these same shows plus Daniel, Ruth, Jesus, and is beginning this year with Esther. Between productions, the biennial performance of The Miracle of Christmas is presented in November and December at both theaters. I’m amazed that almost every matinee and evening show enjoys a sell-out audience for the nearly two year run. All productions use impressive special effects, live animals, and quick-change stage sets that will blow you away. The Bible stories are embellished with fictional portrayals, but the spiritual inspiration is always present. The gospel is communicated very effectively. I believe it’s as entertaining as anything you will see on Broadway.

The Eshelmans have recently passed the baton to their two sons-in-law. Matt Neff (below right) is now CEO, and Josh Enck (below left) is now president. These new leaders complement each other perfectly with Matt being more administrative and Josh being more creative. They have wasted no time in improving the sightandsoundneffandenckcompany by adding personnel to ensure shorter production cycles and greater technology in special effects and sets. They both are passionate about maintaining the priority of glorifying God through their mission of bringing Bible stories to life on stage.

I encourage everyone to make a commitment to never miss a Sight and Sound production. It is a destination attraction well worth the trip. Tickets are around $50 each, and some hotels offer package deals on accommodations and tickets. Click here to learn more about show times and tickets. You’ll thank me later.

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Immigration Standoff: All Politics, No Logic from the Liberals

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The government is at a showdown. Both sides claim to support increased border security. The Democrats just a few years ago advocated $25 billion to fund it including $8 billion for the wall. Somehow, now that the President wants some kind of barrier, it is immoral and ineffective. The American family household is perfectly analogous to the country when it comes to neighborly benevolence and security. Here is a brief comparison.

The character of America is a conglomeration of the character of 126 million households. Almost all of those households have a heart for others–family, friends, acquaintances, even strangers. By and large, we are all benevolent people willing to help others when they communicate a need. However, we all have doors on our houses or apartments. All of us have locks on the doors, and many have security systems to ensure safety. The more affluent have security fences or walls or live in gated communities. No sane person would live in a house without a lockable door leaving it vulnerable to the unrestricted entry of all outsiders.

If a stranger outside those doors or enhanced protective barriers communicated to us a legitimate need, almost all of us would be open to satisfying that need according to our ability to do so. If it were a dire emergency need, and we could verify the situation and integrity of the victim, most of us would even open our house for his or her immediate shelter and security.

On the other hand, if a stranger busted down our locked door, entered our living room, and demanded that we give him or her immediate protection, shelter, and resources, we would take drastic measures to get that person out of our house. If we had the capability, we would probably eliminate them as a threat to our family. They might have a legitimate need, but without time and ability to determine that, we could only assume they meant us harm. We would have every reason to expect such an intruder, if having an honest need, to receive our help through proper channels. Anyone crashing through a locked door has to be considered a personal threat.

To expand on this analogy, what if we left our door wide open? A stranger walking through the open door into our living room is still just as much a threat, but shame on us for being so naive as to leave the door open.

America is, without a doubt, the most benevolent nation in the world now and has been throughout history. We give $50 billion every year to other nations for the care of their people. About one million legal immigrants are processed and welcomed into our country each year. These recipients knock on our door and provide legitimate evidence that convinces us to share our resources with them out of sympathy and kindness.

However, about a half-million foreigners cross our borders illegally each year. Another half-million enter on legal visas, then overstay their limited time and become permanent illegal residents. Thus, a million illegal immigrants enter our country each year. Those million people bust down our locked doors, or walk through our open doors, with no invitation or documented reason to do so. Every one is a threat as if he or she showed up in our living room unannounced and unexpected.

Yet, the liberal faction of our society calls our doors immoral and ineffective. Here is the truth. They don’t really believe the wall is wrong. No one can really deny its logic. Their objective is solely to deny the President the realization of his top campaign promise to the American people. Their hope is to convince Americans that he is not strong enough to get the job done. Playing such a political game is total disregard for the safety and welfare of the American people they represent. Their obstruction is 100% politics with no logic.

 

President Tyler, born in 1790, has two living grandsons!

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Seems impossible, but two brothers living among us today are the grandsons of President John Tyler, the 10th President, born just a year after George Washington became our first President. Even with today’s relatively long lives, three generations normally cover about 130 years from the birth of the first to the death of the third. The three Tyler generations have spanned 229 years, 14 years short of the life of our country. How can that be?

President Tyler’s first wife died in 1842 after giving him eight children. He then married a much younger woman, and they had seven more. His youngest child was Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Sr. who was born in 1853 when John Tyler was 63. Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Sr. also married a second time to a much younger woman after his first wife died in 1921. He had six children, the youngest two being Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr. (top right above), born in 1924, and  Harrison Tyler (bottom right above), born in 1928. Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Sr. was 75 when the youngest, Harrison, was born. So, President Tyler and his son both having had children very late in life coupled with the President’s grandsons living long lives, currently at 94 and 90, resulted in a phenomenal three generation life span of well over two centuries. In this particular case, the three generations have lived in four centuries– the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st. Also, each of the three lived in two centuries. Is you head beginning to hurt?

Harrison Tyler spent his career as a chemical engineer and businessman, eventually selling his company for $435 million upon retirement. He now lives on the family plantation, Sherwood Forest, in Virginia founded by President Tyler. Lyon Tyler, Jr., had a brief career as a lawyer before getting his PhD in History and teaching at the University of Richmond, Virginia Military Institute, and the Citadel. He now lives in Franklin, Tennessee.

It was common in the 19th century for older men to have second marriages to younger women, especially after a first wife’s death. In fact, our government is currently paying a Civil War pension to a daughter of a veteran of that war now living in North Carolina. Irene Triplett, age 86, collects $73.13 each month from her father’s military pension earned when he fought for the Union 153 years ago. Her father who married a woman 50 years younger begat her when he was 83 (Don’t go there, just accept it; the government does.)

(Some of this information came from Curt Mills, writer, U.S. News & World Report.)

 

The Best Ever New Year’s Resolution

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Regardless of whether you are a new year’s resolution person, everyone needs to take some time at the threshold of a new year to self-evaluate just where you are in life. Then consider what changes might be in order to attain greater quality of life and sense of purpose. Resolutions are usually in categories such as health, finances, family, and personal habits. However, there is another category of resolution that will reap more rewards than anything you have probably thought of.

Most of us need to be more fit and in better shape. We should quit some bad habits. Some family relationships should be strengthened. And who doesn’t need to spend less and save more in the coming year? However, almost all areas of life change are linked to the one most important adjustment we can make–a spiritual renewal. If our spiritual condition is not in shape, it affects everything else in our lives. Here are some suggested initiatives for making 2019 the year of spiritual renewal.

First, if you don’t have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, you are in critical condition spiritually and in dire need of getting that most important aspect of your life settled once and for all. I invite you to visit my “Eternity” page on this website: http://terrythompson.org/eternity. Start 2019 right by making it the year you turn your life over to the Lord and begin growing in your understanding of His best for you.

If you are just not sure of where you stand with God and have doubts about your eternal destiny, you need to have that absolute assurance in order to live life to its fullest. I invite you to start 2019 by reading the Book of First John (not the Gospel of John, but the short book near the end of your Bible). Read it several times pausing at each statement that describes the actions and thoughts of those who truly belong to the Lord. Evaluate your life according to those descriptions. If you can’t identify yourself in this reading, your condition is that of the previous paragraph.

If you are convinced of your salvation according to First John, the best resolution you can make for 2019 may be to devote more time to Bible reading and prayer. Nothing conditions you spiritually more than time spent with Him in reading His Word and communicating with Him. I encourage you to read the entire Bible through in 2019. It only requires about three or four chapters a day. There are several Apps that help and motivate you to do this. Just search the App Store for “read the Bible in a year” and choose one you like. Yes, it takes some extra time each day, but anything worthwhile has to be given priority over something less important.

It is obvious that consistent church attendance in America has been trending downward in recent years. Yet, the Bible is very clear that Jesus established the church and works through it to relate to His people and minister to others. The church is His stated strategy for changing the world. Christians worshiping, praying, fellowshipping, and ministering together within the church is the only way to experience the fullness of what God desires to give us. The Bible teaches that each of us is given special capabilities to be used for Christ particularly through the church. Recommit yourself to serving in your church in 2019.

Finally, even if you are comfortable in your level of spiritual maturity, you spend ample time with the Lord daily, and you are active in church, God will always desire a more abundant life for you and to prepare you even more for eternity with Him. Invite Him to delve more deeply into your life in 2019 showing you little pockets of needed improvement and refining. Let Him cleanse you even more thoroughly for greater works in His kingdom. Allow Him to reveal shortcomings you may not even be aware of, but that need to be confessed and corrected.

There are many ways to improve your life through resolutions in 2019. But, the resolution to renew your life spiritually will improve everything.

Please “like” and “share” this post to wish many others a more abundant life in 2019.

 

 

The Christmas Star of the Magi: What Was It?

Three wisemans and the star of Bethlehem

The Christmas star, or Star of Bethlehem, that drew the Magi, or Wise Men, to the birthplace of Jesus has long been debated. Was the star created just for that event? Was it a natural celestial occurrence? Did it really even happen? Recent advances in knowledge of the stars and planets have given us a new outlook on this topic. Here’s what modern astronomers are saying about this elusive star.

Unfortunately, songs, poems, paintings, and other sources of tradition have almost made a mockery of many truths of the Bible. Traditions have often embellished or even replaced the Holy Scriptures. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than in the story of the three wise men who followed a star to Jerusalem and ultimately to Bethlehem to find the newborn Jesus. I italicized those three words, because they are likely untrue and certainly are not in the Bible. Although the song says, “We three kings…,” The Bible simply uses a plural noun which only means there were more than one, but there could have been a a caravan of many. And, they were not likely kings, but rather magi, or astronomers/astrologers. Some translations call them wise men. They didn’t likely “follow” a star, but rather set out on their journey after observing a celestial phenomenon, probably a conjugation of the planets Venus and Jupiter. Finally, Jesus was not likely a “newborn,” but rather a toddler by the time they reached his birthplace. Therefore, those Christmas cards showing the baby Jesus in a barn under a star surrounded by shepherds, wise men, and animals are all messed up. Let’s look specifically at the star.

Most historians and biblical scholars believe these magi were from a legendary line of students and interpreters of the stars and planets. They lived in ancient Chaldea of which Babylon was the dominant city. This is now the general region of Iraq. The pre-first-century Magi would have been familiar with the prophesied Messiah being anticipated by the Jews. Many Jews remained in and around Babylon after Babylonia conquered Judah and took the entire nation captive 400 years prior. Also, Daniel of the Bible, a Jew, was appointed leader of the Babylonian Magi during the Jewish exile and, no doubt, taught them about the future Messiah and even the approximate time and location of His coming. So, the Magi also anticipated the Messiah, a king, knew his birth was imminent, and that He would be born in Judea.

The Magi would have been familiar with the fact that the planets Venus and Jupiter appeared to almost align with each other every year or so. These were and are the brightest objects in the night sky besides the moon and commanded major interest. In that day, Jupiter was known as the king of planets, and Venus was called the mother of planets. Astronomy software can now track the movement of planets infinitely back in time. Joe Rao, astronomer at the New York Hayden Planetarium, wrote that on August 12 of 3 BC, a Venus-Jupiter conjugation was prominent in the eastern sky of the Chaldea region. This brought each of the two planets virtually in line with each other to form the brightest light in the night sky. They were probably never more closely aligned than this particular year in history. It would have gotten the Magi’s attention. The Magi likely assumed this uniting of the “king” planet and the “mother” planet signaled the birth of the Messiah king. They didn’t need to “follow” the heavenly sign, knowing they would find the child in Judea. They journeyed to the Judea capital of Jerusalem.

Think about this. For this closest alignment in history of these two planets to have happened at precisely this time by natural movement of the planets, God had to have set up the exact movement sequence during the creation of the universe!

Once the Magi were in Jerusalem, Herod, king of Judea, heard they were looking for the future king of the Jews. Herod’s religious leaders shared that the Messiah was prophesied to be born in Bethlehem. When the magi headed to Bethlehem, the planet Jupiter was moving south in the night sky. According to computer analysis, this was about a year after the first sign. Jupiter moved into the constellation, Leo, which was considered a symbol of power. Planets occasionally appear to stop moving temporarily in what is termed “retrograde” as they seem to reverse course from earth’s perspective. This probably happened with Jupiter which is referenced in the Book of Matthew as having “stood over the place where the child was.” According to historical analyses of people and events during that time, most historians believe this visit by the Magi was a year or more after the actual birth of Jesus.

Of course, this is all theory, albeit highly researched theory and very plausible. All we know for absolutely certain is that prominent men from far away were alerted about Jesus’ birth by a star-like body in the sky. It prodded them to pay homage to the child that would usher in the greatest change in the history of mankind. He would have the most powerful impact on human destiny of anyone before or after His life on earth. He deserves at least the same level of attention from us that He got from the Magi. But, thankfully, you don’t have to travel for hundreds of miles and for weeks over desert and mountains to find Him. He is as near as your humble prayer, and the Bible is your Christmas star. How could God make it any easier to respond to Him?

By the way, the next conjugation of Venus and Jupiter will be visible in America on January 22, 2019, just a few weeks away. But, it won’t be as closely aligned as it was 2021 years ago.

I urge you to read Matthew, chapter two, and Luke, chapter two, this Christmas season. Do this not while following a sermon at church or on TV, but in private just between you and the Lord. Let Him speak to you through the magnificent story of His arrival that we celebrate this week. Merry Christmas!

Seeking a Return to Goodness

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This December, the passing of President George H. W. Bush seems to have created even more nation-wide nostalgia than what is normally experienced through Hallmark movies. Does America’s infatuation with icons of the past, old movies, and cheesy Hallmark TV shows reflect our yearning for a kinder, gentler country? I believe it does, and here’s why.

My wife, Linda, and I were in Washington, DC, by coincidence when the body of former President Bush was lying in state in the Capitol rotunda. We are volunteers for the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC) and were invited by that organization to lobby Congress for one of their senior adult legislative initiatives. We arrived four hours prior to a working dinner and decided to pay our respects to the president and war hero we admired greatly. After standing in line for a cold hour, we learned the wait would be over three-and-a-half hours, so we had to depart to be on time for the dinner. Why were thousands of people from all over the country braving the frigid temperatures for up to four hours to spend a couple of minutes with a former president’s remains in a closed casket? Mostly because they needed to reconnect with the more peaceful, more civil, and simpler times when America was, well, just better.

People are also turning to more traditional entertainment from the past. Apparently, I’m not the only one who rejects the tripe that passes for TV series and reality shows opting instead for network classic movies. Every year, more people tune into the TCM network, and the average age of the movie fans is getting younger. Again, the evidence is that our society is yearning for the values of days gone by.

But, the most telling display of America’s desire for traditional morals and family has to be the Hallmark Christmas movie craze. Why else would millions of people opt for a poorly written, low-budget movie with amateur actors in totally predictable plots. It’s always about someone from the big city who goes to a small town and falls in love with someone who already has a love interest. The screen writers just change the names and venues. Yet, people are driven to these movies because of the void in their hearts that longs for the authenticity, simplicity, and unconditional love characterized by the stories.

Americans in general want to return to a time of goodness. Maybe it should be described as a time of godliness. We see our nation moving in a direction contrary to our ideology and we find consolation in retreating to more meaningful times. Realistically, those times were not as good as our memories of them, but they were heavenly compared to today’s social climate. So, how can we reverse the present political and societal mess and return to better times? Societies only change as individuals change, and we can only change one individual–ourselves. To borrow a concept of Mark Batterson, author of The Circle Maker, we can draw a circle around ourselves and change everyone in that circle.

I am very concerned about the scarcity of civility, respect, love for others, and personal sacrifice that characterizes America today. There is little I can do about it other than make sure I’m not contributing to it. So, with God’s help, I’m going to continue striving to be more like George H. W. Bush and the people of classical and Hallmark movies. I hope you will, too.

 

Will There Be a Third President Bush?

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With the passing of one of America’s most loved presidents, George H. W. Bush, the question lingers: will there ever be another Bush in the White House? Since Jeb dropped out of the campaign for a potential trifecta in February, 2016, most pundits see no such Bush in the wings. However, in a recent interview, George H. W. said he would love to see one of his grandchildren become president. Take a quick look at his grandchildren and see whether you think one of them might someday sit in the Oval Office.

George W. Bush’s daughter, Barbara Pierce Bush, now 37, has pursued a career in the nonprofit sector. She co-founded the leadership development organization, Global Health Corps, in 2008, which operates in Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi, Uganda, and Zambia, in addition to several cities stateside. In October 2018, Barbara wed screenwriter Craig Coyne.

George W. Bush’s daughter, Jenna Bush Hager, also 37, chose a career in journalism. She’s currently a co-host for The Today Show, a correspondent for NBC News, and an editor-at-large for Southern Living magazine. Jenna married Henry Hager, who worked in the Department of Commerce (and was an assistant in George W. Bush’s White House before that) in 2008. The couple have two daughters together, Mila and Poppy.

Jeb Bush’s son, George Prescott Bush, 42, has officially entered the political arena. In 2014, he was elected Texas Land Commissioner, and was recently re-elected for his second term. With his wife, former law school classmate Amanda Williams, he has two young sons, Prescott and John.

Jeb Bush’s daughter, Noelle Bush, 41, has struggled to find her footing. Her father has been candid about her ongoing issues with drug abuse.

Jeb Bush’s son, John Ellis “Jeb” Bush, Jr., 34, currently runs a real estate firm, Bush Realty, LLC, and serves as a Managing Partner of Jeb Bush & Associates, LLC, which provides business consulting services. During his father’s 2015 presidential primary run, Jeb Jr. served as a surrogate for the candidate on the campaign trail. With his wife, Sandra, he’s currently raising two young children, Georgia and Vivian.

Neil Bush’s daughter, Lauren Bush Lauren, 34, founded the nonprofit FEED in 2007, an organization that raises money to fight hunger by selling socially and environmentally sustainable products. With her husband David Lauren, son of designer Ralph Lauren, she has two children, Max Walker and James.

Neil Bush’s son, Pierce Bush, 32, is the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star, the organization’s Dallas outpost. He married Sarahbeth Melton in March of 2018.

Neil Bush’s daughter, Ashley Bush, 29, chose to pursue a career in the film industry. She’s produced, directed, and written numerous shorts. In December 2017, Ashley became engagement to fellow filmmaker Julian LeFevre.

Marvin Bush’s adopted daughter, Marshall Lloyd Bush, 32, worked on George W. Bush’s re-election campaign during school breaks in 2004. She married former Naval officer (and fellow University of Virginia alumni) Nick Rossi in 2015.

Marvin Bush’s adopted son, Charles Walker Bush, 28, has served in the Marine Corps.

Dorothy Bush’s son, Sam LeBlond, 34, has worked as a beer distributor in the D.C. area, among other jobs. He wed Lee Bobbitt, a legislative assistant in the Senate, in 2016.

Dorothy Bush’s daughter, Nancy Ellis “Ellie” LeBlond Sosa, 32, works for a Boston-based healthcare organization, and is a physical trainer in her spare time. She married Nick Sosa in 2014.

Dorothy Bush’s son, Robert Koch, 25, has kept a low profile. He is single.

Dorothy Bush’s daughter, Georgia Grace “Gigi” Koch, 22, is currently in college at the University of Southern California. She spent the summer of 2017 interning for the House Majority Whip—a clue that she might want to work in politics. She is single.

Of 14 grandchildren, none seems to be particularly interested in politics with the exception of George Prescott Bush, possibly Jeb Bush, Jr., and maybe Gigi Koch. George H. W. said in the aforementioned interview that his desire to have a grandchild as president wasn’t about the position, but rather about serving others. Several grandchildren are certainly doing that, but a Bush 46+ doesn’t appear to be on the horizon. Although anything can happen in presidential politics as we saw in 2016. Watch the Bushes!

Note: Some material from this post was sourced from www.townandcountrymag.com.

Know Your Supreme Court

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The next year of Supreme Court action will have a profound impact on America and every citizen. Critical issues decided will include immigration, presidential power, first and second amendment rights, states rights, human rights, voting rights, impeachment, and the list goes on. Plus, we may very well see yet another Justice appointment. Ideology of individual Justices will be on display. How well do you know your Justices? Here is a quick run-down.

In response the President Trump’s recent remark about an “Obama” federal judge, Chief Justice John Roberts rebuked that, “there are no Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges, or Clinton judges, just federal judges.” I give him credit for taking the high road, but we all know federal judges are chosen based on how they view the world, particularly from a conservative or liberal perspective. The flip from a liberal-leaning to a conservative-leaning Supreme Court with President Trump’s two nominees will make a huge difference in upcoming cases. Congressional inaction on immigration has forced the President to take executive actions that will continue to end up in the Supreme Court. As you follow these headlines, you will want to better familiarize yourself with who these justices are and how they view the issues. I hope these abbreviated bios help.

John G. Roberts, Chief Justice of the United States

John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States, was born in Buffalo, New York, January 27, 1955.  He received a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1979. He was Associate Counsel to President Ronald Reagan, White House Counsel’s Office from 1982–1986, and Principal Deputy Solicitor General, U.S. Department of Justice from 1989–1993. He was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2003. President George W. Bush nominated him as Chief Justice of the United States, and he took his seat September 29, 2005. Note: Chief Justices are nominated by the President and serve until retirement or death. President Bush nominated Roberts as a new Chief Justice replacing Chief Justice William Rehnquist who died in office.

Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice

Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice, was born in the Pinpoint community near Savannah, Georgia on June 23, 1948. He received a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1974. He served as a Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. President Bush nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and he took his seat October 23, 1991.

 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice, was born in Brooklyn, New York, March 15, 1933. She received her LL.B. from Columbia Law School. She was instrumental in launching the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, served as the ACLU’s General Counsel from 1973–1980, and was on their National Board of Directors from 1974–1980. She was appointed a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1980. President Clinton nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and she took her seat August 10, 1993.

Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice

Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice, was born in San Francisco, California, August 15, 1938. He received an LL.B. from Harvard Law School. He served as a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and as its Chief Judge, 1990–1994. He also served as a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States, 1990–1994, and of the United States Sentencing Commission, 1985–1989. President Clinton nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat August 3, 1994.

 

Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Associate Justice

Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Associate Justice, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, April 1, 1950. He received an LL.B from Yale Law School. He was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 1990. President George W. Bush nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat January 31, 2006.

 

 

Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice

Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice, was born in Bronx, New York, on June 25, 1954. In 1979, she earned a J.D. from Yale Law School where she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated her to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, and she served in that role from 1992–1998. She served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1998–2009. President Barack Obama nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on May 26, 2009, and she assumed this role August 8, 2009.

Elena Kagan, Associate Justice

Elena Kagan, Associate Justice, was born in New York, New York, on April 28, 1960. She received a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1986. She served for four years in the Clinton Administration as Associate Counsel to the President and then as Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy. In 2009, President Obama nominated her as the Solicitor General of the United States. A year later, the President nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on May 10, 2010. She took her seat on August 7, 2010.

Neil M. Gorsuch, Associate Justice

Neil M. Gorsuch, Associate Justice, was born in Denver, Colorado, August 29, 1967. He received a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a D.Phil from Oxford University. He was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in 2006. President Donald J. Trump nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat on April 10, 2017.

 

 

Brett M. Kavanaugh, Associate Justice

Brett M. Kavanaugh, Associate Justice, was born in Washington, D.C., on February 12, 1965. He received a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1990. From 2001 to 2003, he was Associate Counsel and then Senior Associate Counsel to President George W. Bush. From 2003 to 2006, he was Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary for President Bush. He was appointed a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2006. President Donald J. Trump nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat on October 6, 2018.

Test Your Knowledge of Thanksgiving

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Even with all the chaos and evil around us, we have so much to be thankful for in America today. We should thank the Lord every day for the goodness, beauty, and love we are blessed to experience. As we observe the national holiday of Thanksgiving, let us be grateful for what we have above all other nations. Here are a dozen Thanksgiving trivia questions and answers for your enjoyment:

1. Which President made Thanksgiving a national holiday?

2. What President began the tradition of pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey?

3. What meat did the native Americans bring to the first Thanksgiving?

4. What culture produced the idea of the cornucopia, the horn of plenty?

5. About how many turkeys are eaten in America each Thanksgiving? 120 million, 280 million, or 410 million?

6. What percentage of Americans eat turkey each Thanksgiving? 65, 76, or 88?

7. What was the first department store to hold a Thanksgiving Day parade?

8. Indians from what tribe accompanied the pilgrims on the first Thanksgiving?

9. Before sailing the Pilgrims across the Atlantic, the Mayflower was used for what purpose?

10. A native American bird, the turkey was first shipped to Europe from what state?

11. How many American Presidents were descendants of Mayflower passengers? One, three, six, or eight?

12. What popular Christmas song originated as a Thanksgiving song?

 

Answers:

1. Abraham Lincoln declared Nov. 26th as the official Thanksgiving holiday. It was later changed to the fourth Thursday in November by Franklin D. Roosevelt.

2. Although a few earlier Presidents jokingly pardoned a turkey before Thanksgiving, George H. W. Bush established the annual tradition in 1989, and it has been done by every subsequent President each year.

3. Deer (venison)

4. The Greek culture made the cornucopia popular in mythology.

5. 280 million

6. 88

7. Not Macy’s. It was Gimbel’s.

8. Ninety Wampanoag Indians were at the first Thanksgiving.

9. A wine hauling vessel

10. Florida. The Spaniards brought it back to Spain.

11. Eight. John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, James Garfield, Franklin D. Roosevelt, George H. W. Bush, and, therefore, George W. Bush.

12. Jingle Bells. James Lloyd Pierpont wrote the song to commemorate the Thanksgiving Day sleigh races at Medford, Massachusetts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These Final Years of the Greatest Generation

WWII

Every Veterans Day, I am asked to speak at two local assisted living facilities. I interview a couple of veteran residents who fought in World War II, and I tell of their experiences in the public gathering of other residents and their families. This is always humbling as I remind myself that these courageous men and women are becoming scarce among us, and we must not lose their stories. Here are a few thoughts on the “Greatest Generation.”

Twenty years ago, Tom Brokaw popularized the term “Greatest Generation” in his book about the courageous and tenacious men and women who overcame the Great Depression and fought in World War II. My generation that followed and the generations that follow me can never claim to have the grit of these forerunners. Some of those I have interviewed survived weeks of snow and freezing temperatures of the Belgian forests in the infamous Battle of the Bulge. Others jumped over bodies of fallen friends as they stormed the enemy-infested islands of the Pacific.

Certainly, there are equally brave combatants who have continued to answer the call of duty and risk their lives or die for our precious freedoms. Veterans of Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other military operations have sacrificed their lives, limbs, and innocence of youth on far-away battlefields. However, there is just something different about these heroes in their nineties–farmers, factory workers, business men, doctors, and students–who dropped everything to fight against the evil global invasions of the Germans and Japanese. A basic understanding of this war reveals how close the allies came to defeat. Only their selfless valor preserved the free world that we too often take for granted today.

Looking deeply into the failing eyes of former soldiers, sailors, marines, or airmen in their wheelchair-confined last years has given me glimpses of the once-young 1940’s souls. In the prime of life, this generation left schools, careers, and families to defend the homeland in a strange land. These warriors abandoned everything to make the comforts of our generation possible.

World War II veterans number about a half-million today, or about .1% of our population. The last American World War I veteran, Frank W. Buckles, died in 2011 at the age of 110. If the Lord grants me a long life, I suspect that, within the next 20 years, a news report will announce that the last veteran of World War II, the last hero of the “Greatest Generation,” has passed away. In the meantime, we must continue to hear their stories in person and tell them widely and often.

I encourage everyone to make whatever effort it takes to search out at least one veteran from this special era and become familiar with his or her story. If every American will do so, the “Greatest Generation” will live on in the minds and hearts of the next generation. Lest we forget.

Please like and share this post as a tribute to the “Greatest Generation.”

 

 

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