[by Earl Blacklock] Father Pierre was a defrocked priest who, convicted of murder, had been sentenced to life at hard labor at the infamous Devil’s Island penal colony. The evidence against him seemed conclusive. The widow he was accused of killing, who had made him her beneficiary, was known to be fearful, keeping her door bolted after sundown. Tracks in the snow led from the widow’s house to the rear of the church. And his blood-stained cassock was buried in the rectory garden. He proclaimed his innocence, but would say nothing more, and he was convicted. Hard labor at Devil’s Island meant hours of work in the jungle, felling trees or doing whatever else the authorities demanded. Malaria and other tropical diseases were constant companions. Father Pierre always did his share and more, helping those who were weaker to finish their assigned duties.
[by Earl Blacklock] Prior to 1854, Japan was a reclusive nation ruled by a shogunate that had isolated the nation for 200 years. When Commander Perry sailed into Tokyo harbour aboard the frigate Susquehanna, he demanded a treaty between the two nations that would guarantee the safety of shipwrecked American sailors and allow American ships to refuel on their way to Asian markets. Much has been made of the threat that the American guns posed to the Japanese that day. Less known is the story of the role played by a Japanese man who had returned to Japan after being rescued by American sailors. Nakahama Manjirō was only 14 when, in 1841, he was shipwrecked with four others. They made it to an island where they survived for six months. They were rescued by the American whaler ship John Howland and taken to Honolulu.
[by Earl Blacklock] One of the most polarizing issues of our time is the issue of global warming. Or is it climate change? No, the newly minted description is climate disruption. It’s like a supermarket that regularly rebrands so as to convince gullible consumers that they can stop being mad at it for poor service, misleading advertising, and prices that keep rising. But that’s not why I’m a skeptic. And before I continue, let me make clear that I know that the climate is changing. It has ever been thus, and when I lived in Canada’s North I saw firsthand the evidence. The North, and in particular the Mackenzie Valley, is noticeably warming. Areas of permafrost are giving way to semi-permafrost, roadways are buckling, and foundations that were built on permafrost are no longer secure. So why am I a skeptic? For these reasons:
[by Earl Blacklock] The next time you have an x-ray, you may want to pause a moment to give thanks for Mihailo Idvorsky Pupin. His invention of the fluoroscope cut x-ray exposure times from about an hour to mere seconds. He also discovered secondary x-rays, the product of atoms struck by primary x-rays. Pupin’s invention of the Pupin inductance coil increased the distance a long distance telephone call could be transmitted by amplifying the signal along the line without distortion. His oscillating circuit made it possible for telephone companies to send several messages simultaneously on a single line. He sold to the Marconi Corporation patents for a process of electrical tuning and an invention for the conversion of high frequency electrical waves, which allowed clearer radio signals over long distances.
[by Earl Blacklock] May 15 is the date that marks Israel’s independence, and in 1967 thousands of people gathered at Jerusalem’s Nation Hall to hear songs commissioned for the occasion. Jerusalem was at the time divided, in the hands of Jordan to the east and Israel to the west. The Mayor of west Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek, had asked that one of the songs be about Jerusalem. Naomi Shemer responded to his call. Shemer’s Polish parents had taken her as a child to a number of Jerusalem’s biblical places that were closed to Jews in 1948. She was inspired to write a song about the Jerusalem that Jews from Israel could never see – the Wailing Wall, the temple, and even the “Dead Sea by way of Jericho”. She called her song Jerusalem Made of Gold. [A YouTube version of the song is available at the end of the article.]
[By Earl Blacklock] Have you ever wondered why countries spend hundreds of billions, perhaps even trillions of dollars on non-military space exploration? Many of the usual explanations – our instinct for exploration, the advancement of science – seem to be suspect since the cost is so astronomical (pun intended). Surely we can find less expensive ways to satiate our instincts and increase our knowledge. In fact, the news media explanation that space exploration is to “discover the origins of life and the universe” is likely the most accurate. Not satisfied with any explanation that does not preclude a divine origin to – well, everything – the scientific industrial complex works apace to fill in all the holes in the narrative of how we came to be. And there are a lot of holes. One that is most troubling is the explanation of how our life-sustaining oceans came about. Simple, we have been told. Comets contain water and when they impacted the earth, they acted as a water delivery method. Over centuries and eons, they delivered …
[by Earl Blacklock] I was driving down the street, almost oblivious to anything other than my plans for the day. Going down the street in front of my destination bookstore, I spotted the only parking spot, an angled spot directly in front. Life was good! After I parked, as I was about to open my door, I heard, then saw an outraged man shouting – nay, screaming at me. He was almost incoherent, but I managed to hear the words “You cut me off!” The man was raging at me with all the venom he could summon, demanding that I open the car door – something I quickly decided would be imprudent. Talking through the closed window, watching his clenched fists, I wondered whether he would break the window to get at me. Thankfully, after sharing with me the full extent of his expletive-filled vocabulary, he finally departed, likely thinking me properly rebuked.
[by Earl Blacklock] Elizabeth Gray Vining was an experienced American teacher who, in 1946, had the opportunity of a lifetime – to be the English tutor of the Crown Prince of Japan. Emperor Hirohito had specified the qualifications she was to meet. She was to be a Christian woman, “but not a fanatic”. Japan was recovering from a devastating military defeat; the Emperor had been permitted to remain as a figurehead ruler. Real power, however, rested with the Allied commander General Douglas MacArthur, and the Emperor wanted the Crown Prince readied for this new world. Elizabeth was told her purpose was to open windows to the world outside Prince Akihito’s household and culture. Elizabeth’s influence went beyond her lessons.
[by Earl Blacklock] Imagine a spy who, trained by the British Intelligence Service, could emerge from capture and captivity by the Gestapo crippled but unbroken in spirit and faith. A man whose reported exploits made one reviewer say that, compared to him, all other spy tales were about rank amateurs. You don’t need to imagine it. You can simply read the book “The Man Who Wouldn’t Talk” by noted war correspondent Quentin Reynolds (available on Amazon). The book is about George DuPre, a British-trained spy who parachuted into occupied France to help shot down RAF fliers and the resistance in the guise of a half-witted Frenchman. DuPre’s tale was one of heroism, thrilling exploits, and then, after his capture, indomitable faith in God as he suffered torture and privation. It captured the imagination of millions looking for a hero. The book flew off the shelf. The November 1953 Reader’s Digest ran a condensation of the story.
[by Earl Blacklock] Henry Ford was an extraordinary man. Founder of the Ford Motor Company, he developed the assembly line which completely transformed manufacturing. An inventor, he held 161 U.S. patents, and his Model T made road transportation affordable to the working class. He spoke to princes and presidents, and counted Thomas Edison as his friend. Henry Ford was also an anti-semite, publishing and supporting outrageous claims of a Jewish world-wide conspiracy. And he was a fool. Nowhere was this more evident than his underwriting of a Peace Ship to transport pacifists to Europe in December of 1915. His intent was to try to stop World War I by arousing public opinion.
[by Earl Blacklock] A.J. Cronin was a physician and one of England’s most successful novelists. His most famous work is the 1937 book The Citadel, which provides an insider’s view of the problems found in the hidebound British medical profession. Cronin regularly crossed the Atlantic by ocean liner. On one such voyage he began to notice a fellow passenger gazing at him intently. It was clear the man wanted to approach him, but he seemed too shy to do so.
[by Earl Blacklock] Tex Wilson was a newspaper editor in the U.S. midwest, 40 years in the business. At 65, he purchased a local newspaper as his retirement project. He was editor, photographer, and reporter together. Whether there was celebration or sorrow in the town, Tex was there to record the event. Over the years, the community learned to appreciate Tex and his newspaper. There was one thing, though, that gave them pause. On occasion, the paper would be printed with a column or two totally blank. It seemed at first an oversight, like someone forgot to lay the page out properly. But it happened often enough that speculation as to its meaning began.
[by Earl Blacklock] There have been many great shipwrecks in history, the Titanic being only the most memorable. There is another – that of the troopship Birkenhead in 1852 – which deserves remembrance. The Birkenhead was carrying British soldiers and their families to South Africa when it struck an uncharted rock 40 miles from Capetown. The initial collision had caused devastating damage, and the disaster became complete when the ship struck again, splitting in two, the bow quickly sinking. The 630 people on board, including 170 women and children, were in mortal peril. Only three 60-person lifeboats were left and it was clear that, in the shark-infested waters, only those with a seat on a lifeboat would survive.
[by Earl Blacklock] In two earlier articles, I discussed how the “science only” crowd was forced into irrational assumptions by their conviction that there is no God, no Creator. I equated their irrationality to the mental patient who believed the world rested on the back of a giant turtle, with that turtle resting on a large turtle, and so on, the result being “turtles all the way down”. I was, of course, referring to the assumption from those who would say that science can be pursued to the exclusion of faith – that all of life, all of the universe, came out of nothing without any involvement from an omnipotent God. I’m sure the vast majority of scientists would smile, bemused, at the comparison. It is, after all, only Christians whose faith causes them to be irrational – isn’t it? Surely science is based, as Dragnet of old, on “just the facts”? Well, there’s a new theory on the nature of the universe, and it’s one that is so ludicrous that other scientists are having …
[By Earl Blacklock] Out of all the animals in the three-ring circus, none are as beloved as the circus elephant. The sight of the awesome beast, tenderly carrying a flower of a girl on its back, is usually the highlight of a circus performance. Bozo was a master of the circus ring, beloved by families and performers alike. Then its behaviour changed. It became enraged at the slightest provocation, and even went after its keeper with murderous intent. It was clear Bozo was dangerous, and the decision was made to kill it. But this was the circus, in a time different from our own. The manager decided that if the animal had to be killed, it might as well make the circus some additional revenue, so he sold tickets to the execution.
[by Earl Blacklock] In an earlier article, I discussed the irrationality of the argument of “9/11 Truthers” (who could also be called reality deniers), and equated them with scientists who insist that “science only” is the only rational approach for understanding life and the universe. Christians, of course, believe that there is a God, and that He personally intervened to create matter and life out of nothingness. There is currently circulating on the Internet a light-hearted response to this argument. It purports, with tongue firmly in cheek, that in fact the Flying Spaghetti Monster was responsible for creation, and this pasta-based pseudo-deity is personally intervening in the universe “with his noodly appendage” to distort scientific results. They reason that if science must recognize the possibility that God is Creator of all, then why not give the Flying Spaghetti Monster equal time?
[by Earl Blacklock] May 10, 1941 was a night to remember. It was the night that the German Luftwaffe, aided by a clear night and a bomber’s full moon, launched a furious attack on London. Hundreds of bombers dropped incendiaries and high explosives. At no time in the war had so many German planes attacked, and at no time did they cause so much damage. The House of Commons was hit. St. Paul’s Cathedral was surrounded by devastation. Thousands of homes were destroyed, and close to 1,500 people, including children sleeping in their beds, were killed. All in one night.
We are often told to “forgive and forget.” From World War II comes a story about Steve, a wounded soldier who first had to forget before he could forgive. Steve was recovering from his wounds at the U.S. Army Halloran General Hospital on Staten Island when his doctor noticed in his record that he was married. Odd, he thought, since the soldier had received no visitors. Thinking there had been a mix-up in the notification of the spouse, he tracked Steve’s wife Laura down, and she promised to come. When she arrived, she questioned why she had been contacted since the couple was headed for divorce. They had married very young, with very little time together before he was deployed. She was immature and selfish, indulging in an affair which Steve had heard about. He sent a letter home telling her he could never forgive her. Surely Steve had no interest in seeing her. It was apparent she was filled with regret, even self-loathing for what she had done.
According to a 2006 national poll, 42% of Americans have faith – genuine, and heartfelt faith – in the theory that the truth about the 9/11 terrorist attacks has not been told. A large number of these believe the attacks were somehow orchestrated by George Bush, or at least by shadowy elements in the U.S. government. The “9/11 truth” movement has all of the elements of a cult-like belief system. It employs the reverse scientific method whereby one starts with the theory, and then cherry-picks the evidence to fit that theory. Members of the cult drink from the same well, and limit their exposure to mainstream thought. I won’t go into a lengthy description of all of the shortcomings of the argument. Others, particularly Popular Mechanics in its Debunking the 9/11 Myths: A Special Report, have already done so ably and well.
Arthur Pearson was a man of accomplishment, but also a man of service despite a lifelong problem of fading eyesight and eventual blindness. He was born in 1866 to a father who was the Rector of a centuries-old Church of England parish church and a mother who was the granddaughter of hymn-writer and religious poet Henry Francis Lyte, the writer of the well-loved hymn “Abide With Me”. Pearson became a journalist at 18, and the publisher of a periodical journal with a quarter of a million subscribers at 24. He continued to establish and acquire newspapers and magazines, and his greatest accomplishment as a publisher was the founding of the Daily Express newspaper, which is still operating.