About Corazon

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Samhain...er...Pomona...er...Halloween

In my opinion, one of the coolest aspects of history is to see how ancient customs and traditions from hundreds or even thousands of years ago still manage to weave themselves into our 21st century world. Such is the case with many of our current holidays. Whether it be Saturnalia (Christmas), Imbolc (Groundhog Day) or St. Patrick's Day, it is astonishing to see just how many of these ancient pagan traditions are still with us today, even if their meanings have been lost to time.

Such is the case with Halloween. This holiday, which has become a favorite for children in many parts of the world, has its roots in an era from long ago.

In the highlands of modern day Ireland and many other parts of the British Isles, the Celtic festival of Samhain was celebrated by scores of small towns and villages throughout the land. Samhain (one of the most important Celtic holidays), which was essentially an end of the harvest festival, marked the beginning of winter's reign (called the "dark half" of the year). During this day (the night of October 31 extending into the morning of November 1), Celts believed that the barrier between the living world and the "otherworld" was so thin that the souls of the deceased were able to easily pass between the two.

And while it may seem strange to us in the modern world to hear of mystical barriers between one world and the next being thinned on a singular fall evening, we need to keep in mind that the ancient world of Celts was deeply dependent on the elements. As agricultural societies of the ancient world, Celtic people understood all too well what the winter months meant. Is it any wonder that these people, who saw dying trees, plants, animals and even people with the advent of winter, would see October 31 as a day when the barrier between the living and the dead faded?

During the celebration of Samhain, Celts would invoke the help of their local priests (druids) to pray to the gods for safety from death. These prayers reached a crescendo on Samhain, when the souls of the dead (particularly those who had died in the previous year) could come to the aid of their loved ones.

But not all the souls who crossed into the land of the living were kind. As a result, Celts went to extremes to protect themselves from these unwanted visitors. Bonfires on the outskirts of town were dedicated to the gods as a way to beg for the return of the sun and as a way to keep the evil spirits away. Average people would also dress up in various costumes to ward off the unwanted spirits from their village. In addition, blood sacrifices of animals were regularly made by druid priests, who believed that on Samhain they could better predict the future of the coming year than on any other day.

Samhain wasn't the only festival in the ancient world. In Rome, the celebration of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and gardens, was held on November 1. On this day, divination games (essentially fortune telling games) were a regular part of the Pomona celebration. One of the many games, particularly for men and women who had reached the age of maturity, was to bob for apples, peel the skin, toss the skin over one's shoulder and then analyze it to see which letter of the alphabet it resembled. It was believed that the letter was the first letter of the man/woman that the participant would marry. As the Roman empire continued to expand into northern Europe the ideas of Pomona (the celebration of the harvest) and Samhain (the celebration of the dead) began to fuse with each other. Soon the Roman and Celtic festivals became a united and mainstream celebration that spanned over an entire continent.

But Pomona/Samhain would not overcome every obstacle. With the emergence of Christianity as the preeminent force of the Medieval World, the celebration of Pomona/Samhain would change forever. With its hostility towards all things pagan, the Catholic Church quickly sought for the removal of festivals like Samhain (and Saturnalia). However, church authorities quickly realized that these beliefs and traditions couldn't simply be squashed out. As a result, the church adopted a different tactic. Under the direction of Pope Gregory I, church authorities no longer sought to remove pagan ideas but to Christianize them. Pagan idols were given Christian identities while the pagan devotion to the souls of the dead was converted into a devotion to saints.

Under Pope Leo VI this tactic of pagan "hijacking" was taken even further by the creation of All Saints Day, or All Hallows Day on November 1st. On this day, all of the chosen saints of God were praised by the church, while devout disciples and priests prayed for their assistance to intercede on their behalf with god (does this ring a bell with the ancient Samhain rituals?). As a result, the day before All Hallows Day (October 31st) was known to Christians as "All Hallows Eve", which was eventually shortened to "Hallows Eve'n" and then "Halloween."

But the demonetization of pagan beliefs didn't stop there. In 1486 Pope Innocent VIII made witchcraft (by papal decree) the work of the devil. In consequence, traditional pagan roles for female druids were castigated as being the work of Satan. Needless to say, this spawned a title wave of fear and animosity towards anyone who had the slightest appearance of being a witch. Ridiculous new laws and tests were created to help "identify" witches. Black cats were seen as being the animal embodiment of a witch's soul and were considered bad luck if they crossed one's path. Heck, even the famous Joan of Arc was killed on the grounds that she was a witch!

Halloween wouldn't alway remain in the hands of the Catholics. On October 31, 1517 Marin Luther published his "95 Theses" against the Catholic Church. One of his main grievances, which became a staple of Protestantism, was a rejection of all things linked to popes, priests and saints. As a result, Halloween became a horrific celebration for devout followers of Luther and Protestantism in general. For example, Puritan settlers in America forbade its celebration (along with Christmas) from taking place in the New World. Perhaps this helps to also explain their paralyzing fear of witches, which eventually overcame them and brought about the Salem Witch Trials.

Which brings us to today, where Halloween is seen as a secular holiday for kids. And though this current interpretation is a lot more serene than those of old (no witches have been burned in quite some time) it is still important to remember the origins. After all, they show us just how much we still maintain the legends and symbols of old.

happy halloween kat Pictures, Images and Photos

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Where Do Jack-o-Lantern's Come From?

Of all the traditional symbols of modern Halloween perhaps nothing captures the spirit of the holiday more than the Jack-o-lantern. For generations of Americans, the jack-o-lantern is to Halloween what the Christmas tree is to Christmas. One would be hard pressed to celebrate the holiday without it.

And though the jack-o-lantern has thoroughly become an American tradition, it is worth noting that its origins are much older...and foreign to our coasts. Long ago in the Irish highlands, scattered groups of local agrarian people, known as the Celts, created jack-o-lanterns during the celebration of Samhain (later converted to All Saints Day or All Hallows Day with the arrival of Christianity) to honor the memory of "Stingy Jack." And who was Stingy Jack? I'm glad you asked.

The Irish legend states that Stingy Jack was a miserable, old drunk who liked to play tricks on everyone. On one particular evening, Stingy Jack was taking part in his favorite pastime (getting drunk) when the devil decided to pay him a visit. Upon seeing the devil, Stingy Jack offered him a chair and poured the devil a tall, cool ale. As the evening passed and the two men enjoyed each other's company, Stingy Jack realized that he didn't have enough money to pay his bill. Realizing his dilemma, the devil offered to change himself into a coin so that jack could pay his bill. All that was required was for Jack to give the devil his soul, which Jack was more than willing to do. After changing into the coin, however, the devil was cleverly outwitted by Stingy Jack, who pocketed the coin (devil) along with a silver cross, which prevented the devil from changing back into his original form. After some time had passed, Jack agreed to release the devil, under the condition that he would not return for a year. With no other option available to him, the devil reluctantly acquiesced to Stingy Jack's demands.

Once the year had passed, the devil sought his revenge. He tracked Stingy Jack to an apple orchard where Jack was forced to climb a tree for safety. As the devil pursued Jack up the apple tree, Jack once again outwitted the king of the underworld by carving a cross into the tree's bark, thus preventing the devil from coming down. This time, Jack made the devil promise to never lay claim to his soul, to which the devil reluctantly agreed.

Shortly thereafter, Stingy Jack downed one too many adult beverages and kicked the bucket. As the legend states, Jack was denied entrance into the pearly gates of heaven, due to the wrenched life he had chosen to live. God then sent Jack's soul to the gates of hell, where the devil was also unable to permit his entrance due to their pact. As a result, the devil sent Jack on his way to roam the world lonely in limbo. Knowing that his world would be dark and isolated, the devil gave Jack an ember from the fires of hell, which he placed into a hollowed out turnip. The burning ember not only became Jack's exclusive source of light, but also served as a warning to the living of his coming. As a result, the Irish people made sure to hollow out hideous figures in turnips and potatoes on every All Hallows Day (Halloween) to ward off Stingy Jack from their homes.

The immigration of thousands of Irish settlers to the United States in the 19th century meant that the traditions of Halloween (and Stingy Jack) were sure to make the journey as well. Upon their arrival, Irish settlers discovered the indigenous pumpkin, which was much larger and easier to carve than turnips. As a result, the "Jack-o-lantern" became synonymous with the American pumpkin.

So as you enjoy tomorrow's festivities, be sure to protect yourself from the wrath of "Stingy Jack" by carving out a pumpkin...or a turnip if you're old school!

Yes, the Founders Established a Separation of Church and State (Sorry Political Pundits)

Over the past few weeks several notable political figures have engaged in the time-honored tradition of "hijacking" history for their own partisan purposes. Of course this is nothing new. Every generation of Americans has attempted to lay claim to certain historical figures in an effort to add legitimacy to their respective claim/agenda. And of all the coveted historical figures, the legacy of America's founding fathers has taken center stage in America's current culture wars. Liberals and conservatives alike have engaged in a virtual tug-o-war over the question, "what would our founding fathers think of x, y, and z?". Now, it's not my intention to engage in a political debate today. With that said, I do want to set a few issues straight; issues that I believe are clear-cut and cannot be doubted (even though many have tried).

Some of you might recall the following comments made by Senatorial Candidate Christine O'Donnell on the topic of separation of church and state:

And then there's the dynamic duo of pseudo history, Glenn Beck and David Barton, whose false history I have exposed on many occasions (click here, here, here and here):

Yes, the desire to twist history (irrefutable history) knows no bounds. Despite that reality, pundits like Rush Limbaugh have defended Ms. O'Donnell by stated that, "The myth of a separation of church and state is so obvious to anyone who reads the Constitution. If you actually read the Constitution you will never find the phrase, 'Separation of church and state.'"

Well, technically Mr. Limbaugh is right. You won't find that phrase anywhere in the Constitution. If we are to take the Constitution LITERALLY then he has a great case. However, what Mr. Limbaugh neglects to realize is that you won't find "separation of powers" either. So does that mean the separation of powers is a myth? In addition, the Constitution does not make mention of the Air Force or the Marines. It only states that the government should, "provide for the common defense" by creating an army and a navy. Anyone for getting rid of our Air Force and Marines? Semper Fi, Mr. Limbaugh! Bottom line: we must look at the ENTIRE picture. The founders were clear on this issue...so clear that they essentially saw it as a no-brainer; an obvious given reality that didn't need to be spelled out in the final draft of the Constitution.

In his book, Common Sense, Glenn Beck stated, "The separation of church and state is more akin to communist Russia than the United States...I challenge any liberal to find just one example of where our founders advocated a separation of church and state."

Well, I'm no liberal but hey, I'm up for the challenge. Here's just a few, Mr. Beck:
"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
~Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution of the United States.

"The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion."
~Treaty of Tripoli, between the United States and the subjects of Tripoli, 1797. Signed by President John Adams and ratified by the U.S. Senate.

"Our civil rights have no dependance on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry...We the General Assembly of Virginia do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities."
~Thomas Jefferson, "Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia," 1779.

"Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth."
~Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782.

"I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another."
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799.

"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
~Thomas Jefferson, as President, in a letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.

"It behoves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others; or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own."
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803.

"Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity in exclusion of all other religions may establish, with the same ease, any particular sect of Christians in exclusion of all other sects? That the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute threepence only of his property for the support of any one establishment may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever?"
~James Madison, "A Memorial and Remonstrance," addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1785.

"The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion."
~James Madison, letter to Benjamin Rush, April 1, 1794.

"And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together."
~James Madison, letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822.

"When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, 'tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one."
~Benjamin Franklin, letter to Richard Price, October 9, 1780.

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813.

"Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history."
~James Madison, "Monopolies, Perpetuities, Corporations, Ecclesiastical Endowments."

"If Religion be not within the cognizance of Civil Government how can its legal establishment be necessary to Civil Government? What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil Society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the Civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny: in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty, may have found an established Clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just Government instituted to secure & perpetuate it needs them not. Such a Government will be best supported by protecting every Citizen in the enjoyment of his Religion with the same equal hand which protects his person and his property; by neither invading the equal rights of any Sect, nor suffering any Sect to invade those of another."
~James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, 1785.

"The settled opinion here is, that religion is essentially distinct from civil Government, and exempt from its cognizance; that a connection between them is injurious to both."
~James Madison, letter to Edward Everett, March 18, 1823.

"The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries."
~James Madison, 1803, letter objecting to the use of government land for churches.

"Every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshiping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience."
~George Washington, Letter, United Baptist Chamber of Virginia May 1789

“Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. I had hoped that liberal and enlightened thought would have reconciled the Christians so that their [not our?] religious fights would not endanger the peace of Society.”
~George Washington, letter to Sir Edward Newenham, June 22, 1792.

"[N]o one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of...every species of religious persecution."
~George Washington
There are a TON more but I think you get the picture.

Ok, I realize that maybe I'm just a part of some evil communist, fascist, Marxist, socialist, Maoist, Obamaist plot to destoy America by lying about history (like all those fellow comrade professors of the evil American universities) but oh well. Mr. Beck also stated, "Don't read what historians have told you. Read the words of our founders. They are crystal clear."

Touche, Mr. Beck. Very touche!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cooking with Corazon: Episode XXVII

Baked Salmon w/
Zesty Avocado Sauce

In today's installment in my quest for culinary excellence I decided to make one of my favorite meals: baked salmon. The unique twist in this dish is the sauce. Take a look:

I made a zesty avocado sauce to compliment the salmon. To be honest, it worked really well with the fish. Here's the recipe:

Avocado Sauce:

- 1 ripe avocado
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Juice from 1 1/2 large limes
- Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste

1.) It's simple. Blend the ingredients in a food processor or blender.

As for the fish, I chose the following seasonings:

- Sea salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- Chipotle powder
- Paprik
- Coriander
- Cumin
- Garlic powder
- Lemon pepper seasoning

I baked the fish in tin foil at 350 for about 45 minutes. I also included a chopped up red onion (I love red onion) to add some extra flavor. Once the fish is done simply remove from the oven and top with the zesty avocado sauce...then SCARF!!!

Oh, I almost forgot. I also incorporated some garlic parmesan zucchini to the menu. This meal was a joy to both eat and prepare. It's simple and full of flavor...and it had the approval of a six and three-year-old!

Buen provecho!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Tea Party and the Constitution

Dr. John Fea, historian, author and long-time friend of American Creation (my other blog), has posted an interesting article on the Tea Party movement. The article is written by Joseph Moore, a graduate student in American history at UNC-Greensboro. Mr. Moore writes:
The Constitution was written to constrain movements like the Tea Party. Ironic, then, that Tea Partiers espouse such a religious reverence for it. They collapse evangelical views on the Bible (as written by divinely inspired men and therefore inerrant) into conservative views of the Constitution (same, same). When faced with problems, Glenn Beck proclaimed to a group of kids this summer, "The answer is always 'restore the Constitution.'" In August, a Greensboro crowd carrying weapons met for a "Restore the Constitution" rally. they have turned 'don't tread on me' into 'don't tread on the Constitution.'

The paradox of this crusader's zeal for the Founding Fathers is that the Tea Party more closely resembles the groups that opposed the Constitution than those who wrote it in 1787. The world was different then, but not so different.

Our Constitution was a reaction to a great recession. America couldn't even pay the interest on the national debt taken out to finance the Revolution. Cheap imported goods flooded the market, diving American workers out of a living. These patriotic people, many of them war veterans, had financed their homes with loans. With no one buying American anymore, regular people couldn't pay their mortgages, and banks foreclosed on homes across the nation.

In Massachusetts, a war veteran named Daniel Shays espoused something like the modern sentiment, 'we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore.' Shays and other farmers took up arms, took to the streets, and became the faces of a movement sweeping the country. In the spirit of American patriotism, they demanded that state lawmakers pass legislation protecting hardworking people against bankers and taxes. Thomas Jefferson noted approvingly, "A little rebellion now and then is a good thing."

Thomas Jefferson was in Paris when he said that. George Washington, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton were not. Those Founding Fathers called for a new government to stave off groups like Shays'. The document they created, the Constitution, put distance between the people and their government. Politicians, not the people, chose Senators. Not one private citizen voted for George Washington to be president. The original Constitution did not include the rights to free speech, religious choice, bearing arms, due process, or trial by jury. "We the People of the United States" was added in the final day of editing- to save space.

Enter the Anti-Federalists. They were panicked that the new government would enable "the rich to oppress and ruin the poor." This annoyed Washington, who privately remarked that the protesters gave "the tone" of being "obnoxious," and that it was best that citizens should not have opportunity to "peak behind the curtain" of US government.

What frustrated our first President were the Anti-Federalists; emotional appeal and their conspiracy theories about strong central government colluding to take away people's freedoms. "This government, " one opponent prophesied, "will set out a moderate aristocracy."

The Anti-Federalists lost, mostly because in the midst of economic crisis a strong national government made the best sense. Along the way the Anti-Federalists browbeat ten notable concessions called the Bill of Rights out of Washington and 'the establishment.' We woe them our thanks. But that cannot change irrefutable historical facts:

The Constitution was written to protect government from movements like the Tea Party. It was written to ensure the power of the federal government to direct economic policy. It was written to Keep control away from angry men with guns. It was, in short, everything Tea Party advocates like Beck and Michale Savage think it was not.

Ironically, the Tea Partiers have embodied what their most sacred text opposed. This does not delegitimize them.They stand in a meaningful tradition even as they misunderstand it. They have channeled the old angst of Anti-Federalism, good and bad, into the present by combining Jeffersonian fear of government with anger for anger's sake. Their zeal is both tremendous and historic.

Perhaps the ultimate irony is that the political moderation the Tea Party hates and the Founding Fathers loved is now represented not by politicians, but by comedians. One week before the mid-term elections, Comedy Central's Jon Stewart will hold his "Rally To Restore Sanity" on the National Mall. The restoration of sanity was what the Constitution was originally about.
And though I am not a fan or an apologist of the Tea Party movement, I believe that Mr. Moore's summation is a bit too superficial.

But what say you?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Slave Petitions for Freedom

This morning, just before going to bed (I work the graveyard shift), I was watching a short discussion on one of the many ridiculous political cable channels on the issue of slavery and the Founding Fathers. During the back-and-forth debate, I was stunned to hear one pundit make the comment that, "the Founding Fathers protected slavery because they knew no better." To be honest, I was not really all that surprised by this comment. It seems that many Americans have embraced this delusional interpretation of our founding history as a convenient way to justify the founders' choice to keep an entire race in chains. After all, nobody wants to admit that their respective country has skeletons in the closet.

Anyway, after sleeping on it I decided to dust off my old copy of historian Gary Nash's book, Race and Revolution. I haven't bothered to look over this fantastic work since my undergrad days, so this seemed like the perfect excuse. Besides, Colorado Springs is dark and cold today, which makes for perfect reading conditions. What I love about Nash's book is that it provides several wonderful primary source examples of African American slaves who adopted the ideology of the American Revolution for themselves. They too caught hold of the idea that "all men are created equal" and that they could stake claim to certain "natural rights" guaranteed to them by "Providence." As a result, literally hundreds of slave petitions demanding freedom (sort of small declarations of independence themselves) were sent to the various colonial officials, all demanding immediate emancipation.

And there are literally hundreds of documents from slaveholders, which prove the fact that these colonials had a perfect understanding of the evils of slavery. Thomas Jefferson even stated that, "If there is a just god in heaven we will pay dearly for what has been done to the Negroes."

So, to make the idiotic claim that the colonial generation was somehow ignorant on the issue of slavery and knew no better is both foolish and irresponsible. I understand the need for Americans to cherish their history. I am in total agreement with that, and in no way am I a "founding father-hater." But there is no excuse for those who attempt to obscure the unsavory parts of our history. When we learn the TRUE nature of our history, the more noble it becomes. Our founders were human, not demigods.

I have attached one of the several slave petitions for you all to read (which can be found in Gary Nash's book). It is one of my favorites, because it proves that the slaves were anything but ignorant of the sweeping winds of revolution:
Boston, April 20th, 1773.

Sir, The efforts made by the legislative of this province in their last sessions to free themselves from slavery, gave us, who are in that deplorable state, a high degree of satisfaction. We expect great things from men who have made such a noble stand against the designs of their fellow-men to enslave them. We cannot but wish and hope Sir, that you will have the same grand object, we mean civil and religious liberty, in view in your next session. The divine spirit of freedom, seems to fire every humane breast on this continent, except such as are bribed to assist in executing the execrable plan.

We are very sensible that it would be highly detrimental to our present masters, if we were allowed to demand all that of right belongs to us for past services; this we disclaim. Even the Spaniards, who have not those sublime ideas of freedom that English men have, are conscious that they have no right to all the services of their fellow-men, we mean the Africans, whom they have purchased with their money; therefore they allow them one day in a week to work for themselves, to enable them to earn money to purchase the residue of their time, which they have a right to demand in such portions as they are able to pay for (a due appraizement of their services being first made, which always stands at the purchase money.) We do not pretend to dictate to you Sir, or to the Honorable Assembly, of which you are a member. We acknowledge our obligations to you for what you have already done, but as the people of this province seem to be actuated by the principles of equity and justice, we cannot but expect your house will again take our deplorable case into serious consideration, and give us that ample relief which, as men, we have a natural right to.

But since the wise and righteous governor of the universe, has permitted our fellow men to make us slaves, we bow in submission to him, and determine to behave in such a manner as that we may have reason to expect the divine approbation of, and assistance in, our peaceable and lawful attempts to gain our freedom.

We are willing to submit to such regulations and laws, as may be made relative to us, until we leave the province, which we determine to do as soon as we can, from our joynt labours, procure money to transport ourselves to some part of the Coast of Africa, where we propose a settlement. We are very desirous that you should have instructions relative to us, from your town, therefore we pray you to communicate this letter to them, and ask this favor for us.

In behalf of our fellow slaves in this province, and by order of their Committee.

Peter Bestes,
Sambo Freeman,
Felix Holbrook,
Chester Joie.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Family Outing to the Pumpkin Patch/Autumn Festival

Today our family took a trip to Black Forest (located just outside Colorado Springs) to have some fun at their Pumpkin Patch/Autumn Festival. There were lots of fun games and activities for kids, all of which make it a great family destination. Take a look:

Mom and her guys on the hay ride.
Having fun on the giant slide.
Jaxson petting the rabbits.
Me and my guys conquering the giant hay pyramid...and flexing for the camera.
Launching small pumpkins on the slingshot.
The trip was a blast! You gotta love autumn.
And, as always, here are a couple of videos. Part 1:

Part 2:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Anniversary Trip to Estes Park

This past weekend Elizabeth and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary by paying a visit to Estes Park, one of the most beautiful parts of Colorado. Here are some pics:

Some of the beautiful mountain ranges that surround Estes Park.
The Main Street of Estes Park. There are so many unique little novelty stores. We spent an entire day just exploring them.
The Stanley Hotel, where movies like, "The Shining" were filmed. A must see for anyone visiting Estes Park.
More amazing mountains.

And here's a short video of the Stanley Hotel:

The trip was a blast! Here's hoping for 70 more anniversaries just like this one!

The American Founding by Focus on the Family

Taking a vacation to the snow-capped Rocky Mountains of Colorado is an appealing attraction for thousands of Americans every year. As most can imagine, Colorado is consistently in the top five states for tourism every year, thanks to its impressive displays of nature.

Having lived most of my life in Colorado -- and while currently residing in Colorado Springs -- I have had the privilege of exploring what this region of the country has to offer. When most people think about Colorado Springs, usually the first images that pop into their mind are those of Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, Cave of the Winds, the U.S. Olympic Training Center the United States Air Force Academy, and of course...FOCUS ON THE FAMILY.

As most of you are aware, Focus on the Family is a powerful Evangelical organization that is dedicated to furthering their interpretation of Christian and family values. In addition, Focus on the Family has been deeply involved in the political and historical arenas by focusing on a conservative agenda of Christian ideology. As a result, Focus on the Family has become a powerful voice in the shaping of political and American historical thought for many of its followers.

With that said, I thought some of you might enjoy a brief "virtual tour" of the Focus of the Family Welcome Center, where they provide a brief preview of their take on early American history and the role of religion in shaping that history. First off, I must apologize for the mediocre quality of the video that I took during my visit. My camera is not the best and unfortunately the batteries don't last long. With this in mind, I give you The history of America's founding, by Focus on the Family:

The advertisement for "The Truth Project," which includes Focus on the Family's take on the religious origins -- specifically Christian origins -- of America's founding

The "Drive Thru History America: Foundations of Character" Campaign

Next to the advertisement for "The Truth Project" there is a display for the National Day of Prayer, which they also specify with a national day of thanksgiving to God for the religious faithfulness of the founding fathers

And now, as promised, the video:

Here are some additional pictures:

The entrance to Focus on the Family

The Administration building

The Welcome Center

Entrance to the Welcome Center

The Library

The current "Book of the Month"

Art of the Revolution

Political Stuff

**FYI, I have intentionally withheld my personal opinions of this video and of Focus on the Family in general, so that you could make your own opinions without any influence on my part. Though I do not personally agree with a lot of what Focus on the Family stands for, particularly their take on early American history, I do want to emphasize that my visit to their Welcome Center was very enjoyable. I was impressed by their friendliness and assistance. Their facilities are extraordinary to say the least.**