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Archive for February, 2017

THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE…THE TRUTH

At most every turn in America these days the “political correct” mentality rules over the thoughts of far too many. Our American culture has declined in liberty and freedoms because of this way of thinking. Self-thinkers are becoming increasingly rare! One basic right of Americans is the Freedom of Speech found in our Bill of Rights. So many people seek anything they can find to announce another’s word or action as offensive. Lawyers are making fortunes with these people. Today, if one says anything at all chances are someone will be offended. Many years ago while still in school I announced the PC culture, that was beginning to really take hold, would cause the decline in American values. I hate it when I am right!

Today, political correctness has evolved for over fifty years and a cry has been shouted around daily. That cry  of the left is “Separation of Church and State!” Usually the additional word of “unconstitutional” is included somewhere in the cry…you know for added emphasis! These words are screamed constantly with anything pertaining to Christ or God in a public place, and I mean anything. The courts have been used as a tool to complete the left’s attacks. And many courts proudly use their personal agendas to accomplish the goals. Astronomical expenses will occur to fight these challenges. Many succumb rather than spend their precious and limited funds to fight the courts. I believe it will be only a matter of time that the attacks will filter into private displays of anything deemed Christ-like. This is the signs of the times we live. Examples are happening almost daily of such attacks. One recent example pertained to a  teacher wearing a cross necklace. Yes, this is how bad the PC world has become. Commonsense is gone!

Christ-based holidays, even the secular ones, have been attacked constantly. One seldom hears the Christmas songs played during the holiday season if a reference to Christ is included in the lyrics. You’ll happily hear Grandma Got Run Over By A reindeer. (Not me, however.)  The Christmas holiday and Easter have become 90% secular in America culture.

The truth of the phrase, “separation of Church and State” has a completely different origin as we would suspect upon listening to the medias and politicians. Those words actually began many years ago as they were shouted by prominent ministers in the 1500 era of England.  The phrase would enter to the land of America during the 1600 time span as Europeans escaping religious persecution traveled from across the sea! The phrase was used by Bible-oriented ministers and colonists. Yes, the phrase was used by leaders of the Christian faith and not the secular world. This is a far cry from what we are all are lead to believe in today’s left-leaning world. Also, few Americans know the facts and believe the left may be correct because our government court system has permeated this falsehood as well. You have heard about if a lie is told enough the lie will become factual. This has all occurred since World War 2.

Thomas Jefferson is usually given credit for the separation of Church and State. He wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 to clarify the issue. The ministers were concerned over potential issues of their freedoms from the state. Today, the words in this letter are used against Jefferson’s real response since he actually used the phrase.. The letter reaffirmed Jefferson’s belief on a “wall of separation of Church and State,” however, he was reaffirming the churches freedoms from any meddling into their beliefs from the state. This letter because of the phrase used has been constantly brought up as Jefferson’s belief that anything of Christ not be used in a public place controlled with taxpayer’s expense, etc.

As stated, the history of the “separation of Church and State” phrase goes back much further. The real reason ministers pushed for separation of Church and State began around 390 A.D. under Roman Emperor Theodosius. This man assumed control of the church and decreed Christianity as the official religion of the empire. This would not be a true Christianity! This decree allowed the State (Government) to have control over what could be preached and what the people had to believe. The people would be required to enforce any mandated, religious doctrines of the State.

Anybody who studied the history of Christianity will see the many atrocities committed by the State rulers using the name of Christ as a catalyst for justification. Many Christians, not adhering to the State’s form of Christianity, were tortured; imprisoned and executed by those leaders of the state-controlled Church. And these acts were done by those professing to be Christians, as well. Of course, these people were not true Christians by any means. True Christianity would never commit to such acts of brutality. However, many of the world believe if anyone professes to be a Christian then they must be one and any such actions are permissible as a Christian. WRONG! One poll I have seen claimed 80% of Americans believe they are Christians. I would like to know the reasons these individuals believe they are Christians. I imagine their reasons are wide and varied and not Bible-based.

True Bible-based ministers, in time, demanded that the State separate themselves from the Church. One man and clergyman named Richard Hooker first used the phrase of separation of Church and State.

King Henry VIII started the Anglican Church upon wanting to get divorced. His new church would allow the divorce as needed. Also, Parliament passed laws as to who could take communion and who could be ministers. This added more control over the Church. Are you seeing the trends?

A Reverend John Greenwood was executed for stating a separation was needed. This man started a congregation attended by many English Pilgrims. Parliament passed a law of anyone denying Queen Elizabeth 1 of church supremacy would be imprisoned without bail. Pilgrims began traveling towards the New World of America to escape such laws being enforced upon their beliefs. The Pilgrims believed the government had no right to plant churches by power and force laws and penalties the State deemed correct.

As previously stated, Theodosius took the Church over in 390 A.D. The centuries following lead to even more rulers of the State mandating all church authorities to follow whatever religious doctrines the State decided as doctrine. These many years had a complete lack of religious tolerance. These were the centuries where all the negative attributes of Christianity occurred. many of which are still used today to combat anything Christ-like. A couple of examples of the past were the Inquisition and the Crusades.

Those calling themselves the Puritans began fleeing soon afterwards. Puritans were having their noses sliced, ears cut off and brands placed on their foreheads for not adhering to State-controlled Churches. Over the next hundred years or so many others left for America. These individuals including Jews, Quakers, Anabaptists, Huguenots and Lutherans were part of this migration from religious persecution. William Penn, who founded Pennsylvania, was a Quaker.

Christ is Matthew 24 prophesied of a great “falling away” prior to his Second Advent. Paul in  2 Thessalonians 2:3 stated of a Apostasy prior to the revealing of the Wicked One during the latter days. Apostasy  means to fall away from sound Christian doctrine.This false Christianity permeated the world for these many years. I believe the apostasy mentioned above has been in effect since the very early years of the church’s establishment.

However, there were bright times in Christianity. Bible-oriented leaders began efforts to reform the terrible abuses of the State-controlled Christianity. These were the cries of true separation from the State. Many of these leaders would face tremendous persecution even death. All through the decades the State has controlled and abused the Church. By the time of the New World colonies early years the idea of “separation of Church and state” was firmly planted within the populace’s thinking. Many had witnessed the abuse of the State-run church. They wished to avoid such control in their new world if possible. This mind-set had become prominent with the colonies independence from England in 1776. Read the Declaration of Independence for yourself and you will notice the issues these Americans had with England at that time. So, it is no wonder the Founding Fathers included the Freedom  Religion in the new Bill of Rights. In fact this right was listed as the First Amendment.

THE FIRST AMENDMENT

“Congress  shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

The idea of “Separation of Church and State” in America changed drastically in 1947.  Many have become completely ignorant of this reality. A supreme court ruling in 1947 used Jefferson’s words of “separation of Church and State” to rule in favor of actually keeping religion from all walks of life concerning public places. HOWEVER, the court did not use the remaining words of Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association. They used only the phrase! The new America of shame would be now become the normal way of thinking. Later, in the early sixties an atheist found a sympathetic court to the 1947 ruling and the reading of Bibles in schools became the attack. Now, prayer in school is against policy. If a kid would draw a symbol of religion he/she could be disciplined. This is why having the right judge is so important in America. Remember the original intent of separation was to keep the State from meddling, interfering, and controlling the Church’s beliefs, doctrines and expression. The phrase was never  supposed to be used to remove crosses; Ten Commandment monuments, Bibles from the schools; public prayer for graduation ceremonies, Christmas songs and the like. The “separation of Church and State” was to protect such liberties!  Words were spoken stating, “The separation of Church and State does not mean the exclusions of God, righteousness, morality from the State.”  

Now armed with the above knowledge as presented above read the First Amendment again!

The “separation of the Church and State” was intended by our Founding Fathers to keep government away from governing Christianity and not to be intrusive to Christianity. The Founders knew very well what had happened to the European Churches once the state controlled it all. They wanted their new government to not be as the State had been in Europe for those many, many years. Wow! We have come a long way from the original intent!!!!!

 

 

 

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WHITETAIL & CHICKADEES

I had a small piece of gesso-treated Masonite and decided to utilize into a painting.  I had just taken a hike on a day with a few inches of snow on the ground and became inspired. the subject was to be a buck White-tailed Deer.

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Spring in February

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Ring-billed Gulls

dsc_0006 What can one do when the temperatures are in the sixty and even into the seventy degree range in Pennsylvania? One can get outside and enjoy the  days! With that in mind I spent two mornings in the area of Crooked Creek Lake.

 

Hemlock cones

Hemlock cones

 

Teaberry in moss

Teaberry in moss

The first morning out was a joy with one exception. I aimed the camera at a male bluebird finding out the camera wasn’t

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

working. I had forgotten to place the memory card back into the camera’s body. I felt so stupid. I had done this one time before and the act takes the punch out of photo taking on any given day! Oh well, I can still walk and observe.

Goose track

Goose track

I saw  geese; gulls, and many mergansers. However, the one sight I truly enjoyed was the site of an eagle at about forty yards at eye level. I believe the bird was a Golden Eagle and not an immature Bald eagle. I was looking through tree limbs and the presence of this majestic bird was limited in time, so getting a positive ID wasn’t to be.                                                                    dsc_0022

dsc_0026 Friday, February 24, was a day that would reach into the seventies here in western Pennsylvania. I did a lot of yard work in the

Merganser

Merganser

afternoon, but all morning I was at the lake again walking and observing. This time, however, I was armed with a loaded camera.

I walked along the lake’s shoreline and some trails. The lake’s water level was down since we have had little rain as od recent. This allowed easy walking along the edge of the water.

Again, many mergansers were all about the lake. A number of Canada geese could be heard and viewed as well. Ring-billed Gulls were rather common today. A specie of goose was far off and sounded off occasionally. I never saw it close enough to positively identify. Maybe it was am immature Blue Goose or quite possibly a domesticated goose who left a farm.

 

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

I never saw an eagle this morning. I watched the skies closely.  I did see Ravens; Great Blue Herons; Killdeer; Bluebirds; deer; squirrels; and possibly an immature Red-headed Woodpecker.                                                                      dsc_0036

 

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A Search For A Man

 

Section of the Stewardson Furnace Cemetery.

Section of the Stewardson Furnace Cemetery.

Research had supplied additional information along with a possible site to search. The  quest was for a man of the past named, Abraham Bechtel. The man searching was Tim Bowser. Another friend, Bob “Slim” Bowser, Tim and I decided to search on this beautiful February afternoon. Tim and Slim are living historians. They represent the Civil War soldiers of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry (PVI) Many of these brave men came from such counties of western Pennsylvania as Armstrong, Indiana, Allegheny, Westmoreland, and Jefferson. Slim had a personal tie with his great-great-great uncle Daniel Swigart. That fact lead to his interest in the 62nd PVI. His quest recently discovered an actual photograph of his ancestor. I am an honorary member of this group. These two men and others, including wives in many cases do not do reenacting. These people do grave rededications, volunteering to do work in Gettysburg, do displays and educational presentations to inform the public of those men of the 62nd PVI.

However, this day was for Tim’s great-great-great grandfather, Abraham Bechtel. Others. within the 62nd unit had discovered information of the site of   imgp0931-001Stewardson Furnace area of a possible burial site. The cemetery is located on a flat terrain side of a hill about a mile and a half east of the town of Mahoning in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. In times past a working furnace for ore was located in the area. Mr. Bechtel served in Company K during the Civil War.

The three of us walked among the tombstones searching for the name of our quest. A couple of stones were discovered with the last name of Bechtel, but the name of Abraham was absent. I expressed many times the sadness I felt upon walking the cemetery.  Most of  the tombstones were unreadable without study and/or paper tracings. That meant getting down to work. Still many stones were totally unreadable. Scattered about the cemetery were numerous stones down among the vegetation. We gathered some up to set back up albeit only temporarily for without major work the stones would fall over in time.

 

Tim and Slim studying tombstones. (Slim is in orange.)

Tim and Slim studying tombstones. (Slim is in orange.)

A number of stones were merely that. It seems apparent some of the stone markers were placed at graves without inscriptions. Maybe these were very poor people who couldn’t afford the cost of a stone with details. Maybe they hoped to supply a tombstone with inscriptions in their future and just never could.

We were humbled as we walked the site. Of course thoughts of the people under us became apparent. One can’t help wondering details. Many people were under thirty years of age including infants. What caused their demise? Typhoid? Scarlet fever? Accidents? Fire? I guess we will never know just who these individuals were. The research did tell us Abraham had fallen at a stone quarry near Manorville. He died from the fall. The date of his accident and death was May 3, 1876.

Another obvious discovery were the many areas of sunken graves. The old pine board caskets had

Slim resetting flag at Swigart grave.

Slim resetting flag at Swigart grave.

succumbed to the elements over many years underground and had collapsed. Depressions of this fact were common.

Unfortunately Abraham’s grave was not located on site. He, very well, could have been laid to rest here. One depressed area with only a field stone marker yielded a GAR marker with a flag. Could Abraham have been buried here? (GAR stands for Grand Army of the republic.)

Later, we stopped at the Pine Creek Baptist Cemetery to check on Slim’s ancestor Daniel Swigart’s grave site. Slim was disappointed as to the trees and briars in this section of the cemetery.  Slim reset the flag in honor.

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dsc_0001 The weather people were stating a warm up was coming for the weekend. I needed to hike some more in snow before this  melted.dsc_0018 We did not have very much snow locally this winter.  My decision was to hike the area of Crooked Creek Park. I was hoping to get some eagle pics as they are always in the area.

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I was traveling early and was fortunate to witness a few moments of sunrise. Cloud cover was dominate, but hints of sun would occasionally peak  dsc_0034through. (Later in the day the sun was more prominent.) I arrived on site around 7:20 A.M. The hike was on!

dsc_0025  The lake follows the old creek bottom. It is easy to see how Crooked Creek became known as such. The original waterways meanders in a very crooked manner. At one point which is the current beach area one can stand with water on three sides.

Sycamore seed pod

Sycamore seed pod

While I stood on the, now abandoned, beach area I saw over fifty Canada Geese flying over and landing on the lake. It was obvious the pairing off of the geese was on. Also, on the lake were mergansers and wood ducks. No eagles!

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I walked along a high ridge and spotted an immature Bald eagle at about thirty yards or less. However, the branches of hemlocks would not permit a single photograph. Of course, the eagle wasn’t going to allow much time to find a good opening. This would be the only eagle I would see this day.

I hiked below the overflow area. the creek was high since the dam was allowing for back up water to escape. I saw two Great Blue herons flying over the waters.

dsc_0042     Deer were plentiful. I saw twenty deer this day. Some were bedded and others were feeding.

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Bayernhof Music Museum

dsc_0003  We finally made a trip to the Bayernhof Music Museum. A friend told me of this museum quite some time ago. Today we had the dsc_0013opportunity to visit the site near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

The overlook

The overlook

The 19,000 square feet building is located hill on a hill overlooking the Allegheny River just outside of the city. Also, the site overlooks the Highland Park area including the zoo, Oakland and downtown Pittsburgh.The view is something to see. the building was built by Charles Boyd Brown. Mr. Brown died dsc_0018in 1999. He was a collector of antique musical instruments. Mr. brown, also, loved anything from the area of Bavaria in Europe.

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dsc_0008   The home has ten fireplaces, eight full baths, three powder rooms and three kitchens. It has eleven wet bars scattered around the building. Some secret passageways can be discovered once someone shows them where they are. Spiral steps, an indoor swimming pool with a ten foot waterfall are on the premises. Mr. Brown, also, had a reflecting telescope installed.              dsc_0011

A most unique feature on site is the “cave”. This is a created cave that meanders through the lower basement area and has stalactites and stalagmites built to observe.

Antiques and art and murals can be observed at the museum.  Need to take a sauna?  yes, the building has one along with a tanning room and Jacuzzi.

Each chair was hand-carved with a different animal on it.

Each chair was hand-carved with a different animal on it.

dsc_0010  However, the collection yields to many very old , rare and automatic musical instrument. Many of these were created in the 1800 time frame. One might hear something that would have been used prior to the “talkie” movies.  Many of these had to be restored to their original grandeur.

For more information see: http://www.bayernhofmuseum.com                                                     dsc_0019

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Roaring Run Hike

Kiski River

Kiski River

By remembering the mile marker posts and studying the official trail map I determined we may have hiked as much as eight  dsc_0015miles. My friend, Frank Maus an I traveled the trail this cold February morning.  Frankie had never been at this area and was anxious to see the sights. I have hiked on  the Roaring Run Trail before as well as hiked it before.  Check out: http://www.roaringrun.org  for more information on the trail.

The Roaring Run Trail flows alongside the Kiskimineatas River in southern Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. Many years ago I remember the waterways to be orange from mine acid drainage issues. Today the water is clean and beautiful thanks to many efforts to clean it up. Many species of fish inhabit these waters today. There are some small communities of Armstrong County that can be found along this river. Some are Avonmore; Edmon; Apollo; Vandergrift and Leechburg. The “Kiski” River as it is known by many locals flows into the Allegheny River at Schenley, Pennsylvania.  (My father worked over forty years at the Schenley Distilleries located at Schenley. And he didn’t drink!) During the years of approximately 1825 to 1850 a canal was present along this river.

 

Roaring Run

Roaring Run

 

Beaver sign

Beaver sign

The first signs of wildlife were a small flock of Canada Geese flying low and close. We weren’t hardly out of jeep yet when they  dsc_0012 appeared. My camera was still in my shoulder bag. Later, we saw two Mallard Ducks along the shoreline. The river was up some and was flowing quickly. We noticed a lot of Beaver activity along the river’s edge.

Eventually, we stopped and turned at Roaring Run’s mouth where it entered the Kiski River. Here we turned to hike the Rock Furnace Trail. Originally this furnace was known as Biddle’s Iron Furnace.

A huge boulder erupts above Roaring Run at the site of long-abandoned furnace. The rock if known as Camel Rock.

 

Camel Rock

Camel Rock

dsc_0004   Time moved fast as we talked and laughed. We discussed fishing these waters in the future. I plan to do so as well as hike some more as the spring wildflowers bloom.

 

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