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Savonarola and Revival
By Dr. Jeff Sanders

I am currently reading some books about the Italian Renaissance.  One book is "Death in Florence-- the Medici, Savonarola, and the Battle for the Soul of a Renaissance City" by Paul Strathern (2015).  Much of the book is about the struggles, triumph, and death of an Italian "reformer": Girolamo Savonarola.

I am getting to know Savonarola, and for the most part I like him and sympathize with him.  He had some wacky ideas about being a prophet of God and uttered some predictions that did not come true, but I do feel sorry for him.  He was truly distraught over the abject debauchery of his day... not only among the rank and file citizens of Florence, but also among the clergy.

Savonarola was a Domenican monk and well educated in the philosophy and theology of his day.  He was not a "pre-reformation reformer" like John Wycliffe or Jan His.  Savonarola whole-heartedly believed the Roman Catholic theology of his day, yet he also vociferously called the clergy and leadership of his day to forsake their greed, sexual immorality, and lust for power.  (The Pope during this time was Alexander VI... previously known as Rodrigo Borgia... not exactly known for being the most moral person in town).

Savonarola ruled Florence from 1494 to 1498.  The Florentines ejected the Medici as rulers, and Savonarola was free to enforce his idea of morality on them.  And he did.  Personally, I think Savonarola believed that the imposition of the right laws could turn a society around.  It didn't.  In 1498 he and his pals were overthrown, they were put on trial and tortured to confess "crimes", they were all hanged, burned, and their ashes scattered in the Arno River.

Revival does not come from the imposition of laws from the top down.  Revival of a culture and society comes from regeneration by the Holy Spirit, and flows from the heart outward.

Thursday, April 20, 2017, 09:34 PM

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The Philadelphia Museum of Art
By Dr. Jeff Sanders

So the other day we took a "business trip" to the great city of Philadelphia.  We decided to end our visit by running up the steps of the impressive Philadelphia Museum of Art.  (Cue the theme song to "Rocky".)

My family and I went charging up the steps, trying to imitate Rocky Balboa as best as we could.  After arriving at the top, huffing and puffing, we decided to go in the museum for a look around.  Holy. Cow.  I was not prepared for what I saw in there.  

Room after room after room of Renoir, Cezanne, Degas, Delacroix, Pizarro, Cassatt. . . ALL the great impressionists (my favorite style of painting).  I saw paintings I had only seen in books.  Then I turned a corner, and there was "Sunflowers" by Vincent Van Gogh. . . one of my all time favorite painters.  I almost cried.  Seriously.  And then I turned another corner and there was another one of my favorites.  "The Moulin Rouge" by Henri de Toulouse-Latrec.  I was just shaking for joy.

You see, when I was a little boy I asked my mother for a Time-Life series of books I saw advertised in the back of a magazine.  She bought them all for me.  "The World of Michaelangelo", "The World of Cezanne", "The World of Rembrandt".  They were doors to other worlds of beauty and peace that I didn't mind getting lost in for hours.  And hours.

And there in that museum all that I had studied 45 years ago and only dreamed of seeing, was bursting on me in full color.  I could live there, I think.

We saw the Medieval and Renaissance exhibits, as well as exhibits from ancient China, Persia, Turkey, Japan, and India.  All beautiful.  All impressive. All make you think and wonder.

If you've never been to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (or something equivalent in your neck of the woods), please go.  It's well worth the trip.  And your family will thank you for it.

 

Thursday, March 30, 2017, 08:52 PM

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National Geographic, The Little Ice Age, and Climate Change
By Dr. Jeff Sanders

I go to my local public libraries on a regular basis to check out books and read up for these blogs.  So one day I found a really nice colorful book by National Geographic.  Aside from their belief in macro-evolution, and their recent caving to the PC crowd, I think their books and magazines are really great!  Well, this book is titled, "The Medieval World--An Illustrated Atlas" (2009, John Thompson, editor is Susan Tyler).  

What a great book!  Filled with great stories (I love reading about the Medieval World...It wasn't so "dark" after all, you know) and beautiful, colorful illustrations!  And then, I came to quite a surprise.  On page 306 the author(s) admits that "climate change" has NOTHING to do with man produced CO2!!  How so?  The book very factually and forthrightly tells us about "The Little Ice Age."

Here's the quote:. "Before the 14th century, Europe had enjoyed a relatively warm climate, enabling farmers to produce abundant and varied crops.  Lack of summer ice in the North Atlantic allowed the Vikings to explore the northern realms of the ocean from Iceland to Greenland and North America.  Thereafter, the climate underwent a change.  From about 1300 to 1800, the Little Age-- probably caused by complex interactions between atmospheric pressure and ocean currents-- brought lower than average temperatures.  Sea ice locked up formerly passable lanes in the North, while early fronts spelled crop failures in Russia and Poland.  Glaciers began advancing in Scandanavia and the Alps.  

At the beginning of this period, most of Europe benefitted from unusually dry, warm summers, owing to low pressure over Greenland.  But by the end of the 14th century, unpredictable weather wreaked havoc on food production and trade-- in some years rivers froze, in other years flooding rains brought wide-spread devastation.  Bitterly cold, snowy winters followed by blazing hot summers.  Previously reliable weather patterns shifted, and adjacent regions suffered diverse effects though it is nearly impossible to tease out the precise impact of the environment on large historical movements, certainly local crop failures led to famine and disease, which contributed to political instability.  Since people relied on subsistence farming, they had to adjust.  In England and the Low Countries, for example, clover and root crops augmented the standard cereal crops that depended on reliable weather."

Wow.  National Geographic admits all that climate change, from the "Medieval Warm Period" to "The Little Ice Age".  And not a single smoke belching factory, car, or Harley in sight.  Fascinating.

 

Saturday, March 25, 2017, 10:18 PM

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Eichman and the Banality of Evil
By Dr. Jeff Sanders

Adolf Eichman was an "Oberstrumbannfuhrer" (Lt. Colonel) in the SS in World War II.  He was hand picked by SS General Reinhard Heydrich to manage the logistics of transporting millions and millions of Jews to be murdered in the Nazi death camps.  He did his work very well.  At least 1.5 million Jews were murdered by his fellow Nazis at Auschwitz alone, between 1942 and the summer of 1944 when the Nazis dismantled the gas chambers out of fear of advancing Soviet forces.

Eichman was not discovered by Allied agents for years after the war. He actually settled down in Austria until 1950.  Fearing that Nazi-hunters were on his tail, he fled for Argentina.  He and his wife and kids had a nice little life there, until Israeli Mossad and Shin Bet agents captured him and smuggled him out of the country.  

The mass murderer stood trial in Israel.  All the damning evidence, from Nazi documents to eyewitnesses confronted him.  He denied none of the Holocaust.  He freely and nonchalantly admitted his role in exterminating Jews.  He even said at one time that he would leap laughing into his grave because having 5 million people on his conscience was a source of extraordinary satisfaction.

Hannah Arendts was a political theorist who covered the trial.  She coined the phrase "the banality of evil." By that she meant that there is a tendency of ordinary people who simply don't want to be bothered with thinking or making hard moral choices.  For them it is easier to simply follow orders, conform to groupthink and just do whatever they are told.  Apparently millions of Germans thought that the excuse of "I'm just following orders" excused all culpability.

Eichman denied any guilt to his last breath.  He was merely following orders.  The Israelis found him guilty, then marched him to the gallows and hanged him. . . the only capital punishment ever carried out by an Israeli court.

His body was sent to a crematorium, and his ashes were pitched into the Mediterranean Sea.

A fitting end for a monster.

Thursday, March 23, 2017, 04:03 PM

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Dealy Plaza
By Dr. Jeff Sanders

I just recently came back from a visit to Dallas Texas.  An unusual city. . . no shopping area filled with restaurants in the downtown area (unlike New York or Chicago).  We wandered into a Western Wear store where I finally found the pair of cowboy boots I've always wanted.  Yeehaaww.  Now I walk a little taller!  Happy day!  

Then I found out that just a few blocks south was Dealy Plaza.  I have known all my life was happened there.  I was just 20 months old, napping or playing when President John F. Kennedy was murdered on November 22, 1963.  

We went to the "Sixth Floor Museum".  The museum is in the old "Texas Schoolbook Depository" building where Lee Harvey Oswald built his sniper's nest and shot the President from the sixth floor.  The museum is excellent, but horribly sad.  All of it points to tragedy.  I held back tears the whole time I walked through it.  One of the saddest things I saw was the table setting that was for President Kennedy at the luncheon he was scheduled to visit. All the people joyfully expecting the President to show up and eat lunch with them.  That happy day destroyed by a hate-filled murderous misfit.

Did Oswald really do it?  Although the museum gives much evidence that there were other shooters, I think that Oswald was indeed the man who fired the fatal shot.  Three empty shell casings were found at his sniper's nest (you can still see the area where he set up).  The first shot missed.  The second shot went through Kennedy's back and throat and wounded Governor Connelly.  The third shot blew the top part of President Kennedy's head off.  As I was standing there with some former Marines, I commented that it was one whale of a shot.  They concurred.

The street (Elm Street) is still a busy street.  A white "X" marks the spot on the street where the first shot hit.  A second "X" marks where the second shot killed him.

I just stood on the "grassy knoll" and stared at it.  With tears in my eyes.  And walked away.

What could have been, but never was.

Monday, March 13, 2017, 09:49 PM

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Past Posts

The Philadelphia Museum of Art
03/30/17
National Geographic, The Little Ice Age, and Climate Change
03/25/17
Eichman and the Banality of Evil
03/23/17
Dealy Plaza
03/13/17
The 442nd RCT
02/25/17
Wannsee Conference
02/24/17
Operation Paperclip
02/22/17
Unit 731
02/18/17
The Marine Raiders
01/31/17
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