Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Star Spangled Banner: Beyond the UB Legend


September 14 marked the 200th anniversary of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics after watching the British bombard Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.

The United Brethren denomination takes a lot of pride in the fact that Francis Scott Key was a United Brethren member and Sunday school teacher. He and a United Brethren preacher named John Snook organized a Sunday school in Keysville, Md. Key donated songbooks and led the singing. Snook and Key also went on evangelistic tours together, with Key handling the music.

But history can be messy. In researching, I also discovered something we don’t talk much about: Francis Scott Key was a slave owner who actively fought to keep slavery legal. As a lawyer he prosecuted various anti-slavery persons. In one case, his summation to the jury stated, “Are you willing, gentlemen, to abandon your country, to permit it to be taken from you and occupied by the abolitionist, according to whose taste it is to associate and amalgamate with the negro?”

However, Key was described as a “decent master” who emancipated seven of his own slaves and, sometimes, criticized slavery. Kinda like “benevolent dictator.” He also helped found, in 1816, the American Colonization Society, which helped return freed slaves to Africa. However, his legal cases against slavery opponents continued into the 1830s.

The UB denomination took a strong stand against slavery way back in 1821.

So, Francis Scott Key is kind of a mixed bag. As a slave owner, what exactly did he mean by “the land of the free.”

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ISIS is Evil, But….

child-guns hostage-rescue580

There’s no doubt that ISIS is incredibly evil. No question. They are committing terrible atrocities. They must be stopped.

However, let me provide a word of caution, in the interests of truthfulness (which, last I checked, is a biblical concept even for Facebook). Not everything you HEAR that they do is correct.

  • The photo of three AK-47s being pointed at a little child? It’s from Yemen.
  • That photo of eight persons being crucified by ISIS? It’s from the Turkish massacre of Christian Armenians in the early 1900s.
  • That girl beheaded by ISIS? Actually, she was decapitated when a Syrian shell struck her home in 2013.
  • That photo of a group of women in Mosul, hands raised, being led away by two gun-toting men to become ISIS slaves? Taken during a staged rescue of hostages during SOFEX, a special operations trade-show in Jordan.
  • That photo of Mohammad Fazi, one of the Guantanamo detainees released in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl, sitting behind five severed heads? Not him. It’s a Dutch national who ran off to fight in Syria. The photo was taken before Bergdahl’s release.

More recently, Christians have been circulating–since early August–an email about ISIS systematically beheading children in the city of Queragosh. The writer says ISIS is 10 minutes from where his team is working. It supposedly comes from someone named Bonnie Lang, who supposedly spoke by phone to Sean Malone of Crisis Relief International.

Actually, Sean Malone heads Crisis RESPONSE International, which DOES work in the areas in question. However, the CRI website says nothing about any of this. Another organization, the National Christian Foundation, quoted the email as coming from “our on-the-ground sources” and said it was keeping it anonymous “for security.” Actually, the anonymity was so they could falsely take credit for the report.

Demonizing the enemy happens in every war. During World War I, propaganda told of Germans throwing babies into the air and catching them on their bayonets. America’s enemies convince citizens of the terrible things American soldiers will supposedly do to them.

ISIS is evil. They are massacring people. But that doesn’t justify spreading lies.

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Ready to Give Their Lives in a Suicide Mission

Heather Penney

Major Heather Penney

Here’s a story from 9/11 which has gone largely untold. Maj. Heather

Col. Marc Sasseville

Col. Marc Sasseville

Penney (one of the first female F-16 pilots) and Col. Marc Sasseville were on duty when word came that Flight 93 was headed toward Washington DC. They took to the air to bring Flight 93 down…but without any weaponry. It would have taken an hour to arm the planes.

“I’m going to go for the cockpit,” Sasseville told her as they geared up.

“I’ll take the tail,” Penney replied.

A suicide mission to end a suicide mission. Quite a story.

Of course, it wasn’t necessary for them to ram their F-16s into the Boeing 777. But the fact that they took off, totally expecting to not come back…very inspiring.

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My Future Encounter with a Grizzly

grizzly-growl grizzly-claws

Being hopelessly eclectic, I read an article about how to survive a bear attack. If a grizzly bear attacks you, the advice went like this: Lay on your stomach, put your hands behind your head, and stay still. The bear may walk away after mauling you. MAY walk away.

So basically, you say, “Hi, bear. You can rip me to shreds with your ridiculously long claws and teeth. Just don’t kill me.”

Further advice: never run, because it just indicates that you are prey, and there’s no way you can out-run a bear. And don’t scream, because it reinforces that you are prey.

Excellent head knowledge, which I would ponder for one second if a bear attacked me. Then instinct would take over. I would run, I would scream, and I would die. That’s just the way it is.

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