Death and Life in a Hospital

I wonder if many people still name their children after the great men and women of the past or have modern historians  poisoned that well too. I named my daughter after Theodore Roosevelt not so much for his policies (some of which I disagree with) but in honor of his zest for life and fearlessness after a rather wimpy start.

Daniel Webster Whittle was obviously named after Daniel Webster. Parents back then had big ideas for their children. The day before Whittle went off to fight in the 72nd Illinois Infantry he married his sweetheart. I imagine a fresh-faced young man in new uniform,  a peacock standing beside his pretty bride. She glances up at him with a mix of worry and pride. God is not in the forefront of his thinking.

The thrill of love and leaving causes mixed feelings for this young man, but he never questions his duty to the Union. This is before endless marches and blood shed. It’s before Vicksburg and the fateful day he is wounded and captured by Confederate soldiers. What must it feel like to lose an arm in battle?

One day you are whole and the next you are a casualty, a bed filler, a drag on the effort and a prisoner.

Young Whittle is like the many men today, with more humble names maybe, who sit in clean hospital beds making peace with war wounds. No matter the decor, no matter the Impressionist paintings hung on the walls in cheap frames a hospital is  a sad prison. We met a veteran once at a beekeeping seminar and beside him was a serious Labrador Retriever, a therapy dog. The man got very agitated about some opinion expressed about hives and honey. The dog chilled him out. PTSD sucks.

Whittle had no therapy dog because back then Bibles and chaplains were allowed to do their job. Christianity was considered normal. Daniel Whittle was ambivalent about faith. He was also bored so he picked up a copy of the New Testament on his bed stand. For those of you who don’t know it’s the part of the Bible where Jesus sacrifices his life for our sins. It’s the part people don’t really want to believe in because Jesus expects similar sacrifices from us–but we’ll save that for another day.

Each day Whittle flipped through the stories of healing, the stories of doubt and the stories of great conversions. And each day he closed the book deciding he wanted no part of it. Maybe he questioned why he no longer had an arm when other soldiers got off scott free. Maybe he wondered if his new wife would still find him attractive. Maybe he liked to hunt but now would never hold a gun. Who knows.

One night a hospital orderly woke him. “The young one over there is dying and wants a prayer.”

Whittle had seen death before. “So?”

“You’re a Christian aren’t you?” the orderly asked. “I’ve seen you reading the Bible every day.”

Whittle knelt beside the dying young man’s bed with an awkward sigh. He was no Christian, just a sleepy soldier put on the spot. As he knelt there watching the boy before him wrestle with death he took the boy’s hand in his. The boy settled. A sudden sense of needing forgiveness came over Whittle. He was surprised and confused by it, but found himself confessing to being less than the man he should be. A love for the dying boy caused him to pray his first stumbling prayer and caused him later to write this hymn:


I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word
Wrought peace within my heart.

I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing us of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
Creating faith in Him.

I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days,
Before His face I see.

I know not when my Lord may come,
At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
Or meet Him in the air.

And so Daniel Webster Whittle, brevetted a major in the war, went home a changed man. Some men will never open a Bible and that is their choice. The words are often challenging. Actually reading the Bible is a brave thing because a decision must be made when you finish it. Hearsay about this controversial book keeps many people away–they don’t get the full story, sadly.

The PTSD beekeeping soldier got a dog. I wonder if he ever was offered a Bible.

Thanks to all the men and women who sacrifice for their fellow man.



When I Die I Want to See the Passenger Pigeons

Martha, we miss you.
Martha, we miss you

I wonder if it’s wise to tell children they’re murderers. Are important lessons learned when teachers (almost like gods) insinuate that parents and grandparents killed the passenger pigeon?

When I was seven I discovered the menace I was to the world–not just me, but my parents, my uncles and even my recently deceased grandparents. I learned this at school and never wanted to go back. Until then I watched in rapt pleasure as the house sparrows (invaders from Europe) flitted and chirped around the huge oak tree in the school yard. Before my ecological innocence was shattered I saw the canopied school yard as full of natural delights. At recess we gathered acorns like the squirrels and back inside we pressed autumn leaves under paper and colored the imprints with our crayons.

We will meet again, dear friends.
We will meet again, dear friends.

At one time not long ago Martha Pigeon and her billions of friends roamed the entire breadth of a continent. The enormity of the flocks dazzled humanity into believing the pigeon would never disappear. It is said that as the birds invaded a region even the air smelled of their odor. Tree limbs broke under the weight of the nesting birds sometimes 100 to a tree. Wild pigs fed off the fallen eggs and squab. The noise was terrific.

“From half-past one to four o’clock in the afternoon, while he was traveling to Frankfort, the same living torrent rolled overhead, seemingly as extensive as ever. He estimated the flock that passed him to be two hundred and forty miles long and a mile wide — probably much wider — and to contain two billion two hundred and thirty million, two hundred and seventy-two thousand pigeons. On the supposition that each bird consumed only half a pint of nuts and acorns daily, he reckoned that this column of birds would eat seventeen million, four hundred and twenty-four thousand bushels each day.”

passWith no real market for the birds, Indian tribes killed and dried what they needed, using baby pigeon oil as a sort of butter. It’s hard to imagine rats, for instance, disappearing– and would most people care if they did? The markets came and everyone got in on the action. People ate pigeons. Hunters stuffed barrels full of the birds that would live forever and sent them to the cities. Our great-grandparents ate them as the great flocks diminished.

Congress acted, but too late. Martha was the last passenger pigeon and sterile.

Did I need to know this in grade school? Would I be able to understand why God let it happen? Would I turn from God and people only to turn back as an adult with jaundiced eyes and hate?

In fifth grade I wore a big pin on my coat after watching a horrifying segment on Good Morning America (while eating Captain Crunch cereal). “SAVE the BABY SEALS” it said and every morning when I shoved my arms through the sleeves a wave of self-loathing and despair came over me as I looked into the eyes of the baby seal on the pin.

This generation’s  wide-eyed innocence is stolen by the “Save the Polar Bear” campaigns. Imagine sitting in class with your just-sharpened crayons coloring a picture of a cute polar cub floating to sea on the last ice in existence. Imagine a child who only just learned to sharpen the damned crayons having to take responsibility for extinction.

We can debate the nature of God and the nature of man. We can admit that animals disappear–sometimes for reasons beyond the scope of man’s foolishness and greed, but must we throw it on children?

There are many well-meaning and decent school teachers but the system is (as all systems are) corrupt. It is an abuse of power to drug active boys and destroy the hope of sensitive little girls.

Scientists are working diligently to bring back the passenger pigeon. Maybe great flocks with roost and make messes on your apartment building. Maybe they’ll bring back the mammoth as well, but what about the innocence of children?

Let them run at recess and collect acorns. Let them discover what is beautiful first and then they may fight for it later.


“And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” CS Lewis

Slave market Khartoum Sudan 19th century 1876
Slave market Khartoum Sudan 19th century 1876


Muslim vs Western Slave Trade

Slave Tags

Slaves of Every Color

Slaves in Charleston

Slave Tags
Slave Tags

Play Date at the Zoo; The Sad Tale of Ota Benga

Ota Benga at the Bronx Zoo
Ota Benga at the Bronx Zoo

Ota Benga lived in a cage at the Bronx Zoo with the monkeys in 1906 and became a hugely popular exhibit as proof of evolution. Ota was a Pygmy from the Congo when the Congo was the playground and money making property of King Leopold of Belgium.

The pygmies were competitors in the ivory trade and  were systematically killed off; the rationale being that the pygmies,  so small and stupid, were obviously just one evolutionary tick away from the little monkeys. Darwin once wrote: “The civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace, the savage races throughout the world.”  No biggie. Science was the new religion–minus the love and compassion.

Ota came to America after he was purchased by a noted American explorer from South Carolina, Phillips Verner, who planned to exhibit him at the 1904 World’s Fair. Falling on hard times, Verner searched for someone to take Ota off his hands. In New York Herman Bumpus the director of the Natural History Museum gave him a home with the stipulation that he’d have to entertain the richie riches when they came for lunch. When Ota threw a chair at Florence Guggenheim Bumpus was like, ” I’m so done with you.”

Off Ota was sent to the Bronx Zoo. When Christians (especially southern black ones) protested that evolution was at best an unproven theory and at worst an invitation for race extermination The New York Times retorted: “It is most amusing to note that one colored brother objects to the curious exhibition on the grounds that it is an impious effort to lend credibility  to Darwin’s dreadful theories . . . The reverend colored brother should be told that evolution, in one form or another, is now taught in the textbooks of all the schools, and that it is no more debatable than the multiplication table.”  And: “As for Benga himself, he is probably enjoying himself as well as he could anywhere in his country, and it is absurd to make moan over the imagined humiliation and degradation he is suffering.”

Eventually Ota was freed. He went to see how much it would cost him to sail back home and shot himself in the chest.

history of human zoos

Story retold from The Political Gene by Dennis Sewell


Humility in the Gene Pool Jukes

Those f**king Jukes!
Those f**king Jukes!

Have you ever been tolerated? It’s not quite like being loved, is it? Toleration is clenched teeth and the inability to even look at the person without having your blood boil. What a strange thing to teach our kids. What about love?

The reason some of us hate the Bible (if we’ve ever bothered to read it) is because it shows us how we really are, not how we wish we could be, or how we someday will be if we just tinker with the system a little more. The road to hell lies in the intentions of tolerant people.

indexThrough clenched teeth each generation has a smoldering tolerance for those others out there who produce too many babies. Those Irish, those Africans, those dirty white trash. Aren’t they the cause of disease in the city? Aren’t they the cause of global warming?

Through clenched teeth, do we laugh along with Bill Gates as he arrogantly talks about reducing population in third world countries? Not us, but THEM. Do we sorta agree that the poor should be sterilized?

There's another damned Juke!
There’s another damned Juke!

I agreed. Before I was poor I agreed, but when I was poor I loved my children. We worship the powerful and blame the poor. This is as old as time. There’s a great bit in the Bible when the apostle John asks Jesus if they should call down fire on a group of people who don’t like Jesus. Jesus is like, “Man, you still don’t get it.”

The Jukes lived in Upstate New York. Who were the Jukes? They were a bunch of people the scientific community threw together in the 1870’s and said were related (turns out they weren’t). This “family” supposedly had the gene pool of criminals and whores. Science proved it (just like it’s proven now that there’s a climate problem we can fix). The Jukes were used as the perfect example of why poor white trash men and women should be sterilized.


If you think we’ve passed all that messy stuff, you’re sadly mistaken. “I must confess that I am tempted to ask for reincarnation as a particularly deadly virus.” Prince Phillip said in the 1980’s–note he still wants to live himself even if it’s as a virus that kills off the unwanted humans. Thank God we have abortion clinics now and hate the words abstinence and hard work.

The Jukes still live in our hardened hearts. They’re the people who eat meat, the Jews, the Christians, the Muslims, the ignorant, the poor, the fertile, the ugly, the unlovable. Here’s why we hate the Bible: Love thy Neighbor.

Try it. Okay we all can do the tolerance thing, but the history of the world proves it’s nearly impossible to do the love thing. But there is this quote from the book some of us just can’t tolerate:” Nothing is impossible with God.”

“I had motive for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves. … For myself, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.” Aldous Huxley

It’s Not Your Fault That You’re Evil–Or Is It?


I was going to write about a charming little bookstore I visited recently, but then I happened upon the horrifying photos of beheaded Christian children still in their adorable kid clothes. I really wanted to just escape back into the past or at least into a charming bookstore. I wanted to flip through books that showed how people bandaged wounded soldiers who are long since dead. I wanted to see books on genocide and pass them by because, thank God, the holocausts were over. I wanted to still be able to imagine that I could use the word evil lightly as if the meaning of the word had lost it’s essence and was just a funny remnant from the past.


I bet most Germans browsed bookstores, wrote novels and gossiped as the powers of evil rolled by carrying people to camps. My neighbor sends his beef cows to market but I never see them shoved into the truck that carries them away.

Finished and safe worlds
Finished and safe worlds

We see. Everyday we see things on television. How many innocent people are murdered every week in Chicago? Would a big counter in the corner of our screen make us give a damn? If we want we can read Bertrand Russel’s disturbing idea’s about education and see as we sit before our computers that his ideas may have become reality. I’m just as dumb as the next person–the person who thinks that couldn’t happen here; that couldn’t happen now. And why is my coffee cold?

Dead people neatly stored away--handled gently
Dead people neatly stored away–handled gently

What is that numbness that so paralyzes us all? That sense that it might be a bit rude to question evil? But once questioned the problem still exists for the sort who like quiet bookstores–what’s to be done?  Do we have a right to say someone is evil or is that a little too judgmental? Maybe the very same people who manage to write sonnets and invent telescopes and love their children have no control over their actions. Bookstores magically appear and child butchering is explained away–they couldn’t help it.

Why do we embrace death when God's glory is all around us?
Why do we embrace death when God’s glory is all around us?


Creation’s Magic Numbers–Every Link New Fascinations


Golden Ratio in Art:

Golden Ratio in Nature:

Golden Ratio in Creation:

Golden Ratio in Music:

Golden Ratio in Physics:

Photographs Like Tombstones Scattered On My Desk


What if the most rational, natural thing is that there is a god who created everything? What if the notion that God is dead is the big lie? What if there is a purpose for our life and it’s bigger than our seemingly natural desires? What if every person that ever lived, for however long or short, captured by light and chemicals or not, mattered? What if putting all our eggs in the one basket that we’ve named science doesn’t even explain the half of what this whole thing is about?

Ask me tomorrow,  but not today.