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Happy 697th anniversary.
July 24, 2011

At Bannockburn arose a king
Whose valor would be known 'er more
Brave Bruce's boldness would be seen
A' setting right the Scottish scores
He gathered up the Scottish bands,
Without allowing cowards rest
And by example lead the Clans
And so restored old Scotland's crest.
Yes, thank the men who followed Bruce,
Without them surfs today we'd be
All hangin high in Edward's noose,
Instead of men remaining free.

"Wha, for Scotland's king and law, Freedom's sword will strongly draw, Freeman stand or Freeman fa', Let him on wi' me."

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 04:43 PM |

Jules Verne
February 08, 2011

Born On This Day 183 Years Ago:
Jules Verne; The father of Science Fiction

Hurrah for Jules Verne! One of my all time favorite authors. Since today is Verne's birthday, I thought I would give a short review of my top 5 favorite of his books.

~ Michael Strogoff
I've always enjoyed Michael Strogoff for Verne's ability to paint verbal pictures that give such clear and accurate description of the times. I also really loved Strogoff's extremely good plot. (Weeell I must admit, the N.C. Wyeth illustrations and my part-Russian background may have had an influence as well.)

~ Around the World in Eighty Days
About 7 or 8 years ago, Dad read Around the World in Eighty Days out loud to the family. So it has been a family favorite for a long time. Verne really did a great job of portraying a humorous, and sometimes serious, journey of Phileas Fogg, the unique nobleman bachelor of London, and his newly valet, Passepartout, as the try to go around the world in 80 days.

~ The Mysterious Island and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The father of Science Fiction The Mysterious Islands/20,000 Leagues Under the Sea/Capt. Grant's Children Trilogy is definitely one of the greatest adventure trilogies ever. No wonder so many stories, books, shows, films and games have been based off them. (Heh, and you wonder where we got our film title from...)

Many people wish there was more information about the life of Captain Nemo in the series. However, it appears that Verne was trying to illustrate a larger character map throughout the trilogy. There is also a lot of speculation about whether or not Verne was creating a larger "puzzle" story through all of his books... Who knows, either way, he was still brilliant.

~ Paris in the 20th Century
As for Paris in The Twentieth Century, both the history of the book itself and Verne's foresight while writing it are incredible! He really had an amazing ability to look to the future throughout all his works. There's a reason he made it to Google today.

Speaking of Google, today the website posted a really neat Happy Birthday to Verne blogpost on the Google Blog. I really enjoyed Ms. Hom's post so I've included part of it here and you can go here to read the rest.

Happy birthday from 20,000 leagues under the sea

It wasn't very difficult for something to spark my imagination when I was a child--whether it was a pile of leaves or a couch of stackable cushions, just about anything could jump-start my creativity. My first encounter with Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, however, sent my imagination into hyper drive.

I first found the novel while browsing through a random aisle in my local library. The cover was dark, murky and a little worn--but it was the most spectacular thing I'd ever seen. A pair of old-fashioned divers drag their feet over the ocean floor, watching a school of fish drift by. They don't seem to notice the twisting silhouette of a monster inching toward them.

The cover alone pulled me in, but I didn't want to spoil all of the possible story lines by actually reading the book. Looking back, I realize that what fascinated me most was the unknown: a creative spark and the imaginative exploration that followed. Since then, I've become more familiar with his work and still believe that exploration is the essence of Verne's novels. His stories pull the readers into a world filled with infinite potential--be it in the clouds, on land or under the sea...

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 01:18 PM |

My Thankful List
November 25, 2010

It's been a while since I have written a real post, so here are some Thanksgiving thoughts:

On this day of Thanksgiving, there are so many things to be thankful for! Though it is our duty to be thankful all the time, today is a special day which has been set aside to "remember and make thanks". O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever! Psalm 136:1 In my family, we each wrote out a hundred point list of things from this last year to be thankful for. Here is a short[er] list of things I am particularly thankful for today as I look back over the year.

I am thankful for
1. My amazing Father and Mother, two of the greatest people I have ever known and will ever know.
2. My three manly brothers who are a source of continual encouragement.
3. My four lovely and feminine sisters who want to always be blessings to others.
4. My grandfather, Howard J. Phillips, and grandmother, Peggy Phillips, who laid the foundation for the family I have today.
5. The rest of the Mag-7, the 6 friends who have been the best of pals, closest friends, and most loyal brothers over the past ten years. I miss you chaps!
6. The man who helped to lead my grandfather to the Lord, Dr. R.J. Rushdoony, and the man who lead my father to the Lord, Pastor Bob Gifford.
7. The man who, through the Scripture, helped to show my mother, a young woman, the importance of family discipleship, commonly called Homeschooling, Mr. Gregg Harris.
8. The Men who have been loyal to my father, the friends who have "stuck through".
9. The opportunity to minister in foreign countries, during times of peace and calamity.
10. The new friends who have been made every year - all over the world.
11. The families who showed "true religion" (James 1:27) and took in children after the earthquake in Haiti.
12. The opportunities to learn humility which come, go, and are so valuable (even when it doesn't seem so at the time.)
13. Fantastic adventures into the past through literature and biography. I am so thankful that God gave man reading and writing! Without it, it would certainly be hard to get by...
14. For Rome, Geneva, Paris, and London - and the lessons learned through each of these places.
15. The men like Calvin, Knox, the Covenanters, the Waldenses and the Huguenots who gave their all for faith and for freedom.
16. For Scotland, and a history of noble manhood, defiance against tyranny, and freedom loving men which will never die!
17. For Kilts. No explanation needed.
18. Heroic and bold music, ballads of bravery, and Celtic crooning which never ceases to enliven the spirit and make me want to do some "bold deed".
19. Charlie Zahm. who first helped to give me and my family the taste of bold ballads which still remains with us.
20. Guitars, Jew's Harps, and Penny whistles.
21. Airplanes. That land safely. Without them, traveling ('tween continents) would be a different experience.
22. Friends who you can get into grand scrapes with. (Particularly when traveling abroad.) You know who you are....
23. Ancient legends and stories.
24. The ability to run across a wide open field and yell and shout for fun at the top of your lungs.
25. My library.
26. Another year to live. Every year is a gift that we must never take for granted.
27. My Home.
28. History, the scrapbook of God's master plan for all nations that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
29. Jeeps, the beauteous vehicle which overcomes all.
30. Items of duty that throw lead at high velocity speeds for great distances. Oh, they typically use gunpowder too.
31. Boots. No explanation needed.
32. Hunting. Cleaning. Preparing. Eating. Cleaning the above mentioned Items of duty.
33. The heroes of the past who led by example: Joshua ben Nun, King Aelfred, William Wallace, our Founding Fathers, T.J. Jackson.
34. The many weddings of friends this year. Wow. A dozen?
35. The ability to stay up all night just talking with siblings. And then sing "Good Morning, Good Morning".
36. For work and play.
37. That I am a Texan by adoption, a Virginian forever, and a Southerner by birth.
38. Another day after every night.
39. The Beauty God created.
40. For HIS everlasting love.
41. That Thankfulness doesn't just have to be limited to a list.
42. I am thankful to know that Christ reigns and that everything we need to know about life we can find in his complete and innerent word, the Holy Bible.

Happy Thanksgiving! ~Joshua Titus

P.S. You should really take a moment and look at my dads list of the Seven Things to Do With Your Family This Thanksgiving.

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 12:32 PM |

Happy Birthday Mr. Stevenson!
November 13, 2010

160 years ago today, the great Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson was born. Among his most famous works are Treasure Island (somewhat inspired by Ballantyne's The Coral Island), Kidnapped, David Balfour, and others. Happy birthday Mr. Stevenson!

Tueri a vulnere,

John

Posted by John Horn at 08:14 PM |

February 8, 1894
February 08, 2010

The world of English school-boys goes into shock as the news is telegraphed from Rome: R. M. Ballantyne, beloved novelist and story-teller, dies of a strange disease!

An aging R. M. Ballantyne An aging R. M. Ballantyne

Attempting to find a cure for his mysterious ailment, now known as Meniere's Disease, R. M. Ballantyne traveled to Rome. Here he spent many months with his daughter, Jane, but to no avail. On February 8, 1894, he succumbed and breathed his last breath, 164 years ago today.

What was the disease that prostrated this literary giant? Well, Meniere's Disease is a rather mysterious illness which affects the fluid of the inner ear. An imbalance of fluids in these regions causes the rupture of a thin membrane, mixing two incompatible liquids. Common symptoms are extreme vertigo, dizziness, and hearing loss.

The contributing factors are still undiscovered by the medical field, but today, treatment can be attempted with reasonable assurance of success. In the 1800's, however, no cure had as yet been discovered, and for this cause R. M. Ballantyne died.

I am not medically inclined, to say the least, so to get a better sense of the disease I would recommend reading this article, from the University of Minnesota.

Robert Louis Stevenson contributed to the monument. Robert Louis Stevenson contributed to the monument.

Thousands of grieving children across Britain immediately began a subscription to erect a suitable monument at his grave. Six hundred pounds were collected, mostly made up of small contributions from school children. Robert Louis Stevenson, who was a part of the representative committee for the subscription, advised in an open letter to spend but a small amount on the actual memorial, giving the rest to Ballantyne's widow and family. His advice was carried out, and only forty pounds were spent on a simple but tasteful monument, which was inscribed as follows:

IN LOVING MEMORY OF ROBERT MICHAEL BALLANTYNE, THE BOYS' STORY WRITER. Born at Edinburgh, April 24th, 1825--Died at Rome, February 8th, 1894. THIS STONE IS ERECTED BY FOUR GENERATIONS OF GRATEFUL FRIENDS IN SCOTLAND AND ENGLAND

R. M. Ballantyne was buried in the Cimitero protestante also known as the Protestant Cemetery of Rome. This cemetery was formed by the Roman Catholic powers in the 1700's. No "heretics," or Protestants, could be buried in Catholic "holy ground," but there bodies could also not be left to rot. Hence a separate burial ground, in which large numbers of traveling dignitaries, writers, philosophers, sculptors, painters, and representatives of many more distinguished trades have been buried here over the centuries.

Ballantyne's grave is close to the plots of English poets John Keats and Percy Shelley.

The English newspaper The Times gave this obituary of R. M. Ballantyne.

OBITUARY

Mr. Robert M. Ballantyne, the prolific and excellent writer of tales for boys, whose death we announced yesterday, was connected with the well-known family of the Ballantynes, Sir Author:Walter Scott's printers. He was born in Edinburgh in 1825. When a lad of 16 he went out to Canada, and spent six years there in service of the Hudson Bay Company. Having returned to Scotland in 1847, he published in the following year his first book, entitled "Hudson Bay, or Everyday Life in the Wilds of North America." In this he embodied the substance of his letters to his mother and of his journals written on the spot. He spent some time in the printing office of Messrs. Constable in Edinburgh, but he did not take kindly to the desk after his free and roving life in the West. At the same time his literary proclivities were asserting themselves strongly, and about the year 1856 he gave up business and adopted literature as his profession. Then began that series of adventure tales written about and for boys and girls which have brightened the loves of several generations of young folks, and which seemed ever fresh and never-failing in interest. "The Coral Island," "The World of Ice," "The Young Fur Traders," "Ungava," "The Dog Crusoe," and many more followed one another in quick succession. Every Christmas I saw at least one new story from his busy pen. For the material of several of his earlier stories he reverted to his Canadian experiences. He made it a rule, indeed, to write always, when he could, from his own experiences. Before he wrote "The Lighthouse" he lived for some time with the keepers on the Bell Rock. He prepared for "Deep Down" by a visit to the Cornish mines, for the "The Pirate City" by a winter in Algiers, and so in other cases. This method of preparation gave a realistic character to his work and a graphic force to his descriptions. There was a great deal of human nature in his creations, and all his books are pervaded by a sound and healthy tone which loses nothing from the vein of humour that runs through most of them. Down to 1887 Mr. Ballantyne had written 74 volumes containing 62 separate stories. He was also a clever artist, and often exhibited water-colours in the Royal Scottish Academy, for many years past he had resided at Harrow. A short time ago he fell into bad health, the result of overwork, and he had gone to Italy in search of relief and rest. He died in Rome.

And that was 164 years ago, today.

Tutela ex Vulnero,

John

Posted by John Horn at 08:37 AM |

Happy Birthday G.A. Henty
December 08, 2009

George Alfred Henty was born 177 years ago today. Happy Birthday, Mr. Henty.

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 03:15 PM |

Special on This Day Note: John Brown Takes Harpers Ferry
October 16, 2009

Today and tomorrow are rather important days (historically speaking) because this is the 150th anniversary of John Brown's raid on the arsenal at Harpers Ferry, and the 17th and 18th are the anniversary of Brown's capture.

John "Ossawattomie" Brown John "Ossawattomie" Brown
It can be argued that Brown is responsible for many of the events leading up to the War Between the States. And there is a great deal that could be said of John Brown, but, to sum it up, this self proclaimed "man of God" who firmly believed that the ends justify the means, was no less than a terrorist, murderer, traitor, lier, and thief -- not fighting for the real freedom of mankind, but rather for his ultimate agenda.

Brown was already widely know as the leader of the terrorists in what was then called "bloody Kansas". He had came to Kansas with six of his sons in 1855. They targeted a number of families in the region and in the middle of the night, Brown and his gang took swords and slashed several fathers and sons to death. Several other fights took place in which one of Brown's sons died.

Brown than returned east to try and gather more help -- and ammunition. Towards this end, he decided to capture the arms stored at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (what is now West Virginia.)

Robert E. Lee Robert E. Lee
On the Morning of the 16th of October, John Brown and his men took the armory at Harpers Ferry. As soon as the government was alerted to this, Robert E. Lee, future general of the Confederate army, and a company of Marines were sent to take Brown and his men. Once they arrived, Lee gave orders to the Marines to hold their fire on the fort because he did not want to harm the hostages being held within, one of whom was Colonel Lewis Washington, a grandnephew of President George Washington.

J.E.B. Stuart, U.S. Army lieutenant, was also there, acting as Lee's aide. He was given the duty of presenting the terms of surrender to Brown. Brown's response was to say that if they weren't going to accept his terms, he "prefer[ed] to die here!" (His terms were that he and all his men were to be allowed to come out, weapons and all, and that they were to have "a specified start on the pursuit".

In the Fort In the Fort
Obviously, this was not going to work. Stuart promptly leapt back and gave the signal to Lee by waving his feathered hat. (Being a dashing bloke, no other way to signal would have been appropriate.)

The battle then began. Lieutenant Israel Green cried to his men to take up a ladder which was lying on the ground, and to use it as a battering ram against the doors of the fort. By the second shock, the right hand door splintered open. Green and Stuart led the charge into the building. Brown was captured and the fort was taken. The next day Brown talked on and on -- mainly lies about his role as a peaceful man and the "purity" of his motives.

J.E.B. Stuart J.E.B. Stuart
J.E.B. Stuart was the only man who could identify "old Brown" as the "Ossawattomie Brown" of Kansas due to his previous time spent with Colonel Sumner's cavalry in Kansas. It is recorded that Stuart asked Brown point blank, "But, Captain Brown, don't you believe the Bible?" Brown could return no answer! He only remarked that, in Kansas, he could have "killed [Stuart], just as easily as I could kill a mosquito" but that he simply chose not to. (JEB Stuart, John Thomason, pg. 55)

It is very important for us to take note of events such as these and to remember that even if we believe we are fighting for a just cause, the ends never justify the means. It is also interesting to note that, even though the sound of war was approaching, America as a nation still understood that what Brown had done was wrong. After a week long trial, on November 2, 1859, John Brown was found guilty on three counts and was sentenced to death by hanging.

On December 2nd, Brown was escorted to the gallows. Everyone was there. This was a gathering to be remembered for a very long time. Because he had refused a minister, Brown was only accompanied by a sheriff and his men. He died still unrepentant for his murders.

This was the last time that so many leaders of these United States would stand together on an issue of such significance and controversy, before our national split. Many of the men on both the Southern and Northern side of the aisle stood behind Brown's execution. But there were those who thought Brown should have been given a place of immortality. Ralph Waldo Emerson (a unitarian) stated that John Brown would "make the gallows glorious like the Cross." It was all too soon after this that America would be completely split.

This is a sad note to end on, but this was the event that set the stage for the next 50 years. We must look to the past to prepare for the future. We must not copy the mistakes of past generations, but, rather, following their good examples.

VoD,
Joshua Titus

P.S. To read more on the subject check out the following books and links:
- The Secret Six by Otto Scott [Link]
- JEB Stuart by John Thomason [Link]
- John Brown: The Legend Revisited by Merrill Peterson [Link]
- Article by Bill Potter

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 02:22 PM |

Historical Note:
September 16, 2009

James Fenimore Cooper James Fenimore Cooper

Quick historical note; Yesterday was the 220th birthday of James Fenimore Cooper, and coincidentally, or rather, providentially, the day before that was the 158th anniversary of his death! (He died one day before his 62nd birthday, Sept. 15, 1851.)

Cooper was really America's first historical fiction author and one of the men who truly shaped the course of America through his books and stories. He also happens to be one of my favorite authors. To read more on Cooper click here.

~Joshua Titus

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 06:58 PM |

On This Day
September 01, 2009

September 1, 1939: German military forces storm across the border into Poland, quickly capturing the country and officially beginning World War II. Seventy years ago today, the world erupted into a furious conflict which would last for six years and one day. As I hope you are familiar with this great historical struggle, I will not attempt to summarize it myself, but will provide the words of some men intimately involved in World War II.

"We have but one aim and one irrevocable purpose. We are resolved to destroy Hitler and every vestige of the Nazi regime. From this nothing will turn us - nothing. We will never parley. We will never negotiate with Hitler or any of his gang. We shall fight him by land. We shall fight him by sea. We shall fight him in the air, until with God's help we have rid the earth of his shadow and liberate its people from his yoke. Any man or state who fights Nazidom will have our aid. Any man or state who marches with Hitler is our foe." ~Winston Churchill

"Never in the field of human conflict, has so much, been owed by so many, to so few!" ~Winston Churchill: September, 1940

"The fate of the Empire rests on this enterprise every man must devote himself totally to the task in hand." ~Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto - Commander in Chief of the Japanese Navy: December 7th, 1941

"Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - The United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan...As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense...With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounded determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God." ~President F.D. Roosevelt: December 8th, 1941

"You'll never get the Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!" ~Captain Henry P. Jim Crowe: January 13th, 1943 - (Guadalcanal)

"They (the Americans) are, I think, a bit unwarrantably cock-a-hoop as a result of their limited experience to date. But they are setting about it in a realistic and business-like way...I have a feeling that they will do it..." ~British Air Vice-Marshal Sir John Slessor - 1943

"Casualties many; Percentage of dead not known; Combat efficiency; we are winning." ~Colonel David M. Shoup: (Tarawa) - November 21st, 1943

"Defend Paris to the last, destroy all bridges over the Seine and devastate the city." ~Adolf Hitler: August, 1944

"Let the indomitable spirit of Bataan and Coregidor lead on...In the name of your sacred dead, strike! Let no heart be faint. Let every arm be steeled." ~General Douglas MacArthur: On the beach at Palo, broadcasting his return - October, 1944

"Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue." ~Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz: March 16th, 1945

Tutela ex Vulnero,

John

Posted by John Horn at 07:42 AM |

"Killiekrankie, O!"
July 27, 2009

Here's an interesting "on this day" note; this is the 320th anniversary of the battle of Killiecrankie. On July 27, 1689, during one of the numerous Jacobite" rebellions", the Battle of Killiecrankie took place at the town of Killiecrankie, in Scotland. This battle is a rather interesting example of the old adage that "a victory can also be loss."

<center>"Clavers" </center>
"Clavers"
Commanding the the government forces (about 4,000 men) was General Hugh MacKay, serving William III, (who was in the process of ousting James II from the throne.) In command of the 3,000 Jacabites was John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee. "Clavers", not the greatest chap, is today remembered for his persecution of the Covenanters, during the 1670s and 80s, and also for his role in the Jacabite wars.

Clavers decided to start the battle off in spite of his inferior numbers. Mackay responded by extending his line (which meant thinning it.) Dundee extended his line to match in length but increased the gaps between his highlanders. The battle of Killecrankie really only lasted 10 minutes. But, that's not too surprising when you consider the fact that the Highlanders didn't like to dilly or dally on the field of battle. Their favorite tactics: a wild highland charge and than close quarter fighting.

The first and last sign that the battle was over was the highland charge of the Jacobites, which took the government forces, under MacKay, by surprise. Mackay and his men were completely overwhelmed in only 10 minutes. Only a quarter of the government force made it back to Stirling 36 hours after the battle.

But ultimately, the loss was only a short lived one. The biggest plus for Mackay and his men was the fact that Dundee was no more. During the battle Clavers was shot on his horse, and then fell to the ground, mortally wounded. Even though the Jacabite forces "won " the battle, in reality it was Mackay who came off with points. Eventually, William III won the whole war.

Over the generations the Scots have remembered all their greatest (and lowest) moments in song. I first heard about the battle of Killiekrankie listening to Mr. Charlie Zahm sing the great Scottish Ballads. One of my favorites is the song "Braes O' Killiekrankie." This is a very fun ballad which tells of the battle from the perspective of one of Mackay's soldiers.

JT

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 07:33 PM |

Events of the day. . . historically
March 03, 2009

Just thought I would post a couple of interesting ways that today is tied to history.

On This Day:

Born:

<center>A.G. Bell</center>
A.G. Bell
Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of a very useful little devise known as the telephone (1876), was born today in 1847 in Edinburgh! He was an audiologist and was granted 18 individual patents, and 12 with collaborators, over the course of his career.

Facts:

Modern-day American adventurer (I love that title!) Steve Fossett became the first person to do a complete nonstop circumnavigation of the globe, solo, AND without refueling. He landed in Kansas after more than 67 hours in flight today in 2005. Sadly, his plane crashed in 2007 on another adventure, and his death was confirmed in the fall of 2008.

On this day in 1934, an American bank-robber, John Dillinger made a "most daring escape" from the prison at Crown Point, Indiana. With only a razor and a piece of wood, Dillinger carved a fake pistol, painted it black with some bootblack, and forced his way past the prison guards to escape, while singing, "I'm heading for the last roundup." A naughty chap.


The image to the right is the "Defence of Fort McHenry", this poem would later become known as The Star-Spangled Banner. Today in 1931, by act of Congress, "The Star-Spangled Banner," written by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812, was officially adopted as the national anthem of the United States.

AgB, VoD, Joshua Titus

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 10:39 PM |

Some Thoughts on the Motto "Victory or Death!" On the Anniversary of the Travis Letter.
February 24, 2009

On this day, one hundred seventy three years, one of the great figures in Texas history penned the words "Victory or Death."

For William Barrett Travis, the defense of the Alamo may have been a desperate cause, but he believed it was his duty to the people of Texas, for whom he was fighting.

Travis lost. Everyone died.

One hundred seventy three years later, some might ask, " Was Travis right?" Was he right to make "Victory or Death!" his motto and lead 189 men to their deaths? Was this declaration the mark of heroic bravery or fool-hearty recklessness? Is it ever time to give up?

Some of you who have emailed me may have noticed that, in addition to the motto Alba Gu Bra, I sometimes use "Victory or Death!" ("Buaidh No Bas" in Gaelic.) This battle cry was not only used by Travis, but has also been sounded for generations in war and peace, going back hundreds of years in almost every country.

The essence of the motto "Victory or Death!" is a simple proposition: It is important for men to be willing to lay down their lives for a godly cause. Or, very simply, "I will fight to the death for what is right and nothing this side of death will stop me!"

When properly applied in the right context, "Victory or Death!" is a message of manhood, self-sacrifice, and courage that should inspire all Christian men because it is a biblical message. There really are battles worth fighting for.

After noting a comment I posted that "G.A. Henty boys are not wimps or saps," a reader of Ballantynethebrave.com emailed me, questioning whether it is really so bad to be wimpy.

He asked how anyone could biblically justify the "intense physical violence and bloodshed" which some Henty boys experience on the battlefield. Stating that courage is not shown in "conquest or dominion,", he closed by saying,

I am left to wonder: what is God's biblical idea of manhood and courage? Is it defending your name, your family, your religion, or your country? Or is it something deeper than that, a man who knows the Truth, believes the Truth, proclaims the Truth, and is willing to give all that he holds dear in the defense and maintaining of it?

Reflecting on these questions, I thought, what sort of man would question defending your name, family, religion, and country? Is it not clear in the Bible that we are to to live with a sword in one hand and a trowel in another as Nehemiah did, and say with him, "Be not ye afraid of them: remember the LORD, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses!" [Neh. 4:14]

To be a man who "knows the Truth, believes the Truth, proclaims the Truth, and is willing to give all that he holds dear in the defense" of the 'Truth', I must defend my family, religion, and country in obedience to the Scripture, which is the only "Truth!" I might even go so far as to say that in certain situations, I must defend my name and honor to uphold that very same "Truth."

Another verse this gentleman included in his email was the famous, "Put up again thy sword into [its] place: for they that take the sword shall perish with the sword" (Matt. 26:52) quote. What he didn't include was an equally important verse, also spoken by Jesus while on the earth, "... he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." (Luke 22:36) I think it should be clear here that Jesus is not condemning owning weapons or even being ready to fight. Rather, in the Mathew 26:52 verse, he is pointing out that it was time for the fulfillment of his duty (on the Cross), not time to start chopping folks' ears off.

Going back to the idea of "Victory or Death," if you are going to fight for something (I mean literal battle), it better be worth dying over. Biblically, it seems that, if you are not fighting for victory, you are fighting for defeat, and that means the loss of whatever it is that you are fighting for. If you are fighting for your family, home, religion, or even honor, you can't afford to lose. That's part of the reason why it is so important to only have biblical warfare. Don't start a war if you aren't going to really try and win it. (And don't chop off anyone ears unless it is time for battle.) Choose your battles carefully.

So, what about Travis?

Here in Texas, when you hear someone refer to the motto "Victory or Death!" it's a pretty safe thing to guess that they are referring to the words of W.B.Travis at the famous Battle of the Alamo.

Let's review the facts:

<center>Col. Travis</center>
Col. Travis
Travis was the second highest ranking officer at the Alamo after Col. Neill who left before the final battle, transferring his command to Travis. On the day after the siege began, Travis wrote a letter to "The People of Texas and All Americans in the World." In the letter he announced his need for volunteers to defend the Alamo. He also declared that he would "never surrender or retreat!" He ended his famous appeal with the words, "Victory or Death!" On February 24, 1836, one hundred seventy three years ago today, Col. Travis penned these important words.

Travis could have tried to surrender the Alamo. He could have tried to flee with his men. But he didn't. Instead Travis stood and held his ground, knowing that short of a near-impossible victory, he and everyone of his men would lose their lives.

Travis drew a line in the sand and offered every man in the Alamo an "honorable" way out of this death trap. Out of 190 men, only one crossed that line.

Each of those men died. But they sent a message to the world that Texans would not surrender their homes, their families, or their freedom. They also held the Alamo long enough to set things in motion for the men who would ultimately defeat the Santa Anna. If it weren't for the Alamo defenders who refused to flee or surrender, there might not be a Texas today.

I am grateful for Travis' cry of "Victory or Death!" As a Texan, I am especially thankful for those men who gave their lives for what they believed was worth dying for: freedom. They believed their cause was just, and they were right.

Of course, modern man is uncomfortable with statements like "Victory or Death." It is too dogmatic, too uncompromising, too unrealistic. But the problem is not with the statement. The problem is with modern man.

There is a time when Christian men must be willing to say, "I will fight, to the death, for what is right and nothing this side of death will stop me!" Whether it was Patrick Henry's "Give me Liberty or give me Death" speech, Colonel Travis' letter from the Alamo, or even the echo of William Wallace's battle cries, you can feel the sentiment coming through that they will fight to the death for victory and never give up.

I believe that it is our duty to take this message, and particularly Travis's closing line, and "never surrender or retreat" when we are on the Lord's side. Even in times of great angst and trouble, when our country is in distress, it is our duty not to give up, but to fight to defend our families, religion, and country. And ultimately the honor of the "Truth." To live well, we must realize that some things are worth dying for.

The film Braveheart popularized another important motto: "Every man dies. Not every man truly lives." Behind this sentiment is the belief that only those who are willing to lay down their lives in a meaningful cause have something worth living for.

Travis would have agreed.

So, was Travis right to declare "Victory or Death" in the face of almost certain immediate disaster?

I believe he was. The simple fact is this: His death purchased Texas' independence. My state, my community, my family, and I continue to benefit from his sacrifice.

Travis was right. So was Patrick Henry. And Nehemiah. And the Scots. And George Washington fighting for our national freedom. And so are all the martyrs and defenders of Godly causes through all time who lose their life in service for the Lord, living out "Victory or Death!"

"Buaidh No Bas." -JT

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 09:42 AM |

The British Museum: Looking Straight at History
January 15, 2009

Here is an interesting "fact of the day":
250 years ago today the British Museum in London was opened to the public. Established by an act of Parliament in 1753, the British Museum -- which counts among its world-renowned antiquities and archaeological holdings the Elgin Marbles and the Rosetta Stone (And even a crystal skull!) -- was finally opened this day in 1759.

<center>The British Museum<center/>
The British Museum

In June of last year I had the privilege to visit the British Museum while traveling in the U.K. I think that the British Museum is definitely in the top 3 or 4 places that we visited while over there. The libraries, collections of artifacts, mass information, and amazing architecture will always come to mind whenever I enter a museum.

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 06:45 PM |

R.L. Stevenson
December 03, 2008

One hundred ten years ago today Robert Louis Stevenson died. Not only was Stevenson one of the great nineteenth century authors, he was also one of the young men that was directly effected by Ballantyne's witness through literature. As a young man Stevenson was so impressed with the story of The Coral Island that he would later base portions of his famous book Treasure Island on themes from Ballantyne's The Coral Island.

<center>R.L. Stevenson</Center>
R.L. Stevenson
Stevenson was also the man who gave Ballantyne the name "Ballantyne the Brave." He did this to honor Ballantyne for his bold vision of manhood -- a vision which influenced Stevenson himself. In fact, he began his book Treasure Island with a poem telling the boys of England, Scotland, and the world not to forget the great authors of the past such as J.F. Cooper, R.M. Ballantyne, and W.H.G. Kingstone.

Stevenson, though not perfect, gave us many great works of literature and may be thanked for his excellent book Treasure Island. In the end, though, we can thank Ballantyne for having such an important influence on the boys of England and Scotland, including the young Robert Louis Stevenson.

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 05:44 PM |

1620: Signing of The Mayflower Compact
November 21, 2008

<center>The 
<em>Mayflower</em></center>
The Mayflower

Three hundred eighty-eight years ago today, 1620, 41 men of the ship Mayflower came together and signed the Mayflower Compact in which they agreed to follow the rules and laws that were set in the Compact establishing the new government.
Below is the Compact:

The Mayflower Compact

"In the name of GOD, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord, King James, by the Grace of GOD, of England, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, e&. Having undertaken for the Glory of GOD, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of GOD and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In Witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, King James of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini, 1620."

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 11:36 AM |

G A Henty
November 16, 2008

I thought it fitting to remind the young gentlemen and ladies reading this blog that one hundred and six years ago today G.A. Henty died. I thought that rather than writing up a post today I would just post Mr. Henty's obituary from 1902.

The Late G.A. Henty.

Special Cable to The New York Times.

LONDON, Nov. 22.-The death of G. A. Henty, the author, will be regretted by boys and girls throughout the British Empire.

Mr. Henty, of whom I can speak as a personal friend, was a splendid type of the bluff, burly Englishmen, full of the milk of human kindness, brave, and the cause of bravery in others. His death occurred at a moment when his works were on the eve of giving new pleasure to thousands of young people. A Christmas without Mr. Henty's installment of books for boys and girls- for girls read their brothers' books, especially when written by Henty- would hardly seem like Christmas. He was spared to see this years contribution safely launched.

Mr. Henty's body was accompanied to its last resting place to-day by the universal regrets of those to whom he was a very real hero.

Published: November 23, 1902. To see a scan of the original document click here

G.A. Henty was:
Born December 8, 1832
Died November 16, 1902 (aged 69)

To read more about G.A. Henty check out the three articles listed below.

G.A. Henty
A Few Thoughts on G.A. Henty
Ballantyne and Henty: The Gentlemen Adventurers of the World of Boys' Literature

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 06:08 AM |

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