Random Notes, 66
- An odd fact is the ignorance of the English alphabet that leads people to believe that our forbears actually used "ye" for "the," as in "Ye Old Shoppe." There never was such a usage, but there was once another letter in the English alphabet (and also in the Anglo Saxon and Icelandic) for the th sound. It was called the thorn, and it was similar to the y, but not identical any more than a and o are. It began to disappear c.1500. Look up thorn in an unabridged dictionary.
- In Congress, Rep. Bob Dornan, chairman of a House National Security subcommittee, has been holding hearings on the Nazi-like treatment of U.S. prisoners of war captured in World War II and the Korean War by the Soviet Union. Medical and other experiments were performed on them. This may have continued with the Vietnam War. This information has been known for many years and suppressed (see "Soviets Used Our POWs for Nazi-Like Experiments," by R. Cort Kirkwood, in Insight, October 21, 1996, p. 7f). The mainline media is not carrying this story, it seems.
In the modern world, our pagan states are at war with their own peoples. Sometimes an enemy country harms us, but it seems that people all over the world can depend on their own country to be constantly at war with them. But what else can you expect from godless states? The answer is not a futile resistance but to re-Christianize one's country. Until then, a godless state will only do evil.
Modern man believes in political salvation, and he is destroying civilization with this false hope. The state is not god, nor can it save man. Only when we see the state as a ministry of God (Rom. 13:1ff) can we make it again a useful and moral factor in our lives.
- It will be interesting to see if the Jewish survivors of World War II whose families lost money to Swiss banks regain their funds. This is a very important if too limited a battle. At least since World War I various states, combatant and non-combatant, have used a variety of excuses to seize foreign assets in war time. I knew a man whose parents in Czarist Russia put millions in U.S. banks at the sign of a possible war in 1914, only to have it all seized on various pretexts. Turkey not only massacred perhaps two million Armenians in World War I but seized all their assets and those of others. And so on and on. The record of one country after another has been evil in this respect. But don't expect godless men and nations to behave differently; to do so is illogical and immoral. We may become victims, but we need not be fools as well.
- All people have their strengths and their weaknesses, including ourselves. We are unfamiliar with those of foreigners and thus less tolerant. As a boy and a young man, living on a California farm, I was close to many Japanese farmers. I came to appreciate their character. With World War II, and the cynical imprisonment in camps of the California Japanese, I visited friends in them to take them supplies. I remember one friend's youngest brother who said he hated Japan (he thought he was in Japan while in the camp because all there were Japanese) and wanted to go back to America. He bore the name of an American president, his father's hero. When moved to a desert camp in the Owens Valley, these Japanese used every available space to plant vegetables and even trees! For a few years after the war, I had occasion several times to drive by the now abandoned camp. The surviving trees were an eloquent witness to me of the character of the people who had been there.
- As a boy, our dinner table was a place of amazing conversations. My father readily invited people to dine with us, and my mother as readily accommodated them. On top of that, we had a stream of visitors from all over the world, people who knew and respected my father. Many were missionaries, others were world travelers; one was a part of a film crew that went to Loristan and had exciting tales to report; another was a French doctor from Central Africa, and so on and on. I remember vividly the exotic tales they had to report. This was an important part of my education. I recall one man whose World War I saga included the war, imprisonment, and wanderings over two continents. At times, he lost track of the days of the week, the months, and then even the exact year. Meaning, he said, was tied to time and the calendar. The calendar listed Sundays, holy days, and more. It punctuated time with meaning, an imposed meaning which was more than ourselves.
Think about that. We live in a world with a given meaning, given by God and by man's long pilgrimage of faith. Remove that, and we drift into meaninglessness.
Nursing homes often stress special events for their patients to give a focus to their days; without that, even with the best of care, meaninglessness soon overtakes most people. A nurse I knew in the 1950s took a very well-paying position in a mental hospital. After a few months, she quit because it was so poisonous an atmosphere: the patients were radically self-absorbed; nothing had meaning except in terms of themselves, a state of mind now taking over the world.
- I have been a privileged man because over many years I have had the opportunity to work with some truly outstanding people, and I have had occasion to meet and visit with many more. Of course, there have been sour and hostile people as well, but they are losers.