29 September 2007

27 September 2007

Governor Kaine's Understatement of the Year

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A member of the state's Commission of Immigration resigned Thursday, a few hours after Gov. Timothy M. Kaine was told about online videos showing the appointee condemning Israel and advocating "the jihad way."

"Dr. Omeish is a respected physician and community leader, yet I have been made aware of certain statements he has made which concern me." ~ Virginia Governor Tim Kaine


Hmmm . . . would this qualify Gov. Kaine as a neo-jihadist? Seriously though, does his reaction seem just a little bit less than adequate or is it just me?

Full story here.

26 September 2007

Saumel Davies and the Evangelization of Slaves

“Long known as the first resident Presbyterian minister in Piedmont Virginia, Samuel Davies earned the respect of his white dissenting contemporaries almost as soon as he moved permanently to Hanover County from Delaware in 1748. Early in his ministry, Davies identified evangelizing slaves in the households and on the farms and plantations of his parishioners as crucial to his project of bringing awakened religion to the seven meetinghouses in four counties in which he preached. Indeed, his efforts were "the first sustained proselytization of slaves" in colonial Virginia, and as such have received scholarly attention from a number of commentators.”

“One dimension of his conversion work among slaves that has received relatively little focus on its own terms, however, is Davies's attempt to teach slaves to read. If his own accounts can be trusted, no white person in colonial American history was as successful as Davies in stimulating a relatively widespread literacy among slaves in the South. Unlike a later generation of evangelists, primarily Baptist and Methodist, who worked among slaves and free blacks for conversions based on heartfelt outpourings of the spirit, Davies as a Presbyterian believed that the attainment of true religion by anyone, bond or free, black or white, required extensive religious knowledge that came from not only hearing the word of God but also reading it. Counting the work of Davies, his white ministerial associates in the Hanover Presbytery, and the many unnamed blacks who took their lessons from the clergy and taught other slaves, Davies’s campaign for literacy in conjunction with the evangelizing of Virginia was the first sustained and successful program by a white clergyman in the South to stimulate large numbers of Africans and African Americans to read in English.”

[The previous comes from a much abridged version of an article in the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, volume 111, no. 4 (2003): 333-378.]

The following is taken from footnotes in my book, Stonewall Jackson ~ The Black Man's Friend, pp. 198-200:

2. The Lexington Presbytery was taken from the Hanover Presbytery of central Virginia, arguably one of the most influential Christian organizations and regions of any in America’s Christian history. Founded by the Reverend Samuel Davies (known as “the Apostle of Virginia”) in 1753, Hanover was the mother presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in the South. The Lexington Presbytery inherited a rich heritage from Hanover—that of teaching blacks to read so they could be evangelized and converted to Christ. According to one scholar, “No white person in colonial America was as successful as Davies in stimulating literacy among slaves in the South.” Davies’s purpose in teaching blacks to read was more than utilitarian. “Davies as a Presbyterian believed that the attainment of true religion by anyone, bond or free, black or white, required extensive knowledge that came from not only hearing the word of God but also reading it.” Davies’s work among blacks “was the first sustained and successful program by a white clergyman in the South to stimulate large numbers of Africans and African Americans to read in English.” Davies, unlike many of his colonial contemporaries believed in the “full humanity of the African people.” In a 1757 sermon to slave owners, he proclaimed: “His immortality gives him a kind of infinite value. Let him be white or black, bond or free, a native or a foreigner, it is of no moment in this view: he is to live forever!” Davies laid the responsibility for the slaves’ condition squarely at the feet of their masters: “Your Negroes may be ignorant and stupid as to divine things not for want of capacity, but for want of instruction; not through perverseness, but through your negligence. . . . They are generally as capable of instruction, as the white people.” Davies’s comments regarding slaves being “capable of instruction as the white people” put him at odds with many whites, particularly Northern slave traders and Southern slave holders. So successful were his efforts that James Davenport noted them in a letter to Jonathan Edwards, telling “of a remarkable work of conviction and conversion among whites and negroes, at Hanover in Virginia, under the ministry of Mr. Davies.” One hundred years later, Davies’s mantle of success among blacks passed to Thomas J. Jackson. For a thorough treatment of Davies’s efforts, see Jeffrey H. Richards, “Samuel Davies and the Transatlantic Campaign for Slave Literacy in Virginia,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 111, no. 4 (2003).

[And regarding just one example of other efforts to evangelize slaves via the Sunday school in Lexington, Virginia]:

3. William Henry Ruffner graduated from Washington College and studied at the University of Virginia under Dr. William Holmes McGuffey, author of the famous McGuffey Readers. Ruffner’s father, the Reverend Henry Ruffner, served as president of Washington College. There are conflicting statements in various sources regarding the dates of this class and which Ruffner actually taught the class—the son or the father. My research mentions William Henry Ruffner as the one who assisted Lacy, but some also refer to him as president of Washington College (the father occupied that office, however). William Spottswood White wrote that he had secured the services of a “younger minister” about this same time to teach blacks on Saturday afternoons. Henry Ruffner would have been sixty years old in 1845, so White’s comment suggests the son was involved in this ministry. Moreover, Lacy and William Henry Ruffner were close to the same age, and it would seem likely that they would have worked together. Two extensive biographical articles about the elder Ruffner, including one by his son, do not mention that Henry Ruffner taught a black Sunday-school class or instructed blacks at all. All of these facts lead one to conclude it was the son, William Henry Ruffner, who taught the class in the 1840s, though it is possible that both the son and the father were involved to some extent.

(The Sunday school class referred to in this note is of a class which predated Jackson's and was also conducted at the Lexington Presbyterian Church. "Lacy" is Beverly Tucker Lacy. Jackson would eventually offer Lacy the position of unofficial chaplain to the 2nd Corps. Lacy would also organize the Army Chaplaincy in more efficient ways to better serve the Confederacy’s soldiers. Lacy was also instrumental in promoting the "great revival" which swept through the Confederate army in 1863. The younger Ruffner was Virginia's first superintendent of public education. Interestingly enough, the elder Ruffner once wrote a pamphlet advocating the abolition of slavery based on its inefficiency as an economic system, rather than its moral evil. The pamphlet was later endorsed by war-time Virginia governor John Letcher.)

The Idiocy of Political Correctness

"When Ahmadinejad, speaking in Farsi, actually tried to crack a joke, it drew no laughter, although maybe the nuance was lost in translation."

'Let me tell a joke here," Ahmadinejad said. 'I think the politicians who are after atomic bombs, or testing them, making them, politically they are backward, retarded.'

The crowd seemed uncertain how to react. Some applauded that pacifist sentiment, others seemed befuddled by the insensitive use of the word retarded."

(See full article here.)

Excuse me? These people are eager to show up to listen to a holocaust denier, the leader of a terrorist nation, someone who has threatened to "wipe Israel off the map", and someone who is responsible for killing our soldiers in Iraq (by supplying weapons to "insurgents") and all of that does not seem to matter, but they are offended by "the insensitive use of the word retarded?"

What planet are these people from? That kind of reaction is indicative of the idiocy of political correctness--especially on our college campuses--and how pervasive it has become.

So its ok to recognize a holocaust denier and invite a Jew hater to speak at an American University, but boy he better not use the word "retarded"--he might offend someone! Unbelievable.

I believe those in the crowd (and the writer of the linked article) who claim to be offended by an anti-Semite using the word "retarded" are mentally challenged.

24 September 2007

Coming October 1

Watch the trailer of Still Standing ~ The Stonewall Jackson Story here.

Almost Heaven

The good folks over at Civil War Interactive, commenting on my vacation post, noted that they were "somewhat baffled as to why anybody who already lives in Virginia would bother to come to Tennessee." Mercy sakes, there are plenty of reasons! First of all, I love Southern Appalachian culture. As the favorite whippin' boy of the liberal elites, our culture is often depicted as incestuous, gap-toothed, ignorant folk who drink moonshine on Saturday and handle snakes in church on Sunday. How bigoted can you get? There are few regions in the United States with such a rich cultural heritage as Southern Appalachia. While I admit there is some truth in the stereotype often cited, anyone who thinks that this culture isn't worth preserving is either arrogant or ignorant. The contributions made by SA (and Southerners in general) to America's cultural heritage is staggering to consider.

In any event, my vacation was a little slice of heaven with 3 of my 6 children with me, and 2 of my 10 grandchildren all together in a 4 bedroom luxury cabin complete with private baths, a hot-tub, game room, and an indoor pool. We had a blast! We visited Cade's Cove--one of the most pristine and beautiful areas in the Smoky Mountains. The Cove is well worth seeing and offers a nice break from the more commercial aspects of the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge areas. That's not to say we did not enjoy those more commercial aspects! Dollywood, as always, was a delight. Every September, Dollywood hosts 2 weeks of "Barbecue and Bluegrass" which includes open-pit roasted pork barbecue every day in addition to live bluegrass shows at no extra charge. I had the pleasure of hearing Mountain Heart, The Peasall Sisters, and the legendary J. D. Crowe. I even had the honor of shaking Mr. Crowe's hand!

But the best part really was having so many of my family members present with me in such beautiful surroundings. I became somewhat reflective on Wednesday morning; sitting in one of the rocking chairs on the veranda, sipping coffee, reading Scripture and enjoying the sunrise. I could not help but think how, in a small way, these types of get-aways with those you love truly are like a small slice of heaven: gorgeous scenery, every need and comfort met, and those with whom you love most close by. I know that some reading this post cannot relate to what I'm trying to say, as I once could not relate. But as I sat there that morning I pondered how tragic it would be to enjoy such blessings here, yet miss them in eternity. How sad it would be if loved ones do not make it to heaven because of their unbelief and rejection of the Gospel. I then and there rededicated myself to doing everything I could to make sure those I love and interact with on a daily basis know the truth and that they trust the Son of God with their eternal souls.

I also recalled the letters I've read of so many dying young Civil War soldiers as they wrote their last words to their parents, often assuring them of their home in heaven and pleading with them not to mourn as they were going to a better place. I would hope all that read this can make that same claim.

21 September 2007

Back From Vacation

I am, somewhat reluctantly, back in the saddle again. I'll have more to say about my trip to east Tennessee over the weekend. But for now, I just received this email from the Museum of the Confederacy. (Remember, you heard it here first--including the part about Fort Monroe.) One more painful reminder of a lost opportunity to the pc officials in Lexington, Virginia.

Dear Richard:

It is our goal to keep our Members updated on any news regarding the future of The Museum of the Confederacy.

The staff and Board of Trustees have worked tirelessly toward a solution of maintaining the integrity of our collection and fulfilling our mission of educating the public about the Confederacy.

The following article concerning relocating The Museum appeared in the Richmond Times- Dispatch today. In order to keep our members informed of any new developments concerning relocation we are sending out this alert to all members. Please see the attached press release.

Previous surveys have indicated that this museum system has the potential of reaching more of our members. We are very excited about bringing our collection to our loyal supporters.

Thank you very much for your support and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


Diane Willard
Director of Membership and Annual Giving

804-649-1861 Ext 42

PRESS RELEASE DATE: September 21, 2007

Museum of the Confederacy Announces Fourth Proposed Location

Fort Monroe Under Consideration

The Museum of Confederacy has announced a fourth proposed location in its aim to establish a statewide system of visitor sites. Earlier this month the museum released its plan to operate a system of museums---the White House of the Confederacy in Richmond and new museums in Appomattox and Chancellorsville. Fort Monroe, a U. S. military installation set to close in 2011 in Hampton, Virginia has now been identified as a fourth site.

“We are excited about the opportunity to work with the communities of Hampton Roads and help keep this historic treasure a part of the Virginia visitor experience,” stated S. Waite Rawls III, President and CEO of the Museum of the Confederacy. “Fort Monroe played a major role in the Civil War. Our artifacts of the Confederate Navy could provide a major addition to the fort’s interpretation.”

The construction of Fort Monroe was supervised by young U.S. Army Lieutenant Robert E. Lee and completed in 1834. Named for President James Monroe, the site is a six-sided stone fort completely surrounded by a moat and is the last of its kind in the United States. Fort Monroe played a major role in U. S. military history. In March 1862, the naval Battle of Hampton Roads took place near Fort Monroe between the first ironclad warships, CSS Virginia and USS Monitor. Confederate President Jefferson Davis was also held at Fort Monroe for two years after his capture in May 1865.

The proposed museum system will advance the Museum’s educational mission by broadening the reach of its extensive artifact collection. The visitor sites will reach across the state, concentrating on and complementing existing flows of both historical and recreational travelers. The plan is contingent on support and financing.

The Museum will retain its headquarters, marketing and development functions, research library, and collections storage and conservation and preservation efforts in Richmond. Plans call for the current museum building to remain operational and open to the public for the next five years. The new facilities will be built in time for the Civil War Sesquicentennial (2011-2015).

CONTACT: Megan Stagg mstagg@moc.org
(804) 649-1861 ext. 13

15 September 2007

On Vacation

No posts until the end of next week. I'm off to Gatlinburg, Tennessee with my lovely wife, my daughter and her best friend, another daughter and her husband and my grandson, and my son and his wife and my granddaughter. No work, no stress (well, maybe some), no emails, no meetings, etc. Just Dollywood, bluegrass music, barbecue, and blessed privacy and seclusion in a beautiful mountain cabin where I will spend some much needed down time enjoying the blessings of family and smothering my grandkids with hugs and kisses!

12 September 2007


For 12 years, I had the distinct honor and privilege of serving as a Magistrate for the Commonwealth of Virginia. One of the things that made those 12 years so rewarding was that I worked with some of Virginia's finest: local and state law enforcement officers. One of those officers was Mark Kearney of the Waynesboro Police Department. Officer Kearney is also President of the Book 'Em Foundation (a literacy organization geared toward young people). He is also involved in mentoring youths in our community. Some time ago, Mark had discussed with me the possibility of mentoring and/or tutoring a young person and I told him I'd love to get involved in some way. Recently, Mark put in touch with a young man who had dropped out of high school but now realizes what a mistake that was. This young man also wants to become a police officer and knows he will at least need to complete his G.E.D. I will be tutoring this young man and assisting him in his studies. This young man also actively participates in the Law Enforcement Explorer Program - an excellent program for young men to consider who think law enforcement might be something they would be interested in pursuing as a career. It is quite encouraging to see this young person set goals and work toward those goals - despite making a big mistake and despite what many would say to discourage him. I believe working with him will benefit me more than it will him!

10 September 2007

Lexington Mystery Update

I had anticipated revealing my "Lexington Mystery" this past Saturday, September 8th. But Providence intervened and there will be a delay. Part of the mystery has been solved, but many questions remain; some may never be answered. I'm hoping more research will lead to answers. A hint: What has been discovered thus far is connected to the gentleman shown in this old photograph.

07 September 2007

#1 in Sunday School Category on Amazon!

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1. Stonewall Jackson: The Black Man's Friend Stonewall Jackson:
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(Ok, Ok, not the biggest deal in the world, but I think it deserves some bragging rights!)

New Office

All moved in . . . well, kinda; still have a lot of pictures to hang, 2 more desks to move in, and phone wires to untangle! (No, that is not a skinny albino boa constrictor in the bottom right of the first photo.) The image below that one is the gorgeous view of the Staunton skyline from my office window. The bell tower in the center belongs to historic Trinity Episcopal Church. Founded in 1746, this church is the one to which Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson fled when being pursued by those nasty British fellas during the War for American Independence. The church also has connections to the Civil War Era. In 1861, the Virginia Theological Seminary relocated to Staunton following the occupation of their school in Alexandria by Union troops. The seminary operated off and on throughout the war at Trinity Church. One of the Professors of the Seminary, Dr. William Sparrow, was a vocal opponent of both the war and of slavery. Despite his views, he remained popular in the community. For a brief period after the war, Charles Minnigerode served as an interim rector of Trinity Church. A native of Germany, he is perhaps best known as having been the minister during the war years of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Richmond , often called the "Church of the Confederacy " since many confederate officials, including Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, worshipped there.

06 September 2007

So What's Your Excuse?

If you need some inspiration today, take 30 minutes and listen to the story of Dan Miller, a man who has no use of his legs, and only 50% use of ONE arm. Despite his disability from polio, and what his doctors told him, this man obtained a Master's Degree in . . . are you ready? PHYSICAL EDUCATION! He then went on to instruct other teachers how to teach the subject! He also plays golf, flies an airplane, and plays the guitar very well. Amazing, humorous, and inspiring. You will be glad you listened. This would be especially good to share with young people. So what's your excuse?

05 September 2007

You Heard It Here First

MOC to split. You heard it here first.

“Relocation of the Museum of the Confederacy to Appomattox would create a synergy between the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, the upcoming Battle of Appomattox Station Battlefield and the Museum itself,” stated Watkins M. Abbitt, Jr. delegate from the Virginia General Assembly’s 59th district, which includes Appomattox County. “The relocation would substantially increase visitation, extend the visitors stay in our area, and result in a tremendous, positive economic impact for Appomattox.”

I wonder why Lexington city officials could not see this? Voters take note.

02 September 2007

The Plot Thickens

Yesterday morning, I returned to Lexington for additional photographs and research regarding the "Mystery." But upon arriving, I discovered to my surprise that the item I was to photograph has mysteriously disappeared! Is there a conspiracy to keep this secret hidden? I hope to reveal the mystery September 8th assuming I, too, do not mysteriously disappear.