31 December 2012

The USS Monitor Sunk 31 December 1862

As I become more and more interested in American history and archeology, I found this latest news about the USS Monitor quite fascinating:

The Monitor finally sank around 1 a.m. on December 31. Twelve sailors and four officers would lose their lives. Periodicals like Harper's Weekly and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper would later publish artists' renderings and poems about the tragedy, but for families of the victims there was little solace. The exact location of the Monitor's final resting place and the crewmen who perished would remain a mystery for more than a century . . . John Byrd, director of the laboratory, says that "sunken ships can be a very, very good environment for preserving remains" because of the protective coating of silt that forms over them. This was the case inside the Monitor, where tons of coal mixed with the silt, creating an anaerobic environment that prevented chemical reactions and animal activity from destroying the skeletons.

More here.

29 December 2012

My Ancestor - The First Abolitionist In America

Roger Williams Building His House
In between trying to finish up the book about the Civil War in Lexington, I've been doing some research into the Williams side of my family. It's becoming a fascinating journey. Due to some unpleasant recent family history on the Williams side, I'd lost touch with those kinfolk. However, I recently reconnected with a cousin (twice removed), and have been exploring some information she shared. Of course, I was already aware (Thanks to Robert Moore) that I am a direct descendant of the Reverend Roger Williams - the founder of the Colony of Rhode Island and of the first Baptist Church in America. However, I was not aware of him being considered the "very first abolitionist in America" - according to Wikipedia anyway:

Williams was arguably the very first abolitionist in North America, having organized the first attempt to prohibit slavery in any of the original thirteen colonies.

The ruling class elites of Williams's day sound eerily familiar to what I've experienced coming from certain corners of academia: "The Court declared that he was spreading "diverse, new, and dangerous opinions." Ah yes, diversity of ideas is not to be tolerated by the modern Puritans in the Ivory Towers.

He was then ordered to be banished. The execution of the order was delayed because Williams was ill and winter was approaching, and he was allowed to stay temporarily provided he ceased his agitation. He did not cease, so in January 1636 the sheriff came to pick him up only to discover that Williams had slipped away three days before during a blizzard. He walked through the deep snow of a hard winter the 105 miles from Salem to the head of Narragansett Bay where the local Wampanoags offered him shelter and took him to the winter camp of their chief sachem, Massasoit, where he resided for 3 and a half months.

My, my, my, how little things change. Of course, it's always good to keep in mind this admonishment:

It is indeed a desirable thing to be well-descended, but the glory belongs to our ancestors. ~ Plutarch

28 December 2012

Metal Detecting Post #93 - I Made Garrett's "Searcher"

You can read the complete issue here. A good read if you're interested in history and artifacts. If you're not, you're reading the wrong blog.

27 December 2012

Hating The Southern Accent

Such haters in the world today . . . 

Contestant Renee Durette was on a roll toward thousands of dollars on the game show "Wheel of Fortune." She had the winning answer to the word puzzle - "Seven Swans a Swimming" - or so she thought. Durette, a Navy Intel Specialist from Merritt Island, Fla., dropped the "g" - pronouncing "swimming" as "swimmin'."

Story here. Couldn't she sue for discrimination, or profilin' or somethin'? If I were her, I'd watch future episodes very carefully and, if the answer is ever "New Jersey", and the yankee contestant answers, "New Joisey", she's gotta case. What about New Yorkers who say "Cape Cad" instead of "Cape Cod" or Yankees who don't pronounce "R's"? I guess it's just the Southern accent that the media masters despise.

26 December 2012

America's Real Problem

The government has supplanted the father. The "expert's" solution is an abject failure of epic proportions. This is just one of the resulting "fruits of victory" in the left's culture war against the traditional American family.

In every state, the portion of families where children have two parents, rather than one, has dropped significantly over the past decade. Even as the country added 160,000 families with children, the number of two-parent households decreased by 1.2 million. Fifteen million U.S. children, or 1 in 3, live without a father, and nearly 5 million live without a mother. In 1960, just 11 percent of American children lived in homes without fathers.

America is awash in poverty, crime, drugs and other problems, but more than perhaps anything else, it all comes down to this, said Vincent DiCaro, vice president of the National Fatherhood Initiative: Deal with absent fathers, and the rest follows.

How very sad.

Even Non-Believers Should Be Grateful

For Christianity's redeeming influence upon culture. Interesting that most academics are so married to their ideology that they are unable or unwilling to recognize such an obvious truth, or, in the words of Apostle Paul:

"Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." ~ 2 Timothy 3:7

The decorations and gifts of Christmas are one of our connections to a Christian culture that has held Western civilization together for 2,000 years. In our culture the individual counts. This permits an individual person to put his or her foot down, to take a stand on principle, to become a reformer and to take on injustice. This empowerment of the individual is unique to Western civilization. It has made the individual a citizen equal in rights to all other citizens, protected from tyrannical government by the rule of law and free speech. These achievements are the products of centuries of struggle, but they all flow from the teaching that God so values the individual’s soul that he sent his son to die so we might live. By so elevating the individual, Christianity gave him a voice.

More here.


25 December 2012

In Praise Of Teachers

Teachers in the truest sense of the word . . . 

Jesus was a carpenter's son.  This means that he too was, by trade, a carpenter.  Socrates was a stonemason's son, and hence also a tradesman himself.  Basic education for these men, as for most in their times, consisted of being trained in their fathers' crafts and family morals, along with perhaps elementary literacy and numeracy skills.  Beyond this, they would have listened to or read what they could, when they could, compelled primarily by their own desire to learn. 
 And . . .

A teacher is a man who places knowledge above power and upholds the quest for the true and the good in a world forever endangered by coercive schemes that would demand deference to the false and the evil.  In other words, education, in the sense defined for Western civilization by Jesus and Socrates, is the spiritual realm in which, in defiance of all demands and dictums of temporal authority, individual men are free to seek truth. The fight to preserve Western heritage against today's encroaching authoritarian hordes is, at its base, the battle to save education from the clutches of government. 

How simple yet how profound. More to come on this topic later.

24 December 2012

Merry Christmas From The Shenandoah Valley

This is a "re-post" from a previous Christmas, but a fitting reminder of the transforming power of the birth of Christ.
"Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, must lead, but if the courses be departed from, the ends will change." ~ Ebenezer Scrooge

"But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die." ~ Ezekiel 18:21

"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." ~ Matthew 1:21

Late this evening, I will do as I have done consistently since my children were small. After our traditional Christmas Eve supper of fried oysters, ham, pumpkin pie, and apple cider, (Just a tad “hard”) I will sit down with whoever will join me (Usually one or two of my daughters) and watch one of the many screen adaptations of Charles Dickens’ (1812-1870) literary classic, A Christmas Carol. The version I most often watch, and probably one of the most popular and best done, is the 1951 film, A Christmas Carol, starring Alastair Sims as Ebenezer Scrooge and Mervyn Jones as Bob Cratchit.

Christian purists may scoff at such an activity on this holiest of Christian holidays but Dickens’ story of a hateful, selfish, old man’s transformation into a joyful, generous old man offers a wonderful opportunity to contemplate the transforming affect that the Incarnation has had upon society. It is interesting to note that while Dickens would not be considered a true follower of Christ by Biblical standards, it is undeniable that the miraculous story of Christ’s birth made a dramatic impact upon this prolific author.

Dickens’ classic Christmas story certainly espouses a Christian worldview. The beginning of the Victorian period in Britain had seen a decline in the celebration of Christmas. This was due to two factors. The lingering Puritan influence of Oliver Cromwell’s rule had discouraged the celebration of the holiday and the industrial revolution then gripping England permitted little time for holiday festivities. But Dickens’ story, published in 1843, rekindled both Britain’s—as well as America’s—desire to celebrate the holiday in grand fashion. And while much of the story is not explicitly Christian, the novel does focus on the Christian holiday and the biblical concepts of charity, repentance, and forgiveness.

Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire (England) on February 7, 1812. He moved to London in 1822 where he would reside most of his life. During Dickens’ formative years, Dickens’ father often brought the family to the brink of economic disaster by his extravagance and poor management of the family finances. For a time, young Dickens’ had to leave school and work in a factory due to his father’s confinement to debtor’s prison. This was an influential experience in Dickens’ life and one sees his sensitivity to the underclass and what he considered the oppressed all through his writings.

Another powerful influence on Dickens was the Christ-centered revival that took place in England during the 1830’s. The Christian activism that sprang from this revival took root in Dickens’ political philosophy. At the center of much of this reform movement was the Christian statesman William Wilberforce, whose faith, hard work, and evangelical zeal eventually led to the abolition of slavery in the British Isles (1833). Wilberforce also led the efforts for prison reform and relief for the poor. Much of Wilberforce’s work and thought would manifest itself through Dickens’ characters and stories. While there is plenty of room for critical analysis of Dickens’ works, as well as his theology (Dickens attended an Anglican Church, but most would consider some of his beliefs Unitarian), the classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his miraculous transformation is filled with allusions to biblical principles and Christian allegories. Though Dickens’ theology rejected the need for Christ alone for salvation, he could not escape the beautiful and unparalleled truths contained in the Incarnation. It is evident from the story line in A Christmas Carol that Dickens was well versed in the Biblical principles and need for redemption.

First we see the utter depravity and selfishness of mankind expressed in the character of Scrooge. Dickens’ description of Scrooge is vivid:

Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind- stone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dogdays; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas.
In an opening scene in Dickens’ story, we see Scrooge’s nephew cheerily enter the old miser’s counting-house and greet him with, “A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!”
“Bah, Humbug!” is Scrooge’s gruff reply.

A few moments later two men enter Scrooge’s office soliciting funds for “the least of these my brethren” or in the words of Dickens, the “Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time.” Scrooge denies their request of benevolence and suggests it would be better if the poor wretches die “and decrease the surplus population.” Scrooge aptly lives up to Dickens’ description. His comment also reminds us that modern American culture’s disdain for what it considers the weak and valueless or, what the founder of Planned Parenthood and the architect of modern birth control and abortion, Margaret Sanger, called “human waste,” is nothing new.

We also see the persecution of the righteous in the character of Bob Cratchit. A church going, hard working (If not very bright) father who labors faithfully for Scrooge and whose only joy comes in the love of his wife and children. Cratchit’s universally loved but crippled son, Tiny Tim, exemplifies Christian contentment and charity in his prayer request for Scrooge, “God bless us every one!” as his father proposes a toast to the man who has just “sacked” him on Christmas Eve.

Scrooge’s conscience is “awakened to righteousness” as he is visited on Christmas Eve by four apparitions. First, the “ghost” of his dead business partner, Jacob Marley and then, “the ghost of Christmas past, the ghost of Christmas present, and the ghost of Christmas yet to come.” One can see the workings of the Holy Spirit depicted by these visitors as one by one they bring Scrooge face to face with his sins of greed and selfishness.

Marley bemoans the course he chose in life as he admonishes Scrooge: “Business’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. ‘Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

The allusion to Christian themes is obvious. In the end, Scrooge comes to himself, repents of his selfish ways and makes restitution to his fellow man. Dickens most certainly linked Scrooge’s transformation to the new birth:

He went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of houses, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed that any walk -- that anything -- could give him so much happiness.
While Ebenezer’s “conversion” was to human goodness rather than to Jesus Christ, Dickens had to resort to Christian principles and metaphors to make his point. Despite Dickens’ unorthodox beliefs, he could not escape the impact of Christ’s birth—and neither can anyone else. While ironic and sad, Dickens’ humanistic quest for redemption is an admission of his need and illustrates what we so often see in our family, friends, and acquaintances at this time of year—being drawn to the warmth and love of Christ, but ultimately grasping at the false and deceptive humanistic trappings of the Christmas season. Perhaps this Christmas God can use us to show them that redemption can only be found in that One born in the manger who ultimately died on the cross so that we could be saved from our sins. Mankind is Christ’s business. Mankind should be ours.

Merry Christmas from Huckleberry Hollow, Virginia!

23 December 2012

You Have To Be About Half Crazy

This is kinda what it's like being married to a metal detectorist/relic hunter/adventure seeker/history lover. Just ask my wife.

Why Many Moderns Will Not Be Judged Kindly By History

"He who imagines condemnation and disgrace, not to be strong motives to men … seems little skilled in the nature or history of mankind." ~ John Locke

22 December 2012

21 December 2012

New Theme Song For Old Virginia Blog

A natural . . . made to order . . . scenery I've known, loved, and lived among all 54 55 years of my life . . .

*Note to readers - whoever made this video misspelled "Osborne" brothers at the opening.

20 December 2012

Even In The Dark Hour - Merry Christmas!

(Left click, right click, left click on view image, left click to enlarge and read.)

Hat tip to Art of Manliness - Why Remembering Christmas 1944 Can Change Your Life.

19 December 2012

Metal Detecting Post #92 - Metal Detecting At Montpelier

I was sure I had posted this video before, but I can't seem to find it. So . . .

17 December 2012

Not Since Reconstruction

*Update - some on the left and the blogosphere are already poo-pooing and belittling Scott's appointment. No big surprise there. Scott rose to power by rejecting much of what the left expects of African-Americans - to look to them for their advancement. Senator Scott said, "no thanks" and simply used his God-given talents, nurtured by a Christian mentor and faith - anathema to the hustlers on the left - to become successful. He's an excellent role model.

Mr. Scott’s parents were divorced when he was 7. His mother, a nurse at a hospital in Charleston, raised him and his older brother, who is now in the Army in Germany, by herself, often working 16-hour days to keep them off welfare.

He was rescued by a man named John Moniz, who ran the Chick-fil-A next to the movie theater. Mr. Moniz became his mentor, imbuing him with his conservative, Christian philosophy and, as a graduate of the Citadel, teaching him the importance of structure and discipline. He also introduced him to the self-help views of the motivational Christian author Zig Ziglar.

More here.

[End of update]

Not since the Reconstruction era has a black Republican from the South served in the U.S. Senate. Tim Scott makes history. 

16 December 2012

The Shenandoah Valley - A Sublime Temple Of Nature

Image source here
From The Knights of the Golden Horse-Shoe, an early historical romance authored by William Alexander Caruthers and first published in 1841:

What a panorama there burst upon the enraptured vision of the assembled young chivalry of Virginia! Never did the eye of mortal man rest upon a more magnificent scene! The vale beneath looked like a great sea of vegetation in the moon-light, rising and falling in undulating and picturesque lines, as far as the eye could reach towards the north-east and south-west; but their vision was interrupted on the opposite side by the Alleghanies. For hours the old veteran chief stood on the identical spot which he first occupied, drinking in rapture from the vision which he beheld. Few words were spoken by any one, after the first exclamations of surprise and enthusiasm were over. The scene was too overpowering - the grand solitudes, the sublime stillness, gave rise to profound emotions which found no utterance. Nearly everyone wandered off and seated himself upon some towering crag, and then held communion with the silent spirit of the place. There lay the valley of Virginia, that garden spot of the earth, in its first freshness and purity, as it came from the hands of its Maker. Not a white man had ever trod that virgin soil, from the beginning of the world. What a solemn and sublime temple of nature was there - and who could look upon it, as it spread far out to the east and west, until it was lost in the dim and hazy horizon, and not feel deeply impressed with the majesty of its Author.

15 December 2012

Confederate General William Mahone's Letter To My Great-Great Grandfather

Mahone after the WBTS

In a previous post, I discussed a little history about my great-great grandfather, Benjamin F. Williams. Grandpa Williams was a Virginia State Senator from Nottoway County and political nemesis of Virginia Governor and former Confederate General, William Mahone. Below is a letter from Mahone to my grandfather dated October 27, 1880. You can click on the image to enlarge it, but it is still a little difficult to read. I've typed the text below the image.


Confidential                                                                                      Richmond VA
                                                                                                         October 27, 1880

My Dear Senator

                          There is here a representative of the Nat'l Republican Party who desires to see you and the other most influential honored (?) man in your county, who purpose to vote for Garfield and has requested me to ask that you and the other (?) man shall come to Richmond by the first train after receipt of this and call on him at the Capitol Hotel and Whig office and in this I hope you will not fail.

                                                                                                         Hastily Yours

Senator B F Williams                                                                      Wm Mahone
                     Nottoway VA


Mahone was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1881 and aligned himself with the Republicans and President Garfield. I do not know whether or not my grandfather accepted the invitation to come to Richmond, though I have my doubts as he had suffered political persecution at the hand of the Mahone machine in prior years due to his steadfast, albeit sometimes lonely, opposition to Mahone. More to come.

13 December 2012

Trail Notes: A Wild & Romantic Region - Warm Springs Valley

From the Friends of the Warm Springs . . . 

"Thursday Dec. 12th, 1861: Took up the line of march towards the Warm Springs. Made a journey of 15 miles. Encamped on the top of a mountain on the western side of Jackson River. Passed through a wild and romantic region. Friday 13th. Last night very cold. Made an early start from camp. Crossed Jackson River and encamped for the night on the side of Warm Springs Mountain a short distance from the Springs. Traveled 9 (?) miles. Could not resist the temptation to bathe myself in its tepid waters. In the evening a brother soldier and myself visited the Springs and enjoyed the luxury of a bath in this famed “fountain of youth.” Saturday14th Made a journey of 5 miles to the Bath Alum Springs. Took a refreshing draught at the spring as we passed by."

And my knowledge of the Springs . . .

                        The Warm Springs Bath Houses

“What a beautiful world God in His loving kindness to His creatures has given us! What a shame that men endowed with reason and knowledge of right should mar His gifts!”
~ Robert E. Lee


I first saw the pools of Warm Springs in the summer of 1965. Just seven years old at the time; my father had brought me, along with a close friend, from the camp where we were vacationing on the *Cowpasture River  in Bath County, Virginia. Seeing and feeling 98 degree water flow naturally out of the ground and into a stream fascinated this young Virginian – just as it has fascinated other Virginians for hundreds of years.
    Following the same buffalo trails as the Indians before them, American colonists crossed the Alleghenies – an Indian name meaning “endless” – and came upon the breathtaking site of Warm Springs valley and the pools of water where Indians had been bathing for centuries. “Taking the waters” has long been a tradition of Virginia gentlemen – and ladies. The first octagonal wood structure – the Gentlemen’s Pool House - was opened to the public on June 1, 1761. Built over, and around, a natural pool of warm spring water, the structure remains much as it did in 1761. One hundred and twenty feet in circumference, forty feet in diameter, and holding over forty-thousand gallons of constantly flowing, crystal clear mineral water, it is the oldest spa structure in the United States. The wooden structure surrounding the spring is a Virginia Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One of the original cottages, believed to have been built shortly after the men’s pool opened, is also still in use. The town of Warm Springs is the county seat of Bath County.
    A second Ladies Pool House was opened on June 1, 1836 and is fed by separate springs. The women’s pool is circular, fifty feet in diameter, one-hundred-fifty feet in circumference, and holds 60,000 gallons of water. The two pools constant, perfectly matching human temperature of 98 degrees, in combination with the rich minerals in the pristine Warm Springs Valley, soothes body and soul. Flowing at 1200 gallons a minute, the waters contain calcium, chloride, nitrate, sodium, bicarbonate, and sulphate deposits. Known today as The Jefferson Pools, the two pool houses lie about five miles north of the beautiful Homestead Resort, on U.S. Route 220. The renowned Homestead Resort owns and operates the two pools. The last private owner of the pools was Colonel John L. Eubank. Eubank served as secretary of the Virginia Secession Convention in 1861.
    After opening to the public, word of the pools’ “healing powers” spread quickly through Virginia. Taverns, livery stables, hotels, and a church sprang up almost overnight in the remote, unspoiled, mountainous area – all to accommodate the influx of Virginians arriving to bathe in the pure waters. One such Virginian was Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was a frequent visitor to the area and he often sought the quiet solace of the pools while making his plans for the University of Virginia. One of Jefferson’s visits was August 13, 1818 when Jefferson was 75 years old. On this particular visit, Jefferson stayed 3 weeks, taking to the pools several times each day. The soothing waters helped relieve what Jefferson described as “rheumatism.” Jefferson was so impressed by the medicinal powers of the springs, that on August 14, 1818, he wrote his daughter, Martha that the springs were “of the first merit.”
    Other renowned Virginians also frequented the springs. Robert E. Lee and his family visited a number of times; often for extended stays. Mrs. Lee’s painfully severe arthritic condition prompted her to seek the healing qualities of the waters at Warm Springs on numerous occasions. In July of 1856, Mary Lee wrote General Lee’s brother, Carter: “I have been confined to my room and bed most of the time more than 4 weeks…I cannot resign myself willingly to this state of inaction.” Carter Lee recommended a certain spring for therapy. Though it meant an 18-hour stagecoach trip from Arlington, Mary replied, “I must go either to Bath or to the Warm Springs.” She was not disappointed with the results and, after a few weeks of bathing in the soothing mineral pools and breathing the cool and pure mountain air, **Mrs. Lee’s pain eased and she felt restored and refreshed.  Two years later, in August of 1858, Colonel Lee joined Mary and daughter Annie for yet another trip to Warm Springs. Though ill, Annie especially enjoyed the scenery surrounding the village writing that, “…the little streams…running and gurgling over the stones, the last rays of light as they lit up the clouds and mountains were very beautiful.” Mary’s condition, along with the fact that Annie was suffering from the effects of a lingering illness, concerned Lee; so much so that the family spent a month at the Homestead cottages recuperating and enjoying blessed and much needed fellowship.
    Several years later, in August of 1863, Warm Springs again found Mary Lee as their guest. That year, Mrs. Lee, along with daughter-in-law Charlotte and daughters Mary and Agnes, all enjoyed the cottages and described her late summer abode as, “delightful…with a meadow full of haycocks and a clear stream running thro’ it and very near to the bath, which is one of the finest in the world.” General Lee made one final trip to Warm Springs with his family during the summer of 1868. Lee had to extend his stay in order to nurse daughter Mildred back to health after she contracted typhoid fever. The news of dreaded typhoid gave rise to much anxiety in the hearts of Robert and Mary Lee. Typhoid had already claimed daughter Annie at the age of twenty-three during the War. Lee, the ever-doting and duty-conscious father, never left his “Precious Life’s” side, holding Mildred’s hand each night until she fell asleep. The family stayed at Warm Springs until September when Mildred had recovered sufficiently to make the trip back to Lexington.
    Another legendary Virginian enjoyed the mineral waters at Warm Springs. Major Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, while a professor at Virginia Military Institute, was once ordered by Commandant Francis H. Smith to take the corps of cadets on a training march through the mountainous areas surrounding Lexington. Jackson was delighted and one of the stops during the exercise was Warm Springs where Jackson benefited from the morning and evening baths taken in the healing water of the springs. Jackson, like most visitors during the 19th century, bathed twice a day in the springs; each time spending 10 to 20 minutes in the pools. Many believed that the best times to bathe were before breakfast and again before supper. It was also believed that exercise was best avoided while in the water.
    Other interesting personalities have connections to Warm Springs. The widow of Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart, Flora Cooke Stuart, enjoyed summers at Warm Springs. “Aunt Fanny” Sheppard, who was born into slavery and was the mother of the first black missionary to the Congo, William Sheppard, served for many years as the attendant at the Ladies’ Pool. Aunt Fanny taught many Bath County girls to swim by tying a sheet around their waist and tossing them into the pool.
    Visiting the Jefferson Pools today at Warm Springs is like stepping back in time. Warm Springs Valley remains much as it was 100 years ago with small shops and inns (No Wal-Mart), winding country roads that seem to go nowhere in particular, and beautiful green hillsides where sheep graze at their leisure. A mid-week visit in July or August will often find the pools empty. The slow pace of the village of Warm Springs hearkens back to a time in the South for which many readers of this blog long. Stepping onto the grounds of the pools, one immediately catches the unmistakable scent of sulphur and notices the clean, though somewhat weathered white-washed bath houses. Outside the structures, one can put their hands into the streams flowing out from the springs beneath the houses and feel the warm water that has bubbled up from hundreds of feet below ground. The rolling green hills, mountains, and lush meadows that surround Warm Springs Valley make a perfect backdrop and immediately envelope the visitor in an aura of serenity. One can easily imagine General Lee and his family enjoying the same tranquility and it is easy to see why they visited so often. Should readers someday find themselves in western Virginia, they would be well-served in seeking out the Jefferson Pools of Warm Springs Valley – where “reason and knowledge” have thus far failed to mar God’s gifts. The ancient tradition of “taking the waters” will convince all that, in the words of Mary Lee, the spring “is one of the finest in the world.”

(Directions: I-66 west to I-81 south to Staunton, then Route 275 west to U.S. 250 west, Route 42 south to Goshen, then Route 39 west to Warm Springs.)

* The Cowpasture River joins the Jackson River near Clifton Forge, Virginia to form the mighty James River. The Calpasture is one of the most pristine and beautiful rivers east of the Mississippi. Bath County was named for the mineral springs in the county and the town of Bath in England.

** As recently as the 1980’s, a device that was originally installed to lower Mrs. Lee into the springs, was still in existence.

A Most Rewarding Shout Out

From my favorite WBTS publication . . . 

12 December 2012

Big Education Distracts From The Real Problem

While "educators" chase "Dixie", Confederate statues, David Barton, and neo-Confederates around the internet - having panic attacks over their supposed influence on the American educational complex - we've got areas of the country where less than 10% of 8th grade students can even read. You'd think they'd have better things to do with their time. Sadly, many of these "concerned" educators seem to be more interested in distractions than they are actually educating. I suppose creating a boogie man to distract from the epic failure of your educational methods saves your own bacon - too bad for America's children.

Oh well, maybe their students can't read but at least, thank God Gaia, they won't be exposed to right-wing views of history and oppressive images. 

Antiquated Notions Of Liberty

The reigning majority. Ain't it grand?

11 December 2012

Manly Honor - Southern, Northern & Modern Views

Blogger Brett McKay has written an excellent series on Manly Honor. Moderns often poo-poo the concept preferring relativism over what they view as an "outdated" concept. This despite the fact that they are still - knowningly or not - influenced by the ancient concept of honor - when it works to their advantage (relativism). Here's an excerpt from McKay's latest installment:

Yet, a shadow of honor in its most basic form – bravery for men, chastity for women – continues to linger on. “If you doubt it,” Bowman writes, ”try calling a man a wimp, or a woman a slut.” And you can’t reverse that either; men will generally shrug if you call them a slut (tellingly, there still really isn’t a popular derogatory word for a man who sleeps around), and women won’t usually be offended if called a wimp . . . Take the case of Sandra Fluke. When Rush Limbaugh called her a slut in February, his comments provoked widespread outrage…and then the wave crested and went away as quickly as it had risen. In a traditional honor culture, Fluke’s father would have challenged Rush to a duel (now that is something I would have paid to watch) in order to defend her honor and to resolve the scandal in a clear and definitive way. The interesting thing about the Fluke affair is that at the same time she advanced a liberal, progressive cause, she appealed to the ethics of traditional honor. That she considered being called a slut the basest of insults, and that she appreciated President Obama for standing up for her and essentially defending her honor, directly harkened back to an ancient culture of honor. It was an interesting juxtaposition.
The concept of honor can still be found "lingering" in our legal system as well - don't laugh. For example, when I served as a Magistrate for the Commonwealth of Virginia, I was intrigued to find out that it was still a misdemeanor in Virginia to impugn a woman's "virtue and chastity." At the time, my supervisor was an attorney and graduate of Washington & Lee law school. He explained to me that the history and intent of the statute assumed that female virtue was so important to the well-being of the Commonwealth, that it was "assumed" that all females within its borders were chaste. Suggesting otherwise - without conclusive proof - would contribute to the collapse of Virginia's moral foundations. Though the law falls under the general heading of slander and libel and pertains to impugning the character of men as well, its emphasis concerned the virtue of the fairer sex. The law remains in the Virginia Code today:

§ 18.2-417. Slander and libel.
Any person who shall falsely utter and speak, or falsely write and publish, of and concerning any female of chaste character, any words derogatory of such female's character for virtue and chastity, or imputing to such female acts not virtuous and chaste, or who shall falsely utter and speak, or falsely write and publish, of and concerning another person, any words which from their usual construction and common acceptation are construed as insults and tend to violence and breach of the peace or shall use grossly insulting language to any female of good character or reputation, shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.
The defendant shall be entitled to prove upon trial in mitigation of the punishment, the provocation which induced the libelous or slanderous words, or any other fact or circumstance tending to disprove malice, or lessen the criminality of the offense.
In a couple of the previous installments, McKay discussed the Northern & Southern concepts of honor. Here's how he introduced the his essay about Southern honor:

In our last post about the history of honor, we took a look at how honor manifested itself in the American North around the time of the Civil War. Yet when most folks think about honor in the States, both then and now, what first comes to mind is invariably the South. There’s a reason for that. While honor in the North evolved during the 19th century away from the ideals of primal honor and towards a private, personal quality synonymous with “integrity,” the South held onto the tenets of traditional honor for a much longer period of time. Unlike the Northern code of honor, which emphasized emotional restraint, moral piety, and economic success, the Southern honor code in many ways paralleled the medieval honor code of Europe — combining the reflexive, violent honor of primitive man with the public virtue and chivalry of knights.

The whole series is worthwhile and I recommend it to readers.