Wednesday, August 30, 2006


The following is the first post I published two years ago. Tomorrow I am headed up to our cabin in Vermont. It's a really shack. Thats it above.

And while it is a humble place it is a deeply spiritual place for me...

I enjoy being outdoors. I am a nature lover.

There are few things I enjoy more than being on the water in my boat. For my 40th birthday a few years back my wife surprised me with an Adirondack guideboat.

The guideboat was developed in the early 1800's in upstate New York and is a hybrid of sorts. It looks like a canoe only wider and it sits lower in the water. It has cane backed seats that face each other unlike a canoe where one person is always looking at the other person's back.

The best experience of all is rowing out early in the morning just as the mist is rising up from the surface of the water in the sun's warmth. The pond is flat and calm and the only ripples are from the wake of the boat and from the oars as they move through the water.

I live for that experience a few times each year. I row out to the middle of Coles Pond and cast out a line and watched as the sun creeps slowly over the mountain.

Sitting there in the soft morning light, listening to the sounds of the woods around me is more peaceful than anything I have ever found.

I don't know what puts you at peace - but I think it is safe to say that we all need more of those moments. We need moments where we can pull ourselves away from the rattle and bang of the world and have some time for peace.

And what brings you peace may not involve peace and quiet - but find a setting or an activity that brings you peace and take advantage of it as often as you can.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A New Vehicle...

Well, I got the new SUV over the weekend - a Toyota Highlander Hybrid. It runs on a batteries and a gasoline engine. It was a game all weekend to drive it so that the engine did not kick in. You can drive to about 35 miles an hour w/o the engine coming on. For every gallon of gas I don’t burn I am preventing 19lbs of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

As a nation, we have got to end our dependence on oil. It’s not good for the earth and it’s not good for our position in the world to be an oil junkie wondering where we are going to get our next fix.

Our addiction drives our foreign policy. We eyeballed those burning wells at the end of Gulf War I and thought – “If there was a government in Iraq that was beholden to us – say for removing their dictator and setting them up - maybe we could get access to all those reserves!”

As things stand we have succeeded in establishing a government who is already taking its cues from Iran the most conservative, fundamentalist Muslim country in the world. And chances are slim that the impending chaos of civil war is going to allow us to control their oil fields.

Besides all that – China is quickly becoming the most industrialized country on earth and its demand for oil will soon exceed our own. What’s going to happen as the oil reserves continue to shrink while the US and China compete for the same oil? The price will only go higher.

All the more reason to develop alternative energy sources like Biodiesel. Biodiesel is vegetable oil!! Corn and Soybeans! We are the biggest producer of corn and soybeans in the world!!

Biodiesel contains no petroleum. It can be used in compression ignition (diesel) engines with no major modifications. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics.

All the more reason to continue to develop alternative fuel vehicles.

All the more reason to own them.

Monday, August 21, 2006

We Are Completely Mired

The quagmire that is Iraq has slowly been sucking American lives away for almost three years and we are no more appreciated now than before we “liberated” the Iraqis from their tyrannical leader.

Our mission was never clearly defined. This administration thought that we would arrest Hussein, establish order and in six months we would have all our people back home. They planned on free elections and democracy in Iraq.

I am reminded of the experience of remodeling an old house. When you find a little dry rot under a window sill and you go digging around to replace the punky piece of wood and pretty soon you are tearing out the whole wall because the dry rot extends much further than you could have imagined. And you discover that the old wiring in the wall is frayed and the insulation around the window is bad. Rather quickly you are spending more and doing much more than your original estimate.

Iraq is in the throes of a civil war. The Shiites – who we gave the country back to – love Iran more than the people who liberated them!

On Sunday Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel (NE) said that Iraq is in a “very defined civil war” and that the Middle East is “the most unstable we’ve seen since 1948.” He also reiterated that the United States needs to begin withdrawing troops within the next six months because "staying the course" just continues to “kill Americans and put Americans in the middle of a civil war that we have less and less control and influence over every day.”

This will be remembered as the most incredible Presidential debacle in the history of our country: How a President, under the guise of fighting terrorism, invaded a sovereign nation and facilitated the establishment a fundamentalist Muslim government.

I am not an isolationist – but our strength is not in our military might.
Our strength is in being a shining example of democracy, of helping the poor, of bringing food, water and schools to the people of this world who desperately need it. We need to get out of Iraq now and re-establish our moral authority over time as a true leader in the world.

Nobody asked – It’s just my opinion

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


The following article was found in the "Spirit Of Democracy" a Monroe County, Ohio newspaper, Tuesday, 18 January 1887.

"As I have not seen anything in your paper from the South-west corner of Wayne Twp., and as I am an old citizen. I thought I would drop you a few items for your many readers. I said I was an old citizen. I would add I was born in Belmont County, O., Dec. 29th, 1811. when about one year old, I was taken to Fish creek, Marshall Co., Virginia, and from Virginia, at eleven years of age, moved back to Rich-fork, this County, on Congress land - now owned by Mr. Peter Koehler, where the wolves howled and made the night dismal.

While On Rich-fork, I had to work out among the people where I could, to buy corn for bread, and then grind it on a hand mill, and then grind corn for the man that owned the mill to pay for the use of it. I helped to make the first brick that were made at Woodsfield, and I helped to raise and pack the first Tobacco ever packed at Woodsfield. But Woodsfield was small in those days.

Owing to there being no schools at that time I did not get much schooling. I never went to school a month in my life. When I became a little older, I ventured out further. I then went and worked three Summers on the old National pike, one mile west of Cambridge, on Crooked creek. From there, I went on the river. I made three trips to New Orleans on Flat Boats. I was married in the fall of 1832, and the next year I worked with my wife's uncle, on a farm. The next Spring I moved my wife to her father's and went on the river and cut cord wood, and made money enough to enter 40 acres of land on what is known as the Hartshorn Ridge, Wayne Tp. This was in 1831. At that time this part of the County was a howling wilderness. No roads - not even a cow path; no school houses, no mills, no stores nearer than Woodsfield, where I had to go to get everything we wanted, except milling. I went to where Stafford now stands, and got my grain ground, on a horse mill.

Since then, great changes have taken place; the dismal wilderness of that day has now become luxuriant farms, with bountiful crops of all kinds, school houses in abundance, with a free school system, where all our children, rich and poor, share the same advantages. Quite different from what it was in those days.

I have lived on this land 50 years. In that time I have seen many ups and downs. I have always had good health, until a few years past, and I cannot now complain, as others have come and gone long aqo. I never had the Doctor to see me but twice in all these years, and if I live until the 29th day of this month, I will be 75 years old.

In all this time, I have only missed two elections. Both were Township elections. My first vote for President was for Martin Van Buren. You now have a brief sketch of my life, so I will desist, and sign my name - OLD CITIZEN."

Samuel Hartshorn was my great, great, great grandfather. He was born on 29 Dec 1811. He died on 6 Jun 1891.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I Love The Previous Post

I love it for it's simplicity. The Gospel... presented in such an unadorned manner, in just a few lines.

Her son, Samuel, would later give a portion of his farm for the building of a church on Hartshorn's Ridge in Monroe County, Ohio. I have a piece that he wrote for the local paper that I will share with soon.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Letter My Great, Great, Great, Great Grandmother, Ann Hartshorn, Wrote To Her Son

July 17th 1839

Dear Son,

I again take up my pen to write to you in answer to your letter dated June the 12th 1838. I hope you will excuse me for not writing sooner though I am yet alive and so that I can set up and go in and out the house with crutches- my hand is unsteady to write myself and therefore I have not wrote and as I have stated that the rest of the family is well, and hope that yours is also well.

You speak of conciliations to the afflicted in the word of God. It is by realization of his word that I have hope in this life for he too has said blessed are they that do his commandments that they may have right to the tree of life and enter in threw the gates into the City and by realizing God's word I find that though every one has been ever so great a sinner that they can by obedience be moved free from the same. For Paul says sixth chapter 11th verse “But God be thanked that you were the servants of sin but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine is.”

It is highly probable that we differ in sentiments of religion - but we find that by obeying God threw a principal of love to God and his laws. You want to know when I joined church and when you get religion?

I have not read in the scriptures much about “getting religion” but by the preaching of the gospel. And when baptism was used for the remission of sins they that gladly receive the word ware baptized and as it respects myself it is about seventeen years this summer since I received the word of God as the only rule of faith and practice and was baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and the gift of the holy spirit. This is the most I can tell about my “getting religion.”

I will now give you an account of the other affairs of my life. I was born February the 13th 1778 in the state of Delaware Kent County married the 26th of October 1796 in the same state. Now I will give the ages of my children.

James Hartshorn was born October 6th 1797
Amos Hartshorn was born March 24th 1799
Martha Hartshorn was born February the 21st 1808
Jacob Hartshorn was born January the 23rd 1810
Samuel Hartshorn was born December the 29th 1811
Anne Hartshorn was born June the 7th 1814
John W. Hartshorn was born May the 12th 1816
Naomi Hartshorn was born May the 20th 1818
Jesse Hartshorn was May the 3rd 1821

I am still living in Samuel's place yet and Ann and Amos too. Andrew and Hannah is living with me. Jesse is working from home this summer and he expects to go down the river this fall and he wants you, if you write, to let him no whether you are living where you did or where you are living now, so that he may call when he comes down.

I have nothing more particular to write but I would be glad to see you if you could come possibly then I could converse more freely and particularly upon different subjects. So no more at present, but I remain your affectionate mother until death.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Burton Coffman and the Middle East

Yesterday on Preacher Mike’s blog I included a memory I have of Burton Coffman who passed away at 101 years old this summer.

I was a senior Bible major at Ohio Valley in the early 1980’s and Bro. Coffman was speaking on the spring lectures there. I was asked to pick up Bro. Coffman from the airport and take him to dinner at Shoney’s.

I picked him up - no problem - and immediately discerned that he was a character. We sat down in a crowded Shoney’s surrounded by folks who were in town for some kind of Baptist church function.

Bro. Coffman starts schooling me from the Old Testament and he reached a crescendo with: “Solomon never had authorization from God to build a temple in Jerusalem!”

Silence across the restaurant. You could have heard a pin drop.

Everyone looked in our direction and Bro. Coffman said, “It’s true, it’s true, the house God promised through David’s ‘son’ was Jesus Christ and his Kingdom.”

And everybody looked around and kind of acknowledged, “Hmm, okay, that makes sense.” and went on with eating their dinners.

Now, think about that…

What if Solomon had never built the temple?

What if the people of God had continued to move about with the tabernacle and the spiritual understanding that they were just strangers and pilgrims in this world?

What if they had resisted the temptation to be like the other nations with a Kingdom and King and trusted solely in God to lead them?

Where would Palestine be today?

Friday, August 04, 2006

And You Thought 2004 Was Important…

The gubernatorial election in the Great State of Ohio could be one of the most important in the last 100 years. Ken Blackwell, the Secretary of State of Ohio is running against Ted Strickland a five term U.S. Congressman.

Ken Blackwell sits squarely in the camp of Pentecostal/Religiously Conservative wing of the Republican Party and is solidly supported by Pastor Rod Parsley and his World Harvest Church and the Para-political organization he runs called Reformation Ohio. He is also supported by Pastor Russell Johnson’s Fairfield Christian Church and his Para-political group the Ohio Restoration Project. The three of them often appear together.

Pastor Johnson created the Ohio Restoration Project with the goal of enlisting two thousand pastors to commit themselves to each registering three hundred new voters by the end of 2006. He planned to raise a million dollars and to hold meetings across the state to find these “Patriot Pastors.” On his church’s Web site he wrote, “This is a battle between the forces of righteousness and the hordes of hell.”

Needless to say they have not met all their goals. Pastor Johnson had to cancel a planned Ohio for Jesus rally for lack of funds and Pastor Parsley has held only three Reformation Ohio events this year.

Since the fall of 2004, Pastor Parsley, through his Center for Moral Clarity has hosted breakfast meetings every three months. Pastor Johnson has held eight rallies across the state—seven of them featuring Ken Blackwell—and he plans four more before November.

Folks this makes me very, very nervous.

First, it scares me that religious folks are seeking this kind of power over state government.

Second, it scares me that Ken Blackwell is going to be beholden to the “health and wealth gospel” zealots of which Pastor Parsley is a leader.

Third, Ken Blackwell, as Secretary of State, will be presiding over his own election. In Ohio the Secretary of State holds and presides over all State elections including the governor’s race. It strikes me as a clear conflict of interest.

On a side note: This week Ken Blackwell became the first gubernatorial candidate in more than 35 years to refuse to make his tax returns available to the voters. Voters already know that Ken Blackwell became a millionaire while serving in public office. And while his salary is set by the state, Ken Blackwell has refused to release tax returns that would reveal his other sources of income or how much he stands to gain from his own tax proposals.

According to the Toledo Blade, every Ohio gubernatorial candidate in the last 35 years has released his tax returns, including Taft. In April the President and Vice President of the United States released their tax returns, indicating that Americans have a right to know just where their elected officials earn their income.

For a different view of religion and politics check out the link in the title of this post.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Urban Herbs

The Block Brunch went off without a hitch! We made upwards of 40 omelets and nearly 25 Belgian waffles to order in the span of three hours. The rest of the neighbors brought a real breakfast feast. Even though the heat was oppressive we were able to be shaded under tents and umbrellas for most of the time. We were exhausted at the end of the day.

This weekend I am going to an event to help a friend. I have a great friend, Dion, who owns a stand at the Cleveland Westside Market. Urban Herbs is the name of his business. He sells herbs, spices, his own spice blends and rubs, beans, rice and pastas. He has 10 different kinds of peppercorns! He does an amazing retail business at the Westside Market and he wholesales to most of the best restaurants in Cleveland.

So he is going to have a booth at the Deerassic Classic a fund raiser for the National Whitetail Deer Education Foundation near Cambridge, Ohio this Friday and Saturday. This event draws 15,000 to 20,000 people each year. We are going to be set up next to some guys selling top of the line grills. They are going to let us use one of their grills and we will be sampling chicken and flank steak using Dion's various rubs and spice blends. It should be an interesting day.

Check out the Urban Herbs website if you like cooking with quality ingredients. There is a link above.

On the home front - We are still trying to finalize a car. We settled on the Highlander Hybrid but now the dealer doesn't know when they will have one. As it turns out the one we wanted (located in a different state) was sold on Saturday. So we are talking about the end of August before actual delivery. The whole process is a slow, frustrating one.