People all over the world, including the little town of Front Royal, Virginia, do good deeds for complete strangers everyday without asking for anything in return. Sometimes they have absolutely no idea how much their actions help those complete strangers. You may ask how I know this… the answer to that question is that I was one of those strangers. I had hit rock bottom and it led me back to my home town of Front Royal. I was staying in a rent-by-week hotel. I was unemployed and money was running out fast. I had to use the local food banks to feed myself.
One day, while I was walking back to the hotel, it was snowing and all I had was a jean jacket on. I was absolutely frozen from head to toe. This red jeep pulls up beside me and the passenger window goes down. Inside I see a man and woman I had never seen before. The man said that I looked cold and my response was that he was correct. He got out of the vehicle and pulled out a high-quality winter coat and handed it to me, and he told me it was mine now. I put it on and thanked him, telling him how much that meant to me as I could not afford one. He introduced himself as Barry and introduced me to his wife, Moya.
Barry and Moya told me about something called the Drop In Cafe. It was at a church in town, and they told me to come for a warm meal and conversation if I would like, and it is completely free. We parted ways, and I made a much warmer final walk to my hotel. Monday came and I decided to go and get a warm breakfast as promised, and once again to thank the people who gave me my new coat. When I got to the church, I was shocked to be warmly greeted by a few people from the community who asked what I would like to eat and drink, and said it is all free here to anyone in the community who is in need, homeless or just wants to drop in. Barry and Moya were there, as they said they would be, and introduced me to a wonderful woman named Linda. After sitting and talking to Linda and sharing some of my story, she offered to help me get resources and figure out what kind of aid I qualified for. Kind of in shock, I asked why she would do all of that for a total stranger. She just smiled and replied, “that’s what we do here at the Drop In Cafe.”
I got my food and some hot coffee, and I sat and talked with Linda, Barry and Moya for a while. After I finished eating, they asked if I would like more, to which I replied “no thank you.” Linda then took out a notebook and wrote a list of resources for me to look into as well as took my personal information down. She offered to help with any application process I needed help with. Before the Drop In Cafe closed for that day, they gave me a travel hygiene kit, a survival bag (which included a knit hat, gloves and some more hygiene products) put together by a lady at the church, and made sure I took a good amount of food with me. Linda gave me a ride home as all they had given me was a lot to carry. When she dropped me off, she told me I was welcome at the cafe anytime and to call her if I needed anything. As it turned out, I did take her up on her offer for a ride to use some of the resources she gave me to get clothing vouchers and some more winter appropriate clothes.
The week went by and I decided to make another stop by the Drop In Cafe. Of course, I got breakfast and chatted with the Barry, Moya and Linda again. Linda said she had a few things that she needed done around the house that she would pay me to do if I was interested. I accepted the offer, as I was very close to broke. Barry and Moya offered to drive me around place to place to fill out applications if I would like. I accepted that offer as well.
About a month went by without a missed visit to the cafe. One day I came into the cafe and Linda could tell something was wrong and asked what was troubling me. I explained that I was not able to pay for the hotel and was going to have to go to a shelter in Winchester, Virginia. She told me to hang out at the cafe for a while and she would see what she could do. That day she drove me back to the hotel and asked when I had to be out, which was the following day. She told me she had plenty of space, as she lived alone, and to call her when I checked out and she would take me to her place to stay for a while until I got on my feet. After moving in with Linda, we became close friends and I started thinking of her as as surrogate mother. She continued to help me in anyway she could to get a job, kept me fed, and kept a roof over my head. She never asked for anything in return.
I continued to go to the cafe every Monday morning but now as a volunteer instead of one in need. It has been almost two years since Barry and Moya gave me that coat. I now have a well paying job and am able to rent a beautiful townhouse. Things are going well for me. I still see Barry and Moya from time to time. As for Linda, we are still close; she truly is my surrogate mother and I love her as such.
There are many people who make the Drop In Cafe possible, and they are all deserving of praise for what they do. They take time out of their day to cook and feed every person who comes to that cafe, and even though it is at a church, there is no preaching or asking if you know God and Jesus, but will talk about faith if you ask them to. Just good food and good people willing to help you in anyway they can without expecting anything in return.
To all at the Drop In Cafe, thank you for everything. Thank you Barry and Moya for helping a stranger on the street and pointing me in the right direction. I still have the coat and it is still in good as new condition. It is still my primary winter coat. Special thanks goes to you, Linda, and I love you. All of you truly are a guiding light to those lost in the storm. I’m sure the Lord has a special place reserved for you at his table when you return home to him.
Thank you all.
Front Royal, Virginia
Drop In Cafe: Every Monday from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. in the gathering hall at the Calvary Episcopal Church (132 N Royal Ave, Front Royal, VA 22630)
Edmund Burke and Mitt Romney
I recently wrote an article for his column about a lesser known influence on the Founding Fathers, a man named James Harrington. I think, with the recent acquittal of President Trump and, more specifically, the vote of Senator Mitt Romney, it is worth examining another influence on the Founders. This time the man was a contemporary and a member of the British House of Commons. He was famous for many concepts, but I want to focus on his ideas of how a republic should work.
Edmund Burke was born in 1729 and was a leading statesman and political philosopher of the time. He supported the American colonies’ struggles with Britain, but did not support the Revolution. Probably Burke’s most famous quote is, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” As inspiring as that is, I am more interested in two other quotes. First, “When the leaders choose to make themselves bidders at an auction of popularity, their talents, in the construction of the state, will be of no service. They will become flatterers instead of legislators; the instruments, not the guides, of the people. The second quote is, “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”
What Burke is arguing is that in a republic it is the duty of representatives to vote their conscience, not the will of their constituents. I know this goes against everything we think today about our democracy, but that is not the way the Founders envisioned representation. As I have said before, the function of the Constitution was to protect the people from the government and the government from the people. As much as they feared tyranny, they feared the masses even more. When it came to our representatives, the Founders believed in the idea of government by our “betters” and virtual representation.
Unlike today where we tend to want representatives who are like us, who somehow know what we are experiencing and can relate to us, the Founders envisioned our representative to be our betters. If we were going to elect someone who was like us, we might as well have a direct democracy. Instead they created a republic where the masses would choose someone who was smarter and more informed than we are to make the important decisions. This was a practice taken from the British, where the masses could vote, but had to vote for a nobleman who had the time to understand the issues. The reason the Founders chose a republic over a democracy was not just out of practicality but because most people do not have the time or ability to comprehend and study every issue and vote.
The concept of virtual representation also came from the British. Think of it this way. Once you vote for your congressman or senator, they represent all Americans. Every decision they make affects everyone, not just people in the state or district where they live. In this way they represent everyone virtually. It was never meant that our representatives poll their constituents. Instead they were to vote their own conscience or intelligence. As Burke said, representatives owe us their judgment. That is why we elected them. If we decide we do not like their judgment, that is why our representatives are voted on every two or six years.
With the acquittal of President Trump on his impeachment charges, I have actually found there is more talk of Senator Mitt Romney’s decision to vote for conviction then the acquittal itself. I assume it is because everyone already knows of the outcome of the senate trial before it even started, but the idea of a politician breaking ranks goes against the current norm. Not all, but most, of the praise for Romney is coming from the left while the vilification of the senator is coming from the right. This is not surprising. The left is praising a man who dared break ranks to stand up for what he thought was right. I have even seen the word hero being used. Of course, I doubt they would use those same words if one of their own broke ranks and voted their conscious supporting the President. Those people would be traitors.
That is how the right is seeing Romney, a traitor who is only jealous because he lost his presidential bid. Many have argued that Romney is breaking his trust with his constituents in voting against Trump. One comment I read said that he owes nothing to his faith or his family, the reason Romney claimed he voted to convict. Rather, the only people he owes anything to are the ones who voted him into office. Though I understand the frustration of the right, party loyalty has replaced virtuous representatives, but historically speaking Romney has acted exactly how the Founders expected our representative to act.
Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog or Facebook at @jamesWfinck.
EDITORIAL: Try looking at it this way
We all see things according to what we think is best for our Survival. That’s kind of it. We might be right or we might be wrong. We might have formed our opinions through experience or some other source: reading news, education, church, friends, etc. – the list of our information sources are endless. Also weighing in on our judgment about what is right for our survival is our current environment, urban or rural, our circle of friends, and our ethnic, racial and class status. New experiences can also alter our perception of what is best for our survival. Our view is always subject to change. What we may see as good for us today may not seem so good a year from now.
What we think is good for our survival, which may also include what we consider thriving economically, certainly reflects in our politics, and our choice of information. So much so, that we may only seek out sources that reflect our preconceived beliefs.
All of this is normal human behavior. The only thing that has changed over the years is the amount of information (24 hours a day) and the variety of sources, some accurate some not.
The reason we make these observations are only this: understand that others that feel differently as to what is best for their survival are not stupid, the enemy or any of a thousand other words we use to demonize and dehumanize others. They are simply saying or voting as they see best for their survival from their perspective. Also, consider this: if we do not seek compromise in a nation as diverse as ours, none of us have a good chance of survival, at least not in a thriving way.
Remember that the three 24-hour news networks all cater to their established viewer and advertising bases to some degree. Seek other sources of respected news that may present an alternative perspective to the one you are used to; and stay away from the blogs that have no editorial oversight, and by all means, seek to understand why others see their survival in a different light than you view your own.
Our differences in some issues have always existed and we have always, except once in our national history, been able to find common ground, or at least mutual livability. While in the short term there is money to be made on fear-mongering, the long-term payoff for us as a nation will come from recognizing the common humanity that people of goodwill all share, regardless of our superficial differences.
We must quickly adapt to, and recognize the latest use of technology that seeks to maximize profits by dividing us, and remember that we are all humans seeking to survive.
Beware of those who will burn the house down – including yours – to get their way.
Being able to see behind words to the objective truth of any situation that impacts us all must be our goal – our collective survival may depend on it.
Royal Examiner Editorial Staff
We hurt ourselves
The new EDA Executive Director and the new EDA Board with its expertise and all the other residents of Front Royal were victimized by what one major player did with EDA funds. Why would the town take an adversarial stance toward the new EDA which is not at fault and refuse to make payments for our new police station when we are all ‘in the same boat’? These are people who came in to help resolve the issues and advance our economic development.
If we hurt the EDA instead through non-payment for the Front Royal police station, we hurt ourselves. Common sense dictates that we do not want the EDA to collapse. We would still have to pay the bills yet lack a way to increase revenue in the town with the help of the EDA.
Worse — the proposed town budget fired the professionals who had planned events that are now being canceled one after the other, leaving us without any avenues for economic development. Yet $200,000 has been transferred to the Town Attorney account to pay lawyers to argue in favor of making it harder on the EDA to survive, that is, the town will not compromise on the interest rate to be applied to the loan for the police station.
Sitting in the wrong account, Community Development, page 47 of the proposed budget, sits a $515,000 labeled police facility. It does not mean that we pay the EDA for the station. It is sitting there awaiting transfer as needed to the Town Attorney account for payment of high legal fees. (Information gained from a credible source.) The few in governance are allowing the expense up to $700,00 in order to have a court tell us what to do when we could decide in a cooperative manner for no cost beyond staff time. We all are going to pay in one way or another. It is cheaper to cooperate and split the difference in the interest on the loan rather than do what Council least likes to do, raise taxes.
It is disheartening that the town fights against its moral obligation. It is even harder to wonder and perhaps watch tax money ‘burn’ away because of one employee with a ‘group think’, alias Town Council.
Front Royal, VA
Thank you, Doug Stanley!
I want to share my personal sentiments about our County Administrator, Mr. Doug Stanley.
Mr. Stanley is a personal friend. We have actively participated in countless projects for our community of Front Royal and Warren County over many years, together and with other devoted citizens. We have all been devoted to the betterment of everyone, in every instance.
Mr. Stanley has represented the Motto of Rotary International, “SERVICE ABOVE SELF”. He has instilled this ethic in every effort he has taken on. His example for young and old alike is to build character, leadership and be the person for others to follow.
He is the fall guy for the mistakes of many, yet he has moved forward and stayed the course for his position and target for success in Warren County.
As County Administrator, his accomplishments are beyond compare among his peers throughout our state of Virginia. This is only possible with a working environment of continuous commitment on his part. He and his staff are all talented individuals, devoted to their positions.
In recent times he has become the recipient of criticism. This local action has harmed our community very deeply. Many of the words of criticism have come from persons who intentionally tried to destroy his stellar reputation and care little about others here. Many people have been the instigators and gone so far as to threaten and publicly attack him. Many of these are also self-centered and have not served our community beyond their own self-fulfillment needs and wants. What an eye-opener this has become in learning about people. Loss of respect is a term well due upon such behavior in today’s civil society.
No one is a perfect person for all things. I certainly am not! Most of us try to simply survive. However, for those who reach out and above their own needs and share their successes, the field is open for service to others and all mankind. It is a pleasure to offer more than required.
Warren County has been blessed with Mr. Stanley and his devotion here.
My hope is that the Board of Supervisors may use their intelligence and the same devotion to our community that Mr. Stanley has and renew his contract.
Remember the open door created for anyone who makes charges against others. Their own track records may come to light for all to see and maybe very humiliating. Be prepared to accept such burdens if they exist.
Consider the sources of criticism for Mr. Stanley, the same people who can “simply move away if they don’t get rid of him”. Our community deserves better than this. Our elected officials need to perform their jobs and do what is prudent, proper for the best interest of ALL.
Thank you, Doug Stanley!
Watching the Senate hearings over the past weeks I am happy to see historical arguments being made by both sides. As I have said, the Constitution is purposely vague, and it is no different when it comes to impeachment. There are three sections in the Constitution that discuss impeachment, but even with those sections there are still many questions. As with most Constitutional issues, the rest has been filled in with laws, the courts, and especially precedent. Several times both sides have referenced both the Andrew Johnson and William Clinton impeachment trials. In this vein, I think it is worth examining the lesser known of the two, the Johnson case, to see what we can learn from history and if there are similarities between the two.
There is a great deal of detail to explain Johnson’s election as V.P. Suffice to say, the Republicans in 1864 were concerned about Lincoln’s chances in the upcoming election. That may sound crazy, but he was not yet the super popular president that he would become. Johnson was a pro-war Democrat and Lincoln hoped that by bringing him on the ticket he could attract other pro-war Democrats. What made Johnson an even more interesting choice was that he was a pro-slave, state’s rights Democrat from Tennessee. Johnson was brought in for votes only. Once in office, Lincoln did not use him and he by no means was meant to ever be president.
The issue with Johnson’s impeachment revolves around Reconstruction. Even before the end of the War, Lincoln was already discussing his plans for how to treat the South. He basically wanted to make it easy for the southern states to return, including keeping their existing governments. His biggest opposition to Reconstruction was the radical wing of his own party. The so-called Radical Republicans wanted to punish the South and make it difficult for their return. They wanted to remove all past leaders and guarantee certain rights for the new freedman population
The Radicals were originally excited about Johnson as president. He said and did all the right things. However, when Congress left for recess, he put in his own plans for Reconstruction that were just as lenient as Lincoln’s, maybe even more so. When Congress returned, they attempted to retake the power. They tried to pass laws to help the ex-slaves but were blocked by Johnson’s vetoes. The Radicals did have enough support to overturn Johnson’s veto on the Fourteenth Amendment, which gave freedmen citizenship, but they faced an uphill battle. It was at this point they began looking for reasons to impeach the president. They tried twice unsuccessfully before they found a reason that stuck.
In 1867 Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act, which basically said that the president could not fire any member of his own cabinet without congressional approval. This was done for two reasons. First, Congress was afraid that Johnson would start replacing Lincoln’s Republican Cabinet with a Democratic one. Secondly, they hoped this would trip up Johnson and give them a reason to impeach. The plan worked. Johnson, who had been fighting with his Secretary of War Edwin Stanton over keeping troops in the South, finally grew frustrated and fired him. Johnson did not think the Tenure of Office Act would hold up in court. He was right. But before the courts examined the case, the House acted first and charged Johnson with eleven counts of impeachment.
The eleven articles are incredibly repetitive. They all boil down to Johnson having broken his oath of office by firing Stanton and by hiring Lorenzo Thomas without consent of Congress. They basically said it in different ways, like he violated Stanton’s rights in one and conspired with Thomas against Stanton in another. In Article 10 Congress went as far as including that he criticized congress “with a loud voice, certain intemperate, inflammatory, and scandalous harangues.”
The trial lasted for three months. The defense argued that Johnson had done nothing wrong. They claimed he was challenging an unconstitutional law and basically his act did not meet the demands of a High Crime. What seemed like a slam dunk win at first fell apart by the end. From the beginning of the trial, Johnson worked with moderate Republicans to save his position by promising not to interfere any more with Reconstruction. Also, the managers had a week case. It became apparent the entire reason for the law was to remove the President. His only real crime was disagreeing with Congress.
In the end, seven Republicans voted to acquit. For some congressmen they were more concerned with the man who would replace Johnson, whom they saw as even more difficult. For others, when it really came down to it, they did not want to remove the President based on a power struggle. It would create a dangerous precedent that they did not want and could hurt the balance of power. When they received their assurances from Johnson, the Republicans were more than happy to leave him in office until the next year when they could replace him through voting. One senator said after, “I cannot agree to destroy the harmonious working of the Constitution for the sake of getting rid of an Unacceptable President.”
What is interesting about today’s impeachment is many will see similarities with Johnson’s trial and many will not. Supporters of Trump will see two presidents who disagreed with a hostile Congress which simply wanted the president removed for political reasons. Others will disagree with any similarities. More like the Nixon scandal, they see a president who clearly overstepped his authority and then tried to cover it up. The problem is this split happens to be along party lines, which is very much like the Johnson impeachment. With Johnson, Republicans had to cross the party line to clear him, whereas with Trump they had to cross party lines to convict. But either way the vast majority of the Senate in all three presidential impeachments trials voted along party lines instead of voting their consciences. So, what we can learn from studying Johnson is that in the end what we see is that impeachments are political above everything else.
For my Texas readers, if any of you are interested I will be speaking at the Weatherford College Interdisciplinary Academic Conference on Feb 27 at 5 PM. The conference is free and open to the public. For more information, you can call 817-598-6326. If you attend, make sure you come by and say hello.
Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog or Facebook at @jamesWfinck.
Jesus in Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is now upon us, and of course, the central theme is Love. It is the showing of one’s love for someone and being desirous of and asking for another to return such love in a way to say “I love you too”. A proposal, if you will. In this regard, (which involves a suitor) the dictionary defines such as; a man who courts a woman; a wooer. It further defines a wooer as: to seek the love or affection of, especially to marry; to court.
In this respect, allow me to present to you my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. For the greatest act and show of love the world has ever known, let me direct your attention to the figure there on Calvary’s brow: I can only humbly say, behold Him there! For I am not worthy so much as to even approach Him. As you gaze upon him you will see that he is hanging from a cross by nails driven into his hands and feet. He is covered and “bathed” in his own blood, for as the Scriptures say, “…his visage was so marred more than any man”. The result of a savage, brutal, and one might venture to say, demonic beating.
He wasn’t there merely by chance, but because mankind was under the curse of God’s law which says; ” the soul that sinneth shall die.” His agony was so great, that he cried out; “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And thus, being made to be sin for us, He took our sin upon Himself! And now hear the prophecies as detailed in Psalms 22, “…I am a worm and no man …despised of the people …I am poured out like water …and all my bones are out of joint …my heart is like wax …my tongue cleaves to my jaw …am brought down to the dust of death.”
His being there was the fulfillment of his intent and determination to die in our place! This was the price that God himself set for our redemption: God himself had to die; God himself had to shed his very own blood! By saying, “If I be lifted up I will draw all men to me,” He is doing exactly that on the cross. He is drawing us, asking us, “to come unto me.” Yes, and by asking the Father to, “forgive them for they know not what they do”, He is throwing the door wide open for us while tugging at our hearts. And, one could almost hear him say “Be Mine”.
Be mine and your sin will be forgiven and no longer under the curse; I am reminded of the prophet who said, “though your sins be as scarlet ye shall be white as snow. Be mine for I am going to prepare a dwelling place for you. Be mine and you will never die, for my special gift to you is eternal life; and you will never thirst or hunger, for I will give you both the bread of life and the water of life.”
But what could be the proper response to such a suitor and his appeal or proposal? To learn of the best, and indeed, the only accepted response (a simple I will) we need only to look again at Calvary’s brow and hear the thief on a cross next to our Saviour when he says; “Master, remember me when you cometh into your kingdom.”
In saying “Be Mine”, “come unto me”, and “Whosoever believeth in me shall never die”, isn’t he asking us to consider and look expectantly upon the eternal, heavenly scene. We have the ‘picture’ of a people for whom a pure, white, shining garment has been prepared. And as we stand so arrayed before the very throne of God our hearts are suddenly filled with an overwhelming measure of love, and our eyes are filled with great tears of joy; for we are now aware that He is present! The Lamb of God Himself has stepped forth from the midst of the throne. And, performing the acts and duty as our Groom, places a wedding ring on our fingers; and then presents us to all the holy, righteous hosts of Heaven as his greatly beloved, glorious, precious Bride! The Church! And all the host of Heaven bow down; reverently, lovingly, and adoringly as kings cast their crowns down before Him!
And so, indeed, as the Lord said on the cross, “It Is Finished!” Thus, the message of God written indelibly throughout space and time by his own blood is there for all to see: I love you! Love has conquered!
Rev. Jess Shifflett
Front Royal, VA