Connect with us

Opinion

Public Virtue

Published

on

historically speaking

The men who gathered in that blistering humid room in Philadelphia in 1787 to create our governing document did not represent a cross section of the American population. Unlike most Americans, they were wealthy lawyers and planters and most were extremely well-educated. Though they may not have all attended universities, they were well read in history and political philosophy. We know the major influences of men like Locke and Montesquieu upon our governing documents, but we know little today of James Harrington.

All of the founders were familiar with Harrington.  His writing was the inspiration for the original South Carolina government and in many ways also on the Constitution. If we want to try to understand the thinking behind the Constitution, and make better historical arguments, it is helpful to know what inspired the men who wrote it.

Writing during the rule of Oliver Cromwell, Harrington described the fictional utopian nation of Oceana. The Commonwealth of Oceana, like all utopian novels, was meant to shed light on the author’s own government and its shortcomings. Harrington criticized Cromwell, thinly veiled as Olphaus Megaletor in the tract, and served time in the Tower for his criticism. Harrington believed that all political power should be shared by men of property and that property should be distributed amongst the middle class, a concept shared later by Thomas Jefferson. Harrington believed that these property holders should vote for senators who serve limited terms so all could take turns in governing. Like most political philosophers of the time, Harrington saw these men as those who had a stake in society and so should hold the power. Power should also be held in a bicameral legislature, with a lesser and greater house making the laws.

The key to freedom for Harrington was that the property holding citizens had an obligation to serve in the militia. Under the Cromwell rule, the army had become a tool for tyranny. Not being property holders themselves, Cromwell’s solders did not have a stake in society and cared little for the rights of the people. They had become professional soldiers, whose only loyalty was to Cromwell.

If the property holding citizens were the militia, he believed, they would not drain the purse. More importantly, they would be the ones who ruled. If they attacked the system, they would only be attacking the system that placed them in power. In other words, a standing army can lead to tyranny, whereas an armed citizenry of stakeholders leads to democracy.

Another author every founder knew was Thomas Gordon who wrote under the name “Cato.” The original Cato was a Roman Senator who stood against Caesar and was a popular pen name for anyone representing republicanism. In his 1722 Cato Letter #65, Gordon wrote, “In attacks upon a free state, every man will fight to defend it, because every man has something to defend in it. He is in love with his condition, his ease, and property, and will venture his life rather than lose them; because with them he loses all the blessings of life. When these blessings are gone, it is madness to think that any man will spill his blood for him who took them away, and is doubtless his enemy, though he may call himself his prince. It is much more natural to wish his destruction, and help to procure it.”

Harrington understood there would always be those who tried to take advantage of the stakeholders, like Cromwell, who wanted to take power. The answer was for stakeholders to practice public virtue, the ability to look beyond themselves for the good of the state. As we see from Cato, virtuous citizens must be willing to lose their lives for the good of the state.

You can see the influence of Harrington and Gordon in the creation of the Bill of Rights. They both saw a standing army as a potential for tyranny, hence, the Second Amendment. I am not trying to make an argument for or against gun control here, only to show the influences on the founders and their points of view.

What can be drawn from understanding men like Harrington is the concept of virtue. There have been so many arguments as to why we are so divided today and why there are so many issues such as random violence. I have heard blame placed on a loss of God, a growth in white supremacy, the NRA, and violent video games. Maybe what we have really lost is public virtue. Maybe what we have lost is the willingness to give our lives for what we believe in and to put public virtue before ourselves. Historically speaking, Oceana may be a fictional nation, but maybe Harrington understood something. If we could ever bring back the notion of public virtue, maybe we could attack the causes of our divide instead of always having to fix the consequences.


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.

Share the News:

Opinion

We can write a story of tragedy to triumph–COVID-19 is Good Friday to the Easter Sunday that awaits

Published

on

Today is Good Friday.  Many of us aren’t feeling so good these days and few will experience a traditional happy Easter on Sunday. But what if the tragic story of COVID-19 has a happy ending and prompts a triumphant shift in humanity’s destiny just as in the well known story of Easter?  These three days of Easter weekend represent a time when heartache, agony and despair were replaced with the ultimate victory–the promise of a brighter future than ever imagined before.

As the entire world (a world most consider broken and in need of serious saving) faces this crisis, we are in the process of writing a chapter in history that all future generations will recount.  Let’s not forget, even in our worst moments, that we each have the power to make choices and take actions in our own lives to create a happy ending to this chapter we’ll one day read about in history books.  If we look for the silver linings in the cloud that is COVID-19 and pledge to use this trying time to take steps to make changes to improve our own lives, the lives of our family and of the world (in whatever ways our heart calls us to do so), we can experience the Easter that awaits us.  From small acts of kindness towards our friends to loving gestures among our families to heartfelt generosity to complete strangers–we can rewrite this tragic period of our present into an Easter-like triumph in the future.

What can YOU do in your own life to get us one step closer to our happy ending? DO IT! What matters is your heart. LET IT!

I wish you a blessed Easter–please stay safe and happy and healthy,

Beth

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Opinion

The next days of staying at home

Published

on

Working from home is not new to me. Although I like seeing people and talking and visiting, I frequently spend solo time in my little study to think and to write. My most recent book, A WARRIOR OF MANY FACES, went online at Amazon and Kindle on Thanksgiving Day, 2019.

Recently I came upon a quote from the late English humorist and writer, Jerome K. Jerome. I was actually looking for quotes for a book I’m working on when I came across the following: “It is impossible to enjoy idling unless there is plenty of work to do.” Written by Mr. Jerome many years ago, the quote could almost fit today. It is so strange to be asked to stay at home. But we all know that “social distancing” and working from home is going to be the way we must be, at least until this recent health crisis is over. The Rabbi of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh ( the site of a terrible shooting) tells us online that he would like to see us all use the terms “physical distancing and social connecting”.

I’m lucky too in a way. I love spending time with my housemate and wife, Bryane, a beautiful and talented writer and artist. Even though it is only the two of us (plus our tuxedo cat, Baby), I’m never bored around her. So, a voluntary or even compelled lock-in is not the worst thing.

Another quote from Jerome could easily have been written today. “I like work. I can sit and look at it for hours.” I know the feeling. Sometimes I sit and think about what I am writing and how to put it in words. Finally, I do get something on paper, but from now on I’ll also think of Mr. Jerome. I wonder what he might have to say as he looks at people all over Virginia, America and the world forced to sit at home and many people even being paid to be idle. Ironic isn’t it that Jerome K. Jerome died in 1927.

Let’s all try to make the most of being home. I know I will.

Charles “Chips” Lickson, JD, Ph.D.     
Front Royal, Virginia

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Opinion

Just ‘thanks’ for keeping the community informed

Published

on

This is a really tough time for the publishing industry as ad volume is on the downswing. Your on-line service to the local community who cannot afford paid subscriptions is an especially important link to accurate information about the COVID-19 public health crisis.

And frankly, everyone in Warren County owes the Royal Examiner and its editorial staff a huge thank you for the hard questions asked that led to the uncovering of the EDA scandal. Without those hard questions, Warren County residents would not have known the extent of the harm done to our community.

So thank you to the publisher, Mike McCool, to the reporters and editorial staff. In my opinion, you are all heroes who are doing their best to serve the community.

Rea Howart
Front Royal, Virginia

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Opinion

A very interesting way with words

Published

on

Our Interim Town Manager, Matt Tederick, has a very interesting way with words. The way he can skirt around an issue is a huge criterion of the game of politics. He has mastered this very well.

An example of this is in the article from the Royal Examiner titled, (Council poised for a decision on the CDBG pavilion project despite added costs). Mr. Tederick states, (needless to say we’ve had some challenges with the CDBG in general. One of those challenges was the approval of amendments to bylaws to address personnel changes in the Facade Advisory Board).

Here is where Mr. Tedericks skill comes in to play. He states several members got off the board, we have to add new members. What he doesn’t say is, these several members are the town employees he fired. If this isn’t skirting around an issue, I don’t know what is. This amendment to the bylaws would make him the program’s Grant Administrator, another role added to his list. It would also make Director of Finance B.J Wilson as the Assistant Project Manager and Chris Brock who is Interim Planning and Zoning Director as Project Manager.

It seems Mr. Wilson has become Mr. Tederick’s go-to guy lately on several issues. But then again, like every other town employee, I’m sure he is afraid for his job. Becoming the next victim on Mr. Tederick’s list is not part of Mr. Wilson’s agenda.

Also in this article is the funding issue for the pavilion. Since the construction estimate has increased from $140,000 to $283.349., this leaves a difference of $143.349. This would be split 50/50 by the state and the town or $75,000 each. The Town Council seems poised to give Mr. Tederick the okay to spend this $75,000 even though it is not in this year’s budget.

This kind of action seems to me there is a lack of financial understanding and competency from Mr. Tederick and the Town Council. With the economic instability we now face, and will face for several years to come, it doesn’t take an economist to know we should be using less money from this year’s budget and moving more money to future budgets. Is spending now and not looking into the future Mr. Tedericks and Town Council members’ way of doing their personnel finances? One would think not.

On a different note, several weeks ago Mr. Tederick stated the Council should consider an assistant Town Manager due to the workload of the Town Manager. I assumed the workload of being Town Manager and running who knows how many LLC’s, Mr. Tedericks workload would be too great. So why has he taken on other roles if his workload is so great?

Let’s count them.

1 – Interim Town Manager

2 – Grant Administrator

3 – FOIA Officer

4 – Town Director of Emergency Management

5 – Running his multiple LLC’s.

Absurdity to its highest level. I do believe we may be in the presence of a real-life superhero. At least according to the Town Council. And so goes the Front Royal saga of destruction.

Paul Gabbert
Front Royal

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Opinion

The Cross: Gift from the Savior

Published

on

But how? Understand that the Savior of mankind had to be more than just a man; otherwise, man would be saving himself, and that is impossible. Clearly then, the Savior had to be God! For again, only God can forgive sin and save sinners. Jesus spoke to the absolute necessity to see and believe this truth when He said, “…if ye believe not that I am He (God), ye shall die in your sins.” (Jn. 8:24) Meaning to be cast from God’s presence and light into eternal darkness and damnation. Jesus also said, “…I am come that they might have life…” (eternal life) (Jn. 10:10), which He gives by dying in our place on the Cross! Jesus was saying to the Jews that in spite of their Covenant history, they did not have life and were dead (lost) UNTIL HE CAME! Note that this lost, hopeless state applies to Gentiles also; indeed, to all people of the world.

To help believe that Jesus was the God-Man on the Cross, consider the definition of Incarnate: Embodied in flesh, esp. human form. Also consider Incarnation: 1. The assumption of Jesus Christ of bodily form. 2. The bodily form assumed by a deity.

Jesus Christ, as a man, did not exist before being born of Mary. In this regard, God said, “…thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” ( Heb.1:5) Please note there is no separation between Jesus as man and Jesus as God! So as the Incarnation reveals, the Creator Father God dwelt with His creation as the begotten God-Man (flesh), Jesus Christ! And, thereby, entered the blood line of mankind. In so doing, He shed His own blood as a sacrifice for mankind’s sin!

ENTER: God’s Lamb, The Lamb Of God!

Cries for a Savior were answered at the Cross. The King of the Jews, the King of Israel; yeah, the Eternal Father God who said, “…I am the first and the last, and beside me there is no God.” (Isa. 44:6), was buying back what was lost to Him to establish a holy nation and an everlasting kingdom! Being fully (100%) man and fully (100%) God, Jesus as a man died, but Jesus as God did not. So the 100% God (Jesus) raised up the 100% man (Jesus) from the dead with a new and glorified body!

Jesus, speaking in the first person singular as a man and as God said: “…destroy this temple (kill me) and in three days I will raise it up.” (Jn. 2:19). By saying “I will”, Jesus is saying He is God, for it shows Him present (alive) in the past, present and future at once (the same time), having no constraints as to time or space. Existing not only from the “beginning”, but from everlasting! So, He is alive as God while dead as a man, and is speaking from all time frames because His is an uninterrupted and never-ending life!

So, because of His glorious resurrection, I can shout with the song writer who said, “He’s alive… He’s alive and I’m forgiven. Heaven’s gates are open wide!” Eternal thanksgiving to my Lord and praises to the Darling of Heaven; and oh that I could bow before Him and kiss His lovely feet!

His message? I love you. My life, death and resurrection in your place for your life. So respond with the hymnal writer who said, ” I am coming Lord to thee, dear Lamb of Calvary. Humbly at thy cross I bow. Save me Jesus, save me now.”


Reverend Jess Shifflett
Front Royal, Virginia

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Opinion

Christ is alive, He is living today

Published

on

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” – John 21:25

The Season of Easter is the high point of the Christian Church year. Traditionally, worshipers participate in an extended feast wherein the paschal candle is lit at every service as a sign of the risen Christ. Scripture readings highlight every Christian’s connection to the death and resurrection of Jesus. The scripture readings proclaim the power of the resurrection that gives strength in suffering, unity in diversity, consolation in sorrow, perseverance in adversity and faith in times of doubt. On this, the holiest day of the year and for the entire Season of Easter, many Christian’s greet each other with the words, “Alleluia! Christ is risen! Alleluia!”

Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead is one of the principal doctrines of the gospel.

If Christ be not risen, our faith is vain (1 Corinthians 15:14). The essential New Testament revelation balances on this as a historical fact. On the day of Pentecost, Peter argued the necessity of Christ’s resurrection from the prediction in Psalm 16 (Acts 2:24-28). Christ also clearly prophesied his resurrection (Matthew 20:19; Mark 9:9; 14:28; Luke 18:33; John 2:19-22). Thus we can preach that Jesus is alive; that He has risen as He said He would and that He is the Son of God as He claimed to be. Christ is alive! He is living today.

The Bible informs us that Jesus did appear many times after his death and resurrection:

  • The empty tomb – Resurrection Sunday – Matthew 28: 1-10, Mark 16: 1-8, Luke 24: 1-12, John 20: 1-9.
  • To Mary Magdalene at the garden – Resurrection Sunday – Mark 16: 9-11, John 20: 11-18.
  • To other women, “the other Mary,” Salome, Joanna, and others, as they returned from the tomb – Resurrection Sunday – Matthew 28: 9-10.
  • To Simon Peter alone – Resurrection Sunday – Luke 24: 34, 1 Corinthians 15: 5.
  • To the two disciples going to Emmaus – Resurrection Sunday – Mark 16: 12-13, Luke 24: 13-32.
  • To the ten disciples (Thomas being absent) in the upper room – Resurrection Sunday – Luke 24: 36-43, John 20: 19-25.
  • To the disciples again (Thomas being present) – Following Sunday – Mark 16: 14, John 20: 26-31, 1 Corinthians 15: 5.
  • To seven disciples when fishing at the Sea of Galilee – sometime later – John 21: 1-23.
  • To the eleven at an appointed place in Galilee – sometime later – Matthew 28: 16-20, Mark 16: 15-18.
  • More than 500 brethren – sometime later – 1 Corinthians 15: 6.
  • To James, but under unknown circumstances – sometime later – 1 Corinthians 15: 7.
  • To the apostles immediately before the ascension. They accompanied him from Jerusalem to Mount Olivet and there they saw him ascend “till a cloud received him out of their sight” – Forty days after Jesus’ resurrection – Luke 24: 44-49, Acts 1: 3-8.

In addition to the above appearances, Christ will return by way of vision and appear to Stephen, several times to Paul, and finally to John to give him the final Revelation:

  • Paul at Damascus, speaks of it as an appearance of the risen Savior – several years later – Acts 9: 1-19, 22: 3-16, 26: 9-18, 1 Corinthians 9: 1, 15: 8.
  • Paul tells us in Galatians 1:17 that he went immediately into Arabia and then returned to Damascus and three years after his transforming vision of Jesus, he went up to Jerusalem to see the Apostles. During Paul’s 3 years in Arabia he received the Gospel from the Lord (Galatians 1:11-17). He made a visit to the Throne of God (2 Corinthians 12:1-4) where he saw things he was not permitted to reveal. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, when Paul recounted all the Lord’s post resurrection appearances, he included himself as one who had seen Him. So, at some point, he apparently did have a physical meeting with the Lord.
  • Stephen in his dying vision saw “Jesus standing on the right hand of God” – sometime later – Acts 7: 55-56.
  • John of Patmos experienced a vision of the resurrected Christ described in Revelation – many years later – Revelation 1: 12-20.

It is implied in the words of Luke (Acts 1:3) that there may have been other appearances of which we have no record.

2 Corinthians 13 cites that, “in the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses every word shall be established.” The resurrection of Jesus Christ has been established as fact. The scriptures tell us of the many appearances of Christ and the witnesses who experienced the events encompassing the resurrection. In Christ we can be confident of our salvation and in Christ we can be confident of our own resurrection.

The apostle John wrote in 1 John 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” We should find the assurance of our salvation in the truth of God’s Word. We should have trust that we are saved based on the promises God has declared.

A final note: Ephesians 5:13-15

Children of Light

13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise.


Mark P. Gunderman
Stephens City, Virginia

Share the News:
Continue Reading