Saturday, January 20, 2018

Misplaced Charity

When I was a child, our next door neighbor had a giant chinaberry tree in their backyard. The neighbors had five children, and - since I had no siblings - I had a grand time playing with them and climbing their chinaberry tree.  

The children's mother, Mrs. M, was a great volunteer.  Almost every day, after Mr. M left for work, Mrs. M left to do church work or work for some local charity. In the summer, she left the older children in charge of the younger ones.  I'm not sure what she did with the little ones when the big kids were in school.  At any rate, she was seldom home.  My mother had a good view of the M's backyard from our living room windows.  If Mama hadn't been able to see what was going on, I doubt that I'd have been allowed next door.  

My mother, as well as the other neighbors, often lamented that Mrs. M's children looked like orphans.  Their clothes were seldom clean much less pressed.  Hair went unbrushed. I don't think they knew what a hot meal was.  And, with both parents gone most of the time, they were seldom supervised.  Everybody said the M's children were raising themselves.   Mrs. M may not have been much at discharging her domestic and maternal duties, but she was widely recognized and admired for her charity work.  I suspect that most of the admirers didn't know anything about her home life.

I hadn't thought of Mrs. M in years, and it sounds strange to say that what's going on in Congress right now made me think of her and her poor ragamuffin children.  Some Congressmen and Senators remind me of Mrs. M.  They throw all their support behind illegal immigrants.  They use tax revenue to provide for illegal immigrants.  Listening to their rhetoric, it's clear that they are more concerned about the welfare of illegals than they are about the welfare of native-born Americans or immigrants who are here legally.  Like Mrs. M, they neglect to take care of the people they are responsible for while they work to provide for the ones they're not responsible for.  Mrs. M did her charity work for the accolades she received.  Congressmen and Senators support amnesty for illegal immigrants for the new voting pool it will create.  Mrs. M practiced misplaced charity on a small scale.  Congress practices it on a much larger scale.

Charity and concern for others is a good thing, but like all good things, it can be misused and abused.   Charity for others should never mean neglect for those we are responsible for.  1 Timothy 5:8 says, "But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." Congress should ponder this as they neglect Americans, including our military veterans.  

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Statue of Liberty & Emma Lazarus

How much do you know about the Statue of Liberty and Emma Lazarus, the author of the famous lines, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses"?  These lines are from her sonnet, "The New Colossus" which is on a plaque attached to the base of the Statue of Liberty.

The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the French people to the United States.  The torch-bearing arm of the statue was on display at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876.  This display launched fund raising efforts to finance a base for the statue to stand on.

Famous authors of the day, including Emma Lazarus, were asked to write something to be auctioned off to raise money for the base for the Statue of Liberty.  In response to this appeal, Emma Lazarus wrote this poem:

The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles.  From her beacon hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient land, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips.  "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
In 1885 the completed Statue of Liberty - the work of French sculptor, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi - arrived in New York Harbor, transported by ship in 214 crates.  The statue was mounted on the impressive base provided by the successful fund raising efforts, and was dedicated in 1886.
Emma Lazarus was born in New York City in 1849 to a non-practicing, non-religious Jewish family.  She became a successful poet, writer, and translator.  She was an adherent to Georgism, a form of communism promoted by economist Henry George (1839-1897).  Some modern feminists believe she was a Lesbian.
A careful reading of Lazarus' poem explains why she is revered by many feminists.  She contrasts the original male Greek Colossus of Rhodes, erected in 280 B.C., with her new female Colossus, the Statue of Liberty.  She describes the original male Colossus as "brazen" and "conquering" while the new female Colossus is benign, maternal, and welcoming.  I doubt that she was grieved by the fact that the original male Colossus of Rhodes was destroyed in an earthquake in 226 B.C.
Emma Lazarus died in 1887, a year after the dedication of the Statue of Liberty.  Many years later, in 1903, a plaque engraved with "The New Colossus" was attached to the base of the Statue of Liberty.  Even after doing quite a bit of research, I have not been able to discover who gave permission for this plaque to be installed.
Since 1903, "The New Colossus" has been widely quoted and is held in such esteem by some that it rivals the Constitution.  To some it has assumed the authority of holy scripture.  It is often quoted by those who promote open borders and unlimited immigration.  It is even used in an attempt to defend illegal immigration. 
Although "The New Colossus" may have great literary value, it is nothing more than a poem among other writings by other authors to be auctioned off to raise money for the base of the Statue of Liberty.  Why this poem, written by a communist as a later addition to the Statue of Liberty, should dictate our immigration policy is beyond understanding.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

On the Trail of Brunswick Stew

I had my first bite of Brunswick Stew about 25 years ago at a local restaurant in Kennesaw, Georgia.  We were on vacation, and I had never so much as heard of Brunswick Stew until then.  It was knock-your-socks-off good!  

I’ve since learned that Brunswick Stew is considered to be quintessentially Southern.  I wondered — how did I grow up in the South and never hear of it?  This prompted me to do some research on the origin and history of Brunswick Stew.  It is murky at best.  Some say it originated in the late 1800s in the town of Brunswick, Georgia.  Others claim is originated in Brunswick County, Virginia, in the early 1800s.  There are also claims that it originated much earlier in Germany, and some say it is of American Indian origin.  

I was born in the southern-most part of West Virginia and grew up in northwestern Florida.  My mother didn’t fix Brunswick Stew, and my Floridian playmates’ mother’s didn’t either.  My school teachers - many of whom were from Alabama - never mentioned Brunswick Stew.  I guess there is nothing too odd about that since I’ve discovered that it’s most popular in Georgia and the eastern parts of the Carolinas and Virginia.  I have Virginian and North Carolinian ancestors, but they were from the mountainous western regions of those states.

Ever since my first taste of this concoction in Kennesaw, Georgia, I’ve been on an off-and-on hunt for Brunswick Stew recipes.  It looks like those who live in the Brunswick Stew part of the South are as emotional about this dish as Cajuns are about gumbo and jambalaya.  There are Brunswick Stew contests and cook-offs and disputes about what ingredients are really authentic.  

Yesterday I decided to try a Brunswick Stew recipe by Jamie Deen that I found on Food Network.  Of all the recipes I’ve tried, I think this one is most like the one I had in Kennesaw.  I used Jack Daniels Original No 7 barbecue sauce which gave it the flavor I was looking for.  But I must tell you that some Brunswick Stew purist take a dim view of using store-bought barbecue sauce. But never mind them.  This recipe makes a dang good Brunswick Stew!  I halved the recipe, and it still nearly filled my favorite five quart pot.  You can find it here:  
Brunswick Stew Recipe

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year's 2018

By southern Louisiana standards, we are having a frigid New Year's Day.  It was 24 degrees when we got up this morning, and it won't get above 38 today.  Thank heaven we have sun and not rain.

Since Jerry let the three horses out of their stalls this morning they've been sunning themselves on the south side of the barn.  I know why.  The north wind is coming across the bayou, and they are sheltered from it on the south side.  I took pity on them and put some flakes of hay on the south side.  There's a round bale on the north side of the barn under a lean-to, but it’s windy and sunless there.

There weren't as many fireworks in our neighborhood last night as there usually are on a New Year's Eve.  I’m sure the cold made a lot of people decide to stay inside and watch the festivities on TV.  For the first time in a year or two we stayed up until midnight - in our recliners, watching TV, and enjoying the blazing gas logs.  Before we went to bed, we bundled up over our pajamas and went out to the barn to check on the horses.  They didn't seem to be too bothered by the fireworks, so we went to bed.

Suzanne came Saturday and spent the night.  She wanted to get home yesterday afternoon before the temperature plummeted, so I fixed our New Year's meal for lunch yesterday - the traditional pork, cabbage, and black-eyed peas.  We're having the leftovers today.