Sunday, October 27, 2013

Biblia Files (part 3) - Gideon - weakness, warts and all


My local women's Bible study just finished Gideon using the guide which is shown above. 
[for a promo: click here]

The series of lessons was written and taught via DVD by Priscilla Shirer - a graduate from Dallas Theological Seminary in Biblical studies.  But Priscilla describes herself as a wife and mom first though, in my opinion, she is a wonderful teacher.  She connects with students - whether in a classroom setting or on the other side of TV screen - and really knows her stuff.

Why Gideon?

This Old Testament story still is relevant in the 21st century.  Human nature - its weakness, warts and all - have not changed.  And today, so many of us may feel like Gideon - small, insignificant, weak - especially when oppressed by powerful foes.  But  God uses our weaknesses as the key to tap into His resources and give us His strength to open the door to victory.

For a taste of the series, check out the clip below:

Now for, a few ...


Though the story takes up three chapters, Judges 6-8, there are riches to be mined here and timeless lessons to be learned.  In these few short chapters, patterns appear that repeat themselves throughout Scripture and history.

For example:

*  Gideon did well - at first - when he was aware of his weakness and totally depended on God, checking in frequently to do His will. Following God's instruction, Gideon with his band of 300 scored a great victory over the Midianites.

*  And in the New Testament, St. Paul received a word from the Lord concerning his "torn in the flesh" -

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:9

Great lesson.

But after great victories, Gideon became a victim of his own success.  Pride moved in.  And it was the undoing of his family as we see in Judges 8 and the decline of the nation after Gideon's passing in Judges 9.

And Moses gave warning that this would happen:

11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.
12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down,
13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied,
14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

Deuteronomy 8 (NIV)

And the people did not heed the warning as this same theme repeats itself in the Old Testament.   After the judges, such as Gideon, came the kings - Saul, David, Solomon ...  Some did well until they forgot God.  And the same can be said for us  as well as our nation.

This series is a timeless lesson for all us Gideons - unsure of ourselves, aware of weaknesses, afraid of the powerful who seem to oppress us.  But as it says in that great chapter of Faith:

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets,
33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,
34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.

Hebrews 8 (NIV)

If you have a chance, please check out this study, as we continue our journey in the ...

Biblia Files.


Recent posts in this series:

Biblia Files (part 1) - Thru the Bible (2013)

Biblia Files (part 2) - What is the Bible Basically About? (2013)


Photo from: amazon/Gideon

Sunday, October 20, 2013

ELM (part 3) - St. Crispin's Day Battles in English History and Literature

Wikipedia - Martyrdom of Saints Crispin and Crispinian

October 25th 

This date has been celebrated as St. Crispin's Day

Saints Crispin and Crispinian are the patron saints of cobblers, tanners. and leather workers.  Some accounts give they were brothers.  In the tradition of St. Paul, they were Christian missionaries in Gaul and made shoes to support themselves.  Later, they were martyred for their faith on October 25, 285 or 286.  [reference:  CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Sts. Crispin and Crispinian]

And this holy feast day on October 25th marks battles of English history retold in its literature.

*  One a great victory against all odds

*  The other an agonizing defeat because of the odds

Let's take a look at the wars, the battles, and the literature for each case.

First, the Great Victory

The War:  The Hundred Years War

This was a series of conflicts between two kingdoms - England and France - over control for the French throne.  It lasted from 1337 to 1453 - more than a hundred years by my reckoning. (Sigh!)  [reference: BBC - History - British History in depth: The Hundred Years War]

The Battle:  The Battle of Agincourt

The Date:  October 25, 1415 - St. Crispin's Day

The battle was a great victory for Henry V of England as his army, greatly outnumbered, crippled France.  The French lost almost 6,000 and the English, just a little over 400.  So King Henry won one of the greatest military victories in history. [reference: Battle of Agincourt — This Day in History — 10/25/1415]

The Story Teller:  William Shakespeare

Playwright, poet [reference:  William Shakespeare Biography - Facts, Birthday, Life Story -

The Literary Work:  Henry V

This play most likely written in 1599 telling the story of King Henry V of England, focusing on events before and after the Battle of Agincourt.  [reference:  William Shakespeare's Henry V]

One of the most well known parts is ...

Henry V's Saint Crispin's Day Speech. 

 Below is a clip:

For the text:  SCENE III. The English camp.

From this scene we get the phrase ...

 * Band of Brothers *

As a footnote:  Such was the title of the HBO mini-series, Band of Brothers, taken from the Stephen Ambrose book - telling the story of Easy company who fought in World War II.

Next, the Agonizing Defeat

The War:  The Crimean War

This war from 1853-1856 pitted Russia against the Ottoman Empire, which found allies with Britain and France.  Most of the fighting took place to control the Black Sea with land battles on the Crimean peninsula south of Russia - hence its name.  [reference:  Crimean War (Eurasian history [1853-56]) -- Encyclopedia Britannica]

As a footnote:  Perhaps, the most famous person that emerged from this war was a woman - Florence Nightingale  - whose service and writing greatly improved the care of wounded soldiers as well as reforms in health care.

The Battle:  The Battle of Balaclava - The Charge of the Light Brigade

The Date:  October 25, 1854 - St. Crispin's Day

A strategic loss, much has been written about the blunders and bravery in this battle.  The Light Brigade was intended to pursue and harass retreating Russian artillery, but due to mis-communication the brigade was ordered into a suicidal frontal assault into the wrong artillery battery, which was in a well prepared defensive position.  [reference:  The Battle of Balaclava - Crimean War - Charge of the Light Brigade]

The result was a slaughter!  (278 of the 600 killed or wounded.) The journalists reported the story back to London where the battle recounted in The Times became a national scandal.

The Story Teller:  Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Poet, Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland  [reference:  Alfred, Lord Tennyson : The Poetry Foundation]

The Literary Work:  The Charge of the Light Brigade

Tennyson wrote the poem a few minutes after reading the account in The Times. It told of the extraordinary bravery of British soldiers in face of enemy fire in spite of poor leadership.   [reference: Charge of the Light Brigade]

The poem is read below:

For the text:  The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson : The Poetry Foundation

The Summary of it all:

*  Two battles - 450 years apart on St. Crispin's Day
*  Two epic pieces of literature - one a play, the other a poem
*  Two accounts of valor and bravery - one a victory against the odds, the other a defeat because of the odds

This is the stuff stories are made of 
so told in this part of English, Literature, and Musings (ELM)....


Previous posts on this series:

ELM (part 1) - English, Literature, and Musings (2013)

ELM (part 2) - Thug Notes does Hamlet (2013)


Photo from - Wikipedia - Martyrdom of Saints Crispin and Crispinian

Friday, October 11, 2013

Physics (part 1) - Picking Feynman's Brain near the russian embassy

The picture above show perhaps the two most well know physics equations.

1. The top one is known as  Newton's 2nd Law of Motion:  

F = ma

The acceleration of an object as produced by a net force is directly proportional to the magnitude of the net force, in the same direction as the net force, and inversely proportional to the mass of the object.
[reference:  Newton's Second Law]

How often when doing physics homework or taking exams did I write this equation down to get me started.

2. The other is Einstein's equation:

E = mc2

Mass (m) is equivalent to energy (E).
[reference: E=mc2 | symmetry magazine]

Above are a few of the fundamental equations scientists use to describe and model what they observe in the physical universe.  And believe me there are many more ...

Which brings me to the first part of a new series - physics
that can be described as "the study of matter, energy, and the interaction between them." 
[reference:  What is physics?| Explore |]

How romantic.

But how do we begin to wrap our brains about the universe?

Let's start at the dinner table ... with some libation.

Wikipedia/Pouring a glass of red wine
"The whole universe is in a glass of wine."

So Nobel prize winning physicist, Richard Feynman (1918-1988) quoted a poet.  [referenece:  Goodreads | Quote by Richard P. Feynman]

And for a great graphic of this quote, please checkout:

22 Words | The universe is a glass of wine — 
An illustrated Richard Feynman quote

Much has been written of Richard Feynman and his contributions to physics as well as his last work on a commission, his swan song - finding the cause of the Challenger disaster:  Richard Feynman: Life, the universe and everything - Telegraph

Fortunately, his work and insights are available to everyone who has a computer and internet access.  Among them are many video lectures, one such kicks off here:  Richard Feynman on Quantum Mechanics Part 1 - Photons Corpuscles of Light.FLV - YouTube

But I thought this would be a good one to start.  Dr. Feynman - with much humor - gives his lecture on the Scientific Method:

Many students (like myself) have acquired his series of physics lecture series in book form.  And all those with internet access can view them online for free:

The Famous Feynman Lectures on Physics: The New Online Edition (in HTML5) | Open Culture

Though Dr. Feynman has passed away, cyberspace is still a receptacle for the knowledge his left behind.

And with our technology, we all can ...

Pick Feynman's Brain.


Other Physics articles:

Black Holes - What does it look like inside them?
(written September 6, 2008 - S. K. Smith) 

The Scotsman who beat Einstein
(written October 1, 2008 - S. K. Smith)

Fractal Dimensions - Twilight Zone? No, Nature!
(written November 7, 2008 - S. K. Smith) 

Mr. Spock and Dr. Einstein 
(written December 19, 2008 - S. K. Smith) 

Winter Driving - It's all about the friction
(written January 10, 2009 - S. K. Smith)