To Kneel or Stand by Al Sikes

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We have been, for several weeks, greeted each morning by news of which athletes at what game refused to stand during the National Anthem. Most recently the Vice President, Mike Pence, decided to make the body’s posture an even more fractious political stance. It was as if he said, “If you disagree with President Trump and me, you should kneel.”

Generally, the anthem divide is racial and began with Black Lives Matter protesting police killings of black men. As the initial reason for the protest has morphed, it is hard to know whether the current expressions are driven by heartfelt belief or politics.

In church each Sunday, the spiritual leader leads his or her congregation in both personal and global prayer. This past Sunday the theme of the global prayer was for the families of the Las Vegas shooting victims. The theme of the sermon at Christ Church in Easton, Maryland, was the divine guidance to honor God, not our chosen gods.

The Las Vegas shooting featured a white shooter who had concluded that he was a god and for reasons obscure would kill as many as his weaponry would allow. A man humbled by an understanding of the evil within us and connected with forgiveness and redemption would not have sprayed bullets on concert-goers or anybody else.

The theme of evil within us and opportunity for redemption is the sacred text of the two most important spiritual hymns we sing. And you certainly do not have to attend church to have listened or sung either song. They, at least tonally, are a part of our culture. I suspect after the Star Spangled Banner and America they are the two most familiar songs. The songs: The Battle Hymn of the Republic and Amazing Grace.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic was written by Julia Ward Howe at the outset of the Civil War. She reflected: “I went to bed that night as usual, and slept, according to my wont, quite soundly. I awoke in the gray of the morning twilight; and as I lay waiting for the dawn, the long lines of the desired poem began to twine themselves in my mind. Having thought out all the stanzas, I said to myself, ‘I must get up and write these verses down, lest I fall asleep again and forget them.’ So, with a sudden effort, I sprang out of bed and found in the dimness an old stump of a pen which I remembered to have used the day before. I scrawled the verses almost without looking at the paper.”

Howe’s song is woven into our culture. The lyrics of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” appeared in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s sermons and speeches, most notably in his speech “How Long, Not Long” from the steps of the Alabama State Capitol building on March 25, 1965, after the 3rd Selma March, and in his final sermon “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”, delivered in Memphis, Tennessee on the evening of April 3, 1968, the night before his assassination. In fact, the latter sermon, King’s last public words, ends with the initial lyrics of The Battle Hymn of the Republic: “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

Amazing Grace was written by John Newton. He had been a soldier and then a slave trader and redemptively, a pastor. The first two verses reflect his humility and his understanding of the gift of grace.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Music for many of us, no for most of us, is often our translation key—an emotional expression of what we have come to believe. I stand for our National Anthem, and I do that recognizing that our collective use of weaponry has not always been warranted whether in police shootings or global wars. But, I also understand that for the overwhelming majority of people our anthem is an iconic expression of national unity—“out of many one.”

The President and Vice President look for opportunities to express their faith in Jesus Christ. They should, in His spirit as captured by John Newton, strive for a more graceful presence. It would indeed be a “sweet sound.” A contrary sound suggests exploitation whether by athletes or elected officials.

Historical material sourced from Wikipedia

Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books. 

Juxtapositions by Jamie Kirkpatrick

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I used to think that we lived in a world of juxtapositions: two things seen or placed together to facilitate a comparison or contrasting effect. Like nuns walking along the beach: the structure of religious order compared to the freedom of a walking barefoot along the ocean’s edge. But in light of recent events, I’m amending my weltgeist slightly: now I’m inclined to believe we’re living in a world of contradictions—you know, inconsistent elements, statements, or ideas that are diametrically opposed to one another like good and evil; right and left; day and night.

There has been a lot of talk lately about “fake news” and “alternative facts.” There was a time—and not all that long ago, mind you—when news was news and facts were facts and these twin “realities” informed our view of the world. But these days, it seems to me that we create our news and our facts to conform to what we want to believe or how we wish to view the world, not the other way around. As a result, everything seems jumbled. Truth—wherever that elusive beast is hiding—seems increasingly impossible to discern. Who’s to blame: the media? The politicians and their spin doctors? Maybe Cassius hit the nail on the head when he said, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves, that we are underlings.” In other words, it’s not fate (or fake news or alternative facts) that drive our decisions and actions, it’s us…it’s in our DNA, it’s just the human condition.

It’s easy to play the blame game but it’s a lot harder if we’re the ones to blame. We so desperately want to believe in easy truths that we create them out of paper mache instead of stone. But like it or not, truth is made of sterner stuff. Climate change is real. White supremacy is wrong. Gun control is possible. Diplomacy can be effective. In today’s skewed world, these notions aren’t just juxtapositions; they aren’t nuns walking on the beach. They’re contradictions, pure and simple.

I would like to think that our current Grand Canyon of political divide can be bridged and that we can somehow find our way back home to at least a modicum of common ground. But drip by drip, I’m turning into a skeptic. Maybe we’re in too deep. Maybe we’ve suspended judgment about anything and everything that’s controversial and dug ourselves into dogmatic foxholes, ready to shoot at whatever moves out there across no-man’s land. In a less-than-presidential tweet, “Sad!”

I feel as though I owe you all an apology. Usually, I try to keep things light, but sometimes it feels like I have fallen into one of psychologist Harry Harlow’s pits of despair. (Back in the 1970s, Harlow used a stainless steel chamber to study clinical depression in baby monkeys by depriving them of all contact with other monkeys for long periods of time. His methodology was eventually debunked as being overly cruel, but Harlow’s studies of isolationism indeed seemed to prove that it resulted in profound states of dysfunction and despair.) Thankfully, unlike one of Harlow’s poor monkeys, I am, by nature, an optimist, and I believe I have the ability and resolve to climb out of his isolationist experiment. In fact, I believe we all do. We could start by moving from contradictions back to juxtapositions. Baby steps.

I’ll be right back.

Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy magazine. “A Place to Stand,” a book of photographs and essays about Landon School, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015.  A collection of his essays titled “Musing Right Along” was released in May and is already in its second printing. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com.

Hogwarts for a Day!

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The 4th Annual Chestertown HP Festival kicked off Friday evening, Oct. 6 with a dance party in the Garfield Center, attended by more than 250 festival-goers. Based on the popular Harry Potter fantasy novels by J.K. Rowling, the festival drew attendees of all ages from the entire middle Atlantic region.

For the festival, High Street was closed from Queen to Spring streets, with various vendors and exhibits along the way. In Fountain Park, a number of vendors offered Harry Potter-related items — such as Meckley Brooms of Lancaster County, Pa., which brought a selection of authentic-looking witches’ brooms. Vicky Meckley, whose husband is among the fourth generation of broom makers, said the 120-year-old company has been to a number of Potter festivals over the last year and frequently sells out its stock. The company also produces brooms for everyday use. She and the other family members at the booth took turns walking around town and enjoying the historic district.

The park was the site of a number of festival events, including a “Defense Against the Dark Arts” display where participants created giant bubbles to represent their “patronus” or magical protector.   The costume contest was also held in the park.  At other points around the downtown area, events included a “Magical Hall of Talking Portraits” at Kidspot, a Charms Class at the Sultana Education Center and a showing of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” at Kent County Public Library. Everywhere you went, there were people in Harry Potter-related  costumes, both young and old, dressed as wizards, goblins, and dozens of Harrys and Hermiones, .

Goblins and Galleons, The Goblin Bank

At Olivander’s Wand Shop, AKA Bob Ortiz Furniture Studio, wizards could purchase a variety of wands from five different vendors. Michael and Ramona Liles of Philadelphia, selling at the Vele Cruce table, said they were attending their first festival.

A popular feature was the scavenger hunt, in which participants visit businesses all over the downtown area searching for clues. Those who found all the clues and returned their form to the booth in front of the Garfield received a prize. Each of the participating businesses was renamed after an equivalent locale in the books — so that the former Chestertown Bank building, now the headquarters of KRM Development, became Goblins and Galleons, with a clue hidden in the old bank vault, and Book Plate became Flourish and Blotts Bookseller.

This year, there were enough successful participants that the festival had given out all its prizes by 3 p.m. — an hour before the official end of the hunt!

Wilmer Park was the setting for the Quidditch tournament — a team sport with similarities to soccer and basketball. There were several competing teams, from as far away as Philadelphia and Washington. The sport differs from the version in the Harry Potter books in that none of the players are flying on broomsticks — although they are required to carry a symbolic broomstick between their legs during play. There were a good number of spectators picnicking in shady spots around the park — with food provided by several vendor trucks, many of them local.

The Quidditch Goals – Three Rings

Stretching Before the Game

Quidditch

Hogwarts faculty members Professor Dumbledore (Jim Landskroener), Nearly Headless Nick (David Ryan) and Professor Lupin (Zac Ryan)

The Garfield also offered “The Hogwarts Experience,” a chance for young festival-goers ages 8-12 to take part in a re-enactment of one of the key elements of the Harry Potter world, the famous school of wizardry. In two different sessions, 40 participants entered the theater where they were greeted by Headmaster Dumbledore and a panel of wizards. Each came to the stage to be sorted by the traditional “sorting hat” into one of the four Hogwarts houses — Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin. They were then sent to tables where faculty members instructed them in magical arts, from the use of wands to cast spells to the detection of hidden properties of objects — such as the taste of different colors of jelly beans. The actors playing the faculty wizards gave enthusiastic performances, and the young students clearly enjoyed the experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In these “magic classes,” students get to take out their wands and practice repelling a “boggart,” a magical being who takes the form of your worst fear.  With courage and heart – and just the right magical words –  students learn to vanquish their own personal boggart, a handy skill to have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The close of the festival was marked by another dance, the “Azkaban Prison Break Party.” named after the key event in the third of the Harry Potter novels.

All in all, it was another successful Festival.  This year the festival was re-titled The HP Festival because the organization had received complaints from Warner Brothers’ legal department. But that didn’t throw a blanket over the fun – the magic was definitely there for this year’s festival.

 

Dumbledore, Professor & Headmaster of Hogwarts (portrayed by Jim Landskroener)

Nearly Headless Nick (David Ryan)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Faculty of Hogwarts – Left to right: Professor Sprout- Madeline McSherry, Professor Trelawny – Amelia Markosian, Professor Dumbledore – Jim Landskroener, Nearly Headless Nick – David Ryan, Professor Lupin – Zac Ryan

A Goblin works at His Desk in the Bank

Merkley Brooms 

4th Annual HP Festival

Diagon Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diagon Alley is the Wizarding World’s Shopping District that is magically concealed from muggles’ eyes in London and  in Chestertown is located in the Old Mill alley just off Cross St near the old train station.

The Evergrain bakery and coffee shop became Wizardgrain for the day. A wonderful place for young witches and wizards to introduce their parents to butterbeer and everlasting gobstoppers.

Choosing a wand at Olivanders (Bob Ortiz Studio)

4th Annual HP Festival

Goblin

 

 

 

 

No Forwarding Address by George Merrill

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In my last column I mentioned having grown interested in writing letters, real letters not email. In part, the idea was born by a book I read about one woman’s discovery in writing letters to people who’ve influenced her life. What she wrote impressed me.

One of the advantages of being an octogenarian is the long view of life that the years provide. I have both the time and the perspective to recall a rich repository of people who have been significant to me. To intentionally think about those people and what they meant to me is not, as you might expect, just going over the same old turf again. There are new discoveries. The recollections reveal new and startling aspects of how I have been influenced by others. Intentionally pondering the meaning of old relationships is filled with meaning and at oftentimes, surprises.

I’m thinking particularly about a recent letter I wrote – the second one I wrote with an intention to communicate gratitude for what she meant for me. I sent the letter to Maureen.

She was a colleague of whom I was always fond, but at the time I hadn’t realized just what it was about Maureen that drew me to her. We worked together thirty-five years ago. She had that ineffable characteristic gentle people possess: an unassuming presence that brings grace to whatever they’re about. In some ways she seemed to be able impute life even to things as inanimate as a small pile of stones.

Maureen had been a nun in a cloistered community. After years of discernment, she discovered she was being called to a new ministry. She received training and served both as a hospital chaplain and a pastoral counselor.

Occasionally she would lead small groups in meditations. She’d craft small objects as aids to the meditations she’d lead. There was one I remember. From one point of view it was wholly unremarkable. My memory of it – were talking some twenty to twenty-five years ago– is admittedly sketchy. My mind’s eye recollects a pile of small stones, placed on a dish. A candle was placed on the mound.  It seemed to me at that moment that the stones became like some ancient monument to a holy site. Some spiritual awakening had occurred and a small mound of stones had been erected to memorialize it. There is no material monument left by Maureen’s meditation except the picture in my mind and while the details are hazy, the feeling of awe, a sense of the holy is not.

As fuzzy as the image remains in my mind, and that I don’t even recall the particular subject of the meditation, the impression remains and the feeling I have about it is undeniable. She had the gift to bring a spiritual awareness to the things to which she gave her attention, significance that, of themselves, they didn’t possess. She didn’t teach the stones to talk. She invited them to communicate a mystical presence by the intentions she invested in them as she assembled them for the meditation rite.

I’ve sometimes thought of specific places like Lourdes or the Mount of Olives as holy places. I’m beginning to believe that by itself a place is not holy – what makes it holy is the time, the place and the people converging on it at a particular instant. All the circumstances at a particular moment conspire to create an experience that transcends time and place to reveal a new reality, as if by being present with open hearts a small window in the firmament of heaven is thrown open, revealing something of the eternity beyond it.

I will not know what Maureen may think of the letter or even if she will see her graces the way I describe them. I’m not sure she will recollect our common history in the same way as I have. I have seen that happen in families eager to share reminiscences only to discover that one may see particular moments very differently from others. Is it then possible that our experiences with each other may not be as significant when we all see the moment in the same way? We all have our town take. Our shared history with each other is indeed mixed. Few of us will ever know the full impact we have had on another. It may remain hidden for years as if under a small mound of stones.

Sending the letter became my way of reconnecting and celebrating what others have meant to me. Beginning to write the letters I find the hardest part. At first I have only a person’s image in my mind’s eye or some associated objects. Soon a feeling follows. It’s hard to put into words. For a while I’ll draw a blank, but soon recollections begin to take shape and the words come to express my gratitude.

There’s a Christian teaching called the ‘communion of saints.’ It’s stated this way: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight . . .” When I was a boy, I imagined that I was surrounded by all my relatives who’d died, gone to heaven and they hovered around me, invisible, rooting for me like Casper the friendly ghost. They were my celestial guardians. My youthful understanding of the communion of saints did not survive my seminary education, intact. One thing changed: I believe that those witnesses compassing about me now include many of the living. And I can send them letters, unlike friendly ghosts or even saints that we assume reside in heaven but never leave forwarding addresses.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

“Major Barbara” – Professional Production at Washington College – This Weekend Only

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Cast and crew of Major Barbara production at Washington College, Oct6-8, 2017. Front row, left to right: Shannon Lawn, Brendon Fox, Jackie Dulaff, (Patricia Delorey on Skype), Conor Maloney, Rachel Treglia, Tim Maloney, Katie Peacock Back row, left to right: Lex Liang, Cole Capobianco, Lexy Ricketts, Dan Perelstein, Adam Ashcraft, Nate Krimmel, Kelly Young, Colin Higgins, Abby Wargo, John Leslie, Iz Clemens, Laura Eckelman, Kate Moncrief, Giselle Brown, Meghan McPherson, Erin Caine, Nic Job, Tedi Rollins, Victoria Gill, Patrick Salerno, Mark Christie

This weekend is your chance to see a professionally produced production of one of the classics of British theater.  Written in 1905 by George Bernard Shaw, “Major Barbara” has been in theaters almost continuously since then.

Now it’s at Washington College. Each semester there is one play directed by a senior member of the theater department.  This fall Assistant Professor of Theatre, Brendon Fox, is directing one of his personal favorites, and the WC Department of Theatre and Dance has brought in a professional production team to help design the set, sound, costumes, etc.   This gives the students a chance to work with theater professionals and learn professional techniques from the pros while making both friends and contacts. They even have a professional fight choreographer to give those fight scenes a realistic touch!

Professor of Drama Emeritus Timothy Maloney, Washington College, takes the role of rich munitions manufacturer, Andrew Undershaft

This is also a rare opportunity to see one of Chestertown’s finest actors.  Professor of Drama Emeritus, Timothy Maloney, has come out of retirement to play Andrew Undershaft,  the captain of industry and father of Major Barbara.  His wife, Lady Britomart Undershaft, is played by Professor of English Kate Moncrief.  Rachel Treglia, WC class of ’19, takes the title role as Major Barbara Undershaft.

Performances will be in Decker Theater in the Gibson Arts building on the Washington College campus on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, Oct.5- 7 at 7:30 pm.  There is also a matinee at 2:00 pm on Sunday, Oct. 8. All performances are free.

Kathryn Moncrief, Professor of English and Department Chair, plays Lady Undershaft – photo by Tamzin B. Smith

“Major Barbara” was first staged at the London Royal Court Theatre in 1905. In the USA, it made its Broadway debut at the Playhouse Theatre in 1915, just as World War I was raging in Europe. A 1941 film adaptation starred Rex Harrison, Wendy Hiller and Robert Morley. This film version of Major Barbara was shot in London during the blitz bombing of London in 1940. With explosions going on around them, the cast and crew often had to drop everything and run for the bomb shelters. But producer-director, Pascal didn’t stop the production and, amazingly, the film was finished on schedule. The play was also released as a 4-LP Caedmon Records set in 1965 with Maggie Smith in the title role and Morley reprising his role as Andrew Undershaft. While the play was originally set in the early years of the 20th century, the Washington College production is set in the present day.

“Major Barbara” tells the story of an idealistic young woman, Barbara Undershaft. A Major in the Salvation Army in London, Barbara has devoted her life to helping the poor.  For years, Barbara and the rest of her family have been estranged from their father, Andrew Undershaft, a rich munitions maker.  Ironically, their father is a major supporter of the Salvation Army and has made substantial donations to the organization.  This offends Major Barbara, who objects to his “tainted” wealth. However, the father claims that he is doing more to help society by creating jobs and a steady income for people than the Salvation Army is by feeding them and praying for them. A social satire like many of Shaw’s works, the play uses humor to explore themes of morality, money, and power, often within the family structure.

Rachel Treglia, class of 2019, as Major Barbara – photo by Tamzin B. Smith

Brandon Fox, Assistant Professor of Theatre at Washington College, director for “Major Barbara”- photo by Heather Perry Weafer

Director Brendon Fox received his B.S., Performance Studies at Northwestern University, 1993 and his M.F.A., in Directing at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2009.  He teaches classes on acting, directing, and theater history, among other subjects. His research interests are in Restoration comedy and the adaptation of literature to the stage. In July 2014, Fox directed Two Gentlemen of Verona, for the Houston Shakespeare Festival. In 2016, he adapted the popular, best-selling British novel The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde for a staged reading at Washington College.  This was a world stage-premiere for The Eyre Affair. Author Jasper Fforde came to the college for the premiere and worked with the students in several workshop sessions.

All performances are free.  But reservations are strongly encouraged. Reservations may be made online here up to two hours before each performance. If online reservations are already closed, come to the theater at least 30 minutes early for a ticket, if available, or to have your name placed on the waiting list. The doors open one-half hour before curtain time.  Those with reservations will be allowed to enter first. At five minutes before curtain, house managers will begin admitting patrons from the waiting list. For more information, email theatre_tickets@washcoll.edu and a student worker will respond.

The cast features Professor of Drama Emeritus Timothy Maloney playing Andrew Undershaft and Professor of English Kate Moncrief as Lady Britomart Undershaft, as well as:

 Adam Ashcraft ’19 (Peter Shirley)

Giselle Brown, ’20 (Rummy Mitchens)

Iz Clemens, ’19 (Jenny Hill)

Colin Higgins, ’19 (Charles Lomax)

Nate Krimmel, ’18 (Snobby Price)

John Leslie, ’19 (Stephen Undershaft)

Meghan McPherson, ’19 (Billie Walker)

Conor Maloney, ’19 (Adolphus Cusins)

Lexy Ricketts, ’20  (Sarah Undershaft)

Rachel Treglia, ’19 (Major Barbara Undershaft)

Abby Wargo, ’19 (Mrs. Baines) 

Kelly Young, ’20 (Morrison/Bilton) 

The production and design team includes:

Erin Caine (’19): Dramaturg

Patricia Delorey: Dialect Coach, (Professional-Florida) 

 Lex Liang: Costume & Scenic Designer, (Professional-New York)

Laura Eckelman: Lighting Designer

Dan Perelstein: Co-Sound Designer, (Professional-Philadelphia) 

Mark Christie (’18): Co-Sound Designer 

Claudia Adjou-Moumouni (’18): Music Director 

Cliff Williams III: Fight Choreographer, (Professional-DC) 

Cole Capobianco (’16): Associate Costume Designer, (Alumni &Professional-NJ)

Kaitlyn Peacock (’19): Assistant Scenic Designer & Props Master 

Shannon Lawn (’18): Stage Manager

Jackie Dulaff (’20): Assistant Stage Manager

Nic Job (’21): Assistant Stage Manager 

Victoria Gill (’21) – light board operator

Patrick Salerno (’21) – soundboard operator

Gillian Kelahan (’21) – wardrobe crew

Tedi Rollins (’21) – stage/wardrobe crew

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St. Martin’s Ministries – Lighting the Way

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Lighthouses by Dick Swanson displayed in his workshop. Both are included in the auction.

The 12th annual Arts Dinner Dance and Auction to benefit St. Martin’s Ministries (SMM) will be held Friday, Oct. 13 in the Chesapeake Room of Rock Hall firehouse. Works by more than two dozen artists will be available for bidding.

This year’s theme is “America the Beautiful, From Sea to Shining Sea.” To highlight the theme, this year’s featured artist, master wood craftsman Dick Swanson has created six replicas of classic lighthouses from all over the country. Each lighthouse, in addition to being a finely detailed work of art, contains several internal compartments suitable for storing jewelry, keys, or other small items. To get a preview of all six models, check out the front window of the Finishing Touch in Chestertown, where they will be on display until the day of the event.

Dick Swanson in his workshop shows book with photograph of the lighthouse that one of his is modeled on.

In addition to raising money for a very worthwhile charity, the dinner and auction is a lot of fun with good food, good conversation, and good art. The evening begins with cocktails and the silent auction at 6:00 pm.  As you stroll the Chesapeake Room in Rock Hall, you can examine the lighthouses up close along with the other works of art and decide what you might want to bid on. Maybe you’d prefer to bid on one of the glamorous get-aways for an exciting trip to the city or a relaxing weekend in the country.  Dinner is at 7:30 pm followed by dessert and a few after-dinner remarks by the staff and leaders of St Martin’s Ministries as they share stories of the work and progress in the past year.  Then the live auction will begin about 8:45 pm when you can defend your bid against your friends who would try to take home just the item you want the most – unless you can top their bid!  At 9:15, the dance begins with music by DJ Marc McCallum. His special program of musical selections entitled Dancing through the Decades provides both lively and romantic dancing to the oldies while it brings back all those memories!  At 10:00 pm, it’s time to check out and collect your winnings. It’s a lot of fun, and all in all, a wonderful evening.  Many people come back year after year.  Each year’s dinner has a different theme and a new featured artist. And all proceeds support St. Martin’s Ministries’ work with women and children. There is more information on St. Martin’s Ministries below.

Lighthouses shown in their original setting.

In addition to Swanson, contributing artists include Marjorie Aronson, Evie Baskin, Jayne Hurt Bellows, Paul Bramble, Robyn Burckhart, Nora Carey, John Carey, Laura Cline, David B. Giffort, Charlotte Guscht, Pegret Harrison, Lynn Hilfiker, Mary Averill James, Jonathan King, Marlayn King, David Lyon, Joyce Murrin, K. Chrisgtine O’Neill, David O’Neill, Mary Pritchard, Marcy Dunn Ramsey, Lani Seikaly, Lolli sherry, Linda Sims, Nancy R. Thomas and Dennis Young. While the emphasis is on beautiful and unique works of art, there are also other items available for bidding at the silent auction.

All the lighthouses are currently being displayed in the window of Finishing Touch on High Street in Chestertown, just across from Fountain Park.

Tickets for the SMM Arts Dinner and Auction are $110. To make reservations, go to the Mid-Shore Foundation’s website.  You can also make donations at the site to help SMM in their work with women and children and in the process become an official St. Martin’s Ministries Angel, Archangel, Seraphim, or you can join the Heavenly Chorus, each for various levels of donations.

Three of the six lighthouses that up for auction at the St. Martin’s Ministries’ arts Dinner and Auction on Friday, October 13.

Those who would like to bid on a lighthouse but cannot attend the dinner on Oct 13, can submit a bid by email to Anne Donaghy at Donaghy.Ja@gmail.com. Include the word LIGHTHOSE in the subject line of your email.  Then in the text, give your name, telephone, email address, and the name and number of the Lighthouse you’re bidding on, plus the amount of your bid. There is a minimum bid of $150 for a lighthouse. (So bid high if you can’t be there during the auction to raise your bid as needed!) A few days before the dinner, someone will call to verify your bid and request credit card information.  Should you win, you will be notified the next day. Credit cards will not be charged unless your bid wins. This information is also on a sign in the Finishing Touch window.

Saint Martin’s Ministries

Saint Martin’s Ministries began in 1973, when The Benedictine Sisters of Ridgely founded St. Martin’s Barn – an outreach ministry to Christ’s poor. The Barn provided food, clothing and limited funds for preventing evictions and electricity cutoffs. Ten years later, June, 1983, Saint Martin’s House became a reality – a transitional residence which seeks to empower homeless women and children to work towards self-sufficiency in a safe and stable environment.

Today Saint Martin’s House in Ridgely provides up to 2 years of transitional housing for single women and women with children. The program also provides appropriate support services to persons who are homeless or who are close to homelessness. The transition is to help them be more self-sufficient so they can move towards living on their own. The ministry also provides clothing, emergency food, eviction prevention assistance and utility assistance for those in need. St. Martin’s Ministries administers the Rental Assistance program for Caroline County.

For example, in one recent year, SMM reported that the residences had housed 29 persons, 15 women and 14 children.  They came from all over the Mid-Shore.  This amounted to 7,368 bed-nights valued at $92, 100.  In another year, SMM housed 14 women and 44 children for a total 4,685 bed-nights.  With careful administration and efficient volunteers, the cost per person has run around $40 per day.

The St. Martin’s Barn program provides emergency food and clothing. In one year, they distributed 3, 672 food packages, averaging over 300 per month.  The same year, SMM provided over $100,00 to save 171 families from eviction.

In order to keep these services going – to help more women and children –  SMM runs several other fund raisers in addition to the annual Arts Dinner and Auction,. They just finished their 2nd annual golf tournament and also hold an Authors’ Luncheon in the spring.  SMM has been awarded over $150,000 in government grants.  Altogether, St. Martin’s Ministries has been a life-changing and life-saving influence in the lives of hundreds of women and children over the years.

SMM is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. All donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

You can be a part of this.

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Contrarian Thoughts on Conservatism by Al Sikes

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Authentic Conservatism is Careful

“Regular order” is a new technical phrase to most people. It is also a pivotal dimension in making law the right way. It simply means that the Congress will handle bills that are proposed with hearings, mark-up (amendment process), and debate in a public forum.In the Obama Administration the Democrats evoked Republican anger by not following “regular order” in passing what has become known as Obamacare. The Republicans, less cohesive, have tried to do the same thing but failed. A key Senator, John McCain, refused to go along and was pilloried by a wide range of so-called conservative pundits. I will miss Senator McCain.Do conservatives prefer disorder or backroom deals guided by lobbyists? A failure to follow regular order is anti-conservative.

Equipping a Small Army

The Wall Street Journal reported that Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter, was not on any law enforcement radar. It is shocking that a person can assemble enough weaponry to start a small war, without a trace, at a time when Amazon, Google and Facebook know the details of our private lives. Conservatives should, by nature, be cautious. Blocking attempts to track gun sales is not conservative. When Paddock’s purchases hit a high-risk tipping point, he should have been on the radar.The second amendment to the US constitution says: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  Paddock was not buying a musket so that he could become a part of a “well regulated militia.”

Tax Cuts and Deficits

The prospective tax cut plans have been dribbling out for the last several months. It is no surprise that the debate is quickly becoming polarized, even though details are in short supply.I happen to believe we are in need of tax reform and applaud reform initiatives. But, reform will not be conservative if it adds to the national debt. And, as noted above, if it is not shaped by a rigorous public process, the American public will be right to believe that the K Street crowd (tax lobbyist hangout) will have subordinated the public by having more influence than its representatives.

Current River

Last week my wife and I returned to my home state to canoe the spring- fed streams that flow through the federal and state forests of south central Missouri. The weather was stunning and the spring flows were undeterred by the drought. The quiet, only interrupted by otters, waterfalls and a variety of ducks and herons was restorative. My advice: don’t fly over Missouri to float the streams of the West. Stop there and then go west. By the way, there are no fires in the Missouri forests.

Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books. 

 

No Place Like It by Jamie Kirkpatrick

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So Dorothy went to Oz. There was a lion, a scarecrow, and a tin man; there were witches, good and bad; there were Munchkins, flying monkeys, a horse of a different color, an emerald city, and a field of poppies that made Dorothy and her pals dangerously drowsy; of course there was the Wizard himself, all great and powerful—or so Dorothy thought. But when all was said and done, all her tasks of courage and kindness and intelligence accomplished, Dorothy only wanted one thing: to go home. So she clicked her heels twice, hugged Toto tight, and whispered, “There’s no place like home… there’s no place like home…there’s no place like home.”

And suddenly, Dorothy was back home in Kansas. But here’s the thing: we know she never really left. That nasty Plains tornado knocked her for a loop so when she woke up, she wasn’t really “back” home, she just saw home, along with her friends and family, differently. Auntie Em and all those familiar faces from the farm; the bumbling-but-kind itinerant peddler; her mean neighbor on that rickety old bicycle: nothing had changed, but in some profound, miraculous manner, everything was different. Kansas through new eyes.

Kat and I just returned from two wonderful weeks in France. We spent the first week surrounded by a large gaggle of family and close friends in a chateau in Normandy. For the second week, we took a peek at Provence from Avignon, then hit the big time in Paris. We had wonderful weather. We saw the sights: Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triumph and the Champs-Elysees, the Louvre, the Tuileries and the Luxembourg Gardens. We gaped at fashion, wore scarves, shopped, ate, and drank beyond our means, sat in cafes ’til midnight. On our last night, we went to the Latin Quarter for a creme caramel and a nightcap. We got caught in a downpour (the only rain on our trip!) and darted into a cafe where we listened to a trumpet player’s soulful rendition of “What a Wonderful World” while he stood in the middle of a cobble-stone street, oblivious to the rain pelting down on him, never missing a note. A drink or two later, we splurged, bought an umbrella, and made our damp way back to our lovely apartment in the sixth (thank you Barbara and Miguel!). Woody Allen would have been proud—except he wouldn’t have bought the umbrella.

The next day, we clicked our heels and came back home. (I wish modern travel were really that easy, but for the purposes of this Musing, let’s just pretend it is.) Now life as we knew it is resuming its routines, but in a way, it’s very different this time around. Travel makes more than memories: it’s expansive (in my case, about three pounds expansive); maybe most importantly, travel redraws the lines of the world and allows for alternative ways of looking at and appreciating the most familiar and mundane things in our worlds “back home.”

Home is twice sweet. It’s where the heart is. Now that I’m back home, I think I’ll go over to Evergrain and pick up a fresh baguette. On my way, maybe I’ll stop at Just Right Treats for a pastry or at the Wine and Cheese Shop for some foie gras or pate de compagne, a cheese or two, maybe some cornichons. Then I think I’ll stroll down to the river and have a picnic, or maybe I’ll just wander across the street to The Kitchen, sit myself down at an outside table, and order a glass or two of my favorite rose; Rob knows which one it is.

Paris on the Chester. No place like it.

I’ll be right back.

Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy magazine. “A Place to Stand,” a book of photographs and essays about Landon School, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015.  A collection of his essays titled “Musing Right Along” was released in May and is already in its second printing. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com.

 

Out and About (Sort of): Time to Move On by Howard Freedlander

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When I think about the 10-part “The Vietnam War” documentary completed last week on the Public Broadcasting System, I feel overwhelmed with emotion. It preoccupied me.

I wrote last week about my reaction to the first five episodes. I won’t rehash my comments. I was transfixed by the history of a war that proved so divisive and disruptive to our roiling country. Ken Burns and Lynn Novick produced a superbly written, studiously well-balanced and beautifully filmed documentary. The experience watching this often unpleasant history lesson was unlike any other in my life.

So, I will describe my emotions, felt, I suspect, by many others:

I felt admiration and empathy for our American soldiers (all-inclusive usage for the sake of this column). They fought bravely. They fought well. They fought amid often ill-advised strategy developed sometimes by politicians. Roughly 58,000 died against a relentless, highly motivated enemy.

As I listened to the voices of John Musgrave, Roger Harris, Tim O’Brien, Matt Harrison, Bill Erhardt, Hal Kushner, Vincent Okamoto, Ron Ferrizzi and many other veterans, I marveled at their candor, their passion and their sorrow. Their comments reflected the violence, the ambivalence and the pain of the ill-fated Vietnam War.

In response to the equally honest and passionate North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers interviewed for this remarkable documentary, I felt a human understanding of their courage, their longing for family and their mixed feelings about a war that divided and damaged their own country. These men and women fought to win and destroy the South Vietnamese and American troops.

Yet soldiers on both sides wondered: was it worth it? Was the end result a proud one?

Through the lens of this documentary, I viewed again the protests. I viewed again the riots in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention and mourned the disorder sowed by the protesters and abetted by the ill-prepared police. In 1968, I despised the objectionable, obnoxious and sometimes destructive behavior of the protesters. Now, I commend their courage, their willingness to rail against a corrupt war. I was disgusted then. I’m more sanguine now–though I still condemn riots that visit destruction upon small businesses and place the police in unenviable positions.

When I learned again, after 50 years, about seasoned veterans taking to the streets to proclaim peace, I walked back my criticism of those who opposed the Vietnam War. These men had felt the sting of buddies killed in action. They had followed stupid orders to rack up body counts. They understood the savagery of war. When some tossed away their medals during a protest at the White House, as portrayed during the documentary, I felt moved by their resistance to the continuation of a war whose purpose they questioned.

As I did when it was reported in the media, I felt repulsed by the My Lai Massacre, which occurred in March 1968. Between 350 and 500 unarmed civilians died in an outburst of inhumanity and moral depravity. Again, as so often happens, I also feel torn. While killing is legal in war, almost second nature, the murder of civilians–who may or may not have harbored the Viet Cong–is wanton human destruction. Anger and frustration over the loss of fellow soldiers can be tough to control; yet indiscriminate killing of noncombatants is intolerable.

I found bothersome but not surprising the continuous lying and deceit by Presidents Lyndon Barnes Johnson and Richard Nixon. Their preoccupation with winning their next elections and avoiding political embarrassment seemingly drove their decision-making. Their concerns about lives lost by their decisions not to unleash strategic bombing or delay peace negotiations were unconscionable.

Lest I seem too forgiving of the North Vietnamese, I learned about the increasingly influential impact of communism on leadership in Hanoi. The more palatable nationalistic actions and philosophy of Ho Ching Minh fell
victims to darker forces. Le Duan, the powerful leader who surpassed Uncle Ho in planning military operations, sent thousands and thousands of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers to their deaths during Tet and a post-Tet offensive.

Unlike Ho Ching Minh, Le Duan harbored no warm feelings about America. He was hell-bent on conquering the South and sending the Americans home to a country also divided by social, political and cultural conflict. I bemoaned too the immorality of our fervent and violent enemy.

The American evacuation of Saigon was ugly and messy, as was the war. We turned our backs on people who trusted us. It was tough to watch our abandonment of former friends. Due to Watergate and his resignation, Nixon could not fulfill his promise to help South Vietnam from being overrun. Then, Congress decided, maybe understandably so, to authorize no more money to South Vietnam. It was heart-wrenching to watch the results of our inaction.

“The Vietnam War” documentary ended on a redemptive note, showing some veterans returning to Vietnam and connecting with former adversaries. The history the 10 episodes so exquisitely purveyed filled me with dread and distress; at the same time, I felt enormous pride in our troops, who persevered on unfamiliar terrain littered with bad decisions: take that hill, give up that hill and then retake it.

The 10th and final episode devoted a segment to the Vietnam Memorial built in 1982 in Washington, DC. It too was racked by controversy over its stark, black granite design. Nothing was easy about this war. Some of the splendid veterans who spoke frequently during the documentary testified to the healing effect of this powerful monument containing the names of 58,000 dead American soldiers.

“The Vietnam War” documentary portrayed a troubled 10-year war fought by our country, gradually riven by socioeconomic and cultural conflict. I feel and believe that some of these rending fissures still remain and haunt our fragile nation, caused ironically by engagement in a civil war in Southwest Asia.

Time to move on–armed with memories of a difficult decade.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.