December 31, 2006

Happy New Year to All! (and the Story of a Great Song)

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 4:01 pm

NOTE: This will be the only post today. Regular blogging, other than Positivity Posts, will resume on Monday afternoon or evening if there’s blogworthy news, otherwise early on Tuesday morning.

HT for the following story, timely for a New Year that brings with it so much anticipation yet, as always, potential for disappointment, goes to frequent commenter Excelsior.


Horatio Gates Spafford (1828-1888) was the author of the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul“. There are many authors of many hymns, but it is perhaps the story surrounding Horatio Spafford’s life when he wrote the hymn which makes the author’s story so exceptional and enduring, and the words of his hymn so forceful.

Spafford was born on October 28, 1828, in North Troy, New York.

First tragedy: His loss of property in the Great Chicago Fire

In 1871 he and his wife Anna were still grieving over the death of their son. Horatio was a lawyer in Chicago, and friend of the famous preacher D. L. Moody. He had invested heavily in real estate. So when the Great Chicago Fire happened, it meant that he lost almost everything he owned.

Second tragedy: The four daughters died

Two years later, in 1873, Spafford decided his family should take a holiday in Europe, and knowing that Moody would preach in England in the fall, he decided to take his family there. However, he was delayed because of business, so he sent his family on ahead of him: his wife Anna, and his four daughters Tanetta, Maggie, Annie and Bessie. On November 21, 1873, while crossing the Atlantic on the S.S. Ville Du Havre, the ship was struck by an iron sailing vessel and two hundred and twenty six people lost their lives, including all four of Spafford’s daughters. Somehow his wife, Anna, survived. On arriving in England, she sent a telegram to Horatio with the words “Saved alone.”

Spafford then himself took a ship to England, going past the place where his daughters had died. According to his daughter, Bertha Spafford, the hymn was written in 1873 in mid-Atlantic.

Below are the lyrics of the hymn It Is Well With My Soul done by Spafford. The original manuscript has the four verses below, but Spafford’s daughter states how later another verse was added and one of the lines of the original was slightly modified.

It Is Well with My Soul
(Music and slide show;
Original Hymn Manuscript)

1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,
“It is well, it is well with my soul”

Chorus: It is well (it is well) with my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul. (Repeat chorus)

3. My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross,and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! (Repeat chorus)

4. And Lord haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound,and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.(Repeat chorus)

The music, by Philip Bliss, was named after the ship on which his daughters had all died, Ville Du Havre.

The American Colony in Jerusalem

In August 1881, the Spaffords set out for Jerusalem as a party of 13 adults and 3 children and set up an American Colony there.

From The Library of Congress Exhibition Overview:

Moved by a series of profound tragic losses, Chicago natives Anna and Horatio Spafford led a small American contingent in 1881 to Jerusalem to form a Christian utopian society known as the “American Colony.” Colony members, later joined by Swedish Christians, engaged in philanthropic work amongst the people of Jerusalem regardless of their religious affiliation and without proselytizing motives–thereby gaining the trust of the local Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities. During and immediately after World War I, the American Colony played a critical role in supporting these communities through the great suffering and deprivations of the eastern front by running soup kitchens, hospitals, orphanages and other charitable ventures.

A Toast for the New Year to Two DC Circuit Appeals Court Judges

Filed under: OH-02 US House,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:02 pm

Here’s something to toast as the New Year rolls in: Pretense has consequences.

This news should greatly please anyone who is irritated by presumptions of privilege asserted by those who either don’t deserve it or no longer have it. But readers who recall Ohio’s Second District GOP primary battles of 2005 and 2006 will especially appreciate the deliciousness of this Saturday Wall Street Journal editorial gem (bolds are mine; requires subscription), and the situation that gave rise to it:

The Former Magnificent Seven

As the clock moved toward midnight in the judicial year yesterday, two federal appeals court judges (from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — Ed.) issued an exquisite, brief ruling that should have members of the legal fraternity clucking from Manhattan to San Francisco.

Judges David Sentelle and Ray Randolph ruled that the amicus briefs filed by seven former federal judges on behalf of dozens of Guantanamo detainees in their lawsuits against the U.S. government were impermissible. Why? Because the erstwhile judicial seven had appended the title “judge” before their names in the filings and thereby stood, or sat, in violation of Advisory Opinion No. 72 of the Committee on Codes of Conduct, which holds that a former judge should forbear using the title “judge” in the courts.

….. Indeed, a footnote to Friday’s ruling quotes Advisory Opinion No. 72, warning against the special aura such amici may emit: “A litigant whose lawyer is called ‘Mr.’ and whose adversary’s lawyer is called ‘Judge,’ may reasonably lose a degree of confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”

To say the least. We see little reason why that endless roster of former judges, ambassadors, generals and the like shouldn’t approach the bench as do the rest of us. These seven should feel free to refile their opinions, as Mr., Ms., or whatever.

Second District voters can logically add “former congressmen” to the list in the Journal’s last paragraph, and savor the moment. The US District Court should call this its “Bob McEwen Ruling.”

Seems like I’m not the only person annoyed by people who try to hold on to titles they’re not entitled to claim, whether they’re “approaching the bench,” or “approaching the voters” (McEwen in 2005, McEwen in 2006). Plus, in the case of elections, we’re not talking about a “Code of Conduct,” or common courtesy, we’re talking about the law [scroll down to 3517.21(b)(1)].

So, let’s raise our glasses to Sentelle and Randolph. I know it’s early, but Bottoms Up. :–>


UPDATE: This has generated quite a bit of the “clucking” the Journal anticipated over at Althouse.

Positivity: Top 10 Youth Sports Stories of 2006

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:59 am

Dan Abrams, a law professor at the University of Missouri at Columbia, does a list like this every year (last year’s was a Positivity post here).

This year he concentrated on exemplary conduct seen in youth sports. Good for him:

Kids in Sports: Who Did Themselves Proud
Wednesday, December 13, 2006

They continue to make headlines: parents facing jail time for assaulting coaches, referees or other parents at games for children as young as 6. Some observers take these incidents as evidence that participation in sports actually can damage the character of children as they grow up.

I disagree. After coaching for nearly 40 years, I know that most parents and the adults who supervise kids in sports successfully teach fair play and instill good values through athletic competition. My annual “Top 10″ list profiles youth athletes who demonstrated these values from coast to coast in 2006:

10. Sophomore Aaron Boss lost in the finals to Michaela Hutchison, the first girl to win an Alaska state high school wrestling title against boys. “I don’t look at it as losing to a girl,” said Boss. “I lost to a wrestler.”

9. The South County (Va.) Raptors football team was disqualified from the playoffs after the league commissioner fired the team’s coach. The coach’s offense? Shifting the commissioner’s son from defense to offense for a game. “I own the league,” the commissioner reportedly said, and “the entire league exists so he can play defense.”

The commissioner offered to hire another coach so the team could compete in the playoffs, but the kids rejected the offer. According to 13-year-old linebacker Michael Holland, the fired coach “is nice. He listens.” The commissioner subsequently backed down, rehiring the coach (and his staff) for the playoffs.

8. Freshman distance runner Sarah Lopez of Hacienda Heights (Calif.) was named the winner of a high school race after the initial winner was disqualified for cutting her off. But Lopez knew that the fault for the incident was hers, so she gave her medal to the disqualified opponent. Said Lopez’ coach: “Kids will make the right decision” when given the opportunity.

7. The Roberson High School (N.C.) boys’ soccer team scored an apparent goal to defeat a rival battling them for the conference title. But when Roberson players told their coach that the ball actually never crossed the goal line, the coach declined the goal, and the game ended in a 1-1 tie. “I’d rather have a tie than win on an unfair call,” said John Mitchell, the student who took the shot.

6. Drew Cvancara disqualified himself from his North Dakota high school’s regional golf tournament by reporting that his recorded score of six on one hole should have been a seven because he hit out of bounds twice. If the senior had remained silent, he would have qualified for the state tournament by one stroke.

5. Teams of the Central Missouri Eagles Youth Hockey Association – I serve as their coaching director – collected hundreds of stuffed animals and delivered them, one by one, to hospitalized, abused and neglected children. The Eagles “play to win,” said 12-year-old Haley Bartow, “but we also play to help other kids out.”

The Jefferson City-based Eagles received an “Honor the Game” award from the national Positive Coaching Alliance at Stanford University and a special proclamation from the Missouri Legislature on the floor of the state House of Representatives.

4. Senior Kevin Pawlos, an honors student and hockey all-star at Bishop Canevin High School near Pittsburgh, won a $500 scholarship for his athletic accomplishments. He donated the money to his coach, whose wife had just given birth to a disabled child.

3. Adam Callahan, a varsity wrestler at Carlisle High School in Ohio, also plays soccer and tennis. Born with dwarfism, he stands 4 feet, 8 inches tall. When he was 12, he declined surgery to make him taller because “this is the way God made me.”

2. After winning a tournament, the Whitestown (N.Y.) Wolfpack pee wee hockey team voted unanimously to send its trophy and a sympathy card signed by the 11- to 12-year-olds to a team that had withdrawn from the tournament a week earlier after one of its players died.

1. Eleven Centralia High School (Ill.) varsity football players were working on a community recyling project when a pickup truck slid off a hydraulic lift at the store where they were collecting used tires. A mechanic was trapped underneath. The players lifted the multi-ton vehicle off the man, saving his life. Player Travis Patten dismissed suggestions that they were heroes. “If I was in that spot,” he said, “someone would have done it for me.”

* * *

Sarah Lopez’s coach is right about kids making honorable choices, but those choices are result of values instilled in them by millions of parents and coaches. Those adults join the children as quiet heroes of youth sports for 2006.