Friday, May 26, 2017

2017 Lecture: Know the Past to Understand the Future

Last weekend, my family and I attended our state homeschooling convention.  While there, I delivered a lecture called Know the Past to Understand the Future.


"Have you ever wondered why you should study history? While it is interesting to see how people lived in the past, what other uses does history have? Join historian Jordan Jachim in exploring the importance of history in this lecture. Knowledge of the past can help us make decisions in the future, avoiding errors that previous generations have committed. “Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.” But history can also encourage us. While one act of kindness to a stranger sometimes seems insignificant, did you know that this resulted in the discovery of a hidden cache of treasure during World War II? History can also educate us and entertain us, but most importantly, it shows us how faithful God has been in guiding our lives."


The recording is now available for sale (at https://www.alliancerecordings.com/detail.cfm?context=Recordings&cid=58&RID=2157) and I do not make any money if you purchase it.  This lecture was accompanied by a slide presentation.  If you would like a copy of my slides, just contact me.
A piece of artwork I created for one of the slides

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Tests of Peter Pevensie


I have been a Narnian fan for many years, and Peter Pevensie is one of my two favorite characters (the other is Reepicheep).  In the 2005 movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Peter Pevensie embarks on a journey that will result in overcoming his flaws.  I will assume that you are familiar with the original story from either book or movie (if not, find some time to read the one or watch the other, or preferably, do both).  Peter’s first test occurs during the air-raid.  Edmund runs back into the house to recover his father’s photo, and Peter chases him out of a sense of duty, not brotherly love.  As the Pevensies settle in to the house of Professor Kirke, Peter tries to comfort and encourage Lucy.  Even though he does not believe her stories about Narnia, he is sorry to have to tell her to stop pretending.  But Peter and Edmund continue to have friction in the Professor’s house and then when all four enter Narnia.


Peter is angry when Edmund runs off alone to the White Witch’s castle, yet there is a hint of brotherly love in his desire to charge the castle single-handed to rescue Edmund.  This would be suicidal and Mr. and Mrs. Beaver lead the three Pevensies to meet Aslan.  Peter is given a sword and shield by Father Christmas, then they proceed to cross the frozen river.  They are ambushed by the White Witch’s wolves under Maugrim, and Peter faces him down with his sword.  Susan (who is still hoping to return safely to England) dissuades Peter from fighting the wolf, but Peter shows initiative by shepherding his siblings to safety on a floating ice floe.


Meeting Aslan
The three siblings and the Beavers arrive at Aslan’s camp, where they meet the Great Lion himself.  Aslan asks where the fourth Pevenise is, and Mr. Beaver states that Edmund has betrayed them.  This may be the turning-point for Peter.  He sheathes his sword (which had been at the salute) and confesses that his harshness to Edmund had contributed to Edmund’s betrayal.


Aslan shows Peter the castle of Cair Paravel, where the four are to be Kings and Queens, but Peter is doubtful of his fitness for this responsibility.  Aslan encourages Peter “You brought them [your siblings] safely this far,” but Peter’s test comes in the next moment.


Maugrim and another wolf have chased Susan and Lucy Pevensie into a large tree and Peter runs to their rescue.  Maugrim is cynical of Peter’s ability—“Come on, we’ve already been through this before”, but Peter fights and kills him.  For his valor, Aslan knights him Sir Peter Wolf’s-Bane.


"Aslan believed you could...and so do I"
Edmund is rescued and Aslan sacrifices himself for him.  The White Witch and her hordes prepare to crush Aslan’s army, and Peter is forced into a major decision: fight or withdraw?  Edmund is Peter’s councilor, stating “there’s an army out there, and it’s ready to follow you.”  Again Peter is doubtful, but Edmund reminds him “Aslan believed you could,” and in a moment of forgiveness on both sides, “and so do I.” 


With the support of his brother, Peter commits the army to battle.  The battle rages and at a crucial moment, a dismounted Peter is targeted by the White Witch.  She is armed with a magic wand that can turn living creatures into stone.  Edmund had seen her do this to a fox and a Faun and knows that she will attack Peter.  Jumping down from a rocky outcropping, Edmund smashes the Witch’s wand.  Furiously, the Witch turns on Edmund, badly wounding him.


The Kings and Queens of Narnia
Peter sees the entire exchange, and now he runs to his brother’s defense—but not out of duty this time.  This time, Peter is motivated by brotherly love.  As Peter and the Witch duel, Aslan (who has come back to life) arrives with reinforcements, who rout the Witch’s army.  The four Pevensies are then happily crowned Kings and Queens at Cair Paravel.


The problems that Peter Pevensie faces are not unfamiliar to many of us. We interact with our siblings and often feel overwhelmed when great responsibilities are laid on our shoulders.  Yet it should be noted that Peter’s turning point occurs after he meets Aslan.  Much as we can try to manage our flaws and shortcomings, only Jesus Christ can truly set us free from them.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Bavarian Flags at Blenheim (1704)


The Elector of Bavaria charges into battle
In the battle of Blenheim, the Elector of Bavaria and his French allies were defeated by the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene.  Nine Bavarian flags were captured in the course of the battle, and they were listed in a London newspaper as follows:


"Nine standards of blue satin, richly embroidered with the Bavarian arms; six belonging to the Elector's own troops, and three to those of Cologne, having the following devices and mottoes."
1st. A laurel; motto, Aut Coronari aut rumpi.
2d. An olive-tree on a rock; motto, Per Ardua Laurus.
3d. A pillar reaching to the clouds; motto, Tantum Umbra movetur.
4th. A bear rampant; motto, Ex Vulnere Crudelior.
5th. A dove with a laurel branch; motto, Uni servo fidem.
6th. A chaos; motto, Obstantia firmant.
7th. A helmet with a feather on a pedestal; motto, Ex duris Gloria.
8th. An olive-tree shading serpents; motto, Nocet Umbra nocenti.
9th. A standard of the Elector's guards with the colour torn to pieces."


The source for this report is The Historical Record of the 5th, or Princess Charlotte of Wales' Regiment of Dragoon Guards, available at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/54607/54607-h/54607-h.htm

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Book Review: Crescent Tides by J. Aaron Gruben

How far would you go to defend the life you knew in the past?

The year is 1562, and Europe is at war with the Ottoman Turks. The climax of this war is the famous naval battle of Lepanto, where the Holy League decisively defeated the Ottoman navy. But what if Lepanto had turned out differently? What if the Turks had defeated the Holy League’s fleet? What impact would this have on Europe? Enter Crescent Tides, a historical novel dealing with these very questions. 

Dr. Calvin “Cal” Schmitt is an ordinary, overworked, veterinarian living in the heart of New Mexico. His life is one unending treadmill of sick animals, irate owners, and overwork in massive quantities. At last he gets a welcome “break” out of the office to visit a sick horse on a man’s property. While setting up, his overcurious technician Fred Kawalkowitz pulls on a bridle in the tack room, opening a door and revealing another room. Dr. Schmitt’s passenger, an ultra-liberal doctor named Sara Perez moves to investigate the room, and sets her feet on a strange device. As Schmitt grabs for her, they are both shot back into time to 1562 and the battle of Lepanto.

The two time travellers are quickly followed by Fred, and discover that they are aboard the La Real, the flagship of the Holy League in a naval battle against the Ottoman Turks. Before they have time to take it all in, a group of armed time travellers appears aboard La Real. With machine guns, they massacre the crew and turn La Real into a Turkish ship. The Holy League, distracted by the takeover of their flagship, is obliterated by the Ottoman fleet. Now nothing stands in the way of a Turkish conquest of Europe. Nothing, that is, except for Dr. Calvin Schmitt.


Knights and Janissaries of the 16th century will forge strange alliances with 21st Century men and their “magic arquebuses.” But whether wielding swords or automatic rifles, each warrior fights for a certain way of life—and these two philosophies will clash on the battlefield.

This book explores several interesting themes: the difference between the 16th and 21st centuries, nobility and knightly conduct, the Crusades, how our decisions affect the future, and the differences between Christianity and Islam. But one of the book’s most powerful themes revolves around trusting a personal God vs. resigning oneself to an inevitable—and impersonal—fate. This was definitely the high point of the book for me.

I enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it. 4/5 stars


Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe: Lessons of Sacrifice

The theme of sacrifice is woven into C. S. Lewis’ book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and the filmmakers who adapted it for a 2005 movie kept this important element. In fact, they amplified it by including more examples than were given in the book. In the movie, we first see sacrifice during the air-raid. Edmund returns to the house to get his dad’s picture, and Peter accompanies him back to the safety of the Pevensies’ bomb shelter.



In Narnia, Mr. Tumnus sacrifices his security to guide Lucy back to the lamp-post after he attempted to kidnap her. When all four of the Pevensie children--Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy--arrive in Narnia, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver then put themselves at risk to help these four.  They are betrayed by Edmund, who joins the evil White Witch, and a fox sacrifices himself to draw the Witch’s Secret Police off on a false scent.




But the most important example of sacrifice in this movie comes when Aslan the royal lion chooses to die so that Edmund, the traitor who joined the Witch, can go free. This is a parallel to what Jesus Christ has done for sinners, including me. Once I was a sinner who looked down on and snubbed almost all of the people in the world. They lived in the wrong countries, read the wrong books, knew the wrong friends.  This is obviously opposed to Jesus’ command to “love thy neighbor as thyself." (see Mark 12:31)  But Jesus Christ set me free from those chains just like Aslan saved Edmund from the White Witch’s vengeance.



Near the end of the movie, the Pevensie siblings and Aslan's army engage the Witch's cohorts in a climactic battle, which shows several instances of duty and sacrifice. When Peter’s white unicorn is shot with an arrow, it bucks, sending him flying directly into the path of the Witch’s hordes. To give Peter time to regain his army, the valiant centaur Oreius and a rhinoceros charge headlong at the enemy, ultimately sacrificing themselves (the rhinoceros is wounded and Oreius turned to stone) to help Peter.



As the battle rages, Edmund sees the Witch sneaking toward Peter, who is heavily engaged in the fighting.  She wants to turn him to stone with her magic wand. Edmund ambushes her and breaks her wand into splinters. The White Witch stabs Edmund, badly wounding him, but Peter charges to his brother's assistance.  He then duels the Witch in an epic swordfight.


All of these lessons should be exhibited in our own lives.  We do not have to duel the White Witch with swords, but oftentimes we need to sacrifice in other ways.  Washing dishes, volunteering in thankless positions, being patient with those who are impatient--all of these are a sacrifice just as much as Oreius's charge or the Beavers' hospitality.



Monday, March 13, 2017

Jacobite Flag--Edinburgh Volunteers


Photo by Kim Traynor, licensed under a
Creative Commons 3.0 License
This post continues on the theme of flags used during the Jacobite Rising of 1745.  This flag is recorded as being used by the Edinburgh Regiment when it attempted to defend the Scottish capital.  The regiment as a whole never saw any fighting service, though some volunteers from Edinburgh did fight in Cope's army at Prestonpans.

This is my recreation of the flag.  It is an old Covenanter flag (likely from the English Civil War), as its inscription "Covenants for Religion, King, and Kingdomes" testifies.  If it originally dates from the English Civil War, that would mean that this flag had not been flown for almost 100 years.  If you would like a wargame unit of Edinburgh Volunteers to fly this flag, feel free; however, I would appreciate credit as artist of this flag's recreation :).  There are still more Jacobite flags to recreate...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Flag of the Yorkshire Hunters Regiment in 1745

During the Jacobite invasion of England in 1745, many loyal Whigs (supporters of George II) raised regiments of troops to aid their king against his competitor, Bonnie Prince Charlie. On 24 September 1745, several Whig gentlemen of Yorkshire decided to raise a unit to aid George II. Their contribution included both a regiment of foot called the Yorkshire Blues, and a regiment of cavalry called the Yorkshire Hunters. I detailed the flag of the Yorkshire Blues in a previous post (see http://defendingthelegacy.blogspot.com/2017/01/flag-of-yorkshire-blues-regiment-in-1745.html) and am now recreating the flag of the Yorkshire Hunters.
Detail of the Yorkshire Hunters Flag

A unique eyewitness engraving shows the Yorkshire Blues and Hunters on parade, with glorious detail of their colours. I am focusing here on the Hunters' colours. In the engraving, they are carried by the squadron (see the detail picture at right). While this view is leaves most of the details unknown. the artist included a "close-up" of the flag's details in a cartouche near the bottom of the picture.

The center of the flag is occupied by a burst of flames with thunderbolts emanating from it. This device was also used in the flag of the French Compagnies Franches de la Marine. (1) I do not know what connection, if any, this device has to Yorkshire or its nobility. Nevertheless, this is certainly what is depicted in the engraving.

Since the engraving is in black and white, some artistic license had to be used to render the flag into color. The flames and thunderbolts are depicted in their natural colors, following the Compagnies Franches de la Marine flag. However, the ground and border of the flag was more difficult. I chose green for the ground and red for the border, with golden fringes. Why?
The flag carried by the regiment

Green appears to be a distinguishing color for the Yorkshire Hunters. While their coats were blue with red cuffs, they wore green cockades. (2) Green cockades are highly unusual, particularly in the midst of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, where white cockades and black cockades marked Jacobites and Hanoverians, respectively. Stuart Reid (3) suggests that these were adopted as a compliment to General Oglethorpe. However, the color green was also associated with hunters in military service. Examples from 1745 include the Prussian Feldjager corps, the infantry of the Chausseurs de Fischer, and, in Great Britain, the mounted Georgia Rangers, who were brigaded with the Yorkshire Hunters. Perhaps this color was intended to mark their “hunter” status, for many of the troopers were fox-hunting gentlemen. (4)

My reconstruction of the Yorkshire Hunters flag


Regardless of why green cockades were chosen, they did distinguish the Yorkshire Hunters and therefore I have colored the flag’s field green. The original illustration shows a definite border around the flag, and this I have colored red, just like the Hunters’ facing color. The fringe is gold, based on a slightly later (1751 Warrant) convention that the metallic fringe follow the unit’s button color: gold buttons, gold fringe on the flag. (5)

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who commented on my previous Yorkshire Blues flag. All your comments encouraged me and I fully intend to continue creating Jacobite flags from contemporary illustrations or existent relics. Stay tuned!


If you are a wargamer and would like to deploy a Yorkshire Hunters flag in your armies, go ahead; however, an attribution to the artist would be appreciated :).


Notes
(1) http://kronoskaf.com/syw/index.php?title=Colonial_Compagnies_Franches_de_la_Marine
(2) Reid, Stuart, Cumberland's Culloden Army 1745-46.  Oxford: Osprey, 2012. pg. 46.
(3) ibid., pg. 46
(4)Duffy, Christopher, Fight for a Throne: the Jacobite '45 Reconsidered. West Midlands: Helion and Co, 2015, pg. 346
(5) British Regimental Drums and Colors has reproduced the 1751 Clothing Warrant at http://www.fifedrum.org/crfd/BD_1.htm