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Fox’s Empire, the show no one ever heard of, which used to star someone we’d never heard of — until a few months ago — comes to an end in 2020.

Who can argue with this assessment?

Jussie Smollett, who played Jamal Lyon, was reportedly paid $60k per episode.

These days Smollett is likely sitting at home, because of his hoax crime in Chicago.

Vanity Fair summarises the situation well (emphases mine):

Smollett’s troubles began in late January, when the actor was hospitalized following what he claimed was a racist, homophobic attack. Police initially investigated the incident as a possible hate crime, but eventually set their sights on Smollett, arresting him on 16 counts of disorderly conduct. Weeks later, the charges were abruptly dropped—though Smollett and his legal team have continued to battle lawsuits from multiple parties, including the city of Chicago. In the midst of all of this, Smollett’s character was written off of the last couple episodes of Empire’s fifth season.

Deadline explains that Smollett’s character could be written back into the show’s sixth — and final — season, but there are no plans at present to do so:

… Fox Entertainment and now Disney-owned 20th Century Fox TV “negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for Season 6.”

However, with Jamal already written out of the final two episodes of Season 5 months ago as the situation around him grew more convoluted, the network and the studio added on April 30 that “at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to Empire.”

Now there are no more plans for Empire to return to Fox beyond its next upcoming cycle, a fact that would have seemed absurd just a few years ago. In its first and second seasons, the  blockbuster drew big number from almost every facet. In fact, breaking the status quo of steady decline, for a while Empire was on a winning trajectory of growing almost every week in the ratings to hit new highs.

Not surprisingly, Fox Entertainment’s CEO did not discuss Smollett. From The Independent on Tuesday, May 14, 2019:

“We are turning the final season of Empire into a large television event,” Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier told a teleconference on Monday.

“One of the great benefits of announcing a final season is that you actually allow the fans to lean in and have the ending they deserve.” 

Collier dodged questions about Smollett’s future in the show. Earlier this year, the actor was accused of allegedly staging an attack in which he said two masked men beat him, hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him, doused him with a chemical substance and put a rope around his neck.

The hoax was difficult to believe from the start. First, it took place on the coldest night in recorded weather history. Secondly, no one would ever describe Chicago, a city full of Democrats, as ‘MAGA country’. Stupidity on stilts.

On Tuesday, May 14, 2019, Zogby Analytics published a poll showing that President Trump’s popularity continues to rise:

Even the British noticed:

Larry Elder posted the link to Zogby’s findings:

Zogby’s article says, in part (emphases mine):

A new Zogby Poll® of 852 likely voters nationwide in the U.S., conducted from 5/2/19-5/9/19, with a margin of sampling error of +/-3.4 percentage points, shows President Trump’s job approval rating at its best since we’ve been tracking the figure

President Trump’s job approval rating has seen a post Mueller report boost! We called it a few weeks ago. But that’s not the complete story as to why the president has reached a peak in his job approval rating. Trump is also riding high on positive economic news-a record high stock market, low unemployment, and solid GDP growth at home. At the moment President Trump’s approval rating is higher than Obama’s at the same point in his presidency-Zogby Analytics had President Obama at 48% approve/52% disapprove on 05/09/2011.

Also:

One of the demographics to give Trump a very good job performance rating were self-identified social networkers (59% approve/40% disapprove-people who engage with social media). Trump has a huge following on Twitter and often utilizes his Twitter account to frequently get his message across to the public. The president also made strides with college educated voters (55% approve/45% disapprove), and saw support increase slightly with non-college educated voters (47% approve/50% disapprove).

Great news for 2020!

Bible openThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Acts 27:9-12

Since much time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous because even the Fast[a] was already over, Paul advised them, 10 saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” 11 But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. 12 And because the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in, the majority decided to put out to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing both southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there.

———————————————————————————————————————

The first eight verses of Acts 27 describe the beginning of Paul’s and Luke’s voyage to Rome from Caesarea. Festus, the Roman governor, allowed Luke, the author of Acts, to accompany his good friend Paul on the journey. The centurion in charge of the ship, Julius, was also well disposed towards the Apostle.

The weather at this time of year, late summer, was unpredictable for sea voyages. In mid-September, seafaring became dangerous. By mid-November, sea voyages stopped until early the following year.

They had spent a few weeks at Fair Havens — Kalous Limenas — near the city of Lasea waiting for better prospects. Now, the Fast — the Jewish Day of Atonement — was already over. This would have been in the early autumn, and it was time to make a decision whether to stay or go (verse 9).

John MacArthur explains this next part of the voyage (emphases mine):

Now we come to stage two. If stage one is the start, stage two is the stay. Here they are in Fair Havens, taking on supplies and waiting for a change of winds. And they’re getting anxious to go to Rome. I mean they want to get to Rome, you see, before the season ends. They want to get to Rome before the winter comes. You see what happens is if they can’t get to Rome, then this fellow who is running the ship is going to have to take care of the whole crew for the winter. And that means three to four months in harbor before they can get off again.

In addition to that, to be stuck in Fair Havens would be absolute disaster. It was open, it was exposed to the winds of the sea. It was not a commodious harbor, as it says in verse 12. It wasn’t a good place to spend the winter. And nothing was happening there; no fun and games in Fair Havens. Plus there was a sort of a desire to make a little money on the deal. If the ship had been owned, indeed, as some indicate by its captain, he would have wanted to get his supplies there as fast as possible and get his money and not have to spend the whole winter paying these people for idleness. And so they wanted to gamble and they figured we’re going to try to make it. If we could just get a change of wind we’ll take off.

Now verse 9. “Now when much time was spent,” – Now, we don’t know how much time, but plenty of time. Maybe weeks went by, maybe more. Very likely at least a month – “and when sailing was now dangerous,” — Now notice. If they got there sometime at the end of August, and a month passed, the notation that Luke makes now is they’re in the dangerous season. They’re in the period of time when to sail is dangerous. Then he adds – “because the fast was already passed.” The fast is referenced to the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, the Jewish fast.

If you know anything about Jewish history you’ll remember that Yom Kippur occurs on the 10th day of the 7th month of the Jewish calendar, which is the month of Tishri. That falls into the Roman calendar at the end of September or the beginning of October. In A.D. 59 we know, historically, that Yom Kippur was on October 5th. If this is the year, then A.D. 59, it is already after October 5th. They are well into the dangerous season for trying to cross the open sea. Any attempt now would really be a gamble.

Paul, having been a passenger on many ships during his ministry, warned them that leaving Fair Havens would result in a perilous voyage, causing not only injury and loss of cargo but also the ship — and lives (verse 10).

However, Julius, the centurion, was more interested in what the ship’s pilot and captain had to say on the matter (verse 11).

Matthew Henry’s commentary elaborates:

They would not be advised by Paul in this matter, Acts 27:11. They thought him impertinent in interposing in an affair of this nature, who did not understand navigation; and the centurion to whom it was referred to determine it, though himself a passenger, yet, being a man in authority, takes upon him to overrule, though he had not been oftener at sea perhaps than Paul, nor was better acquainted with these seas, for Paul had planted the gospel in Crete (Titus 1:5), and knew the several parts of the island well enough. But the centurion gave more regard to the opinion of the master and owner of the ship than to Paul’s; for every man is to be credited in his own profession ordinarily: but such a man as Paul, who was so intimate with Heaven, was rather to be regarded in seafaring matters than the most celebrated sailors. Note, Those know not what dangers they run themselves into who will be governed more by human prudence than by divine revelation. The centurion was very civil to Paul (Acts 27:3), and yet would not be governed by his advice. Note, Many will show respect to good ministers that will not take their advice, Ezekiel 33:31.

MacArthur explains the pilot and captain relationship. In his translation, the words used are ‘master’ and ‘owner’:

Now, those two words master and owner are very difficult to translate because they are obscure words. The best translation of the word master, in my mind, is sailing master or pilot. This is the man who was responsible for steering and navigating. And the word owner is not really the word for owner but probably should be translated captain. So that the thing would say the pilot and the captain. Now in some cases, the captain was an owner, if in fact it was a private vessel. But if it was one of the imperial fleet grain ships he would be simply the captain.

The word is used only here. It’s not the common word for owner, but has to do probably with him as the captain. And if he was the owner he probably was also the captain, but it seems best to see it perhaps as a Roman ship, and these two would be the sailing master or the pilot and the captain. And the centurion agrees with them. And you really can’t blame the guy. I mean they were the experts, right? You can’t blame the centurion for believing the navigator and the captain. And so he does.

Because Fair Havens was not a destination in which to spend the winter, the majority decided to sail to the port of Phoenix — Phenice, present day Lutro — on the island of Crete to spend the winter there (verse 12).

Phenice is a derivation of ‘palm tree’.

Henry says that the ship’s crew would have made the decision to set sail. He also has more information on Phenice and the appeal of Crete as a winter destination:

Some of the ship’s crew, or of the council that was called to advise in this matter, were for staying there, rather than venturing to sea now that the weather was so uncertain: it is better to be safe in an incommodious harbour than to be lost in a tempestuous sea. But they were outvoted when it was put to the question, and the greater part advised to depart thence also; yet they aimed not to go far, but only to another port of the same island, here called PheniceIt is here described to lie towards the south-west and north-west. Probably the haven was between the two promontories or juttings-out of land into the sea, one of which pointed to the north-west and the other to the south-west, by which it was guarded against the east winds. Thus hath the wisdom of the Creator provided for the relief and safety of those who go down to the sea in ships, and do business in great waters. In vain had nature provided for us the waters to sail on, if it had not likewise provided for us natural harbours to take shelter in.

MacArthur says:

Phoenicia is the ancient name of the coastline of Israel. That’s not the translation that’s best. It should be … Phenice, which was a port 40 miles down Crete. Forty miles further along the island was the port of Phenice …

Historians tell us that anciently the only place in the winter that was a comfortable place to stay was on Crete.

The story continues next week. Was there ever a time, post-conversion, when Paul erred in his speech? No.

Next time — Acts 27:13-20

What follows are readings for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 19, 2019.

These are for Year C in the three-year Lectionary used in public worship.

Emphases below mine.

First reading

This scene in Jerusalem took place after Peter had converted the Roman centurion Cornelius and his household (here, here, here, here, here and here). The first 18 verses of Acts 18 are not included in the Lectionary readings that the Episcopal Church uses, so I wrote about them as being ‘Forbidden Bible Verses’. Fortunately, they are part of the standard readings for other denominations:

Forbidden Bible Verses — Acts 11:1-18

Acts 11:1-18

11:1 Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God.

11:2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him,

11:3 saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?”

11:4 Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying,

11:5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me.

11:6 As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air.

11:7 I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’

11:8 But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’

11:9 But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’

11:10 This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven.

11:11 At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were.

11:12 The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house.

11:13 He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter;

11:14 he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’

11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning.

11:16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’

11:17 If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?”

11:18 When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”

Psalm

This beautiful Psalm calls upon all creation to abundantly praise God.

Psalm 148

148:1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights!

148:2 Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host!

148:3 Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars!

148:4 Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!

148:5 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.

148:6 He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

148:7 Praise the LORD from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps,

148:8 fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!

148:9 Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!

148:10 Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!

148:11 Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!

148:12 Young men and women alike, old and young together!

148:13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven.

148:14 He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his faithful, for the people of Israel who are close to him. Praise the LORD!

Epistle

In the continuing series of readings from Revelation, we move from John’s imagery of Christ Jesus as the Lamb of God to the ‘Alpha and the Omega’ and the ‘new Jerusalem’.

Revelation 21:1-6

21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

21:2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them;

21:4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”

21:5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

21:6 Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.

Gospel

This took place at the Last Supper, after Jesus dismissed Judas.

John 13:31-35

13:31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.

13:32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.

13:33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’

13:34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.

13:35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

This is another set of uplifting readings for Eastertide, which should give us continued joy about our Lord: the Resurrection and the Life.

stdunstanDo you ever wonder about the origin of displaying ‘lucky’ horseshoes near a door?

I always thought it was pagan superstition.

However, the origin lies in a legend about St Dunstan — whose feast day is on May 19 — and the devil.

St Dunstan’s two encounters with the devil are said to have taken place in Mayfield, East Sussex. VillageNet has a detailed description of Mayfield’s history, including the legends about Dunstan (emphases mine):

The saint, formerly a blacksmith, was working at his forge when the Devil paid him a visit, disguised as a beautiful woman, with a view to leading him astray. However St Dunstan spotted the cloven hooves beneath the dress, and grabbed the devil’s nose with his red hot pincers! thus foiling Satan’s evil intentions. According to another legend, Satan returned again as a weary traveller in need of a horseshoe, Dunstan saw through the disguise once again and beat the Devil until he pleaded for mercy, and swore never to enter any house with a horseshoe above the door.

St Dunstan’s Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Atlanta has this variation on the legends:

He was the most popular saint in England for nearly two centuries, having gained fame for the many stories of his greatness, not least among which were those concerning his famed cunning in defeating the Devil.

English literature contains many references to him, for example in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and in this folk rhyme:



St Dunstan, as the story goes,
Once pull’d the devil by the nose
With red-hot tongs, which made him roar,
That he was heard three miles or more.

Another story relates how Dunstan nailed a horseshoe to the Devil’s hoof when he was asked to re-shoe the Devil’s horse. This caused the Devil great pain, and Dunstan only agreed to remove the shoe and release the Devil after he promised never to enter a place where a horseshoe is over the door. This is claimed as the origin of the lucky horseshoe.

In 1871, Edward G Flight wrote a humorous poem about the legends with accompanying text, which is equally amusing. The renowned George Cruikshank provided the illustrations (see one on the right, courtesy of CatholicSaints.Info). The Horse Shoe: The True Legend of Saint Dunstan and the Devil, Showing How the Horse-Shoe Came to Be a Charm Against Witchcraft is worth a look. Here is an excerpt of the text (emphases in the original):

To all good folk in Christendom to whom this instrument shall come the Devil sendeth greeting: Know ye that for himself and heirs said Devil covenants and declares, that never at morn or evening prayers at chapel church or meeting, never where concords of sweet sound sacred or social flow around or harmony is woo’d, nor where the Horse-Shoe meets his sight on land or sea by day or night on lowly sill or lofty pinnacle on bowsprit helm mast boom or binnacle, said Devil will intrude.

Flight’s work includes a letter from ‘a friend’ describing the virtues of the noble horse and how the horseshoe repels the devil (emphases mine):

… In proportion as they developed unblemished honour, with undaunted bravery, graceful bearing, and magnanimous generosity, were they deemed worthy to rank among Christendom’s bright chivalry.

The horse-shoe was, no doubt, regarded as typical of the noble qualities of its wearer. These being so hateful to the ugly, sly, intriguing, slandering, malevolent, ill-conditioned, pettifogging, pitiful arch-enemy, it might well be supposed that the mere apparition of that type would scare him away. To this supposition is ascribable the adoption of the horse-shoe, as an infallible charm against the visits of old Iniquity.”

The Drinks Business has a good page on St Dunstan and provides us with a more recent, although doubtful, story concerning the holy man and the devil. This, they say, was popular during the past two centuries. It concerns the frost that occurs in the West Country in England around St Dunstan’s feast day, May 19:

The tale was apparently particularly popular in Devon in the 19th and 20th centuries and goes thus.

Dunstan had bought some barley and made some beer, which he then hoped to sell for a good price. Seeing this the Devil appeared before him and offered to blight the local apple trees with frost (the tale is presumably set in Somerset, perhaps when Dunstan is Abbot of Glastonbury). This would ensure there was no cider and so drive demand for beer. Dunstan accepted the offer but stipulated that the frost should strike from the 17-19 May.

As stories go this comes close to blackening the good name of the saintly man who tweaked the Devil’s nose and the legend likely arose among disgruntled cidermakers who perhaps thought Dunstan wasn’t doing enough to protect their crop on his feast day.

The article also says that, because Dunstan was not only a blacksmith but also a silversmith and jeweller, the London Assay Office used to start its new hallmark year on his feast day:

He was, reputedly, a skilled blacksmith and jeweller and is generally venerated as a patron saint of smiths.

In his various roles as bishop and archbishop he worked hard to restore monastic life in England and reform the English church.

Dying in 988 he was canonised in 1029 and until Thomas Becket’s martyrdom in 1170 he was considered England’s favourite saint.

His association with silversmithing meant that for a good 600 years the London Assay Office hallmarks ran from 19 May (his feast day) to 18 May the following year. This was only changed in 1660 when Charles II moved it to his own birthday, 29 May.

What a fascinating history to a centuries-old legend about the lucky horseshoe.

On Saturday, May 11, 2019, March for Life UK held their annual march in London which finished in Parliament Square:

This march does not receive much publicity from either the media or the Church:

Despite that, the march attracted over 5,000 people:

Despite the running narrative that young people support abortion, that did not appear to be the case last Saturday:

The event also had a number of pro-life speakers, some of whom travel the world for the cause.

Obianuju Ekeocha is one of them:

Melissa Ohden is another:

Britons also spoke in favour of life in the womb:

There was also entertainment:

Workshops were held before the march began at The Emmanuel Centre and Westminster Church House:

The next day — May 12 — was National Children’s Day:

Hundreds of abortions are performed every day in the UK:

Mental health is the subject we rarely hear about when abortion is discussed, yet it is a very important one.

This lady knows from first hand experience and explained it all in her workshop (see above):

Any woman in the UK reading this who needs to talk to someone after their abortion might wish to contact and visit Rachel’s Vineyard in Wetherby, West Yorkshire.

Any Remainers who missed last week’s BBC4 Storyville documentary about Brexit from a Brussels perspective must watch it before voting in the EU election on May 23, 2019.

The two-part documentary was made by Belgian film-maker, Lode Desmet, who spent two years with Guy Verhofstadt and his team in Brussels.

I did not watch it at the time, because it features Verhofstadt, whom I consider to be odious.

At the weekend, I read a British website where two Remainers commented after watching it. Both said they had changed their minds — to NO DEAL! Amazing.

After that, I looked the Storyville documentary up on YouTube, because BBC iPlayer said their videos could not be played at that time. On BBC iPlayer, part one is here and part two is here.

Each part is just under an hour long. I highly recommend them to everyone, particularly Remainers:

 

Conservative MP Mark Francois is absolutely correct:

What follows is part of his article for Brexit Central (emphases mine):

On one occasion – incredibly, bearing in mind he was on camera – one of Verhofstadt’s staffers, exclaimed on hearing that we had agreed to the 585-page so-called “Withdrawal Agreement”, that “We have made them a colony!”. The sheer joy that was evidenced on the faces of the European negotiators when it became apparent that we had acceded to the “Withdrawal Agreement” tells you everything you need to know about why they regarded it as a clear victory over Britain.

Again and again throughout the documentary, the UK’s negotiating tactics are derided by their interlocutors, including the EU’s Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier. The Prime Minister and her team are repeatedly disrespected and only on one occasion – when Dominic Raab took over as the Brexit Secretary – did any of the Europeans appear to believe that we had started to resist …

Verhofstadt and his highly self-satisfied team are then filmed watching the result of the first Meaningful Vote in Parliament in January 2019. When the “Withdrawal Agreement” was defeated by 230 votes (the largest defeat in parliamentary history as it turns out), their disappointment is palpable. The pattern is repeated for MV2 and MV3 – by which time Verhofstadt cannot bear to watch, as he has clearly realised what is going to happen.

I have never doubted that I was right to vote against the “Withdrawal Agreement”, but this dramatic insight only confirmed my deep conviction that we were fighting a surrender to the European Union all along. Indeed, Martin Selmayr, the Secretary General of the European Commission said some time ago (although not in the programme) that “Losing Northern Ireland was the price the UK would pay for Brexit”. It seems on reflection the House of Commons was not prepared to pay this price – and rightly so.

One other thing struck me when I watched the programme – as a patriotic Brit – which was that I could not help but be angered by the sheer arrogance of the people on camera and the utter disdain that they had for our country and its people. I was discussing this only yesterday with a TV producer who is a self-declared Remainer but who told me, in her own words:

I have always been pro-EU and I gladly voted Remain, but when I saw that documentary all I could think was – how dare you talk about us like that, f**k you!

As a media expert, she also volunteered that these people were not in any way self-conscious about being filmed – because they clearly thought that they were doing nothing wrong.

Ultimately:

I would urge every MP and indeed everyone who is thinking of casting a vote in the European Elections on 23rd May (which I hope will be as many people as possible) to watch this programme before deciding how to cast their ballot.

The European elite have completely given themselves away – on camera – and proven once and for all via this programme that 17.4 million people were right all along.

The EU elite do not give a fig about Great Britain and Northern Ireland. They are interested only in our money to fund their lavish Brussels lifestyles.

I am surprised that the BBC even showed this documentary, because it really paints a most unflattering portrait of the EU elite.

Therefore, this is one of those rare times I can honestly say, ‘Thank you, BBC!’

When I was growing up, Chips Ahoy! made its debut on supermarket shelves.

Outside of my mother’s homemade chocolate chip cookies — the absolute best — Chips Ahoy! were my favourite commercial ones.

Mondelēz now own the brand. They also own Cadbury.

On April 16, 2019, CNN reported:

Chewy Chips Ahoy cookies recalled due to ‘unexpected solidified ingredient’

Errgh. Sounds awful.

Fortunately, the culprit is cornflour (emphases mine):

In some instances, the cornstarch in our Chewy Chips Ahoy! recipe did not fully incorporate in the mixing procedure and solidified in the baking process,” company representative Elisabeth Wenner wrote in an email.

The announcement said there have been reports of possible adverse health effects.

Mondelēz said the recall extends throughout the country and pertains to Chewy Chips Ahoy cookies with a “best when used by” date of September 7, 8, 14 and 15. These dates can be found on the top left side of the package, near the lift tab. The packages have a retail UPC of 0 44000 03223 4.

“The vast majority of consumers have not reported adverse events with respect to the product in the four code dates recalled. However, a small number of consumers have reported gagging, choking or dental injury, but none of these reports have been confirmed at this time,” Wenner said. “We issued this voluntary recall as a precaution, as the safety of our consumers is our top priority.”

No other Chips Ahoy products are affected by the recall.

The cookies should not be consumed, according to Mondelēz. For more information about the recall, contact the company at 1-844-366-1171.

Their advertising has also taken a turn — away from treats for children to more adult themes, such as this one for Mother’s Day in the US last Sunday:

This tweet, which includes one from the person featured, gives one a better insight. Sorry, it’s too crude to feature in full.

The Chips Ahoy! Twitter account has some interesting tweets:

And this:

And this, which was no doubt just a bit of fun, but perhaps not so good for promoting healthful eating with regard to children:

Hmm. I was never allowed cookies until after school. They were also rationed.

Sweets have their place in this world. So do advertising themes.

Eat — and advertise — responsibly.

Trump supporting actor James Woods has thrown in his Twitter towel.

The DC Patriot founder, Matt Couch, broke the sad news on Saturday, May 11, 2019:

Millions of us read Woods’s daily contributions and will retain fond memories of his wit and truth.

Not only did he tweet about the Democrats’ madness, he also cared about the state where he lives and his audience:

So, what was James Woods guilty of on Twitter?

The DC Patriot quoted Woods’s statement (emphasis in the original, the one in purple mine):

Twitter demanded that I rescind my tweet paraphrasing Emerson,” Woods said in a statement to The Daily Wire. “It now seems they have chosen to delete that tweet from my account without my permission. Until free speech is allowed on Twitter, I will not be permitted to participate in our democracy with my voice. As long as Jack Dorsey remains the coward he seems to be, my Twitter days are in the past.

The tweet read:

“If you try to kill the King, you better not miss.” #HangThemAll

I remember reading that tweet when it appeared and agree with Deb:

Fortunately, Woods’s back catalogue of tweets, up through April 19, is still available.

President Trump noticed Woods’s absence:

This is yet another sad day for conservative voices online.

I’m well aware that this closing down of various accounts is to stop the wave of support for Trump in 2020.

However, social media’s efforts to shut people up will not succeed.

Social media censorship must stop.

Why be afraid of another person’s viewpoint? Isn’t that what the Internet is all about — a free exchange of ideas?

Bible ourhomewithgodcomThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Acts 27:1-8

Paul Sails for Rome

27 And when it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius. And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica. The next day we put in at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for. And putting out to sea from there we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were against us. And when we had sailed across the open sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy and put us on board. We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.

—————————————————————————————————————

The Roman governor Festus had acquiesced to Paul’s request to go to Rome to have his case heard.

Festus had Paul put on board a ship to take him part of the way to Rome (verse 1). Other prisoners accompanied him. So did Luke, the author of Acts, and another Christian, Aristarchus (verse 2). It is possible that Festus, believing Paul was innocent, granted him permission to take two friends for mutual support.

Matthew Henry says that one more friend might have accompanied Paul:

Dr. Lightfoot thinks that Trophimus the Ephesian went off with him, but that he left him sick at Miletum (2 Timothy 4:20), when he passed by those coasts of Asia mentioned here (Acts 27:2), and that there likewise he left Timothy.

A centurion, Julius, was in charge of passengers and cargo. Julius was from the Augustan Cohort. Cohort in this context means legion or band of men. Some of his 100 men would have guarded Paul.

John MacArthur explains the role of the likes of Julius and his men in Roman history (emphases mine):

Now the Augustus’ band is interesting. I told you a couple of weeks ago that Augustus was a title for the emperor. This was a special band of men, a special cohort of men assigned to the emperor. They were special envoys. They were like special couriers. Their name – they were called frumentarii. Frumentarii means pertaining to grain. And the reason they got this name, pertaining to grain was because initially when the Roman government began to send its troops and garrison them and station them all over the imperial empire, they had to get food to their troops. And there were men assigned to the accompaniment of the food. They were men who were responsible for the transportation of the food safely.

These were the men who were the special food envoys and they were called frumentarii. That is they pertained to the grain. But as time when on, these special couriers also got into really becoming very sophisticated imperial agents. They were responsible for spying. They were responsible for transporting important political prisoners and personalities back and forth between Rome and its armies and its garrisons in its various provinces. And so they were set aside from the regular troop duty and assigned to this very important area.

Julius was a commander commanding a hundred such men. Now, how many of the hundred accompanied Paul on the ship we do not know. But with Julius and his men, the crew of the ship, Paul and the prisoners, there was a good group. Later on when they changed ships there was a total of 276 people. We don’t know how many on this first vessel, but at least 276 on the second as it’s indicated later on in the passage.

Acts 27 is about the entire journey to Rome, fraught with peril after an initial calm.

The first ship they sailed on was one registered in Adramyttium in Asia Minor (verse 2). It was a coastal vessel, which was returning with goods for the various ports of call in that part of the world. Henry’s commentary says that it would have picked up goods from Africa and made interim stops along the way:

this ship brought African goods, and, as it should seem, made a coasting voyage for Syria, where those goods came to a good market.

The next stop was Sidon, where Julius kindly let Paul and his friends disembark so that he could be ‘cared for’ (verse 3). As Henry stated above, Paul was ill and needed medical attention. Fortunately, Sidon also had a Christian community, as MacArthur explains:

In Sidon, apparently, there was a church. The believers were called Friends. And that didn’t come as any shock, I think. In reading that I thought back to John 15:15, where Jesus said, “No longer will I call you servants, but from now on I’ll call you” – What? – “friends.” And one of the terms that was used commonly for the designation of Christians was that of friends.

And there was a church founded in Sidon, most likely founded in the repercussions of the persecution of Stephen. You’ll remember back in the early part of the book of Acts that when the persecution broke out against Stephen, the church was scattered. And the scattering of the church Judea and Samaria area was pretty well evangelized. And, apparently, a church was begun in the area of Sidon, even as there was in the area of Tyre. Paul had visited that church on his trip to Jerusalem. Now he visits Sidon on the way from. And so he went there.

But an interesting thing to note is this. You say, “What did he do when he went there or why did he go?” Well I’m sure he went for the fellowship of believers because he loved that. I’m sure he did some teaching. I’m sure he did some ministering just because that’s the nature of the man, I mean you couldn’t restrain the man. He was too committed to those things. But it says here, “To refresh himself.” The interesting thing about this is the word refresh is a medical term. It has to do with medical care and it indicates that he was sick.

The apostle Paul at this particular point is a sick man. And it isn’t any wonder with all that he has endured in the time intervening since his liberty, having been a prisoner for two years. And so in his illness he is probably not able to gain the diet, the rest, and the care that he needed on shipboard. And Julius allows him the privilege of going to be with Christians who minister to him, equally, as he ministers spiritually to them.

When they left Sidon, they sailed under the ‘lee’ — shelter — of Cyprus, because the winds were against them (verse 4). The ship hugged the coastline.

MacArthur says that they were most likely on the sea in the late summer, a borderline season with regard to weather, not much different to hurricane season in the Caribbean and southern United States:

… when there was a problem with the wind, going along the coast was to the advantage because they could take advantage of land winds and, as well, the current of the Mediterranean runs that very route west. And so they took advantage of land winds, as well as the current to run them up around the island of Cyprus and to the west. The way the wind was blowing probably would have been very helpful to ships coming the opposite direction from, say Rhodes or Crete down toward Sidon. And that’s the way Paul came when he came. He came straight across south of Crete. But on the return, because of the winds, was unable to do that.

Now this is summer. It is estimated that Festus took office in early July of A.D. 59 or 60. And that means that if he took office in early July, by the time he went to Jerusalem, came back, heard Paul, had Agrippa come down, had that little thing with Agrippa and figured out what to do with Paul and waited for the proper ship, it is probably mid-August by now. And mid-August would be the time that Paul would be departing. The winds were basically westerly winds in the summer, blowing from the west. And they could easily tack against the wind and make good progress toward Rome.

But mid-August was pretty borderline. If you wait too long you get into a treacherous season. From November 11th on to the end of March, nobody crossed the Mediterranean. The winds were extremely strong and the sea was very rough and all shipping ceased from November 11th to the end of March. But from September 14 to November 11th, that period between the summer sailing season and the winter closed season was known as the treacherous season. You just really didn’t know. It was a gamble to sail in the open sea from September 14th till November 11th. So at this particular point, as they near the end of August, they are flirting with a borderline situation.

When they reached Myra, on the southwest coast of Asia Minor, Julius found a ship registered in Alexandria and transferred prisoners and goods to it (verse 6). Henry tells us this was a good decision because it would not have made many stops:

Alexandria was now the chief city of Egypt, and great trading there was between that city and Italy; from Alexandria they carried corn to Rome, and the East-India goods and Persian which they imported at the Red Sea they exported again to all parts of the Mediterranean, and especially to Italy. And it was a particular favour shown to the Alexandrian ships in the ports of Italy that they were not obliged to strike sail, as other ships were, when they came into port.

The winds were against them — again, part of the borderline weather situation for that time of year — so it took them longer than expected to get near the port of Cnidus. They then sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone (verse 7).

MacArthur explains:

Verse 7, “and when we had sailed slowly many days,” – they had westerly winds, that is winds blowing at them from the west against which they could tack and progress – “and scarcely were come off Cnidus. The wind not permitting us we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone.” Now look at your map. They left Myra and very slowly did they sail west the inside passage between Rhodes and the mainland there of Asia Minor, and they proceeded to the very last point, Cnidus. Now, they would at that point have harbored in Cnidus. Now, if you feel you’re really bogged down in National Geographic trivia, hang on. The Lord has a purpose in all of this.

But they had passed Cnidus and, of course, immediately when they did this they left the shelter of land. The gentle land winds ceased. The protection ceased and the wind became extremely strong as they ventured immediately into the open sea. And they were unable to harbor at Cnidus. They could not direct the ship into the harbor and so they had to let it go. They couldn’t handle the wind. What they did was they ran smack into the prevailing wind and they plunged right into the pressing plummeting headwaters, and they couldn’t handle it. And you’ll notice, the only thing they could do is let it go and try to get the ship down around the underside of Crete in order to be able to hide from the wind, to have some kind of a break from the wind that was blowing.

Now you know, perhaps a different kind of ship could have handled it. They say that a schooner or a sloop or something can take a six-degree angle into a wind and ride it in. But a great big thing like this; these Roman ships – and we have much information about them archeologically – were clumsy. Great big heavy – in fact, they could displace a tremendous amount of water, much tonnage. And, of course, as grain ships they would be loaded down.

They were clumsy, they had a single mast with a great big square sail on it. And they preferred, usually, to sail under just that one enormous sail and run before the wind. They just really didn’t handle themselves well when the wind was contrary. And so the wind wouldn’t let them get into either of Cnidus’ two harbors, and they did have two there. And so they had to go down around the treacherous Cape Salmone and try get on the back side of Crete and be sheltered from the wind. And once they got around it they would be secured from the nor’wester wind that was blowing.

Eventually, they came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea (verse 8). The name was deceiving. Henry says:

It was not a commodious haven to winter in, so it is said, Acts 27:12. It had a fine prospect, but it lay exposed to the weather. Note, Every fair haven is not a safe haven

MacArthur gives us a glimpse into the rest of Acts 27:

Verse 8, “And passing it with difficulty,” listen they didn’t have an easy time getting around that Cape Salmone on the east coast tip of Crete. It was tough. With difficulty means just that. It’s a 140-mile long island, Crete is, and they just wanted to turn the edge and get into shelter. With great difficulty they finally made it and came to a place called Kalous Limenas. That’s Greek for Fair Havens, near to which was the city of Lasea. Now, you say, “That’s a terrific place to be in a storm, Fair Havens.” Well, Fair Havens was really a hokey place. And they weren’t at all excited about being in Fair Havens, but at least they made it. And the first foreboding sign of a difficult trip had made itself known.

Some might wonder why Luke went into all this detail about this journey to Rome. Henry says it was documented proof for historical reasons:

What course they steered, and what places they touched at, which are particularly recorded for the confirming of the truth of the history to those who lived at that time, and could by their own knowledge tell of their being at such and such a place.

Henry draws a useful conclusion about the Christian life from this voyage:

Though the voyage hitherto was not tempestuous, yet it was very tedious. They many that are not driven backward in their affairs by cross providences, yet sail slowly, and do not get forward by favourable providences. And many good Christians make this complaint in the concerns of their souls, that they do not rid ground in their way of heaven, but have much ado to keep their ground; they move with many stops and pauses, and lie a great while wind-bound. Observe, The place they came to was called The Fair Havens. Travellers say that it is known to this day by the same name, and that it answers the name from the pleasantness of its situation and prospect. And yet, (1.) It was not the harbour they were bound for; it was a fair haven, but it was not their haven. Whatever agreeable circumstances we may be in in this world, we must remember we are not at home, and therefore we must arise and depart; for, though it be a fair haven, it is not the desired haven, Psalms 107:30.

Something to keep in mind.

Next time — Acts 27:9-12

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