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Reason had two stories on September 1 about Democrats flouting coronavirus laws.

Philadelphia’s mayor

Philadelphia’s mayor Jim Kenney has banned indoor dining in the City of Brotherly Love. So what did he do when he wanted to go out to eat?

Jim Kenney travelled out of state to dine indoors in comfort.

Reason‘s article, ‘Philadelphia Ordered Restaurants Closed. Then the City’s Mayor Went Out To Eat in Maryland’, has a photo of Kenney sitting at a table. There was no social distancing. There were no masks.

Reason reported:

Restaurants and bars in Maryland are allowed to offer limited indoor dining—capacity is capped at 25 percent of what would normally be allowed in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Establishments elsewhere in Pennsylvania are operating under similar restrictions as well. But in Philadelphia, indoor dining is still fully forbidden under restrictions imposed by the city government—the one that Kenney runs. The city’s ban on indoor dining, which was extended in late July amid fears of a “second wave” of COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia, is scheduled to be lifted on September 8.

But Kenney apparently couldn’t wait that long. A sharp-eyed restaurant-goer caught Kenney dining indoors in Maryland on Sunday. The photo quickly went viral, and Kenney’s office confirmed to a local TV station that the mayor had gone south of the border to visit “a restaurant owned by a friend.”

Kenney said that he went to Maryland on Sunday, August 30, because their COVID-19 rate is so low.

By way of apology, he tweeted a photo of a Philadelphia restaurant and said:

The reopening this late in the year will be a long slog for Philadelphia’s restaurant owners. This is true in other cities, too, where dining establishments are allowed to accommodate only 25% of their usual capacity indoors.

On June 19, Reason interviewed restaurateurs as lockdown was being lifted and replaced with reopening restrictions which are insufficient to retain a thriving business (emphases mine):

Restaurants that have had to subsist on takeout and delivery are like “a person being on 25 percent lung capacity,” says industry analyst Aaron Allen. “You can sustain that for a period of time but it’s not healthy to do it over an extended period. With a few more chairs on the patio, you just went from 25 percent capacity to 28 percent. You need to be at a minimum of 90 percent lung capacity.”

A May survey of restaurant owners conducted by the New York City Hospitality Alliance found that two-thirds of them said they would need to reach 70 percent occupancy in order to survive.

The Open Restaurant guidelines released today specify that business can place tables on the sidewalk only directly in front of their storefront, and that they must maintain eight feet of distance between their seating and the curb.

“I’m only excited for Phase Two because it gets us closer to Phase Three when we can have a 50 percent capacity indoor crowd,” one restaurant owner told the Post.

Talk about crumbs from the table.

San Francisco

On Monday, August 31, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had her hair done indoors at a San Francisco salon.

Coronavirus rules for the city prohibit hairdressing indoors.

However, Pelosi can flout the rules.

Fox News reported on the story: ‘Pelosi used shuttered San Francisco hair salon for blow-out, owner calls it “slap in the face”‘. Included is a photo of a be-gowned Pelosi with wet hair.

The salon’s owner allows independent hairdressers to rent her unused chairs.

She explained how the situation unfolded:

Salon owner Erica Kious, in a phone interview with Fox News on Tuesday, shared details of Pelosi’s visit. Kious explained she has independent stylists working for her who rent chairs in her salon.

“One of the stylists who rents a chair from me contacted me Sunday night,” Kious said.

A screengrab of the text message she received from one of her stylists, and obtained by Fox News, said: “I’ll be there at 2:45 tomorrow. Pelosi assistant just messaged me to do her hair.”

Kious replied: “Pelosi?”

“I was like, are you kidding me right now? Do I let this happen? What do I do?” Kious told Fox News, while noting that she “can’t control” what her stylists do if they rent chairs from her, as “they’re not paying” at this time.

Kious was disgusted at the double standard:

It was a slap in the face that she went in, you know, that she feels that she can just go and get her stuff done while no one else can go in, and I can’t work,” Kious told Fox News, adding that she “can’t believe” the speaker didn’t have a mask on. (From the footage, it appears Pelosi had some kind of covering around her neck.)

“We’re supposed to look up to this woman, right?” Kious said. “It is just disturbing.”

Pelosi’s spokesperson defended Madam Speaker’s hair appointment:

Asked for comment, Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill maintained that the speaker was following the rules as presented to her.

“The Speaker always wears a mask and complies with local COVID requirements. This business offered for the Speaker to come in on Monday and told her they were allowed by the city to have one customer at a time in the business. The Speaker complied with the rules as presented to her by this establishment,” he said.

Kious objected to the statement from Pelosi’s office. Whilst a wash is fine under the city’s coronavirus restrictions, a blow-dry — for whatever reason — is not:

Kious said Pelosi received a wash and a blow-dry, but told Fox News that “you’re not supposed to blow dry hair” according to coronavirus safety precautions for hair salons.

“We have been shut down for so long, not just me, but most of the small businesses and I just can’t – it’s a feeling – a feeling of being deflated, helpless and honestly beaten down,” Kious said.

Later, Pelosi hit back.

On Wednesday, September 2, the San Francisco Chronicle reported:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to apologize Wednesday for her controversial visit to a San Francisco hair salon, calling it “a setup” and suggesting that she had been tricked by the business owner.

Pelosi said she took responsibility for falling for the “setup” to have her hair done inside at a San Francisco salon on Monday, which is prohibited by the city’s regulations.

That said:

The San Francisco Democrat said if anyone was owed an apology, it was her by the salon.

“I think that this salon owes me an apology, for setting me up,” she said at an event about school reopenings in San Francisco’s Noe Valley.

Also:

“I take responsibility for trusting the word of the neighborhood salon that I’ve been to over the years many times and when they said, ‘We’re able to accommodate people one person at a time,’ I trusted that,” the speaker said during a combative exchange with reporters in the empty school yard of Mission Education Center Elementary School.

Pelosi’s response acknowledged she was not aware of local rules prohibiting such indoor treatments. She wasn’t asked why she didn’t know the city’s rules. Pelosi splits her time between her home in San Francisco and her work in Washington, D.C.

Her response seemed to add fuel to the firestorm over her actions, rather than quell it, as conservative critiques jumped on the cleanup effort as hypocritical.

As to why she did not have a hairdresser pay her a home visit:

The speaker had been having her regular stylist do her hair at her home, but that person wasn’t available, her spokesman said. Instead, she arranged to have her hair styled at eSalon after being told it was OK.

Her not wearing a mask after having her hair washed would not have been such a big deal if she were not making such a big deal about Republicans’ notionally lax (in her estimation) attitude towards masks.

Pelosi answered her critics:

“I don’t wear a mask when I’m washing my hair. Do you wear a mask when you’re washing your hair? I always wear a mask,” she said, adding the short clip that was released was when she had just left the shampoo chair.

Pelosi’s critics seized on the visit as hypocritical, saying she was breaking the very rules she was scolding others for not following.

President Trump chimed in:

The Republican National Committee seized on the controversy:

In an email blast to reporters, Republican National Committee spokesperson Liz Harrington noted that salon owners who have opened their business against local laws have been jailed. “You can’t get your hair done, eat inside at a restaurant, travel, attend a funeral, or protest without mandatory quarantining. But Democrats can,” she wrote. “This isn’t about health or science. It’s about power. Democrats want to rule your life. But don’t expect their rules to apply to them.”

Masks and business closures have been at the center of political and culture wars amid the pandemic.

Back to the Fox News article. Salon owner Kious envisages a dark future post-coronavirus, not only for herself but also for similar salons:

Kious told Fox News that she had expected to be able to reopen her salon in July, and prepared her space in accordance with local guidelines.

“There were rules and regulations to go by to safely reopen, which I did, but I was still not allowed to open my business,” she said, noting that she installed plexiglass partitions between sinks and seating areas, and ensured that all salon chairs were six feet apart, along with proper air circulation from open windows.

“They never let us open,” she said, while adding that she is unable to reopen outside because her salon specializes in hair color, and using chemicals outside is prohibited.

But Kious said she is not alone in the hardships she has faced amid closures during the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is for everybody,” she said. “I am sharing this because of what everyone in my industry, and my city, what every small business is going through right now.”

Even though Kious has received help from the CARES Act, she believes that she will be:

forced to shut down her salon for good within the next 30 to 60 days.

“No one can last anymore,” she said. “I have also lost 60 percent of my clientele because everyone is fleeing the city.”

Kious said that the area where her salon is located has turned into “a third world country,” saying that “every other storefront is completely vacant and shut down and boarded up.”

“And because of the shutdown, and the store closures, we’ve lost people, my clients, and my employees, and that is due to the politics in San Francisco,” she said, adding that the homeless population is “everywhere” and “defecating” all over the city.

“It has gotten so extreme,” she said. “It is so night and day from what it was a year ago, that everyone is fleeing.”

I couldn’t help but think of San Fran Nan and her freezer filled with designer ice creams, a treat that Kious and her children can probably only dream of at the present time:

Something must be done, specifically, lifting the remaining coronavirus restrictions with common sense. That includes the UK. Yet, more and more entrepreneurs are being driven out of business by politicians’ embrace of ‘science’ rather than pragmatism.

My heart goes out to the countless business owners affected by these destructive policies, putting our countries on the road to Venezuela.

I pray that our political leaders see sense, especially the Democrats.

Until then, it’s a case of ‘for thee, but not for me’.

The Left — Democrats — continue their long, hot summer of vandalism and violence.

At the weekend, Republican activist Scott Presler of Virginia went to Philadelphia to rally in support of the city’s police. This is what happened to his car:

He was able to get new tires and had a message for the Dems:

He graciously declined personal donations:

He gave this update:

True enough.

Brad Parscale, President Trump’s campaign manager for 2020, had this reaction:

Sign of weakness from the left. When people are desperate they resort to cowardly acts. Will Dem leaders stand up against this and stop the unnecessary damage it is causing?

Agree about the weakness and cowardice, but, on the other side of the country in Portland, Oregon, one good American not only had his flag snatched but was also beaten with what looks like an oar covered in black fabric. When his assailant hit him on the head, he collapsed immediately. No one immediately came to his aid:

Anyone who thinks voting Democrat is still a good idea should really think again.

On Sunday, July 24, the Democratic National Committee chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned because a series of emails — revealed by Wikileaks — demonstrated how Bernie Sanders’s campaign was undermined in favour of Hillary Clinton’s.

The way it was reported here in the UK on the 10 p.m. news made it sound as if that was the end of the story.

It wasn’t.

First, her term ends after the DNC convention in Philadelphia.

Secondly, Ms Wasserman Schultz was rewarded with the post of honorary chair for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Common Dreams has more (emphases mine):

Clinton responded with a statement thanking her “longtime friend” for her service to the party and, seemingly without irony, announced that Wasserman Schultz would now serve as her campaign’s honorary chair.

“There’s simply no one better at taking the fight to the Republicans than Debbie,” Clinton said, “which is why I am glad that she has agreed to serve as honorary chair of my campaign’s 50-state program to gain ground and elect Democrats in every part of the country, and will continue to serve as a surrogate for my campaign nationally, in Florida, and in other key states.”

Bernie Sanders, who won the popular votes but not the necessary superdelegates during the Democratic Party primary season, had long said Wasserman Schultz was trying to undermine his campaign. Sanders and his team had been asking for her resignation for several months.

The Guardian says that Wasserman Schultz was not directly implicated in the email exchange, however:

she was seen in other messages writing dismissively of the Sanders campaign.

The paper gives an example of one of the DNC emails:

The most explosive new revelation from the Wikileaks release was an official’s suggestion that Sanders’ religious faith, or lack thereof, could be flagged as a way to dissuade voters from backing him in Bible belt states.

I think I read he is an atheist,” the DNC chief financial officer, Brad Marshall, wrote in one email. “This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.

Sanders, who is Jewish, spoke little of religion during the primary, but the sight of a supposedly neutral body apparently seeking to weaken one of its own party candidates caused particular anger among progressives.

A Reddit megathread has a compendium of all the incriminating DNC emails and readers’ comments.

Wasserman Schultz’s successor is Donna Brazile, who was DNC chair in 2008 when Obama won the nomination — over Hillary Clinton — and the presidency. Ironically, Brazile’s DNC pressured Hillary’s delegates to vote for Obama at the convention that year. Many felt betrayed, hence the PUMA (Party Unity My A–) movement was born. Many PUMAs left the Democratic Party that year to support Republican John McCain or the Green candidate Jill Stein. Most of them left the party altogether, and a good number of them are unaffiliated politically.

Brazile, it should be pointed out, later went on to work for CNN, which Donald Trump calls the Clinton News Network.

Whilst Trump makes it clear that he disagrees profoundly with Sanders’s politics, he empathises with him about the ‘rigged’ system. The superdelegates are all Clinton’s, hence her nomination needs only a rubber stamp at the convention.

Strangely, even though he knows the system is rigged, Sanders has pledged his support to Clinton.

Speaking of the convention, we all know how Democrats have criticised Trump as being racist for wanting to build a wall between the US and Mexico, but what about their own perimeter fence in Philly? What is that telling Philadelphia residents and visitors? What are the Democrats afraid of? Whom do they fear?

Back to the email about Sanders’s religious beliefs. A Guardian reader says it worked in South Carolina:

The whisper campaign against Bernie in the south particularly in South Carolina among the church going African American voters was real, it did happen and it was coordinated and extensive. If Bernie had won South Carolina, Hillary would have lost the nomination. Bernie who was unknown was caricatured as a “communist Jew”. I heard it personally. Now, it is clear where it all started. The dirty trickery by Hillary and DNC got her the nomination. Hillary should quit as well, instead of giving a job to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz for a job well done. Wasserman-Schultz still hasn’t apologized, or acknowledged, she tipped the scale for Hillary, even though the evidence is overwhelming.

I have read comments on The Guardian article, the Common Dreams post and the Reddit megathread. This is what Democrats are saying:

1/ They are very disappointed in Clinton and the DNC.

2/ This will give Trump even more ammunition against ‘Crooked Hillary’.

3/ Bernie supporters are considering supporting Jill Stein of the Green Party.

4/ Some will vote Trump, because ‘what difference does it make?’

5/ Why aren’t the media covering this story? Because they are being silenced.

It should be an interesting convention in the City of Brotherly Love.

Democrats can say what they like about the Republicans, but at least the #NeverTrump movement was well known during the primaries. The GOP convention managed to make peace among most Republicans and put paid to #NeverTrump as an organised group.

The Democrats, by contrast, are being hit with dissent and subterfuge just as their convention starts. Can the situation be resolved or will this turn out to be a rerun of 2008?

One year after it premiered in the United States on the Food Network, Save My Bakery is now showing on the channel’s sister station in the UK.

SpouseMouse and I have been enjoying the programme. For me, the bakeries featured are a blast from the past. SpouseMouse is bemused by what passes for a ‘bakery’ in the United States. ‘First, there are no breads or rolls. Secondly, most of what’s on offer looks as if it were intended for a bake sale.’ I try to explain that that is the nature of neighbourhood bakeries. Although nothing was fancy, everything was a favourite.

Kerry Vincent is the Australian makeover lady who helps beleaguered bakeries out of a hole. She focussed her efforts on Pennsylvania, particularly establishments in or near Philadelphia.

Her brusque manner is offputting as is her penchant for fondant-covered cakes which did not feature in the establishments shown (initially) or in the ones I frequented as a child. Hmm.

However, she does seem to be good at conflict resolution. In every one of these shows, the bakery owners are at odds with their children or younger employees with regard to overcoming an impasse in sales.

I am still thinking about the episode at Schenk’s Bakery in Philadelphia. Their website has a thank you to Vincent for remaking their shop and offering advice on their products. I hope they continue to prosper.

Schenk’s cake line used to feature three cakes which Vincent advised against: pound cake, Washington cake and Goldenrod cake.

The last two came as a revelation. I’d not heard of them before. I was very disappointed that Vincent did not help the Schenks to keep these items on sale by improving the texture and flavour. Washington and Goldenrod cakes are historical artifacts.

Pound cake

But, first, let’s look at pound cake, one of the few cakes which does not need icing. Not so long ago, most grandmothers made pound cake. Mine did and hers was still the best I’ve ever tasted. The best part is the crunchy exterior, the product of the amount of butter in the batter.

In researching pound cake recipes, I was surprised to see how huge they are and that they are now made in ring tins. My grandmother used to make hers in much smaller quantities in a well greased loaf tin. The top used to split ever so slightly, giving a craggy appearance with extra crunch.

A loaf tin pound cake will probably serve a dozen people. The texture is dense and rich, similar to a French quatre-quarts (‘four quarters’, equal weights of eggs, butter, flour and sugar). A little goes a long way.

Since I’ve been on the ketogenic diet, I don’t make it anymore. However, those who enjoy traditional cakes will find it worthwhile practising making it. I would recommend several tries, because it can be challenging getting the consistency light enough. For this reason, I would suggest cutting the following recipes in half and using a loaf tin. King Arthur Flour’s site has the traditional recipe and Chef In Training has one for a coconut version.

Vincent did approve of a remake of the Schenks pound cake, to which they added orange flavouring and topped with sliced almonds. It looked delicious!

The Goldenrod

The Goldenrod, or Golden Rod, was popular in the late 1890s through to the early part of the 20th century.

It is — or was — probably the only full-size triangular cake in existence. This photo from a 1906 cookbook, courtesy of Resurrected Recipes, shows the special tins used:

These tins are not available today, however, using a loaf tin would probably do the trick. Cutting the rounded top off the finished product then neatly slicing diagonally down the middle should produce a good result.

Resurrected Recipes compares and contrasts the recipes for the Goldenrod with another popular cake of the same period, the Waldorf Triangle. Both look easy enough to bake.

The Goldenrod must have orange flavouring in the batter. Vincent said that the Schenks’ version could have used more of it. Why did she not help them with such a small improvement? If I were in the area, I would have loved trying it.

This is another missed opportunity; the bakery could have introduced the Goldenrod to a new generation.

It is also interesting that the Schenks frosted one side with white icing, piped it along the top ridge and frosted the other side with chocolate icing. One wonders if that decoration was particular to Philadelphia or to Mr Schenk’s father who emigrated from Germany and founded the bakery in 1938. Resurrected Recipes tells us that this cake was also popular with German bakers.

Washington Cake

This cake has undergone several reiterations since Martha Washington first made her Great Cake to share with guests on Twelfth Night (Epiphany) 1798.

Her husband George had announced before Christmas 1797 that he would not be serving a third term as America’s first President. He returned to his home in Mount Vernon for the holidays.

Mrs Washington’s great cake was modelled on the traditional English recipe for Christmas cake. It was a pound cake made with currants and spices.

The cook-historian Tori Avey tells us that after Washington’s death, a Manhattan shopowner named Mary Simpson made Washington Cake every year on his birthday, February 22. She was popularly known as Mary Washington, as she claimed to have been one of his slaves. Customers flooded in to buy a slice of cake and a small glass of punch or cup of coffee.

In the 19th century, American bakers created variations of the Washington Cake. One used cherries, recalling Parson Weems’s legend of young George cutting down his father’s cherry tree. When Washington State was incorporated into the Union, their version had apples, the fruit for which the state is known.

Avey says that Philadelphia had its own version, which emerged in the 1950s. The Schenks made this variation, which was a spiced cake with chocolate and scalloped-edged white icing.

Kerry Vincent didn’t like their Washington Cake. Admittedly, the one shown was poorly frosted. However, whether it was the amount of spice in the cake or the frosting, she said it had to go. Unfortunately, the Schenks agreed.

Another opportunity missed! Why not improve it and introduce it to people — especially children — who have never tried it?

Suggestion for the Schenks

My better half and I suggest that the Schenks offer one of these types of cakes — pound, Goldenrod and Washington — on special once a month at the weekend. Make sure Washington Cake in on sale during Presidents’ Day weekend in February.

Have a sign up — ‘This week’s special’ — and tell everyone how good it is. Have some samples on the counter. Let people try it.

It would be a shame to lose these historical recipes for the sake of a few minor improvements to flavour and appearance.

Kerry Vincent

Hmm. She’s an acquired taste, certainly.

However, after having researched her biography, I can understand how her background shaped her outlook on baking and life.

Zap2It has a fascinating, if brief, interview with Vincent. We discover that, like many Australians living on sheep stations (ranches), she went to school via radio. I remember reading about this method of education in geography class when I was eight years old. Households had pedal radios — operated by foot pedal — which, when used with a telephone line, could enable any Australian youngster to communicate with the teacher. Parents were responsible for reviewing homework!

She also told Zap2It that her mother taught her how to bake at a very young age. One of the first lessons young Kerry Flynn learned was how to test an oven. Mrs Flynn told her to stick her hand in it to get a true feel for the temperature. Vincent does the same today because:

I don’t even believe the calibrated oven because it is never calibrated. Shove your hand in, and feel this, and close your eyes, and that’s the temperature you need for a sponge [cake] and the rest of the baking.

At the age of 8, Kerry won first prize in an adult baking competition at Albany Fair in Western Australia.

As a young woman, Vincent was a Western Australia state finalist in the 1964 Miss Australia Quest. She went on to a career in modelling hats and as a cigarette girl:

The fashion co-ordinator at the Perth department store Boans wanted her for millinery: “She said, ‘I could put a jerry [chamber pot] on your head and it would look good.’ ” For tobacco brands Rothmans and Dunhill, Kerry wore navy and white, pillbox hats and white boots, and moved from trackside to cocktail party as a promotional girl. “It was elegant then; you smoked with a pair of long satin gloves and a holder.”

In 1973, whilst on a working holiday in London, she met the love of her life, Doug Vincent, an American oil engineer, in a pub. They married in 1974 and live in Oklahoma.

Vincent’s baking and sugar-crafting career has taken her around the world, winning her accolades from the rich and famous to hundreds of aspiring home bakers.

The Pennsylvania bakers who took part in Save My Bakery say that Vincent’s bark is worse than her bite.

Stephen Riccelli of Schubert’s Bakery in Nazareth said:

I think she’s a very nice lady but I also think she may not have been the best fit for our bakery.

I agree. She never understood the Moravian cake which isn’t exactly patisserie but has deep historical and cultural roots in that part of the Lehigh Valley.

Richard Wilcox of Phatso’s Bakery in Chester told his local newspaper:

The host’s venomous demeanor is just a front, Wilcox said, explaining that Vincent was very helpful and pleasant off camera.

“Kerry is a wonderful lady,” he said. “We had a very pleasant time working with her. She was not the same person when the cameras were off.”

Vincent clearly did not understand the slang word ‘phat’ — beautiful, excellent — which can be used to describe anything from food to women.

It was also a play on words, as Wilcox called his younger son Fatso as a toddler. He gave the name to the bakery. Vincent wanted to change it!

I’m glad to read that Wilcox saved his past awards and put them back on the wall of his bakery.

Vincent insists that America’s tastes are changing. Possibly.

However, there is always room for enduring American, cross-generational favourites. May they — and family-owned bakeries — long continue.

On Thursday, July 31, 2014, Meriam Ibrahim and her family arrived in New Hampshire to begin a new life.

My last post on this lady concerned her exodus from Sudan to Rome to meet Pope Francis. She, her husband Daniel Wani and their two children spent a week in and around the city, meeting other Christians and sightseeing. That week helped to provide a degree of normality for the family. Their Italian hosts and sponsors — diplomats, senior politicians, charity workers and journalists — ensured the family were well looked after.

Of the week in Italy, Ibrahim said via journalist Antonella Napoli:

We have been very happy here. We have felt like a real family.

From Rome, the family flew to Philadelphia. There, Mayor Michael Nutter met with them privately. He lauded Ibrahim as a ‘world freedom fighter’ and ‘courageous, grace-filled woman’. Nutter has provisionally invited her to appear publicly with the Pope should the pontiff appear in Philadelphia next year.

The final destination that day was Manchester, New Hampshire, where Wani’s brother and extended family live. Manchester is home to 500 Sudanese, a number of whom attend the Sudanese Evangelical Covenant Church. Although Wani is a Catholic, it would appear that the Christian community bonds are strong in Manchester. The Revd Joel Kruggel, pastor of  the city’s Bethany Covenant Church, said that his congregation will work with the Sudanese to welcome and help accustom the family to their new life in the United States.

Wani is relieved to return home to his family in Manchester. He and his family fled during his childhood when civil war in Sudan made life untenable there. He became a US citizen but returned to South Sudan as an adult.

Wani married Ibrahim in 2011; together, they started a profitable business. Relatives from Ibrahim’s father’s side found out about the couple’s success. According to a Daily Mail report, a half-brother and half-sister whom she barely knew then brought charges of apostasy against this lifelong Ethiopian Orthodox lady in the hopes that they would be given the business if she were imprisoned. And there began Ibrahim’s nightmare which lasted nearly a year.

Now the couple have a chance to start a new business in a new country with the support of the Wani family and new American friends.

It’s a marvellous good news story and an incredibly happy ending. So many people from Sudan, Italy and the United States worked tirelessly to make a distant dream a distinct reality.

My thanks to reader Lleweton for keeping me apprised of the situation by sending me links to online articles — greatly appreciated!

Today we continue our examination of Christ’s letters to the seven churches in Revelation as He gave them to St John, who was in exile on the Greek island of Patmos in 95 AD.

Revelation 2 and 3 are more than ancient church history.  Characteristics of the seven churches are just as true today in our world. Unfortunately, comparatively little of Revelation is included in our three-year Lectionary.  Which is why these chapters fit in to the ongoing Churchmouse Campanologist series, Forbidden Bible Verses, which are also essential to our faith and salvation.

Revelation 1:3 states:

Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

Even if the world as we understand it lives on for many more centuries, we are obliged to care for our own salvation and ensure that we do not walk in error.  The Lord detests false teaching and the abominations going on in His Church today.  Let us, therefore, learn from these letters.

Previous instalments include letters to the churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira and Sardis.

Today’s reading comes from the New International Version (NIV).

Revelation 3:7-13

To the Church in Philadelphia

7“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. 11I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. 13He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

——————————————————————————-

Christ’s letter to the church in Philadelphia is the most complimentary of the seven.

Many of us know of only one Philadelphia, the one located in Pennsylvania.  Perhaps William Penn, a Quaker, had ancient Philadelphia in mind when he gave his colonial city its name.  In any event, Penn intended it to be a city where religious freedom was paramount.  Penn himself had suffered persecution because, as a Quaker, he was a non-Conformist — what non-Anglican Protestants are called in England.  (As we recall the 350th anniversary this year of the restoration of our great monarchy, it is worth mentioning that Charles II — the first king after Cromwell’s hideous Interregnum —  granted Penn a charter to establish the eponymous Pennsylvania colony in 1681.  [Cromwell had Charles II’s father, Charles I, beheaded.])

What then of ancient Philadelphia?  Its name literally means ‘brotherly love’.  It was located 28 miles southeast of Sardis.  Compared to the other seven Asia Minor cities with churches, Philadelphia as a metropolis was the newest.  It was founded in 140 BC and named after its founder, the king of Pergamos, Attalus Philadelphus.

Because it was built in an area with active volcanoes, Philadelphia suffered many earthquakes.  Its citizens had to flee on several occasions in order to avoid being killed by collapsing buildings.  Yet, the land was fertile and well suited to grapes.  It will come as no surprise to find out that the city had a cult to Dionysius, the god of wine.

The city exists to this day.  Now part of Turkey, it is called Alasehir, which means ‘City of God’.  Its church also exists, bearing witness to an enduring Christian faith. (Not all of the seven churches have survived to this day.) As this is the only mention of the city in Scripture, we do not know when its church was established or by whom, but, for whatever providential reason, Christ opened the door.  And that door remains open in faith.

Characteristically, the letter begins (verse 7) with Christ’s words dictated to John: ‘To the angel’, in the sense of ‘messenger’.  Some scholars interpret this as each church having its own angel.  Others say that the word refers to the head of that church.  Each church was meant to hear their own letter.

In each of the seven letters, Christ introduces Himself a different way, depending on the state of the church in question. In all cases, He announces His power and majesty. To Philadelphia, He is ‘holy and true’.  Not only that, He ‘holds the key of David’.   As the divine keeper and guardian of the keys, He decides what church doors to open and which to close.  Imagine if your pastor or vicar read out a letter like that.  That’s a pretty fearsome thing for a congregation to hear.

As is also true of all seven letters, Christ tells the churches that He knows their deeds (verse 8).  He reiterates the metaphor of the door from the previous verse.  He tells the Philadelphians that they have been true to the Gospel and have not denied Him through sin.  What a reassuring sentence to hear!

Scholars have interpreted verse 8’s phrase ‘little strength’ in two different ways.  John MacArthur says the church is a small one, thereby lacking strength in numbers.  Matthew Henry says that Christ is sending them a mild reproof, that ‘strength’ means ‘grace’;  in other words, the church could be doing more with the spiritual gifts they have received.

In verse 9, Christ tells them that He will ensure that those who torment them — enemies calling themselves ‘Jews’ but who really were vicious attackers of the ‘synagogue of Satan’ (a phrase used in other letters) — will come to not only bow before the Philadelphian church. Moreover, these pawns of Satan will readily acknowledge their sin and, with true conviction, ask to be converted.

Because the church in Philadelphia has been so loving and faithful to the Lord — ‘patient’ — He will refrain from imposing on them His test which the rest of the world will undergo (verse 10).  It may mean that they will be spared the agonies and persecution to come, even unto the end of the world.  It may also mean that they are spared greater trials until then which other churches will endure.

In verse 11, Christ tells them that He is coming ‘soon’, although in some translations the word ‘quickly’ is used.  John MacArthur tells us:

The word “quickly” means “suddenly,” not “soon.”

The Lord tells them to hold on to their faith and all the goodness that accompanies it.  They should give no one — especially Him — reason to remove their ‘crown’ because of sin.  Each of Christ’s faithful will receive a crown on the final day.  There are different types of crowns, reflecting different fruits of faith which the believer has exhibited during his life.  John MacArthur describes them:

The crown of life, the runner’s crown, the incorruptible crown, the crown of rejoicing, and the soul winner’s crown are all mentioned in the Bible.

In verse 12, He promises them immortality expressed in ways they would have understood at the time in the ancient world.  First, He will make them a pillar in God’s temple.  God’s temple needs no physical support, but these pillars are similar to monuments to great citizens.  We see these in old Protestant churches today, which have large plaques on the walls or inlaid in the floors to remember exemplary church members who have since gone to their rest.

On these pillars, the Lord will write God’s name, that of the New Jerusalem and His ‘new name’.  As with adoption or marriage, children take the name of their new family and wives still often take their husbands’ name.  This is a new, permanent association for them.  For the Philadelphians, Christ is telling them that they will be His forever.  They are securely in His family and everyone will know. They will also never leave His temple.  What a wonderful, glorious prospect!

Verse 13 closes with the exhortation to pay close attention to these words and to the direction of the Holy Spirit in the churches.

Next week: Revelation 3:14-22

Further reading:

Matthew Henry’s Commentary

‘The Faithful Church’ — John MacArthur

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