"AS I SEE IT" 

Volume 14, Number 1, January 2011

 

“I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know.

For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me;

Inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.

I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply.

I will show partiality to no one.  Nor will I flatter any man.”   Job 32:17-21

 

“That which ordinary men are fit for I am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.”

Earl of Kent

Shakespeare’s King Lear

Act I, scene iv, ll. 32-34

 

[“As I See It” is a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek.  Its purpose is to address important issues of the day and to draw attention to worthwhile Christian and other literature in order to aid believers in Jesus Christ, especially pastors, missionaries and Bible college and seminary students to more effectively study and teach the Word of God.  The editor’s perspective is that of an independent Baptist of fundamentalist theological persuasion.

 

AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at: DKUTILEK@juno.com.  You can be removed from the mailing list at the same address.  Back issues sent on request.  All back issues may be accessed at http://www.KJVOnly.org

 

All articles are by the editor (unless otherwise noted) and are copyrighted but may be reproduced for distribution, provided the following conditions are met: 1. articles must be reproduced in unedited, unabridged form; 2. the writer must be properly credited; and, 3. such reproduction must be for free distribution only.  Permission to distribute in any other form must be secured in writing beforehand.  Permission for reproduction in Christian print periodicals will generally be given upon request.]

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Spurgeon on the Urgency of Immediate Conversion

 

“[L]isten for one moment to the ticking of that clock!  It is the beating of the pulse of eternity.  You hear the ticking of that clock!--It is the footstep of death pursuing you.  Each time the clock ticks, death’s footsteps are falling on the ground close behind you. . . .But, O, do you know how to estimate your time, my hearers?  Do you know that every hour you are nearing the tomb?  That every hour you are nearing judgment?  That the archangel is flapping his wings every second of your life, and, trumpet at his mouth, is approaching you?  That you do not live stationary lives, but always going on, on, on towards the grave?  Do you know where the stream of life is hastening some of you?  To the rapids--to the rapids of woe and destruction!  What shall the end of those be who obey not the gospel of God?”

Charles H. Spurgeon

New Park Street Pulpit

Vol. II (1856), pp 47, 48.

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My Reading Plans: A Short Wish-List

 

As Wilbur M. Smith famously said, “there is only one way to get any reading done, and that is to read.”  I am always wishing I had gotten more reading done, over the past day, week, month, year, decade and lifetime, but I can’t do a thing about my neglect of reading in the past.  I can only resolve--and, theoretically, carry out my resolution--to read more, and more productively, in the future.

 

I am constantly evaluating what I need and ought to read, in preparation for the classes I will teach, the sermons I will preach, the articles I will write, and for my own edification and instruction.  And, frankly, that mental reading list is always evolving and changing, with much of my well-intended reading never materializing.  But I do think I have some idea of what I should, could, and will read this coming year--at least I have remarkably good intentions, some of which may actually give way to deeds.  But here goes--

 

1. In my Bible reading, I hope to read, inter alia, the whole of Tyndale’s NT in a facsimile reprint of the 1536 edition, including reading the prefaces and notes.  During this reading, I hope as an aside to glean a list of all or nearly all the NT passages where direct reference to God is “veiled” under circumlocution--“rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God,” “seated at the right-hand of the greatness,” “kingdom of heaven,” etc.  I would also like to read through James Murdock’s 19th century English translation of the Peshitta Syriac NT, but may delay that til next year.

 

2. In my book reading, I hope--and need--to complete some or all of the “partial” reads of books begun, some of them days, some weeks, some even years ago.  I am ashamed to say that there are at least twelve of them, and probably more, lurking about.  I shall not list their titles, but will likely review many of them, when (so says the eternal optimist, rather than “if”) I get them read.   And I resolve, once again, to avoid reverting to this distressing situation in the future.

 

3. I also intend to read at least one book on Lincoln, one on Samuel Johnson, and a Shakespeare play.  And at least one book or more by A. T. Robertson, Alfred Edersheim, Philip Schaff, John A. Broadus, and S. P. Tregelles in my self-imposed task of reading through the whole of the published works of each.  I intend like-wise to advance by a volume or two in my goal of reading the respective literary corpora of historians S. E. Morison, D. S. Freeman, Martin Gilbert, Paul Johnson, and William Manchester (I am in mid-stream with all of these; I actually completed the last remaining unread volume by David McCullough within the past couple of weeks.  Small victory among the desolation!).  But what are these among so many?

 

4. And there loom menacingly about me and above me, to the left and right and rear, shelf upon shelf of books I acquired in hopeful days past and promised to read “immediately” that glare at me for my brazen neglect.  They are not massed in squads or platoons or companies, but in whole battalions.  Should they mount an offensive, I fear my position will prove untenable!

---Doug Kutilek

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Teddy Roosevelt: A Prophet Foretelling Our Times?

 

“The honest man, whether rich or poor, who earns his own living and tries to deal justly by his fellows, has as much to fear from the insincere and unworthy demagogue, promising much and performing nothing, or else performing nothing but evil, who would set on the mob to plunder the rich, as from the crafty corruptionist who, for his own ends, would permit the common people to be exploited by the very wealthy.”

Message to Congress, December 3, 1906

Quoted in A New Dictionary of Quotations

Edited by H. L. Mencken (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1942)

p. 274

 

[The elected and appointed political officials who retain power by plundering via taxation the productive so they can buy the support of the unproductive are demagogues of the first sort; those who squander multiplied billions to bail out bankers and others from the natural consequences of their bad investments are the latter.  We are sadly now plagued with both sorts at the same time--and embodied in the same persons!--editor]

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The Fifth “Gospel”:

How the Holy Land Illuminates the Bible Like Nothing Else Can

&

Some Notable Holy Land Travelogues

 

“I found the country [i.e., Palestine, in 1877] and the people pretty much as I expected, but I trust I understand both better than before.  My faith in the Bible has not been shaken, but confirmed.  Many facts and scenes, which seem to float ghost-like in the clouds to a distant reader, assume flesh and blood in the land of their birth.  There is a marvelous correspondence between the Land and the Book.  The Bible is the best handbook for the Holy Land, and the Holy Land is the best commentary on the Bible.”

Philip Schaff

Through Bible Lands, pp. 383-4

 

As a junior in Bible college in 1973, I had the singular opportunity to travel to Greece (including Patmos and Rhodes), Lebanon, Syria, but especially Israel, on a 14-day-long package tour, including air-fare and all fees, taxes and gratuities for the now absurdly cheap price of $600 (my father readily put up the cash for me to go; no better single investment was ever made in my education).  I had in class heard the Holy Land referred to as “the Fifth Gospel” since it cast so much light on the events in the life of Jesus, and as a student of the Bible and preacher-in-training, I naturally very much wanted to the see the Holy Land for myself with my own eyes, to walk its hills, smell its air, feel its atmosphere, and hear its sounds. 

 

I took the time to read up in advance on what I was going to see--a couple of brief books on Holy Land geography--which indeed did enhance the experience.  Had this modest preparation been doubled and trebled by reading a shelf full of similar books, while I would have seen and understood more, even this would have been no adequate substitute for seeing it for myself.  As is invariably the case, the images that developed in the mind’s eye through written accounts were regularly considerably different from those formed by actually being there.  For myself, I was amazed at the utter smallness of the place--smaller than all but the very smallest of U.S. states.  I was astonished, for example, to discover that the north end of the Dead Sea was clearly visible at sunrise from the top of the Mount of Olives, or that the entire Sea of Galilee can be seen at once by anyone standing on the hills surrounding it.

 

There is, then, no adequate substitute for actually being there.  That being said, however, I am sure that there is very great value to be had in reading and studying “pilgrim” accounts of visits to the Holy Land, especially those that date to the 19th and earlier centuries, in particular those that came from the pens of trained Bible scholars who had eyes to see and understand what they were seeing.  Also of merit are some accounts from professional writers--reporters, journalists, and such,--whose very profession is observing and recording.

 

Why from the 19th century and earlier?  The era of modern development--steam engines, trains, telegraph, electricity, and later automobiles and all the rest in the late 19th and all of the 20th century, plus the massive increase in population in the past 150 years or so, have massively altered the view in Israel, and greatly altered the culture and lifestyle of the land’s inhabitants.  In the pre-steam, pre-train, pre-electricity era, there had been no significant alteration in the terrain of Canaan or in the lifestyle of its inhabitants since Biblical times.  As a result, descriptions of the land, with its fields, towns, sea coasts, watercourses, valleys, mountains and deserts from the pre-modern era, and of the agricultural, social, commercial and other practices of the people from the same are much more likely to reflect the ancient situation, and therefore potentially cast considerable light on Biblical accounts, narratives and customs.

 

The OT and NT eras in Canaan, as well as that from the 2nd to the latter 19th century, were lit at night only by fire and moonlight.  Transportation was chiefly on foot, or on donkey-, camel-, or more rarely horse-back.  The largest proportion of the population was engaged in small-scale subsistence agriculture or livestock tending.  Clothing was laboriously hand-made.  The countryside was dotted with small clusters of houses passing for villages.  Most commerce was by barter at local bazaars.  In perhaps only one notable aspect did the Palestine of the era preceding the 20th century differ significantly from OT and NT times, and that was in the degraded condition of the native plant cover due to multiplied centuries of gross over-grazing by Bedouin livestock, and desolation of the original extensive forests, in part due to a short-sighted Ottoman tax on trees.  The loss of grass and trees resulted in short order in massive erosion of the thin topsoil and broad general decline in the fertility of the soil, nearly to the point of sterility.

 

Furthermore, those 19th century (and earlier) expeditions were not 7- or 10-day touristy outings.  With the time, expense and difficulty of the trip over, while in-country and back, these explorations commonly lasted months, even years, not days or weeks, giving ample time to more fully appreciate the scene, examine the details and grasp the instruction. 

 

Finally, not a few of these accounts are accompanied by well-executed engravings of people, places and things, which greatly enhance the intelligibility of descriptions.  Photography came into use in Palestine in the 1850s and after, and those accounts with photos from the latter half of the 19th century are of course the most instructive in this regard.

 

I have read en toto several travelogues of visits to the Holy Land, some by thoroughly competent Bible scholars, and at least two by professional writers (newspaper reporters/ journalists), all but one of them being from the 19th century--

 

1. The account read most recently by me (completed in the past month) was Illustrations of Scripture: Suggested by a Tour through the Holy Land by Horatio B. Hackett (London: T. Nelson and Sons, 1859; 227 pp.).  These observations were based on Hackett’s travels in Egypt and Palestine in spring and summer of 1852.  Hackett (1808-1875), one of the pre-eminent Bible scholars among Baptists in America in the mid-19th century, was seminary professor, author, editor, linguist, and Bible translator, and was fully prepared to maximize the opportunity for instruction.  I, for example, found his treatment of the parable of the mustard seed to be particularly useful in answering the quibbling objections of a Bible critic (see “The Parable of the Mustard Seed,” AISI 11:11).

 

2. The first account of Holy Land travel that I read, and the best thus far, was Through Bible Lands: Notes of Travel in Egypt, the Desert, and Palestine by Philip Schaff (New York: American Tract Society, 1878; 413 pp.).  Schaff, of course, was the pre-eminent church historian of the 19th century, a prolific author and editor, and a superior scholar and linguist.  This account was produced during an extended trip, from December 1876 until August 1877, which also included time spent in Europe.

 

3. While not exactly a travelogue, or even lessons learned or illustrations derived from such, I choose to mention George Adam Smith’s The Historical Geography of the Holy Land (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1894.  25th revised edition, 1931.  744 pp.).  In part, this classic volume is based on 4 trips to the Holy Land made by the author, in 1880 and 1891 (before the first edition), and again in 1901 and 1904.  The author comments on the value of having inspected the land before the extensive development that began in the latter part of the 19th century:

 

The following chapters have been written after two visits to the Holy Land.  In the spring of 1880 I made a journey through Judea, Samaria, Esdraelon, and Galilee: that was before the great changes which were produced on many of the most sacred landscapes by European colonists, and by the rivalry in building between the Greek and Latin Churches.

Preface to the first edition, p. x

 

This is by far the most detailed description of the geography of Canaan in English known to me, with each locale tied to whatever Biblical events transpired there.  It is not light reading, but it is valuable, and is a volume that could not be written today, and therefore is irreplaceable.  I read it in a paperback copy nearly 30 years ago (which I have since replaced with a hardback copy).

 

4. A still-young Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, accompanied a group of religiously-motivated tourists to Europe and the Middle East in 1869, visiting Italy and Rome, Egypt, the Holy Land, Syria, Turkey and Greece.  He wrote, with not a little “stretching” and even preposterous exaggeration, some superb satire and biting sarcasm, an account of his experiences, with clearly evidenced utter disdain for Romanism and all of its extra-biblical trappings.  That volume was called (and I give the title in extenso), The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrim’s Progress, being some account of the steamship Quaker City’s pleasure excursion to Europe and the Holy Land; with descriptions of countries, nations, incidents and adventures, as they appeared to the author.  A shorter title might easily have been, A Curmudgeon Abroad.  When I read it nearly 20 years ago, I found it most entertaining.  A sample:

 

The last twenty-four hours we stayed in Damascus I lay prostrate with a violent attack of cholera or cholera morbus, and therefore had a good chance and a good excuse to lie there on that wide divan and take an honest rest.  I had nothing to do but listen to the pattering of the fountains and take medicine and throw it up again.  It was dangerous recreation, but it was pleasanter than traveling in Syria.

Chapter 45, opening paragraph

 

(We quoted Clemens’ description of an encounter with a camel during this trip in AISI 9:8, though that account was actually published in his 1872 book, Roughing It).

 

5. H.L. Mencken (1880-1956), a cynic and abrasive social critic but a first-rate writer with a considerably higher than typical knowledge of the Bible, himself made a “pilgrimage” to the Holy Land in 1934 and later wrote a brief account of some of his experiences (see his Heathen Days [New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1947], “Pilgrimage,” pp. 256-277).

 

There are several other accounts on my shelves that I have occasionally consulted but have not read through:

 

6. The first of these in importance and value is surely The Land and the Book, or Biblical Illustrations Drawn from the Manners and Customs, the Scenes and Scenery, of the Holy Land, by William M. Thomson.  (London: T. Nelson and Sons, 1880.  718 pp. / New York: Harper and Brothers, 1882, 3 vols.).  This is likely the single most important or famous title in this genre.  The author was a resident missionary in Syro-Palestine for 45 years, and wrote from full and long experience.  I purchased the single volume edition some 27 years ago, and have long sought the three-volume set--at an affordable price--but have so far managed only to acquire a stray copy of vol. II.  Because of its length, I have not plunged in and read it cover-to-cover as I ought, and still intend to do.

 

7. Sinai and Palestine, in Connection with Their History by Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (London: John Murray, 1881.  560 pp.).  The author (1815-1881) was a Broad Church Anglican scholar, and a prolific writer, chiefly of history.  This account is in part the product of the author’s two visits to Palestine: winter 1852 / spring 1853 and again nine years later.

 

8. James Neil spent some 20 years in all in Palestine, and after the first three years’ residence there (1871-1874) wrote Palestine Explored, which has the explanatory title-page gloss: “with a View to its Present Natural Features, and to the Prevailing Manners, Customs, Rites, and Colloquial Expressions of its People, which Throw Light on the Figurative Language of the Bible,” (London: James Nisbet & Co. 1883.  319 pp.  Second edition).

 

9. Bible Light from Bible Lands by Joseph Anderson (New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1856.  344 pp.).  The author haled from Helensburgh, Scotland, but is otherwise completely unknown to me.

 

10. The voluminous Anglican writer Cunningham Geikie (1824-1906) wrote The Holy Land and the Bible.  A Book of Scripture Illustrations Gathered in Palestine.  (New York: John B. Alden, 1888.  2 vols. in one.  656 pp.).  This is alas a borrowed copy which the owner has so far stubbornly refused to sell to me!

 

11. One account that I have long wanted to read is that by noted scholar and preacher John A. Broadus (1827-1895).  His health having been very much impaired by severe over-work, he took a year-long leave of absence from teaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, then in Greenville, South Carolina, and went to Europe and the Middle East.  His biographer and son-in-law A. T. Robertson reports:

 

From Feb. 5, 1871 to May 13, 1871, a diary was kept of the tour in Egypt, Asia, and Greece, while full and charming letters describe the entire trip abroad.  From these notes a notable series of articles, entitled, “Recollections of Travel,” was written for the Religious Herald.

The Life and Letters of John Albert Broadus, p. 239

 

The Religious Herald was the Virginia state convention publication, and many of Broadus’ writings were published there.  This series was never reprinted in book form, and so access to it is difficult to obtain, at best.  (One continuing desideratum is for some ambitious Th. M or Th. D. student to scour the Religious Herald to compile a complete bibliography of all the writings of Broadus found therein, with a view, perhaps, of reprinting in book form, or at least as inter-net postings, the best of these.  Any volunteers among the student bodies at Southern, Southeastern, Midwestern, New Orleans or Southwestern?  I’d do it myself if I had the means and access to the microfilms of the relevant Religious Herald issues).

 

Over the years I have picked up a few other, more recent “travelogues,” though of these, I have done no more than glance through them.  I merely mention them here:

 

11. Out-of-Doors in the Holy Land by Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933), a Presbyterian preacher and professor of English literature at Princeton (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1909; 325 pp.);

 

12. Through Lands of the Bible by H. V. Morton (London: Methuen & Co., 1938.  400 pp.);

 

13. In the Steps of Jesus by H. V. Morton (London: Methuen & Co., 1954.  182 pp.)

 

The student of Scripture cannot but profit by giving careful attention to one or two or more of these aforementioned tomes, especially the better ones in the lot.  The key to correct Bible interpretation is for the reader, as far as he is able, to transport himself chronologically, geographically, culturally and linguistically (that is, in time, space, custom, and language) to that of the original readers of the Bible.  To neglect these volumes, and others in their class, is to deprive oneself voluntarily and needlessly of a clearer perspective on the Sacred Text.

---Doug Kutilek

 

[Note: several years ago, I began compiling a chronological list of all Holy Land pilgrimage / exploration accounts that I could find reference to, extending back as far as the 4th century A. D.  I plan in the next issue to include a list of these accounts as far as they are known to me, though I am discovering, the further I get into the subject, that it is almost a bottomless pit, with previously unheard of narratives and journals showing up at irregular intervals unexpectedly on the right hand and on the left.  Is some church history major looking for a possible dissertation topic?--Editor]

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On “World Without End” Once Again.

 

In our previous issue there was an article on the phrase “world without end” found at Ephesians 3:21 in, along with other versions, the KJV.  We noted therein that the NKJV retained the KJV’s archaic phrase there (we employed a 1982 printed edition for the NKJV).  A reader informs us that later editions of the NKJV abandon the KJV phrasing there and read “forever and ever,” with Coverdale and most recent English versions.

---Editor

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BOOK REVIEWS

 

Up From the Projects: an Autobiography by Walter E. Williams.  Stanford, California: Hoover Institution Press, 2010.  150 pp.

 

Walter E. Williams is now well-know as a syndicated newspaper columnist, professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and, especially, as an occasional substitute host on Rush Limbaugh’s national radio broadcast.   Williams was born and grew up in Philadelphia, raised in the late 1930s and the decade of the 1940s, along with a younger sister, by his divorced mother.  She supported the family by working part-time as a domestic.  He had no personal relationship with his father (who ultimately was married five times) until after he graduated from high school.  In the midst of lean circumstances, he did learn the value of reading, culture, education, productive hard work, and self-support and reliance.

 

Williams, tall (6’5”) and lanky, has always been one to push the envelope and ruffle the feathers of “authority” figures in his life--some would call it being mischievous, while others would call it defiance,--whether teachers during his school days, officers during his two-year stint as an army draftee, or the guardians of “political correctness” as a professor of economics and widely-published syndicated newspaper columnist.  Williams earned three degrees in economics, including a Ph. D. from UCLA in 1972.  It is a bur under the saddle of liberals and leftists that Williams, though black and ghetto-raised (like Thomas Sowell and Clarence Thomas), is nevertheless a strong political conservative, a self-described libertarian, and outspoken critic of the welfare state, minimum wage laws, “affirmative action,” and the whole culture of blaming the problems of the poor and blacks on discrimination rather than poor choices made by the individuals themselves.

 

The very brief notice (p. 54) that Williams was baptized and confirmed Episcopalian is practically the only mention of God, church or anything involving religion in this autobiography, suggesting that it is either deemed a very private matter by the author, or has a very small place in his life.

 

There is occasional rather raw profanity in the book which does nothing to enhance its value.  Those who read or hear Williams’ views may be interested in learning from this account how he became what he has become.

---Doug Kutilek

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The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map to True Riches by Jeff Yeager.  New York: Broadway Books, 2008.  241 pp., mass-market paperback.  $12.95

 

The author, needlessly vulgar and profane frequently in these pages, nevertheless strongly and cogently and correctly argues for a low consumption lifestyle, that is, living within one’s means, and on less (or, as Samuel Johnson famously said, “Resolve not to be poor; whatever you have, spend less”), paying off mortgages as early as possible, living otherwise debt-free--and anxiety-free about “where will we live if I lose my job?” etc.  He rails against our needless extravagance, and literally mortgaging tomorrow for self-gratification today (or, rather, attempted self-gratification by the accumulation of things, which inherently are unable to satisfy).  He presents a variety of strategies and personal examples of how to free oneself from the mass consumption mentality that characterizes the present-day American (I would estimate that I’m already doing about 90% of what he suggests, and another 5% seem dubious to me, leaving me just 5% to implement).  Among the most innovative was his suggestion of a spending “fast” of seven days, in which NO money is to be spent--either as cash, check or credit card--by the participant (yes, it can be done).

 

I find some of his assertions and statistics suspect or occasionally completely wrong, but these misstatements don’t detract from his overall argument.  Had the book been free of the crudities that often mar its pages, I could recommend it as a very practical and timely read.

---Doug Kutilek

---

 

Some quotations from The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map to True Riches--

 

“. . .breaking free from the shekel shackles . . .” (p. x)

 

“OK, so to save time and energy costs, I sometimes soft-boil my morning eggs along with the dirty dishes in the dishwasher (top shelf for runny yolks, bottom shelf for firm), but who doesn’t?” (p. xiii)

 

“This book is about two things: getting more for less and, even more important, understanding that less is often more.  It’s about the fact that you probably already have everything you could ever need or want, if you’ll only slow down long enough on the Road to Riches to think about it.” (p. xiv)

 

“Rule no. 1: Groceries do not count as Christmas gifts, even if you gift wrap them.” (p. 3)

 

“But unlike most personal finance books, this book is not about how to make more money.  This book is about how to make less money, but how to be happier than if you made more.” (p. 5)

 

“If more money and more stuff aren’t the key to happiness, is it possible . . . that their pursuit might actually lead us to greater unhappiness?” (p. 10)

 

“There is no relationship between wealth and happiness beyond some point just north of the U. S. poverty line.” (p. 11)

 

“I think Ben Franklin nailed it: ‘Who is rich?  He that rejoices in his portion.’ “ (p. 11;  a very Biblical perspective--see Luke 3:14; Philippians 4:11; I Timothy 6:8; Hebrews 13:5)

 

“I realized that for a cheapskate like me, it’s less about how much I have and more about how much I don’t need or don’t want.” (p. 15)

 

“I believe that spending money, not making money, is the [cause] of nearly all our financial problems, worries and disappointments in life.” (p. 24)

 

“. . .fiscal fasting is the act of denying yourself the use of money for a specified period of time, usually a week or even longer.  Yeah, that’s right, totally doing without legal tender for the sake of tenderizing your nonmonetary soul.” (p. 25)

 

“ ‘Live for a week without spending any money?  I can’t do it!’  I bet you can, and if you can’t, it should tell you something even more important about the life you’re leading and how you’re wasting money.” (p. 30)

 

“. . .getting by with what you have can often be far more fulfilling than getting whatever you want whenever you want it.” (p.31)

 

“You don’t need to spend money to have fun, . . .” (p. 35; simple and true, but not widely believed!)

 

“As Thomas Jefferson wrote, ‘It is neither wealth nor splendor, but tranquility and occupation which give happiness.’ “ (p. 44)

 

“It’s about avoiding one of the great modern-day financial pitfalls: allowing your expenses to rise to meet or even exceed your income.” (p. 48)

 

“Now we [i.e., the author and his wife] live very comfortably on twenty-five to thirty thousand dollars a year, which is roughly equivalent to our original $40,000 standard of living, less the mortgage payment and adjusted for inflation.” (p. 52)

 

“Is it possible that not spending money is a far more powerful tool for achieving financial freedom than all the books ever written on the subject of how to make more money? (p. 57; very profound--read that statement again; works for governments, too!)

 

“A penny saved is equal to approximately 1.3 to 2.0 cents earned, when you factor in taxes and other costs you are likely to incur on an earned penny, compared to a saved penny. . . . A penny saved is a penny you don’t need to earn again.” (pp., 58, 59)

 

“We buy a [great deal] of stuff that we rarely or never use.  In most cases, the goal shouldn’t be to find a way to use it; the goal should be to find a way not to buy it in the first place.” (p. 63)

 

“The reality is that almost without exception, the healthiest choices you can make in life also happen to be the least expensive.” (p. 88; absolutely true--not smoking; not consuming alcohol; eating at home instead of at restaurants; eating scratch-made food instead of the highly processed sort; walking or biking instead of driving; raising your own food instead of buying it; etc., etc.)

 

“The best New Year’s resolution I ever made was a few years ago, when I vowed to spend at least one solid hour outdoors in the elements--sun or rain, cold or hot--every single day.” (p. 93)

 

“Americans have the economic luxury of using large quantities of fat, salt, and sugar as their primary spices, . . . “ (p. 103)

 

“In our grandparents’ generation you paid off your house in four or five years, and you stayed married forty or fifty years.  Now those statistics are just about the opposite.” (p. 114)

 

“At the top of that list [of recommendations], put my admonition to pay off your home mortgage as quickly as possible.” (p. 130)

 

“[W]hen it comes to spending money on most types of experiences, like travel, learning different skills, becoming a better human being, once again, the more money you spend, the less you’ll have to show for it.” (p. 181)

 

“We believe that waste is morally wrong and that excess is waste waiting to happen.” (p. 229)

 

“The best of all possible hobbies [are] ones that you not only enjoy but that save you big bucks in the long run--things like cooking, gardening, and home repair.” (p. 237)

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The Story of Silver Dollar City by Crystal Payton.  Branson, Missouri: Silver Dollar City, 1997; second edition, 2008.  112 pp., paperback.  $8.99.

 

I am definitely not an “amusement park / theme park” enthusiast, and don’t believe I’ve been to any such (other than the one considered here) any time in the past 25 years, and it may be considerably longer than that.  But, the one place I have gone, repeatedly, since the early 1970s, and would like to go again is “Silver Dollar City” seven miles west of Branson, Missouri on heavily-trafficked Highway 76.  I’ve always found the atmosphere there congenial, the prices reasonable, the place clean and well-maintained, and the entertainment informative, interesting and family-friendly (inter alia, no alcohol is served).

 

SDC began as a distraction for people awaiting the next tour of “Marvel Cave” (a.k.a. “Marble Cave” and before that “The Devil’s Den”), the largest cavern in Missouri and one the largest in the nation.  The cave was purchased in 1889 by William Henry Lynch, who promoted the cave as a tourist attraction, deep in the isolated Ozark mountains.  Though moderately popular, nothing more became of the site until Hugo Herschend obtained a 99-year lease on the cave in 1950 from the Lynch family.  Improvements were made, accessibility was improved, and a modest array of buildings were erected in the 1950s and early 1960s to keep those waiting for the next cave tour occupied (the cave tours were the chief draw back then).  By a series of steps--some of them considerable leaps,--a fictional 1890s Ozark hill town grew on the site of a short-lived 19th century town Marmaros, with hotel, restaurant, blacksmith shop, street characters and more.  By 1970, a full scale theme park had developed, which has grown exponentially since then.  And so, as sort of “collateral damage,” has the huge entertainment mecca, sporting the whole spectrum from good to bad to ugly, known as Branson.

 

The author chronicles in this heavily-illustrated little book the history of the site and the “City.”  In a quiet but unmistakable way, the author relates that the Herschend family which still owns (as of 2008) and operates the park has built the business on the basis of the Golden rule and a genuine personal commitment to Christ (this is NOT related in the narrative in a pandering sort of way, to impress the naďve).  Learning this does not surprise me, but is consistent with what I personally have experienced at SDC. 

---Doug Kutilek

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