Sunday, December 22, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #20-"A Not So Merry Christmas in Bastogne 1944"

"A Not So Merry Christmas in Bastogne 1944"

     Two weeks ago our area had a sleet and ice storm and Linda and I were without power, heat, or telephone for 54 hours. The temperature in the house was 50 degrees at one reading. It was handled with four sweaters and several comforters at night. For some reason the past few days I began to recall the event I organized on January 31, 2001 at my Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center when twelve veterans of the Battle of the Bulge were our guests for what we termed a Veterans Forum. I heard their recollections of the fighting in the terrible winter of 1944-1945 after Dec. 16, 1944 when the Germans made their final last ditch effort to attack west to drive to the port of Antwerp, Belgium. At this Christmas 69 years later I recalled their stories and pondered, as my heat is now on, the sky is sunny, and I, with most people in my circles, will enjoy our turkey and pumpkin pies, snug and warm in our homes, what it was like for those heroic Americans who stood against the enemy onslaught protecting us in the cause of freedom against Nazism.
     There were three stories I collected to relate in this Chronicle so that, we in our comfort may ever be aware of those who came before us and, who, on this very day, stand against the forces of evil on far away battlegrounds.
     Private First Class Eduardo A. Peniche was a member of the 101st Airborne's 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment thrust in to the battle at fabled Bastogne. He had related his story later to his father who said, "How sad and dreadful to experience savage fighting on the day of our Lord." Private Peniche recollected, "...(they were) clinginging to our foxholes in the frozen ground...The attack was on, it was Christmas Day already, lying face down in the bottom of my foxhole, I remembered praying both in English and Spanish. At 0300 the Germans attacked wearing their snow suits." He continued, "To me personally, this was a defining moment of my life as a soldier and as an American, to see well-disciplined courageous fellow soldiers well-motivated to follow orders under the most hellish of circumstances yet, without hesitation, at that very trying moment everyone seemed to know what had to be done and they DID IT...The enemy attack ended in failure...There were also, of course, American casualties, in grotesque forms the death froze in eternity." His battalion was relieved Dec. 26th by the 4th Armored Division of General Patton's Third Army. He also said, "I had my first white Christmas in that small Belgian town, and there were enough lights to last me a life time." He was wounded on Jan. 3, 1945. He died on Aug. 16, 2008 after an illustrious career as an educator at Lone Star College-Kingwood, Texas.
     A retired Sergeant Major once was interviewed on a blog and had this to say, "Oh, Lord, it was so cold. On Christmas Day they brought turkey stew to us on the front line. We had to go back from our fighting positions, one at a time, to go get our chow. It was so cold, by the time you'd get back to your fox hole, the turkey stew was frozen in your canteen cup. I have never been so cold in my life, before or after."
     Jack T. Pryor, M.D. wrote in Dec. 1972 his recollections as a physician at Bastogne. "The patients who had head, chest, and abdominal wounds could only face certain slow death since there was no chance of surgical procedures....." He went to the airborne area and to a riding hall where he saw, "...the unbelievable! There on the dirt riding floor were six hundred paratroop litter cases."
     The Germans conducted continued bombing and strafing raids on Christmas Day.
     On January 17, 1945 the most spectacular battle of World War II was over. More than 19,000 Americans were killed and 15,000 were captured. The Americans held their own and repulsed the German attack and went on to victory.
     General Courtney Hodges, Commanding General of First Army, once watched as his troops came by with tears in his eyes, "I wish everyone could see them."
     There are few of our men from WWII that we can see anymore, but their names are written large in the annals of American history and I, for one, will remember them this Christmas and always. I am wiping away my tears as I conclude this writing.
     On our recent trip to England in the Salisbury Cathedral the following is inscribed on a wall titled The Burma Campaign 1941-1945: "When you go home tell them of us and say that for your tomorrow we gave our today." On Christmas Day 2013 look upon your children and grandchildren and remember our warriors who have not returned to the joys we will have with our families.

Allen's previous Chronicles are available at
His web site is

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #19: "Christianity and the Romans-Part 2"

Avalon Chronicles #19: "Christianity and the Romans-Part 2"

Acts 8:4 (King James Version) "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word."
     In sequel to Chronicles #18 we take up our stories with Joseph of Arimathea and the secular ancient archives that report (sourced from Drama of the Lost Disciples by George F. Jowett) he, "...was the Apostle of Britain, the true apostle first to set up Christ's standard on that sea-girt little isle, five hundred and sixty years before St. Augustine set foot on English soil. He with twelve other disciples of Christ, erected in England the first Christian church above ground in the world, to the glory of God and His Son, Jesus Christ."
     Southwest of our visit to Bath is the Cornwall area of England and even Julius Caesar described the tin trade between Cornwall and Phoenicia. Joseph apparently held a position in the Roman administration as a minister of mines so he had frequent contact with the tin mines of southwest England. Many records indicate Joseph's involvement with Britain's tin trade prior to his exodus. After the crucufixion of Jesus the Jewish hierarchy, the Sanhedrin, began in Palestine a persecution of Christians, the followers of "the Way." That great man of faith, later known as Paul, previously known as Saul, was a leader of the Sanhedrin's gestapo. Recall that Joseph of Arimathea departed Palestine in 36 A.D. A Cardinal C. Baronius was considered in his time the most outstanding historian of the Roman Catholic Church. He was Curator of the famous Vatican library and the author of the 12 volume Ecclesiastical Annals (1588-1607). Jowett quotes Baronius, "In that year (36 A.D.) the party mentioned was exposed to the sea in a vessel without sails or oars. The vessel drifted finally to Marseilles (France) and they were saved. From Marseilles Joseph and his company passed in to Britain and after preaching the gospel there, died." (Drama, 31).
     Records also indicate the inhabitants of Britain (Druids) believed in One Invisible God and the coming of a Messiah. (Drama, 43). Julius Caesar in his Gaelic War (VI, 14) 54 B.C. wrote, "The Druids make the immortality of the soul the basis of all their teachings, holding it to be the principal incentive and reason for a virtuous life." Therefore, this constitutes the fertile ground of the people of Britain to accept the pure Christianity of Joseph and his Bethany group, carried by them from the Holy Land. Jowett writes that, but for the Druids in Britain, Christianity might never have flourished (Drama, 58). The Romans during their occupation tried mightily to kill all Druids and Christians. A Druid delegation presumably went to Gaul (France) to meet Joseph. It is probable that Philip, one of the original twelve apostles, was already in Gaul when Joseph arrived after his Mediterranean voyage. The Druid Prince Arvigarus offered Joseph lands and safe haven in Britain. Joseph was said to have had twelve companions with him when he went to Britain. Cardinal Baronius identified three of them as St. Martha, St. Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead,
 and St. Mary Magdalene. With others they were called the Bethany group.
     The group eventually settled on the western side of southern England in a place today called Glastonbury,
thirty or so miles from Bath, in a location at that time called the "Sacred Isle of Avalon", from whence comes the theme of my chronicles. For years Linda and I had desired to visit Glastonbury, but it was difficult to travel there without our own auto. Additional points of interest are important about Glastonbury. The abbey there is said by E.Raymond Capt in his The Traditions of Glastonbury to be, "...the oldest, continuous Christian foundation in the world. Since the time Joseph built his first church on the Sacred Isle of Avalon, men have worshipped Christ on that site,...worship of the Lamb of God has never ceased at Glastonbury Abbey." (pg. 83).
    Druid Prince Arvigarus was the cousin of Caradoc, defined in a royal lineage of Great Britain as the first Christian king of Britain. The Prince welcomed Joseph to Britain, was converted by him, and offered his protection from the Romans. Apparently the Romans never occupied Avalon. Propagation of the faith was divinely protected in this area of Britain. The Romans attempted here and in Rome itself to destroy Christianity, but God's protection prevailed and we stand on their shoulders.

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #18-"Christianity and the Romans in England-Part 1"

Christianity and the Romans in England-Part 1 by Allen Clark
View Allen and other veterans on Veterans Day 2013 on Trinity Broadcasting Network "Praise the Lord"

     Here begins a series of chronicles of Linda's and my Nov. 2013 trip to England that will hopefully be more than just a travelogue, although The Christian Traveler's Guide to Great Britain, which was a principal resource for our trip and whose general editor was Irving Hexham, was what I utilized to plan our travel. Herein follows a historical guide to England as derived by us with especial focus on the spiritual, historical, and military aspects. Our travel evolved into a quest in seeking our Christian roots. That it became!
     "Visiting Great Britain to learn about great acts of faith can be a rewarding experience, and it is something all Christians, regardless of race or nationality, can find profitable." (Guide, 9).
     Our tour of Bath in southwest England began our journey to discover the Christian roots of Great Britain. Before our trip a fascinating book titled The Drama of the Lost Disciples by George F. Jowett was introduced thusly by the Reverend Ansley Rash back in 1961, "...this book reminds us very forcibly that in those early days while the Roman Empire was still pagan men braved the fury of the elements and the peril of the sword to journey to the Britannic Isles in order to proclaim the Gospel of love, light, and liberty, and then as the Heralds of the Cross to bear it from Glastonbury (just south of Bath), and Iona (on the west coast of Scotland), Bangor (Wales), and Lindisfarne (NE England) to the far places of the earth, for Britain, not Rome, was then the Lighthouse of Europe."
     In the time of Christ in Jerusalem the Sadducees were to have their way in the eventual death of Jesus, but one man stood in their path. He was Joseph, the great uncle of Jesus, known scripturally, and in secular history as Joseph of Arimathea." (Drama, 13). It was this Joseph who took Jesus down from the cross and buried Him in his private sepulchre. Joseph remained in Judea for a few years thereafter. He was identified as, "...the indefatiguable head of the Christian underground in Judea and the guardian of Christ's only earthly treasure-His mother." (Drama, 13).
     Jowett's book portrays Joseph of Arimathea as a true setter of the cornerstone of our Christian way of life through his departure in 36A.D. from Judea in a boat without sails or oars into the Meditteranean Sea and an eventual migration to France and the British Isles to places south of Bath. Jowett also defines the name of our heritage thusly, "'Christ' is the Greek word meaning 'consecrated', and 'ian' is from the Hebrew world 'am', meaning a person or people. Therefore the true meaning of the word 'Christian' and 'Christians' would be a 'consecrated person' or 'consecrated people.'" (Drama, 37).
     The practical question for today is how do you define your Christianity, cultural or "consecrated"? The time of the Advent of our Christ is a good time for reflection.
     Stay tuned for this fantastic ride through Great Britain and the saga of the Lost Disciples and the spread of Christianity.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #17 "A Chance Encounter"

Avalon Chronicles #17 "A Chance Encounter"

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Allen was a participant on Veterans Day 2013 on Trinity Broadcasting Network "Praise the Lord" program
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     Recently I was returning from a trip and was turning in my rental car at an airport. I was being driven to the airport by an employee who was obviously not native to America. I always delight in engaging everyone in conversation, but especially non-natives. During the course of the drive I discovered my driver was an Egyptian who had won a lottery to obtain a green card and enter the U.S. with the eventual obtaining of citizenship. He had been in our our country almost five years and soon would become a citizen at which time he could bring his wife and two children here. Just before arrival at the airport I had assumed he was a Muslim. I ventured to ask him about the religious turmoil about which I had heard between Muslims and Christians in his home country.
     We arrived at the terminal curb and he proudly proclaimed he was a third generation Christian. Without any further questioning he then explained to me that it was in the Koran that a Muslim was to confront people and inquire as to whether or not they were of the Islamic faith. If not, they had three choices; either convert to Islam, pay a tax called a jizyah, or, then he took his hand across his throat as if cutting his throat, meaning they were to be killed. He then had a bright smile on his face and proclaimed "But, Christianity teaches us differently. If someone hits our cheek, we are to turn the other cheek."
     A siomple chance encounter it was. However, a reminder especially at this time of the year as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, how blessed we are in the United States to be protected from the strife in other countries today and the persecution of our fellow Christians. Please have the joy of Christmas in your heart and be glad and grateful for the freedom we have in our faith walk.

Allen Clark