Posted in personalities, tagged art, Benny Thomas, confessing church, ecumenism, Karl Barth, Nazification, pen, plot, Protestant Lutheran Church, The Cost of Discipleship, theology on December 9, 2013 |
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DIETRICH BONHOEFFER (1906-1945) German
Bonhoeffer was born in Breslau, Germany, in 1906. His family were not religious, but had a strong musical and artistic heritage. From an early age, Bonhoeffer displayed great musical talent, and music was important throughout his life. His family were quite taken aback when, at the age of 14, he announced he wanted to train and become a priest. He knew his calling but had to make his election sure. In the process he would signify through his own life what it was to be a disciple of Christ in the 20th Century.
Ministry for him meant life of service and not to be insulated from life of the oppressed where fascism was alarmingly growing strident across the length and breadth of Europe. In preparation for his ministry his tour across Spain and America broadened his outlook: For example his visit to the US made him see things “from below” — from the perspective of those who suffer oppression. He observed, “Here one can truly speak and hear about sin and grace and the love of God…the Black Christ is preached with rapturous passion and vision.” Later Bonhoeffer was to refer to his impressions abroad especially his stay in Harlem as the point at which “I turned from phraseology to reality.”
In 1931 — at the age of 25 — he was ordained as a pastor of St. Matthew’s Church, Berlin.
Bonhoeffer’s promising academic and ecclesiastical career was dramatically altered with Nazi ascension to power on January 30, 1933. In April, Bonhoeffer raised the first voice for church resistance to Hitler’s persecution of Jews, declaring that the church must not simply “bandage the victims under the wheel, but jam the spoke in the wheel itself.”
At a time Nazification of German Evangelical Church began in right earnest Bonhoeffer refused to be part of it. Instead the 27-year-old Bonhoeffer accepted in the autumn of 1933 a two-year appointment as a pastor of two German-speaking Protestant churches in London.
His writings on Christianity’s role in the secular world have become widely influential, and many have labelled his book The Cost of Discipleship a modern classic.
Apart from his theological writings, Bonhoeffer became active politically, opposing Hitler’s euthanasia program and genocidal persecution of the Jews. He was also involved in plans by members of the Abewehr (the German Military Intelligence Office) to assassinate Hitler. He was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo and executed by hanging in April 1945 while imprisoned at a Nazi concentration camp, just 23 days before the German surrender.
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Posted in personalities, tagged Argentina, Benny Thomas, Capillary action, Georg Biro, gravity flow, Hungary, Lazlo Biro, pen, pen portraits on July 20, 2013 |
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Lázlo Biró (1899-1985)
Necessity is the mother of invention. As an editor of a small newspaper(’35) he was frustrated by the amount of ink smudges. Besides, the sharp tip of his fountain pen scratched through the paper. Determined to invent a better pen, Laszlo and his brother Georg set off to invent a new and better pen. Is it Nature cutting chance cards from the deck for one who is seized of a need? One will never know but on a vacation at the seashore, the brothers came upon Augustine Justo the president of Argentina, who engineered their future in his country. When World War II broke out in Europe, the Biro brothers fled to Argentina, stopping in Paris along the way to patent their pen(’38).
Once in Argentina, the Biros found several investors willing to finance their invention, and in 1943 they had set up a new manufacturing factory. Unfortunately, the pens were a failure. So they had to go past the conventional wisdom of ink flowing by gravity. The Biro brothers returned to their factory and made a new design, which depended on “capillary action rather than gravity to fall to the rolling ball. The ‘ball’ at the end of the pen acted like a metal sponge, and with this improvement ink could flow more smoothly to the ball. Still it was still not a success, so the men ran out of business.
Unknown to Biro, a similar idea had been patented fifty years earlier, by John Loud, although it had faded into unimportance. However, Laszlo had an advantage over Loud; World War II. The Royal Air Force was having problems with fountain pens leaking at high altitude, and was trying to look for a solution. As Laszlo and Georg had immigrated to Argentina to avoid the war, they were trying to start a production of their idea when the British Government approached them to ask if they could buy licensing rights for the new pen. They agreed, and the pen became a high success, no doubt due to the all- permeating publicity of the time.
The ensuing publicity brought others interested in marketing the product. In May 1945, Eversharp, in conjunction with Eberhard Faber, bought the exclusive rights to the Biro Pens. They renamed the pen Eversharp CA, and started aggressively marketing all over Argentina.
From this point on began the meteoritic rise of ballpoint pen.
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Posted in art, personalities, tagged Bedford, Benny Thomas, Elston, John Bunyan, Non-conformists, pen, pen portraits, Pilgrim's Progress, Test Act of 1673, The Holy War, The Restoration, The similitude of a Dream on July 14, 2013 |
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John Bunyan (1628-1688)
In the 1660s, Charles II, King of England, asked John Owen (1616–83) who served as chaplain to Cromwell why he went to hear the preaching of an uneducated tinker. The King was amazed that Owen, a prominent preacher, would stoop to associate with a tinker. After all, there was quite a contrast between the two. Looking the King in the eye, Owen answered, “May it please your Majesty, could I possess the tinker’s ability for preaching, I would willingly relinquish all my learning.”
The tinker was John Bunyan (1628–88), the Puritan pastor and author of Pilgrim’s Progress. He lived in a small cottage in the obscure village of Bedford, but Owen, walked in kings’ palaces, was respected by many of the nobility, and had preached to Parliament and in England’s great cathedrals.
The tinker preached to a church that met in an old barn and at its peak may have numbered 300. What makes the difference? It is the rock hard conviction that burns within, while scholarship tends to make one weigh pros and cons, buts and ifs- that is sure to fritter away the cutting edge of the individual’s life. One only needs to look Arthur J Balfour Prime minister of Great Britain and one of the brilliant minds that ever steered the destiny of the realm and whose 1917 declaration paved the way for a homeland for the Jews. He was known to pause before the grand staircase in his home, Hamlet-like debating, which side to take, left or right? John Bunyan though illiterate made full use of his faculties and by writing direct his style acquired vigor and simplicity as though soul of the fellow suspired when he wrote and had left sweat marks as it were. The enduring appeal of the Pilgrim’s Progress owes much to it. Bunyan’s most influential work would be translated into more languages over the next 400 years than any book except the Bible.
Bunyan was an old man when Owen first heard him. “The soul-experiences through which he [Bunyan] had passed,” notes one biographer, “had done more to equip him for what God had so definitely called him than any academic training could do.”(ack: William P. Farley/enrichment journal. ag.org)
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Man with a beard and fur cap
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