Month Archives: January 2011

Book Review: The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion vs. Environmental Religion in Contemporary America

by Eliza Thurston

January 31, 2011

Economists of the twentieth century looked upon the depravity surrounding them and pinpointed the source of this sin: material shortages. By promoting the development of financially profitable natural resources, progressive economists believed this sin could be erased. A century later, however, this economic religion is suffering and as Robert Nelsons The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion vs. Environmental Religion argues, it may well be on its way out. As environmentalist values continue to permeate public policy, economic arguments are forced to reckon with a whole new ethical framework. Nelsons new book offers a fascinating interpretation of this dilemma. By examining the fundamental tenets of both economics and environmentalism The New Holy Wars provides a fresh perspective on one of the most debated issues of our time.

The New Holy Wars proposes that at their cores, both environmentalism and Western economic theory are informed by Judeo-Christian beliefs. However, the theological underpinnings of these disciplines have been remapped to form secular versions of Christianity. Taking this a step further, Nelson argues that the clash of these two competing secular religions represents the most important religious controversy in America today. It is a startling proposition for which Nelson presents a convincing case. By framing the environmental debate in spiritual terms he makes sense of the intensity with which both sides promote their worldviews. At the same time The New Holy Wars digs beyond the rhetoric to unearth those presuppositions which are essential to understanding both sides of the debate.

Perhaps most intriguing is Nelsons treatment of environmentalism. Nelson argues what few practitioners are willing to admitthe environmentalist worldview is very much a religious one. With clarity and perception he explores the Protestant (specifically Calvinist) underpinnings of the movement. Pointing back to the writings of John Calvin, Martin Luther, and Jonathan Edwards, The New Holy Wars shows how key components of Calvinism have been transformed under the guise of environmentalism. Nelson illustrates how the movements jargon speaks volumes about its philosophical commitments. Steeped in the language of moral urgency, human depravity, individualism, and asceticism that marked much of the early reformed tradition, environmentalism is not unlike its more traditional religious counterparts. But Nelson is careful not to take the association too far. When Jonathan Edwards looked upon the Book of Nature he was awed by Gods glorious and omnipotent hand in creation. In marked contrasted, John Muir responded to the same beauty with transcendentalist adoration that bordered on pantheism. For Muir and the descendents of his preservationist movement, Nature became the ultimate recipient of their worship. And herein lies what Nelson recognizes to be a serious flaw in environmental theology: its failure to offer an adequate substitute for the loving and redeeming Christian God who had been lost.

While The New Holy Wars does not offer a solution to the economic-environmental debate, it does provide significant insight into the issue. Nelsons stimulating case for the role religion plays in the economic and environmental philosophies dominating current public policy is bound to challenge his readers. Those seeking to equip themselves for todays challenges should pay heed to Robert Nelsons work.

Stories You Might Have Missed

by David Prentice

January 31, 2011

But how could you, with these titles and lead story lines? In an attempt to grab your attention, some reporters come up with titles that attract you in to read the story, or just make you go “Huh?” Most of these stories are informative and valid news. And then there are some…

Scientists probe nose, find stem cells

Gives “up your nose” a whole new dimension for medical research!

Giant marine virus found

So, we need a vaccine to protect giant marines?

Cows done in by bad spuds

Mr. Potato Head joins the Mafia?

Investors drawn to exploding social media

Like moths to a bug zapper…

Giant snails monitor air pollution in Russia

So maybe some good things did come out of Chernobyl?

107 trillion emails sent last year

Most were from that person who has lots of money they want to transfer to your bank account.

Nuclear’ candy turns out to be toxic

Who actually wanted to eat “Toxic Waste Nuclear Sludge Chew Bars” anyway?

Putting the dead to work

Jobs bill for Chicago?

Clowning helps IVF patients become pregnant

Infertility researchers in Israel have found a 15-minute encounter with a clown immediately after fertility treatment dramatically increased the chances of a successful pregnancy.”

Could they achieve the same effect with Three Stooges episodes, and would exposure to mimes be a negative factor?

Researchers print solar cells on toilet paper

Does this make TP’ing a house qualify for a home energy tax credit?

Pregnant, constipated and bloated? Fly poo may tell you why

A modern version of reading entrails.

Japan bio-scientists produce ‘singing mouse’

But can the mouse do karaoke singing?

Gerbils also get the winter blues

Maybe if the Japanese mouse sang to them, it would cheer them up.

Gene therapy helps depressed mice

Maybe they just need to learn how to sing.

A guide to cat cafes in Tokyo

Remember to leave the singing mouse at home.

Cat blamed for starting fire with toaster oven

It just wanted a warm snack!

Quick-thinking cat saves house from fire

First, start toaster oven, then become hero. And blame the dog.

Tired bees make poor dancers

Make sure your bee is rested before the prom.

Scientists discover unknown lizard species at lunch buffet

For real! So, investigate your lunch first before you eat it, there might be scientific paper waiting there.

Brain Zaps Improve Math

Suggestion for the White House.

Researchers study tennis grunting effects

Maybe it was just the chili they ate before the match?

Elephants unfazed by dynamite, but fear humans

Smart elephants.

Radioactive boars on the rise in Germany

Hunting via Geiger counter…

Can you ask a pig if his glass is half full?

Unless he’s radioactive.

Medicare chief’s ties questioned

Apparently he even rations fashion.

Why you should never arm wrestle a saber-toothed tiger

One would think the answer is obvious.

Faecal attraction: Whale poop fights climate change

Memo to self: cancel ocean cruise.

Mammoth-Killer’ Nothing More Than Fungus and Bug Poop

Simple formula, but poor marketing.

Scientists detect huge carbon ‘burp’ that helped end last ice age

Did the Earth say “excuse me”?

Curbing Domestic Violence in Chickens

Another stimulus program

Monkeys hate flying squirrels, report monkey-annoyance experts

There are monkey annoyance experts??

Growing New Blood Vessels

by David Prentice

January 31, 2011

Scientists at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine have developed a way to grow new blood vessels for use with lab-grown tissue. They started with polyethylene glycol (PEG), a nontoxic plastic in wide use in medical devices, and modified to mimic the body’s normal extracellular matrix, the framework of proteins and sugars between cells that provides instructions and supports structure in tissues.

Reporting in the journal Acta Biomaterialia, they showed that by creating a gel-like structure that contained blood vessel-forming cells and growth signals, they could stimulate the cells to form blood capillaries. They also implanted the gels into the corneas of mice, where no natural blood vessels exist, and found that capillaries with normal blood flow were formed. This new technique could provide blood vessels in tissue grown in the lab, and potentially could be used to re-vascularize damaged tissues and restore blood supply, such as after heart attack or stroke.

Changing Skin Directly to Beating Heart Cells

by David Prentice

January 31, 2011

Scientists with the Scripps Research Institute have directly converted adult mouse skin cells into beating heart cells, without using any stem cell intermediate, and without the laborious process of generating embryonic-like stem cells. Using a reprogramming process similar to that for induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, they were able to directly produce “spontaneously contracting patches” of heart cells in the lab. The research is published online in Nature Cell Biology.

The group used the same four genes (“Yamanaka factors”) often used to make iPS cells, but switched off the gene activity after a few days, before the cells had a chance to become iPS cells. Then they stimulated the cells with factors to direct them into becoming cardiac-type cells.

According to Dr. Sheng Ding, senior author of the study:

In 11 days, we went from skin cells to beating heart cells in a dish. It was phenomenal to see.

This work represents a new paradigm in stem cell reprogramming. We hope it helps overcome major safety and other technical hurdles currently associated with some types of stem cell therapies.”

The worrisome type of stem cells is pluripotent stem cells, i.e., embryonic stem cells, which have a propensity to grow out of control and form tumors.

Back in 2009, similar story titles (converting skin to beating heart cells) appeared when a group used skin cells to make human iPS cells (pluripotent, embryonic-like stem cells), then turned those iPS cells into cardiomyoctyes in culture. But because of the embryonic-like nature of iPS cells, their practical application for patient transplant is in doubt. When pluripotent cells are injected in mice, they cause cancer-like growths.

Direct reprogramming, going from one cell type to another without forming a pluripotent stem cell, offers a way around the practical problems of pluripotent stem cells. Several other groups have shown the possibility of direct reprogramming to form various tissue types.

Meanwhile, adult stem cells have already successfully treated patients with chronic heart failure.

A Sputnik Moment, or a Skutnik Moment?

by Robert Morrison

January 28, 2011

This weeks State of the Union Address brought reminders of those long ago. TIME Magazine compared President Obamas polished delivery to Ronald Reagan. Reagan had suffered a down economy and mid-term losses in the House of Representatives. Yet, Reagan bounced back and won a smashing victory in 1984. One thinks the wish is father to the thought.

President Reagan in 1982 created a great tradition by introducing American hero Lenny Skutnik in the family section of the House Visitors Gallery. Mr. Skutnik two weeks before had risked his life to dive into the icy Potomac waters to rescue passengers from the Air Florida crash. It was a dramatic, and thrilling moment.

I know, because my young wife and I watched it live. We watched all of President Reagans State of the Union Addresses. Like this week, there would often be heavy snow during, or in the week of, the address. Outside, the weather might be frightful, but inside it was warm and intimate.

It was the Reagan equivalent of FDRs Fireside Chats.

I recall when President Reagan would speak of the abortion crisis. The fate of unborn children has not been mentioned in any State of the Union Address since Reagans last one in 1988. My great chief described abortion as a wound in Americas soul. He condemned no one but he appealed to Americans to rise above self-interest and embrace the right to life of innocent human beings.

There was no hint of the fate of unborn children last Tuesday night. Fifty-three million Americans have been denied the first of all inalienable rights.

Might we consider what those fifty-three million could have contributed to the State of our Union? We face a crisis of illegal immigration. Obviously, we dont have enough workers. We face a government spending crisis. We dont have enough workers paying taxes to support the government we demand.

Government projections tell us the Social Security System will go broke in 2037, just twenty-five years from now. When it began in 1935, there were 17 workers for every American receiving Social Security. Today, there are only three.

And yet our government continues to sluice billions of dollars to organizations like Planned Parenthood. This outfit has given us 53 million abortions, 65 million STDs, and an out-of-wedlock birth rate of 41%. Still, Mr. Obama tells us funding for this group is essential. To do what, further depress Americas population? To further spread anti-family doctrines? To ensnare more young men and women in its web of deceit?

We face an economic crisis that began in the housing market. Wall Streeter David Goldman wrote in Of Demographics and Depressions (First Things, January, 2009) that the meltdown was bound to start in the housing market.

Young marrieds with children are the drivers of the housing market, he says.

And we have no more of these young families today than we had in 1969.

David Goldman says we may not come out of this severe economic crisis until we address the problem of family formation.

There was surely no such addressing in the presidents address this week. His administration is far down the path of abolishing marriage altogether.

And, because the vast majority abortions are done on unmarried women, an attack on marriage is always an attack on unborn human life itself.

President Obama has thoroughly committed himself to the Planned Parenthood agenda. He may yet express shock at Kermit Gosnells little hell in Philadelphia. Some pro-abortion folks have. They even argue that Gosnell is why we need his health care law—to make sure that these things are done right.

Gosnell has apparently been snip-snipping spinal cords for years in a filthy, vermin-infested abortion mill by night that doubled as an oxycontin den by day. Gosnell doesnt kill unborn children and, allegedly, newborn children in the trim and tidy fashion of Planned Parenthood, but he, too, is a beneficiary of Roe v. Wades unlimited abortion license. And thats a license President Obama defends—to the deaths.

President Reagan understood that we could not have a more perfect Union without attending to the plight of the unborn. He saw all of societyas the great Irish statesman Edmund Burke saw it: As a compact, a union between the living, the dead, and those yet unborn. He would also have agreed with Burke that in order for us to love our country, our country must be made lovely.

And President Reagan knew that America needed more men like Lenny Skutnik—someone willing to risk his life that others may live. President Obama wants us to rise to a Sputnik Moment. President Reagan asked us instead to rise to a Skutnik Moment.

A Child’s Own Adult Stem Cells for Heart Repair

by David Prentice

January 28, 2011

A collaborative team of researchers has shown that cardiac adult stem cells could be used to treat children with heart problems. The group found that they could isolate cardiac stem cells from children that were one day old up to 13 years old, and that these adult stem cells could be grown extensively in the lab and induced to form various types of cardiac cells. They also showed that when these adult stem cells were injected into damaged rat hearts, the human adult stem cells could repair heart damage, showing “robust regenerative ability”.

Dr. Sunjay Kaushal from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, the senior author, said:

This project has generated important pre-clinical laboratory data showing that we may be able to use their own heart stem cells to rebuild their hearts, allowing these children to live longer and have more productive lives. The potential of cardiac stem cell therapy for children is truly exciting.”

Previous heart stem cell studies have addressed the adult diseased heart; this is the first systematic study to focus on cardiac adult stem cells from children. Dr. Kaushal hopes to begin clinical trials with children in the fall, pending FDA approval.

The new study is published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

Restoring the Cradle of Liberty

by Tony Perkins

January 27, 2011

[The following is a speech delivered by Tony Perkins to the Bakersfield Pregnancy Center’s “Hope Has a Name” Annual Benefit Banquet on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at the Bakersfield First Assembly of God Church, Bakersfield, CA]

As a nation and maybe its in our nature as Americans we like to be the first. Tiny Delaware crows about being the first state to ratify the Constitution. Today its more likely to be the first place you send your credit card payment.

And Bakersfield is no different. I understand that theres been a controversial competition going on between this city and the cities of Fresno and Merced about where the first leg of the states bullet train will be built. I dont know which side of that debate youre on, but wanting to be first just comes naturally to most of us. Were even here at the First Assembly of God.

Its the same way with mottoes. When I use the phrase, Cradle of Liberty, which city in America do you think of? For me, Boston comes to mind. Even a specific place in Boston — Faneuil Hall. Boston has a pretty good claim to the name, of course, dating to before the Revolution.

Yet firsts are not always good things. A few years ago I had the chance to walk most of the Freedom Trail while I was filming some videos in an effort to pass a state marriage amendment in Massachusetts. Massachusettss Supreme Court was the first state supreme court to strike down marriage.

Other competitors exist for the title, Cradle of Liberty. Some residents of New York City have launched an effort to have this designation. New Yorkers wanting to be first can you believe it? Then theres the city two hours southwest of New York, the home of Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Continental Congress, and dozens of other landmarks.

You may remember the phrase Cradle of Liberty from Philadelphia because thats the name adopted by the Boy Scouts Council that lost its meeting place on city land because the Scouts will not admit homosexuals to serve as scout masters.

When you think about it, Philadelphia has a strong claim to be the intellectual birthplace of our nation a political Cradle of Liberty.

Well, we had some news from Philadelphia last week that tells us a great deal about the condition of our land and the state of our liberty. While we have made progress in advancing life, as long as abortionists can continue to carry out their deeds under the cover of government indifference, we remain a nation of broken cradles and shrunken liberty.

Im sure youve seen the headlines. At a place so wrongly named the, Womens Medical Society, a man I cant bring myself to call him a doctor stands accused of killing one of his patients and as many as hundreds of live-born infants. He is formally charged with murdering seven of these children.

Now, were gathered for a banquet this evening and for a celebration of Life of all that the Bakersfield Pregnancy Center does to bring light into the darkness and hope for mothers in need. Because of its work, Hope does indeed have a name.

So I wont dwell too long on the details of what took place in Philadelphia, and what the Grand Jury report says went on in Kermit Gosnells charnel house. And yes, that is their wording: charnel house. But it is important for us to understand the times in which we live and the challenges we must overcome.

Let me read you just one paragraph from the Grand Jurys 281-page report, which details how Gosnell operated by night to kill babies in the sixth and seventh month of pregnancy:

There remained, however, a final difficulty. When you perform late-term abortions by inducing labor, you get babies. Live, breathing, squirming babies. By 24 weeks, most babies born prematurely will survive if they receive appropriate medical care. But that was not what the Womens Medical Society was about. Gosnell had a simple solution for the unwanted babies he delivered: he killed them. He didnt call it that. He called it ensuring fetal demise. The way he ensured fetal demise was by sticking scissors into the back of the babys neck and cutting the spinal cord. He called that snipping.

Ladies and gentlemen, 38 years after the legal crime called Roe v. Wade, this is what has become of one of our Cradles of Liberty. What Gosnell stands accused of doing is nothing short of a total birth abortion. Liberty has become a barbaric license to crush the very cradle and with it our future.

As appalling as all this is, what is more appalling is the number of government officials who knew that this and other kinds of mayhem and fraud - were going on and did nothing about it.

Weve read the New Testament and know how the Lord looks upon the high and mighty who passed by the man who fell among robbers and was beaten within an inch of his life.

In Pennsylvania, a state ranked as having the some of the most pro-life laws in the nation, this house of horrors has operated without interference since 1993. Since 1993. Visitors to the Womens Medical Society reported it to health authorities many times, were told. Gosnell continued to kill human beings and shred all record of their births. No one followed up.

We must demand that officials in Pennsylvania get to the bottom of these crimes. Anyone who buried these citizen reports, just like those who buried or burned the bodies of babies, should be found, fired, and prosecuted under the law.

But ladies and gentlemen, taking these remedial steps will not get us to the root of the problem. The root of the problem is that we as a nation have forgotten our heritage. We have turned our back on God, the God who our Founders knew gave us Life and Liberty, as Thomas Jefferson said, at the same time. And from the beginning of time, in His holy Word, our God has told us that He values life from the instant of its creation in the womb. Why? Because each human being is made in His image.

Tonight I ask you to ponder with me, to reflect for a moment, what God means by a Cradle of Liberty.

I remember seeing a poster years ago that was all about celebrating life and welcoming children. It was not an anti-abortion poster but pro-lifers loved it. It was picture of an African-American boy, two or three years old, standing outside a shack of a house, a cap on his head, suspenders holding up his baggy pants, and a big smile on his face. His parents stood behind him on the porch of the shack, gazing down at their son. The yard and porch were littered with rusted farm tools. A few chickens pointed in all directions. And the caption said, I know Im a somebody, because God doesnt make junk.

This set me to thinking about the cradles in Scripture, and how, almost without fail, Gods message is to look past how the cradle is made, how its worth is measured in human terms, and instead to look inside that cradle to see His wondrous work and find the thing of lasting value.

I turned to the Book of Exodus, chapter 2, verses 1 through 3.

Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him. Then Pharaohs daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. This is one of the Hebrew babies, she said. (NIV)

Papyrus, tar and pitch. You wont find a cradle like that at an upscale Baby Boutique. (Nor at the Bakersfield Pregnancy Center, either!) An observer from the Egyptian social register would look at this account of the infant Moses and call it a rags-to-riches story. We know it as something else a slavery- to-freedom story. Were papyrus, tar and pitch a fit resting place for the towering figure of history who would lead the children of Israel to the verge of the Promised Land? Maybe not by mans standard, but in Gods story, yes. Oh, definitely yes.

Flash forward with me to the most famous first resting place in all of human history. The hinge of history. It was a place of straw, crowded with stinking beasts, creviced to the night air. Some cradle.

But laid down there in that foul and unlit quarter was the King of Kings, the son of the living God, the author, lover and fulfiller of our deepest longings. Our truest liberties.

Was this a fit resting place for the figure who towers above all history? Would this impoverished family, far from home, have been seen by the worlds potentates, sitting in their marble palaces, as a couple worthy of their honor, much less their hosannas? Would this family whose son had no place to lay his head would they not have been candidates in the views of the rich and powerful to abandon that child on a windswept hillside? Or leave him to the tender mercies of a false doctor?

Think of poor Joseph. He who could have built a cradle of remarkable beauty had his shop and tools been close at hand, standing there in the dead of night feeling helpless because he had brought his pregnant wife to such a habitation.

Another husband, out on the road, failing to make a reservation.

Was this not a most unpromising beginning?

Yes, and yes again, in the human version of the cradle story. But not in Gods story, not in His perfect plan.

I have a final cradle to call to mind tonight. And rather than just ask you to visualize my meaning, Ive brought some pictures along with me. These are the smiling faces of the children the world knows as Snowflake Babies. Their earthly parents now are men and women who, with the help of the Nightlight Christian Adoptions, reclaimed them from Americas infertility centers.

The cradle of these children was, for months and even years, a stainless steel canister containing liquid nitrogen. Frozen as embryos, suspended, not developing, not dying, they waited. Wanted perhaps, but not now, not yet.

We know that the manger in the Nativity story is sometimes depicted as a cold and forbidding place. But swaddling clothes would be no help at all at the temperature of liquid nitrogen. How cold is that? A tad below negative 320 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, just a little below Minnesota.

We can ask ourselves, who could choose such a cradle? But that is not the proper question. The proper question is, How can God use such a cradle? And in the stories of Scripture and of Snowflake Babies, He has given us an answer of overwhelming warmth.

Tonight you can be a part of spreading the warmth of Gods love by partnering with the Bakersfield Pregnancy Center. Through their work and their love and their faithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in the last year alone, more than 100 babies have been rescued from abortion and their mothers have been rescued from the idea that no one cares.

You know, it was Martin Luther who referred to the Bible as the cradle wherein Christ is laid. What a beautiful image. What a comforting reality. Tonight lets rededicate ourselves to go, time and again, to that cradle, the font of liberty.

And let us pray that our nation will become once more a Cradle of true Liberty. Let us pray that every state and city will soon compete to be the first where the scourge of abortion is no more.

Let us strive to become, maybe for the first time in all of human history, a nation that knows what God can do with even the rudest of cradles. Let us make our real rags-to-riches story the salvation story of leaving the slavery of casual sex and abortion and finding the freedom of a God who does not make junk.

And as we pray let us also work to see the cradle of true liberty restored for all. There is no question in my mind that God is at work in our nation. The question is, will we join Him?

Let us join our hearts and hands in hope that, as Abraham Lincoln said, this nation, under God, will have a new birth of freedom.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

Breast Reconstruction with Adult Stem Cells

by David Prentice

January 27, 2011

An announcement recently from Japanese universities that they are establishing an institute to use adult stem cells for breast reconstruction is welcome news, recognizing the current uses as well as future potential of adult stem cells for patients. The most common methods of breast reconstruction are silicon injections and fat implants, which pose risks of infection as well as long-term maintenance. The proposal is to use adult stem cells from fat tissue (sometimes termed adipose-derived stem cells) of the patient to re-grow breast tissue.

There is already an ongoing approved clinical trial in Europe for breast cancer patients to use adipose-derived stem cells for breast reconstruction, and interim results have been very promising.

Doctors in Australia and in the U.K. had also previously announced clinical trials for the adult stem cell technique.

While it might sound humorous, adult stem cells from liposuctioned fat are a very useful source of stem cells for reconstructive surgery. They’ve already been used in other trials as well, but that’s for another story.

Growing new breast tissue from adult stem cells is not so far-fetched. In 2006, two groups showed that they could isolate mouse mammary gland stem cells, and regenerate an entire mammary gland from a single adult stem cell. (In the interests of equal time, another group showed in 2008 in mice the generation of a prostate from a single adult stem cell.)

Of course, there are those who consider cosmetic breast augmentation the more significant application…

Adult stem cells continue to prove their superior capabilities for tissue repair in patients.

The Kings LifeAnd my First Knight

by Robert Morrison

January 26, 2011

Americans are storming the theaters to see the movie, The Kings Speech. Nominated for a clutch of Oscars, this film is proving highly popular. Its not like that pudding Winston Churchill complained of: It has no theme.

This one has a most uplifting theme. Its about King George VI of England and his struggle to overcome a painful childhood stammer. And who would imagine that theyd see a film with a pro-life theme as a major contender for a host of Academy Awards?

Well, its an obliquely pro-life theme, Ill admit. But what it demonstrates is the sense of triumph that comes from overcoming physical or mental adversity. Unborn children today are lost because of such treatable defects as cleft palate and harelip, as well as deafness. These conditions, like stammering, can affect speech.

The king was not born with a stammer. For that matter, he wasnt even born to be king. It was his elder brothers absorption with the alluring Mrs. Wallis Warfield Simpson that led the Prince of Wales to become a runaway bridegroom.

Bertie, as George VI was known within the Royal Family, had suffered a childhood trauma and was further paralyzed by the thought of having to assume the throne. Britain in the 1930s seemed doomed to a second horrific clash with Germany. How could a stammering monarch rally his people and fulfill the role expected of him?

Im happy to hear that the movie may be scrubbed to replace some of the sailor words that were apparently part of the treatment for the Kings speech defect. Bertie actually was a sailor, serving as a young man most admirably at the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Since he was then the Duke of York and not expected to reign as king, he was allowed to go into combat. His father, King George V had, as they say, an heir and a spare. Several spares, actually.

My own connection with this worthy royal is, admittedly, a shirttail one. King George VIs official biographer, Sir John Wheeler-Bennett, was our beloved professor of diplomatic history at University of Virginia long ago. We felt truly privileged to have lectures by this learned English don.

Sir John was very tall, very thin, and wore his English tweeds even in a blistering Charlottesville summer. Whenever we undergraduates spotted him across Mr. Jeffersons Lawn, we would hail him. Wed introduce ourselves, but he seemed amazingly to remember our names.

Oh, hello, Hello, HELLO, Mr. Morrison, he would say, in greeting me. Hed take a handkerchief out of his shirt cuff and mop his brow as he proceeded in conversation. We knew he was the leading historian of the interwar period. Everyone cited Wheeler-Bennett. He memorably said the democracies had appeased the wrong Germans

after the First World War.

We knew, or may have known, that he had done the official biography of George VI, but I cannot recall any of us ever asking him about that. We wanted to know about the rise of Hitler and the grim path that led the Western democracies to war. About all that, no one knew more.

Only decades later did I return to Sir Johns work. I was researching a book on U.S. history and wanted Wheeler-Bennetts insights. I borrowed what seemed a whole shelf of his works from the Naval Academy library. On that same shelf, I just happened on Sir Johns bio of King George VI, and some of his personal reminiscences.

Opening any one of his books, he seemed to jump outlike the genie in Aladdins lamp: Oh, hello, Hello, HELLO! I read the rest of his story and learned that Wheeler-Bennett had tried politely to decline the invitation to become the Biographer Royal. But, Im a diplomatic historian, he mildly protested.

He was quickly informed that one does not turn down Buckingham Palaces invitation to write the official biography of a beloved King. Only then did I learn why John Wheeler-Bennett was selected.

He had also overcome a profound childhood stammer. His house had been bombed by German Zeppelins coming over London in World War I. Little John was in his cradle then. He wasnt injured, but the too-near explosions caused him to stammer.

That hello, Hello, HELLO bit was actually a breathing exercise to help him kick-start his talk. We had no clue he had a stammer. He was chosen because the Palace knew that Wheeler-Bennett would have special empathy with the late King. And he did.

He had special empathy for us, too. For many of us young, unsophisticated college students, the idea of having Sir John among our friends gave us confidence. His opinions were based on the most careful and probing research. We could quote him with assurance. That double-barreled patronymicas he called his hyphenated last namelent authority to our case. It helped to win any debates.

Sir John Wheeler-Bennett won his knighthood just as the Kings speech coach Lionel Logue did. He too performed outstanding service to the Crown. He was the most approachable and welcoming of professors. He wore his great learning lightly. His struggle to overcome a paralyzing handicapalong with his late Kingsproves that every human life has immeasurable worth.

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