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Monday, January 08, 2018


A quote for the passage of time: “Lost yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered for they are gone forever.” How appropriately Horace Mann expressed the passage of time.

Another year has passed forever. A new year dawns and with it brings another chance to redeem our time in 2018. Mom used to advise not to wish time away. The end of time will come soon enough for every person. Wishing away time is poor stewardship of a valuable resource.

Let the pundits recap 2017. To gain a better feel for the magnitude and speed of change one need only to glimpse at the past thousand years. Change and the passage of time go hand-in-hand. They impact the tempo of our lives and over the past millennia that tempo increased radically. Historical factoids illustrate that fact and provide context for understanding follow-on events.

For example, it was only a thousand years ago, in 1017, that King Canute (King of Denmark, England and Norway and referred to as the North Sea Empire) divided England into four earldoms.

In 1018 the Byzantine Empire, also known as the Eastern Roman Empire (an extension of the Roman Empire after the fall of Rome) was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Constantinople (current day Istanbul) was the capitol. Byzantine forces defeated an army of Lombards (Sicily) and Normans (France) at Cannae (southeast of Rome along the coast of the Adriatic Sea). It assured continued domination of southern Italy by the Greeks.

Likewise, the Bulgarians submitted to Constantinople thereby regaining Macedonia for the Byzantine Empire.

Five hundred years ago the year 1517 was eventful for Islam. The Ottoman Turks sacked Cairo, Egypt. They moved on to secure the holy places of Arabia.

Archduke Charles of Austria granted Florentine merchants a monopoly in the African slave trade.

The Reformation of the Catholic Church began at Wittenberg 60 miles southwest of Berlin. Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral challenging the excesses and abuses of the Roman Church.

Also in 1517 Spanish explorer de Cordoba observed traces of a Mayan civilization in the Yucatan.

In 1518 a third major epidemic of the sweating sickness spread over England with more severity than in 1507. It wiped out most of the population in some towns. The actual disease is still a puzzle. Was it influenza, scarlet fever, anthrax, or typhus? The onset of symptoms was sudden with death often occurring within hours.

Luther’s Reformation gained the support of the Swiss clergyman Zwingli.

Tobacco was introduced to a Spanish general by a native chief.” …a little hollow tube burning at one end, made in such a manner that after being lighted they burn themselves out without causing a flame….And they smelled a fragrant odor.”

A mere 250 years ago (1767) ushered in a more “modern era” and the events that would establish the United States. The Mason and Dixson Line between the Pennsylvania and Maryland colonies was completed after a 4-year survey by English surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon.

North Carolina woodsman Danial Boone, 33, goes through the Cumberland Gap, found in 1750 and reaches “Kanetucke” in defiance of King George’s decree of 1763.

In 1768 Charlotte, North Carolina is founded by colonists who name their settlement after George III’s queen.

Delegates from 26 Massachusetts towns meet to draw up a statement of grievances following anti-British riots. The British respond by sending Navy men-of-war and two infantry regiments to Boston. America’s Declaration of Independence is only 8 years away.

The rate of change accelerates as the world enters the 21st Century. The recent rate of change in our own lifetime is radical and compounding annually. Overwhelming change, stifling change, change seemingly out of control and without direction promotes confusion and perplexity. The year 2018 promises more of the same.

For many there is a point of reference providing consistency and continuity in a topsy-turvy world. At Christmas many celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and the meaning He brings to their existence. I am one of those. In a world turned upside down He offers stability, sanity, and restoration from the inside out. He did yesterday, He does today, and He will in 2018.

A new year is dawning and some folks will take the opportunity to choose a new and enduring point of reference. Here is wishing the very best to each and all in 2018!


Dennis M. Patrick can be contacted at (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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