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Latest links of interest:

The Capital Of Western Swing - Oklahoma Magazine

John Wooley tells the story of how Tulsa became the capital of western swing, as told to him by O. W. Mayo, business manager for Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys and Johnnie Lee Wills and His Boys. Mayo got involved with Bob Wills and his band in Waco and was with them for their search for a new home base, out of reach of the influence of Pappy O'Daniel. The magic combination was the band, a big ballroom (Cain's), and a broadcasting blowtorch (KVOO).

Baptist Theological Seminary campus at Rüschlikon, Switzerland, now conference center

The Swiss Re Center for Global Dialogue is on the grounds of Villa Bodmer in Rüschlikon, Switzerland, near the shores of Lake Zurich. The 40-room mansion was built by industrialist Karl Martin Leonhard Bodmer in the late 1920s. It was formerly home to the Baptist Theological Seminary, which purchased the estate for $240,000 in 1948 and began classes on the site in 1949. Mrs. Bates sang there in the early '80s as part of the University Baptist Church (Fayetteville, Ark.), collegiate choir, New Creations, and she and I walked around the campus and ate a picnic (tinned meat and fresh bread) in the car park during a trip to central Europe in September 1990. After defunding by the Southern Baptist Convention and the liberation of the former Warsaw Pact countries, both happening in 1991, the seminary changed its name to the International Baptist Theological Seminary and moved to Prague in 1997. The seminary's chapel remains on the site and is home to the International Baptist Church of Zurich.

The Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives has a collection of papers on the Baptist Theological Seminary, Rüschlikon, Switzerland.

American Architecture's Classical Revival by Allan Greenberg and Colette Arredondo, City Journal Spring 2015

While the contagion of "global architecture" today dilutes the individual character of our cities, turning them into bland collections of interchangeable buildings, we now have voices offering a fresh choice: classical architecture based on local traditions and ideals. In Alabama, judges want to hear cases in buildings that embody the virtues of justice; in California and Illinois, colleges want buildings that reflect their founding principles; and in New York City, luxurious new classical apartment buildings offer residents "modern-traditional" living. Classical architecture is not just about history; it's also about light, color, and human proportions, all of which help us understand it and relate to it so naturally. "People will not look forward to prosperity," Edmund Burke once said, "who never look backwards to their ancestors." In politics, as in architecture, tastes evolve. But lasting institutions can be built only on strong foundations.

Can Islam Be Reformed?: History and human nature say yes :: Daniel Pipes

"Key to Islam's role in public life is Sharia and the many untenable demands it makes on Muslims. Running a government with the minimal taxes permitted by Sharia has proved to be unsustainable; and how can one run a financial system without charging interest? A penal system that requires four men to view an adulterous act in flagrante delicto is impractical. Sharia's prohibition on warfare against fellow Muslims is impossible for all to live up to; indeed, roughly three-quarters of all warfare waged by Muslims has been directed against other Muslims. Likewise, the insistence on perpetual jihad against non-Muslims demands too much.

"To get around these and other unrealistic demands, premodern Muslims developed certain legal fig leaves that allowed for the relaxation of Islamic provisions without directly violating them. Jurists came up with hiyal (tricks) and other means by which the letter of the law could be fulfilled while negating its spirit. For example, various mechanisms were developed to live in harmony with non-Muslim states. There is also the double sale (bai al-inah) of an item, which permits the purchaser to pay a disguised form of interest. Wars against fellow Muslims were renamed jihad.

"This compromise between Sharia and reality amounted to what I dubbed Islam's "medieval synthesis" in my book In the Path of God (1983). This synthesis translated Islam from a body of abstract, infeasible demands into a workable system. In practical terms, it toned down Sharia and made the code of law operational. Sharia could now be sufficiently applied without Muslims being subjected to its more stringent demands....

"For anti-Islamist Muslims, the great burden is to develop not just an alternative vision to the Islamist one but an alternative movement to Islamism. The Islamists reached their position of power and influence through dedication and hard work, through generosity and selflessness. Anti-Islamists must also labor, probably for decades, to develop an ideology as coherent and compelling as that of the Islamists, and then spread it. Scholars interpreting sacred scriptures and leaders mobilizing followers have central roles in this process.

"Non-Muslims can help a modern Islam move forward in two ways: first, by resisting all forms of Islamism--not just the brutal extremism of an Osama bin Laden, but also the stealthy, lawful, political movements such as Turkey's AKP. Erdoğan is less ferocious than Bin Laden, but he is more effective and no less dangerous. Whoever values free speech, equality before the law, and other human rights denied or diminished by Sharia must consistently oppose any hint of Islamism.

"Second, non-Muslims should support moderate and Westernizing anti-Islamists. Such figures are weak and fractured today and face a daunting task, but they do exist, and they represent the only hope for defeating the menace of global jihad and Islamic supremacism, then replacing it with an Islam that does not threaten civilization."

Islam's 'Reformation' Is Already Here - and It's Called 'ISIS' - Raymond Ibrahim - American Thinker

"Islam's current reformation follows the same logic of the Protestant Reformation - specifically by prioritizing scripture over centuries of tradition and legal debate - but with antithetical results that reflect the contradictory teachings of the core texts of Christianity and Islam...."

Ibrahim quotes Daniel Pipes on the milder, medieval version of Islam crafted by scholars, but disconnected from the foundational texts and history: "translat[ing] Islam from a body of abstract, infeasible demands [as stipulated in the Koran and Hadith] into a workable system. In practical terms, it toned down Sharia and made the code of law operational. Sharia could now be sufficiently applied without Muslims being subjected to its more stringent demands[.] ... [However, w]hile the medieval synthesis worked over the centuries, it never overcame a fundamental weakness: It is not comprehensively rooted in or derived from the foundational, constitutional texts of Islam. Based on compromises and half measures, it always remained vulnerable to challenge by purists."

"How Christianity and Islam can follow similar patterns of reform but with antithetical results rests in the fact that their scriptures are often antithetical to one another. This is the key point, and one admittedly unintelligible to postmodern, secular sensibilities, which tend to lump all religious scriptures together in a melting pot of relativism without bothering to evaluate the significance of their respective words and teachings."

Ibrahim compares the statements of the New Testament and the Koran on tolerance, apostasy, marriage, and lying. He writes:

"It is precisely because Christian scriptural literalism lends itself to religious freedom, tolerance, and the dignity of women that Western civilization developed the way it did - despite the nonstop propaganda campaign emanating from academia, Hollywood, and other major media that says otherwise.

"And it is precisely because Islamic scriptural literalism is at odds with religious freedom, tolerance, and the dignity of women that Islamic civilization is the way it is - despite the nonstop propaganda campaign emanating from academia, Hollywood, and other major media that says otherwise.

Those in the West waiting for an Islamic "reformation" along the same lines of the Protestant Reformation, on the assumption that it will lead to similar results, must embrace two facts: 1) Islam's reformation is well on its way, and yes, along the same lines of the Protestant Reformation - with a focus on scripture and a disregard for tradition - and for similar historic reasons (literacy, scriptural dissemination, etc.); 2) but because the core teachings of the founders and scriptures of Christianity and Islam markedly differ from one another, Islam's reformation is producing something markedly different.

"Put differently, those in the West calling for an "Islamic reformation" need to acknowledge what it is they are really calling for: the secularization of Islam in the name of modernity, and the trivialization and sidelining of Islamic law from Muslim society....

"That would not be a "reformation" - certainly nothing analogous to the Protestant Reformation.

"Upholding the literal teachings of Christianity is possible within a secular - or any - state. Christ called on believers to "render unto Caesar the things of Caesar [temporal] and unto God the things of God [spiritual]" (Matt. 22:21). For the "kingdom of God" is "not of this world" (John 18:36)....

"On the other hand, mainstream Islam is devoted to upholding the law, and Islamic scripture calls for a fusion between Islamic law - sharia - and the state."

Video stuck during upload - YouTube Help

"Don't waste your uploads progress! If you had to abandon your upload for any reason, you have up to 24 hours to continue uploading where you left off. Just go back to and select the same file from your computer."

Tillman County Chronicles: "The Wave" at Pioneer Townsite

A historic Fun-Ful Ocean Wave merry-go-round, a spinning and rocking staple of school playgrounds in the first half of the 20th century, has been reconstructed on the grounds of the Pioneer Townsite museum in Frederick, OK, but it's been frozen in position -- too dangerous in the modern view.

Why We Chop Down Cedar Trees | Confessions of a Pioneer Woman | Ree Drummond

A guest post by Ree's husband, Ladd Drummond, about the menace to ranching and the natural environment posed by the eastern red cedar, an invasive species that sucks water out of the ground, reducing the native grasses available for grazing.

King of the Blues, R.I.P. : The Other McCain

A tribute to the hard work and dues paid by B. B. King:

"Anyone enthralled by the popular misconception that a working musician's life is glamorous should contemplate what it was like for King and his band in the 1950s when, in addition to the ordinary hassles of life on the road, they also had to cope with the difficulties that Jim Crow-era segregation imposed. King's hard-earned status as the most commercially successful blues performer in history, however, required him to endure the ups and downs of a career affected by shifts in popular music tastes. In the early 1960s, he was actually booed in Baltimore by a young audience that was there to see the soul crooner Sam Cooke. King kept working -- playing more than 40 weeks on the road year after year -- until a new generation rediscovered the blues. British rockers like the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds, who had traced rock-and-roll back to its R&B roots, inspired a blues revival in the late 1960s....

"King was 43 years old and had already played more than 4,000 gigs before his "commercial breakthrough" in 1968."

My wife and I had the thrill of seeing him in concert at the PAC, with seventh-row seats, playing songs and telling stories.

Newberry Library: Atlas of Historical County Boundaries Project

Interactive maps, downloadable shapefiles, and chronological narratives of state and county boundaries over time. Useful for historical and genealogical research.

Massachusetts' chronology is particularly interesting, as it covers the former separate colony of Plymouth and the Maine and New Hampshire regions that were split off as separate entities. I'd always wondered why Norfolk County is south of Suffolk. Unfortunately, the Oklahoma data set treats Indian Territory as a unitary entity, rather than attending to the changes in tribal boundaries over the course of the 19th century.

(Via a Center for Investigative Reports article about how they used satellite imagery and boundary information to trace out the U. S. / Mexico border fence. They used OpenStreetMap and JOSM to create a shapefile of the fence.)

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