The Gift of Bethlehem


This is a series of articles written by Peter Johnston for the Wharton Journal Spectator from 2007-2010

November 28, 2007
‘Gift of Bethlehem’ has wide impact

As our nation prepares for this season, tens of millions of presents will undoubtedly appear under trees and in living rooms from coast to coast. Little of this would take place were it not for “The Gift in Bethlehem” that appeared in a manger over 2,000 years ago.

Many will take time to give praise for that singularly remarkable appearance that has made eternal life universally available to any who would believe. Others undoubtedly will scoff at the significance of The Gift but very readily participate in exchanging their own gifts during this Has The Gift of Bethlehem made a difference? Setting aside the issue of eternal life, has there been a wider impact of that Gift? Has The Gift meant anything for culture as a whole? A former Beijing Bureau Chief for Time magazine, David Aikman, uncovered a striking commentary attesting to the power of The Gift throughout western civilization. In 2002 Aikman attended a lecture in Beijing by a Chinese scholar with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

• What was the goal of their research? The scholar explained, “One of the things we were asked to look into was what accounted for the success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West all over
• What did they search? He noted, “We studied everything we could from the historical, political, economic, and cultural perspective. At first, we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system.”
• What did they conclude? “But in the past 20 years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West has been so powerful. The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don’t have any doubt about this.” It may not be readily apparent in Western media, but there is conclusive evidence in addition to this Chinese study that The Gift changed the soul of society in the ways we think and act, not only spiritually, but economically, politically, even scientifically.

Stay tuned as next week I will continue offering that evidence.

December 12, 2007
Gift of Bethlehem and school system

I know it is past Thanksgiving, but if you are reading this article I suggest you thank your parents and/or a teacher and/or a private or public school system … and while you are at it, don’t forget to thank the Gift of Bethlehem. The Gift of Bethlehem and education? What does the Gift have to do with education?

With over 60 colleges and universities just in Texas and a public school available to every community, it may seem strange to give credit to a birth in a manger in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago. But just where did the idea of modern universities originate? And while answering that question, how about education for everyone, what was its inspiration?

Modern universities

Historians document the rise of modern universities to three models each founded around 1200 AD: universities at Paris in France, Bologna in Italy and Oxford in England. For Paris and Oxford the primary focus was Christian theology, a secondary focus was Aristotelian thought. At Bologna the focus was church and civil law. These three models were replicated in other towns maintaining a primary focus on a pursuit of God in a systematic manner.

This primary emphasis carried over in America with the establishment of its first college, Harvard, in 1636 AND almost every other college founded in the next 140 years! One historian has written, “Every collegiate institution founded in the colonies prior to the Revolutionary War [over 100] – except the University of Pennsylvania – was established by some branch of the Christian church.”

Education for everyone

Based upon the Mosaic command for parents to teach their children the Word of God, Jews and later Christians became known as “people of the Book.” While literacy seriously declined following the fall of the Roman Empire it was the diligence of Christian monks in copying major Christian and non-Christian classics that preserved texts for the educational explosion to come.

Two changes in the 15th and 16th centuries fueled that explosion. First, the invention of the printing press in the 15th century facilitated much greater availability of resources to read. Then secondly, the Reformation gave a widespread incentive to read. American educator Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld explains, “The modern idea of popular education – that is education for everyone -first arose in Europe during the Protestant Reformation when papal authority was replaced by biblical authority.” He continues, “…it became obvious to Protestant leaders that if the reform movement were to survive and flourish, widespread biblical literacy, at all levels of society would be absolutely necessary.”

Space prohibits a more lengthy explanation, but suffice it to say the fires of the Reformation fueled the zeal for childhood education in the American colonies. Massachusetts, for instance, became the first colony to mandate the education of children, believe it or not, to help them learn and apply the Word of God! While later changes in education de-emphasized that spiritual heritage, if you are reading this article I encourage you to give thanks to the Gift of Bethlehem.

December 19, 2007
Political liberty affected by ‘Gift of Bethlehem’

“Historians are discovering that the Bible, perhaps even more than the Constitution is our founding document…” Newsweek Magazine, “How the Bible Made America.”

As we approach the Christmas celebration for 2007 the Newsweek quote from 1982 probably surprises many readers both in substance and in its source.

But, in spite of the fact that most of the media and our educational system from kindergarten to advanced degrees increasingly deny such a profound link of the Bible to political liberty, history, our nation’s founding fathers and founding documents attest to this fact: the source of American liberty is deeply rooted in a higher law than man’s law; especially that espoused by the Judeo-Christian faith.

What is the source of American law and liberty?

Two years ago when my then 14-year-old son Daniel and I strolled through the Langdell Reading Room in the library at Harvard Law School, I was struck by another quotation in an unlikely place. Unlikely because in the late 19th Century, the dean of Harvard Law School, Christopher Columbus Langdell, under the mentoring of the president of Harvard University, Charles William Eliott successfully sparked a missionary like effort to transform the philosophy of law first at Harvard and then nationwide by denying any source higher than man.

Yet right in the reading room carrying Langdell’s name, we saw this quote: “OF LAW THERE CAN BE NO LESSE ACKNOWLEDGED THAN THAT HER SEATE IS THE BOSOME OF GOD.”

That quote would, of course, be more consistent with the spirit of the Declaration of Independence that unequivocally states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Our founders, unlike most 20th and 21st century legal minds, clearly believed in four basic principles regarding a higher law. They believed that the basis of law was:

• Something that preceded them;
• Something outside of themselves;
• Something that was objective; and
• Something that was discoverable.

In his 2002 book, On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding, theologian, author and former U.S. ambassador, Michael Novak states it is a scandal that we are so ignorant of the founding fathers. Writing that law schools, jurists and history departments show little interest in religion, he concludes, “One wing [the wing of faith] of the eagle by which American democracy took flight has been quietly forgotten.”

Novak’s first chapter conclusively establishes our founders clung to a Hebrew worldview based on (1) purpose and progress, in contrast to the fatalism of most other cultures; (2) that all of creation is “suffused with reason, not absurd” and (3) that God created man and woman to freely love Him without coercion.

According to Novak, Thomas Jefferson’s statement, “The God Who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time” summarized the third aspect of that Biblical worldview.

According to Novak, Christianity released the essentials of that Hebrew worldview to the rest of the world; Western civilization has adopted them but forgotten their source. Novak writes:

“Nowadays, even secular people interpret history in the light of progress, rights, and liberty. Yet unbelievers received these concepts neither from the Greeks and Romans nor from enlightened Reason, but via the preaching of Jesus Christ, from whom the Gentile learned the essential outlook of the Hebrews: that the Creator gave humans a special place among all other creatures, and made them free, and endowed them with incomparable responsibility and dignity.”

Yes, as we celebrate this Christmas, we should recognize the Gift of Bethlehem not only for His impact on economic liberty and modern education, the topics of previous columns, but on our American political liberty as well.

I will close with quotes from two of our founding fathers:

“Our liberties do not come from charters; for these are only the declaration of pre-existing rights. They do not depend on parchment or seals; but come from the King of Kings and the Lord of all the earth.” John Dickinson, signer of the U.S. Constitution.

“You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe.” John Adams, signer of the Declaration of Independence.

December 3, 2008 2:00 AM CST
Bethlehem’s gift revisited

Last year at this time, I wrote a series of four columns based on “The Gift of Bethlehem.” The first centered on Chinese research into the preeminence of the West over the rest of the world. According to a Chinese scholar, decades of research in China led them to one conclusion: The success of the West was due not to military power, political expertise or inherent economic savvy, but to religion -specifically Christianity. The next three articles demonstrated the positive impact of the Gift of Bethlehem upon economic liberty, education and political freedom.

Since we have again moved into the Christmas season, it is again appropriate to consider what has been the impact of the child born in a manger? Are there other fields that owe a debt to that child?

How about science?

Some may scoff, assuming that nothing could be further removed from one another than Christ and But history would demonstrate otherwise.

Rodney Stark, Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor University writes in The Victory of Reason: “The so-called Scientific Revolution of the sixteenth century has been misinterpreted by those wishing to assert an inherent conflict between religion and science. Some wonderful things were achieved in this era, but they were not produced by an eruption of secular thinking. Rather, these achievements were the culmination of many centuries of systematic progress by medieval Scholastics, sustained by the uniquely Christian twelfth-century invention – the university. Not only were science and religion compatible, they were inseparable. The rise of science was achieved by deeply religious Christian scholars.”

He adds: “Real science arose only once: In Europe. China, Islam, India and ancient Greece and Rome each had a highly developed alchemy. But only in Europe did alchemy develop into chemistry. By the same token, many societies developed elaborate systems of astrology, but only in Europe did astrology lead to astronomy. Why? Again, the answer has to do with images of God.”

Stark, by far, is not the only scholar to have noted this relationship. But how often do we hear it?

Nancy R. Pearcey and Charles B. Thaxton have written an excellent book entitled The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy. Commenting on it, University of California, Berkeley Professor of Law, Emeritus, Phillip Johnson wrote: “Pearcey and Thaxton show that the alliance between atheism and science is a temporary aberration and that, far from being inimical to science, Christian theism has played and will continue to play an important role in the growth of scientific understanding.”

There are a number of contributing factors regarding this influence on the development of science, but two include the Judeo-Christian image of God and a belief in reason. Space limits me from further development of this relationship, but let it suffice to say that as we celebrate Christmas this season it would be wise to look beyond the tinsel, the lights and the colorful packing. Indeed, we ought even look beyond what is inside all those packages to the real reason for the season. Christ Himself has made an incomparable difference both to individual lives and to the transformation of culture.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 2:00 AM CST
Eight minutes.

Why would eight minutes bother him so?

An eight minute difference between observation and calculation of a planetary orbit.

For astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571- 1630), it was this imprecision that drove him after years of observation to abandon circular orbits in favor of elliptical orbits, a revolution in two millenniums of astronomical thinking.

And what was it that kept him observing for years and finally to challenge the accepted beliefs of the day? According to authors Nancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton: “If Kepler had not maintained the conviction that nature must be precise, he would not have agonized over those eight minutes and would not have broken though a traditional belief in circular orbits that had held sway for two thousand years. Kepler spoke gratefully of those eight minutes as a ‘gift of God.'”

As you may recall from last week’s column Pearcey and Thaxton wrote The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy. In their book they state, Kepler “wrote of being ‘called’ by God to use his talent in his work as an astronomer.” In one of his notebooks, Kepler broke spontaneously into prayer: “I give you thanks, Creator and God, that you have given me this joy in thy creation, and I rejoice in the works of your hands. See I have now completed the work to which I was called. In it I have used all the talent you have lent to my spirit.'”

Although modern science has largely divorced itself from the Creator of the nature it studies, until the end of the 19th century religion and science were heavily intertwined. Kepler, for instance, is credited with being the founder of the field of scientific inquiry known as celestial mechanics. But he is not alone as a believer founding major fields of science. D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe in their book What if Jesus Had Never Been Born? cite dozens of “outstanding Bible-believing scientists,” who pioneered and founded many scientific fields including Joseph Lister in antiseptic surgery, Louis Pasteur in bacteriology, Isaac Newton in calculus, Robert Boyle in chemistry and, of course, Kepler in celestial mechanics.

In fact their religious beliefs often provided the motivation for their scientific inquiry. Pearcey and Thaxton wrote that Kepler believed, “God created the cosmos upon the basis of the divinely inspired laws of geometry.”

It was a commitment to the divinely designed precision that motivated him to challenge the prior millenniums of astronomical thinking. He saw his pursuit of science as “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” During the next two weeks, as you have opportunity to gaze into the heavens, you may be reminded

of The Star that guided wise men to the child in Bethlehem about 2,000 years ago. Certainly that would be appropriate. But as you do this, you may also consider that wise men throughout the ages have sought Him, wise men including scientists who have revolutionized our thinking and made constructive contributions to culture. Had it not been for the Gift of Bethlehem, our culture would look significantly different.

December 24, 2008
Gift of Bethlehem: Equality of mankind

Currently in the legal research I provide, I am assisting in three cases involving allegations of equal protection violations.

Dating back to our Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, equality has been a bedrock of the legal heritage of America. As Thomas Jefferson penned in the Declaration, all men being created equal and endowed with inalienable rights such as “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” are self-evident truths.

Later, because a wide gap existed between the acknowledgment of equality in the Declaration and practical application afforded in the states, the fourteenth amendment to our Constitution guaranteed equal protection before the law.

Many states such as Texas mirror that protection under state law. In that spirit of equality it is important to recognize, whatever one’s political persuasion, that the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States marks a milestone in this area. Republicans as well as Democrats, whites as well as blacks and Hispanics, Jews as well as Christians, Hindus and Muslims, Orientals as well as Occidentals, should be thankful that such a major barrier has been broken.

And while rejoicing that this barrier has been broken, it might be helpful to examine the heritage of our national commitment to that self-evident truth of all men being created equal. Did it come from the Greeks and Romans? Did we gain it from the Muslim world? Did our forefathers scan ancient Hindu scrolls from which they derived this principle?

Actually, no. They didn’t get it from the Greeks, in which a majority of the population were slaves. Nor did they get it from the Romans, in which many of the people were slaves. They did not get it from the Muslim world though there was significant economic, military and social interaction between Europe and the Muslim world prior to the discovery of America. Nor would it have come from Hindus with that religion’s ingrained caste system, even if there had been significant contact with our founders – though there is no such record of it.

Actually, it springs from a Jewish understanding gained from the Old Testament of mankind being made in the image of God. But the worldview of the Jews had no dynamic plan for reaching out beyond their geographic territory to other ethnic groups or religions. Hence the spread of that belief was hindered both by that fact and the failure of the Jews to live consistently. But a birth in Bethlehem, the birth of the son of a Jewish carpenter, altered the impact of that truth forever. The birth of that child in the manger carried with it the Jewish understanding that each person is made in the image of God, but also a new concept of God as a Father reaching out to the entire world – Jew and Gentile – through that child as Redeemer and Savior.

As persecution came to the new sect in Jerusalem, believers spread in all directions carrying that message of the dignity of every individual in belief and in action. No, culture and laws did not change immediately, but over time this worldview radically changed western civilization with regard to viewpoints and law regarding slaves, women and children.

A former White House policy analyst, Dinesh D’Souza, delivered a speech several months ago in “This idea of the preciousness and equal worth of every human being is largely rooted in Christianity. Christians believe that God places infinite value on every human life. Christian salvation does not attach itself to a person’s family or tribe or city. It is an individual matter. And not only are Christians judged at the end of their lives as individuals, but throughout their lives they relate to God on that basis. This aspect of Christianity had momentous consequences.”

In celebrating the birth of that child, let us pause and give thanks for all that has changed for the better as a result of that day. And for those who would like to learn more, D’Souza’s book, “What’s So Great About Christianity,” might be a good starting point.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009 5:36 PM CST
The Gift of Bethlehem: What if Mary lived today?

Let us take pause. . . as Christmas is upon us. What if?

The King of kings. The Lord of lords.

Born in a manger. Of lowly birth. Humbled himself.

Crucified, dead and buried.

Rose up the third day. Ascended on high.

Seated at the right hand of God. From which he will come to judge the living and the dead.

As one writer penned about eighty years ago, “Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. “That writer also mentioned about that man that “He never owned a home. He never set foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He had no credentials but Himself. “

And yet looking back as he wrote he added, “Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today

He is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as that One Solitary Life. “But what if?

What if, now over two millennia ago, what if a young woman, probably in her early teens, the customary age for betrothal in that culture, in a small town off the beaten path had been influenced to make a different choice?

Consider a recent writer’s thoughts. “As we near the eve of another Christmas, I wonder: What would have happened if Mother Mary had been covered by Obamacare? What if that young, poor and uninsured teenage woman had been provided the federal funds (via Obamacare) and facilities (via Planned Parenthood, etc.) to avoid the ridicule, ostracizing, persecution and possible stoning because of her out-of-wedlock pregnancy?”

What if?

That writer continued, “Imagine all the great souls who could have been erased from history and the influence of mankind if their parents had been as progressive as Washington’s wise men and women! Will Obamacare morph into Herodcare for the unborn?”

Thankfully that young teenage woman was not so influenced.

Subsequently history looks back and documents the influence of that solitary man who unabashedly professed to be “the truth”, and who proclaimed truth, absolute truth even in the face of ridicule, torture, and an almost unimaginably cruel death.

Based on the testimony of the one who unabashedly proclaimed to be “the life” it documents the changes in a Roman culture of death such that abortion and infanticide gradually became outlawed. It documents how during a plague where Romans citizens and doctors fled the cities to avoid the contagious disease, Christians remained to care for the sick and dying even at the expense of contracting the deadly diseases themselves. It documents how eventually through the centuries the followers of that solitary man and a culture of life were instrumental in starting hospitals to promote health and longevity.

And it documents how followers of that solitary man who unreservedly affirmed that he was “the way” started thousands of charitable organizations to help the poor and underprivileged. It documents their influence in overcoming slavery both in antiquity and modern times. It documents how followers of that solitary man promoted literacy for the masses and founded the early universities.

It also documents the sacrifices of followers of that solitary man who dared to promote and uphold the rule of law based on a higher law over the dictates of political tyranny and the arbitrary rule of man with the power to send them to their deaths. It documents how curious men and women fascinated with the design of nature sought, for the glory of God, to discover laws that governed that design and were instrumental in the rise of modern science.

Yes, indeed, the Gift of Bethlehem, is just that, a Gift. None of us deserves that gift nor all the subsequent downstream benefits. And thankfully, in the case of that child whose mother chose to give him birth, we do not have to consider “what if”.

Wishing all readers a Merry Christmas with thanks to James Francis for “A Solitary Life” and comments of columnist Chuck Norris regarding Mary’s choice.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010 2:09 AM CST
The gift of Bethlehem and the betterment of children

It certainly did not happen immediately after his birth.

In fact, the immediate effect for young male children was anything but liberating.

Not because it was his fault. But because of the state, the Roman Empire, through its designated local monarch, jealous King Herod who feared a future rival king, all male children under two years old in Bethlehem were slain in an attempt to eliminate the one the wise men from the east had prophesied to become the king of the Jews.

An ominous beginning, to say the least. What if 10 years later the state had learned Jesus escaped and then had all 10 to 12 year olds in the region murdered?

But when children are considered property, as they were in ancient Rome, and the state is not bound by a higher law forbidding such carnage, it should not really be such a surprise. After all, governments have been horrendous murderers of their own people down through the ages and particularly throughout the twentieth century.

But that wasn‟t the end of the story for children.

Herod himself died. Mary and Joseph returned with their son from their temporary haven in Egypt and settled in Nazareth. Jesus himself passed through childhood to become a young man at age twelve acknowledged as one who “kept increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.”

And during His earthly ministry around age 30, he himself treated children in a way much different from other adults, even his disciples. While his disciples clung to cultural prejudice against children rebuking others from bringing children to Jesus, Jesus himself “was indignant [with his disciples] and said to them, „Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all.”

His outlook drew a stark contrast with the worldview of his day. Prof. Glenn Sunshine writes in “Why You Think the Way You Do,” that in the Roman worldview human life and the material world in general were devalued. Consequently, they held a “fundamentally antinatal outlook, particularly among the Roman elites” and attempted various methods to prevent pregnancy up to and including abortion.

But the devaluing of life, and therefore children, did not stop with the birth of a child. Sunshine continues, “If all else failed and a child came to be born, infanticide was always an option. (Did he say “always”?) Roman families would usually keep as many healthy sons as they had and only one daughter; the rest were simply discarded.”

Imagine that. Discarded. It sure did not pay to be the second daughter born in a family. Or third or fourth.

Sunshine actually adds, “In fact, the Twelve Tablets, the earliest codification of Roman law, made it mandatory for the father to kill any visibly deformed child born into the family. This practice was considered essential to the health of the society and was supported by prominent thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle , and Cicero, among others.”

Children constituted just one of many groups which benefited from the outreach of Christianity, but they were a significant group. D. James Kennedy quotes Sherwood Wirt‟s “The Social Conscience of Evangelicals,”

“Many permanent legal reforms were set in motion by Emperors Constantine (290?-337) and Justinian (483-565) that can be laid to the influence of Christianity … Children were granted important legal rights. Infant exposure was abolished. Hospitals and orphanages were created to take care of foundlings.”

Sunshine concurs. “Infanticide was only ended in the Roman Empire by the concerted efforts of Christians, who believed that each individual was created in the image of God and therefore had infinite value, whether male or female, healthy or unhealthy, rich or poor.”

Change did not take place immediately. Remember, Herod purposely slaughtered all male children under two shortly after the birth of Jesus. But over time, the Judeo-Christian understanding of being made in the image of God positively transformed life on this planet for children.As you begin your Christmas celebration and the opening of gifts, forget not to remember the personal and cultural changes that have taken place because of the unparalleled gift of that child born in Bethlehem.

(This is the fourth year in which columns during this season have been devoted to the Gift of Bethlehem. See archives of the Journal-Spectator online to be reminded of positive cultural changes in areas including economic freedom, education, political liberty, equality of mankind, sanctity of life, charitable organizations to help the poor, and the development of modern science among others.)


“There is no greater drama in human record than the sight of a few Christians, scorned or oppressed by a succession of emperors, bearing all trials with a fiery tenacity, multiplying quietly, building order while their enemies generated chaos, fighting the sword with the word, brutality with hope and at last defeating the strongest state that history has ever known. Caesar and Christ had met in the arena, and Caesar and Christ: A History of Roman Civilization and of Christianity from Their Beginning to A.D. 325, p. 652

“One of the things we were asked to look into was what accounted for the success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West all over the world. We studied everything we could from the historical, political, economic, and cultural perspective. At first, we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the last twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West is so powerful. The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don’t have any doubt about this.”

Chinese scholar with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 2002
Quoted by David Aikman, former Beijing Bureau Chief for Time Magazine
(the original version by Dr. James Allan Francis)
“Let us turn now to the story. A child is born in an obscure village. He is brought up in another obscure village. He works in a carpenter shop until he is thirty, and then for three brief years is an itinerant preacher, proclaiming a message and living a life. He never writes a book. He never holds an office. He never raises an army. He never has a family of his own. He never owns a home. He never goes to college. He never travels two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He gathers a little group of friends about him and teaches them his way of life. While still a young man, the tide of popular feeling turns against him. One denies him; another betrays him. He is turned over to his enemies. He goes through the mockery of a trial; he is nailed to a cross between two thieves, and when dead is laid in a borrowed grave by the kindness of a friend.

“Those are the facts of his human life. He rises from the dead. Today we look back across nineteen hundred years and ask, what kind of trail has he left across the centuries? When we try to sum up his influence, all the armies that ever marched, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned are absolutely picayune in their influence on mankind compared with that of this one solitary life…”

Peter Johnston, an East Bernard resident, earned a history degree from Cornell University and is a former high school history teacher.