Sunday, March 18, 2018

March 18, 2018, column:

Lewis argued for Christian faith in multiple writing genres

By Mike Haynes
            When people find out I’m a Beatles fan, they often ask which is my favorite song by the greatest band in history. Although on any given day I could pick a different one, I always reply, “I Saw Her Standing There,” because it’s fun, energetic rock ’n’ roll and because for me, the “Her” is my wife, Kathy.
            Nobody has asked who my most admired Christians are, but I do have a short list. There could be many more, but my Fab Three are Billy Graham, John Wesley and C.S. Lewis, now all in heaven forever with the only one really worthy of praise.
            In his almost 65 years on Earth, Lewis preached only a few sermons. His interaction with people in person was limited pretty much to those he encountered in his career as an Oxford and Cambridge professor. The British intellectual didn’t reach millions in stadiums and on television like Graham, and he didn’t start a new Christian movement like Wesley.
            But man, you could argue that his impact for God was right up there with anyone. Before and after his 1963 death, more than 120 million copies of his “Chronicles of Narnia” children’s books, which have a definite Christian theme, have been sold, according to the Steve Laube publishing agency. That number doesn’t include millions more of his overtly Christian books such as “Mere Christianity” and “The Screwtape Letters,” his science fiction novels or his scholarly writing on literature.
            Lewis is exceptional in that his arguments for the Christian faith and his subtle promotion of it in multiple writing genres appeal to all kinds of Christians, including evangelicals, Catholics and mainstream Protestants.
             So it isn’t surprising that even Amarillo, Texas, has at least one group that meets monthly to discuss his books, his life and his ideas.

            The Lewis Underground meets at 5:30 p.m. the fourth Monday of each month, usually in the clubhouse of the River Falls Apartments. It’s associated informally with the C.S. Lewis Foundation, based in Redlands, California, established in 1986. The foundation owns the Kilns, Lewis’ home in Oxford, England, which hosts visiting scholars and seminars, and stages regular Christian events.
            The Underground and the foundation don’t worship Lewis. Here’s a statement that both groups follow: “Inspired by the life and legacy of C.S. Lewis, the vision of the C.S. Lewis Foundation is to restore a vital Christian presence throughout higher education, the arts and the culture at large.”
            Many would agree that education, the arts and our culture all need a new infusion of Christian principles, and the local group is expanding its own presence by planning free public events.
            The first will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 26, at the Bible Chair of the Southwest at 512 SW 22nd Ave., across the street from Amarillo College. Although the organizers expect lots of college students to attend, the program will be of interest to anyone attracted to the ideas I’ve mentioned above.
            Dr. Mike Bellah, retired from the AC English department, will talk briefly about the concepts of friendship in Lewis’ writings. Randy Ray, who teaches mass media at West Texas A&M University, will bring some WT students to talk about their 2017 study trip to Oxford and Lewis’ stomping grounds. And Kirk Manton, a Trinity Fellowship staffer and a CSL Foundation regional representative, will talk about the foundation and its activities.
            On the arts front, Amarillo’s Randy Palmer will play and sing, and graphic artist Cody Watson will show his recent work. Local writer Nan Rinella will offer “low tea” in the form of English tea and scones.
            In “Mere Christianity,” Lewis called the world “enemy-occupied territory.” “Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise,” he wrote, “and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.”
            The Lewis Underground, with its March 26 event and its monthly meetings, seeks to participate in that spiritual mission.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Feb. 18, 2018, column:
Standing in the cold was worth it to hear prayer at Mount Vernon
By Mike Haynes
            For someone who has trudged through snowy streets in blizzard conditions to help reenact the Boston Tea Party, I suppose it wasn’t that difficult to spend less than an hour in 32-degree weather – wind chill 16 degrees – to honor George Washington.
A Mount Vernon staff member, left, supervises a ceremony
Jan. 6 at the tomb of George and Martha Washington
in Virginia as two volunteers prepare to
move a wreath into the tomb.
(Photo by Mike Haynes)
            In December 2003, my wife, Kathy, and I were in Boston for a Simon and Garfunkel reunion concert. It so happens that on Dec. 16 each year, people gather at the Old South Meeting House, then march several blocks to Boston Harbor, where folks in 18th century costumes throw fake tea boxes off a small ship into the water.
            Knowing it probably would be our only chance to participate in defying British taxation, we walked the whole way to the harbor with snow blowing into our faces. Then we called a taxi as fast as we could.
            Fast-forward 14-plus years, and we found ourselves last month at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate outside Washington, D.C. No blizzard this time, but it was freezing as we waited with six other hardy tourists for the daily wreath-laying at Washington’s tomb.
            Considering the weather and the small crowd, the woman in charge of the ceremony asked whether we’d like to speed things up by not unfurling the American flag. A young woman said no, we should include the flag, so our group saw the entire event – although in the frigid air, there was no dillydallying.
            The short ceremony was impressive for a couple of reasons.
            One was the fact that anyone would brave the cold just to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, hear a prayer read aloud and to place a wreath in front of the two white, stone monuments containing the remains of George and Martha Washington.
            A young Asian man in the group volunteered to help place the wreath. He saw me taking photos and afterward asked if I would email some to him. He said the ceremony was so meaningful to him that he wanted to remember it. Putting his address into my phone, I found out that he worked at the University of Maryland, but he said he was leaving soon to return to China. He showed more reverence for the first president than I think many Americans would.
A man who was identified as a U.S. military
veteran reads George Washington's prayer
for America at a wreath-laying ceremony
Jan. 6 at the Washington tomb at Mount
Vernon, Virginia. (Photo by Mike Haynes) 
            Another aspect of the event that struck me was the natural inclusion of religion at the tomb and in the ceremony. A well-worn stone on the wall of the crypt is engraved with John 11:25-26: “I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord, he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”
            Washington clearly was a believer, more so than some of the other founders of the nation. He was open in welcoming various Christian denominations and minority religions and opposed an official state church like most of Europe had experienced for centuries, but in his 1796 farewell address upon leaving the presidency, he left no doubt that religion should play an important role in public life:
            “And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
            At the ceremony last month, another young man who said he was a U.S. military veteran stepped forward to read Washington’s prayer for America, which the retiring general included in letters to the 13 state governors in 1783 at the end of the Revolutionary War.
            Wearing gloves and a canvas jacket, the young veteran solemnly read the first commander-in-chief’s prayer from a clipboard. With Washington’s birthday coming up Feb. 22 and considering the discord in the nation today, I believe it’s fitting to repeat all of it:
            “I now make it my earnest prayer that God would have the United States in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech thee, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.”

            Kathy and I take pride in our Boston Tea Party march through a blizzard, but we also are grateful that we didn’t let the cold keep us from hearing that prayer in front of the tomb of a statesman.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Feb. 7, 2018, story:
Late Amarillo businessman served in England during WWII

(This is a front-page story, not one of my Faith columns.)
By Mike Haynes
            A black-and-white photo shows Bob Williams and other Americans marching in an English village with local residents, young and old, dressed in their Sunday best, watching from the edge of the dirt street.
The scene helps illustrate the relationship between the United States and Great Britain during World War II as about 3 million U.S. soldiers were stationed on the British Isles or passed through to continental Europe during the war.
Capt. Bob Williams, right foreground, marches in
a village near Thorpe Abbotts Army Air Base
in England while he was stationed there
during World War II.
(Photo courtesy Medora Williams)

For Williams, a longtime Amarillo businessman who died in January, two months short of his 99th birthday, the bond between G.I.s and Brits was a good one. In an interview just after New Year’s, he said he and his buddies got along fine with the English people during his four years at the Thorpe Abbotts air base near Norwich in eastern England.
“He has fond memories of them,” said his wife, Medora, 77, who helped with the interview because of Williams’ health condition. “He would give them his cigarettes, because he didn’t smoke, and they’d give him eggs.”
Great Britain had been at war with Germany since 1939, and after Japan’s Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7, 1941, the United States began sending troops across both the Pacific and the Atlantic. Williams was one of several thousand who reached England in 1942 on the British ship Queen Elizabeth.
The Lorena, Texas, native had enlisted before Pearl Harbor and recalled that during the voyage to England, the British broadcaster William Joyce, known as “Lord Haw-Haw,” was announcing the location coordinates of the Queen Elizabeth on the radio. Joyce was a Nazi propagandist based in Hamburg.
To avoid Nazi U-boats, the ship traveled as far south as Jamaica on the trip to England. Of course, Williams said, the Queen Elizabeth was heavily armed.
Unable to complete flight training because of an inner ear problem, Capt. Robert Henry Williams became an administrator at the Thorpe Abbotts base, home of the 100th Bomber Group, known as the “Bloody 100th.” He was an Army Air Corps captain in the 351st Bombardment Squadron, handling such duties as transportation, payroll and sorting the belongings of the many airmen who didn’t make it back from bombing runs over Germany and other sites in Nazi-occupied Europe.
Among Bob Williams' World War II memorabilia
are his Eisenhower-style Army jacket, his
certificate appointing him as an Army Air Corps
captain, his dog tags and a silk map used by
airmen flying over Europe.
(Photo by Mike Haynes)
“He had to go through their personal effects and make sure there wasn’t anything the family didn’t need to see,” Medora said. “It was not easy duty. These were friends he had gotten acquainted with.”
London is known as a key target of German air raids, but other parts of England also suffered attacks. According to a military magazine clip in Williams’ scrapbook, English bases were laid out haphazardly, but on purpose, to protect from raids. If barracks and other facilities had been neatly arranged together, bombing damage could have been more serious. Thorpe Abbotts’ spread-out design also allowed more room for growing food in the days of strict rationing.
“All we got to eat for the first three months was ‘Billy beef stew,’” Williams said. “For breakfast, they’d put biscuits on it. It was corned beef from Argentina.”
Thorpe Abbots was attacked only twice, Williams said, with no loss of life. “We were strafed,” he said. “German fighter pilots strafed us.” But like Londoners, the base residents were accustomed to spending time in bomb shelters, and returning planes occasionally executed crash landings.
Williams said his group lost 273 bombers during the war during runs over factories, bridges and other German targets. He recalled one mission over the Netherlands that airlifted provisions to the population. His base was directly west across the English Channel from Amsterdam.
“Our planes dropped food over Holland,” he said. “They were hurting for food, and we flew
Bob Williams and his wife, Medora,
spent much of their retirement time on
fishing trips. Williams owned Builders
Supply in Amarillo for many years.
(Photo courtesy Medora Williams)
over at 500 feet.”
American servicemen in England who stayed as long as Williams certainly knew the cold weather and the landscape. Medora described the available transportation.
“He had a bicycle,” she said. “That’s what he had to ride into town on. She said bicycles had to be pushed up and over stiles, or steps that allowed them to go over railroad tracks.
Williams’ World War II scrapbook was a 2010 gift from Air Force friend Bob Spellacy. It includes photos of life on the base as well as copies of mission reports. A July 30, 1943, report provides a word picture of a bombing operation over Kassel, Germany. Some excerpts:
“Target and bombs away at 0935. … Terrific damage seen throughout. Large mushroom like column of smoke seen immediately rising to between 15 and 20,000 ft. … Flak and fighters followed us from coast to target and return. … Over target, flak concentrated and accurate. Received hits on our plane and most every plane received flak holes. We had about 7 or 8 flak holes …
“Hard to distinguish between enemy and P47’s but didn’t fire unless attacked. … 100th Grp. lost no planes, but other groups lost between 4 & 6 planes. Am a firm believer in tighter and tighter formations. …”
Capt. Bob Williams
The group leader ended with this recommendation:
“Suggest that new pilots fly 100 hours of battle formation, very closely, before tackling Gerry. It would prevent 80% of ship losses.” “Gerry” or “Jerry” was a term referring to the German enemy.
Another report included a personal complaint:
“All crews suffered severe cold. Wish to h--- they’d send us some electric suits to replace those that won’t work. It is impossible to work efficiently at hi alt. under very cold weather otherwise.”
The planes had names such as “War Eagle,” “Salvo Sal,” “Our Baby,” “Rosie’s Riveters,” “Just A-Snappin’” and “Piccadilly Lilly.”
An Oct. 8, 1943, mission to Bremen, Germany, illustrates the origin of the name, “Bloody 100th.” Of 21 bombers on the mission, seven – and their crews – did not return.
Williams didn’t fly on bombing missions, but he and others on the ground enabled them to happen. He saw the reports and knew who did and didn’t return to base. At his passing last month, he decreased by one the roughly 558,000 living American World War II survivors, according to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. About 16 million Americans
Capt. Bob Williams displays a crab during downtime
while stationed in England during World War II.
(Photo courtesy Medora Williams)
served in the war, and in Texas, just over 30,000 remain.
Williams came home on another British ship, the Queen Mary. He said it normally carried about 4,000 people but that 24,000 crowded onto its decks for the return trip at war’s end.
“I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures of when they came back,” Medora said. “It was really something.”
As a civilian in Amarillo since 1946, Williams completed his degree at the University of Texas at Austin and became a partner and later full owner of Builders Supply at 7th and Travis. He met Medora, a Houston native, on a fishing outing, and they were married for 40 years. One of their mutual loves was fishing. “He’s owned a lot of boats,” she said.
After a memorial service at St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church in Amarillo, Williams was buried in Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Katherine Lynn Davis. Survivors include his wife, Medora of Amarillo; his sister, Martha Harper of Salado; a niece; a nephew; two stepsons; six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
In his last week, Williams did not feel well enough to talk much. But the pride in his Army Air Force service showed through as he finished talking to a visitor:
“Medora, show him my Army jacket.”
Bob Williams' World War II scrapbook contains this dollar
bill with signatures of  Gen. Carl Spaatz and Gen. Jimmy

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Jan. 28, 2018, story:

Director with Amarillo ties says Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., is nonsectarian

By Mike Haynes
            The new Museum of the Bible appears to be a good fit with the Smithsonian and other national museums in Washington, D.C. Its director, Dr. Tony Zeiss certainly thinks so.
            Zeiss, who took over as the MOTB executive director in 2017 three days after retiring from
Dr. Tony Zeiss
Museum of the Bible
executive director
(MOTB photo)
32 years as a community college president, said in his office Jan. 10 that the $500 million museum funded primarily by Hobby Lobby’s Green family presents its ancient manuscripts and cyber-technology in a neutral way in order to reach a wide audience.
            But he pointed out that people already versed in the Bible – such as many Texas Panhandle residents – will feel at home in the renovated refrigeration building just one subway stop from the National Mall.
            “We don’t interpret the Bible; we don’t promote any one faith tradition; we don’t promote any religion. We’re nonsectarian,” Zeiss said. “And we had to do that for obvious reasons. You limit your audience if you try to say, ‘This is just for Catholics, or this is just for Jewish people, or this is just for Protestants.
“The Bible is the foundation for at least seven, probably more, faith traditions, so we want to honor all of those, but really, we just want to focus on the Bible. We think the Bible will speak for itself.
“And I know the great people in West Texas, that’s what they would say. We don’t have to flaunt one thing or another; we just say, ‘Hey, let people get engaged with the Bible, and it will speak for itself.”
The illumiNations exhibit at Museum of the Bible highlights the universal
accessibility of the Bible with versions in more than 2,000 languages showcased.
Visitors can touch and read the books on the shelves, and the museum
still seeks to obtain copies in more languages. (Photo by Mike Haynes)
Zeiss, 71, has some credibility when talking about Texans.  The Indiana native’s Texas wife, Beth, is from Copperas Cove. He was a dean at Central Texas College in Killeen, where Beth was a library director. Zeiss, a Church of Christ Sunday school teacher, was on the board of Dallas-based motivational speaker Zig Ziglar for eight years.
As an educator, Zeiss said he has spoken at Amarillo College, and he is a longtime friend of former AC President Bud Joyner. And he has been an outdoor writer for Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine and for Centex Sportsman.
In addition, Zeiss has written more than 20 books on leadership, history and other topics.
The MOTB features documents that excite scholars, such as the Codex Climaci Rescriptus, which was one of the first artifacts the Greens bought in 2009. The CCR is a fifth to ninth century document that features Syriac script written over Greek biblical text that has been scratched off but is readable with multi-spectral imaging. Such modern technology is used by MOTB researchers, and museum visitors also will see high-tech features on each of the four main floors.
Christianity Today magazine cover,
November 2017
The cover of Christianity Today magazine last November, the month the facility opened, showed a Bible under glass. Zeiss said that image could be misleading; he described the $42 million spent on technology and interactive activities such as video tables where guests can write their own reactions with their fingers and the Hebrew Bible 45-minute walk-through experience that includes a realistic, brightly burning bush from the book of Genesis.
“The fire department heard about it and came over here to see it, not realizing there’s no fire to it,” Zeiss said.
Years before the museum opened, its staff was posting Facebook videos and other social media items with scholars explaining biblical art, pieces of Egyptian papyrus or the ongoing construction of the “World of Jesus of Nazareth.”
“We’ve created as much of an interactive experience as possible,” Zeiss said. “Especially, you look at millennials and younger, that’s what they want; that’s what they’ve grown up with.
The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., includes a replica of the press
on which Johannes Gutenberg printed his Latin Bible in 1455 in Mainz, Germany.
The Gutenberg Bible was the first complete book printed in Europe with
movable type. (Photo by Mike Haynes)
“We were up somewhere just below the Louvre in terms of hits on social media. People want to know about it. And they sense that we’re making history here.”
He also recommended a New Testament video in a wraparound theater.
“I took Ambassador Ron Dermer from Israel and his family on a tour, and they liked that as much as they like the Hebrew Bible experience,” he said.
Dermer’s involvement is typical of the wide net the museum has spread in its exhibits, research and education efforts. He said the MOTB board wanted to avoid criticism of its quality and focus.
“We knew we needed academic credibility from the get-go, or we would get all sorts of criticism,” Zeiss said. “You’re going to get it anyway; it’s the Bible, probably one of the most criticized books in the history of mankind.
“So we have used over 100 scholars to vet everything you read, every video you watch, every word you hear, for accuracy and authenticity.
“That in itself was a huge task, because we had Hebrew scholars, Catholic scholars, Protestant scholars and scholars of no faith. To get them to come together and synthesize all of that, to come together and agree on how these things should be presented, was pretty major.”
Some religion-based attractions, such as the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter in Kentucky, promote a particular Christian agenda.
“We’re not,” Zeiss said. “That’s how we were able to achieve loans from world-class museums around the world. This is the first, as far as I know, comprehensive, world-class museum to the Bible in history.”
The MOTB has attracted temporary exhibits from the Israeli Antiquities Authority, the Vatican, the Bavarian State Library in Munich, Germany, and from Jewish libraries in Amsterdam. Zeiss said the Israeli collection is from the national museum in Jerusalem.
“They have never loaned out their artifacts before, but they believe in this concept, and so they have an entire gallery and sent over 1,250 artifacts,” he said.
A temporary exhibit on the song, “Amazing Grace,” coincided with a musical in the MOTB’s World Stage Theater and focused on the role the anti-slavery movement played in John Newton’s writing the celebrated song.
Another example of the museum’s ecumenical approach is the year-long residency of Rabbi
Rabbi Eliezer Adam of Jerusalem is a scribe spending a year
at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. Adams
demonstrates to visitors how scribes copied the Torah centuries ago.
 (Photo by Mike Haynes)
Eliezer Adam, who Zeiss said is a certified scribe from Jerusalem. Adam works at a small desk, allowing visitors to watch him write portions of the Torah in the manner done centuries ago.
“You ought to see how he captures people’s attention,” Zeiss said.
Beyond the D.C. building, the MOTB has wide-ranging research and educational programs. The Scholars Initiative pairs college students with academic experts, and a digital-based curriculum ties in with the MOTB’s three areas of focus: the Bible’s history, narrative and impact.
            About 100,000 high school students in Israel already are beta-testing the material, Zeiss said, along with 40,000 in Great Britain and some at U.S. Christian private schools. “Again, it’s nonsectarian,” Zeiss said. “It’s just about the Bible.”
            As president of community colleges in Pueblo, Colorado, and Charlotte, North Carolina, Zeiss was known for getting projects done and raising funds for them. Now he faces a challenge of generating more than $36 million a year to operate a museum with 170 full-time and 35 part-time employees. Admission to the MOTB is free, so income comes from gift shop and other sales, museum member donations and guests’ suggested donations.
             Then-Charlotte Chamber President Bob Morgan told Charlotte Magazine in 2012, “What I love about Dr. Zeiss is that he’s passionate about whatever he’s passionate about. And he’s passionate about many things.”

            One of those things is the Bible, which seems to make him a good fit for this museum. “That’s why I’m here,” he said.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Jan. 21, 2018, column:

From history to technology, Museum of the Bible is as impressive as Disneyland

By Mike Haynes
Forty-foot-high bronze columns of type
copied from the 1455 Gutenberg Bible
flank the main entrance of the Museum
of the Bible, three blocks from the U.S.
Capitol in Washington, D.C.
(Photo by Mike Haynes)
            As a kid, one of my dreams was to go to Disneyland. I still haven’t made it to Anaheim, although I’ve been to the Florida version as a grownup.
       After my wife, Kathy, and I had been in the new Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., for less than an hour the week before last, I told her I was in Disneyland. Kathy was impressed, too, with the $500 million attraction that opened Nov. 17, but she was satisfied with one full day exploring the four main floors of displays, videos, touch screens and ancient artifacts.
            Two days weren’t quite enough for me.
            Not everyone will be as enraptured as I was to see a page from the Gutenberg Bible, which is the “Holy Grail” for someone interested in not only the Bible, but the invention of printing. But the MOTB has a page from that historic book, printed in Mainz,
Germany, in 1455. Johannes Gutenberg’s Catholic Bible in Latin is considered the first book printed with movable type in the western world, and it created a communications revolution.
            The museum entrance is flanked by two 40-foot-high replicas of columns of type from Gutenberg’s Bible. The 118 brass panels that form the columns give the building quite a grand entrance.
The lobby of the Museum of the Bible in
Washington, D.C., is topped by a 140-foot LED
screen that rotates various visual effects.
(Photo by Mike Haynes)
            I also am one of the few who are fascinated with the first King James Bible, printed in 1611 after England’s James I decided to approve a new Bible to replace the Geneva version, which he thought was too biased toward the Puritans. But the MOTB displays two of those 407-year-old Bibles, along with books that James wrote himself, such as his personal translation of the Psalms, printed six years after his 1625 death.
            As impressive as the museum’s biblical collection is, it also is a technological wonder. A video table shows in real time what words from the scriptures are being searched for in various countries around the world. At one moment on Jan. 8, “love” was the most-searched word in Cambodia and “sin” was the third-most-searched in Zimbabwe.
            Although just in the testing phase, “digital guides” – handheld tablets – can take you through the museum on a customized tour. When fully operational, the guides will store your high-priority exhibits and activities and steer you to them. Built-in GPS shows your location in the building within a few inches, and tapping on the map produces audio describing what’s in front of you.
Most impressive visually is a 140-foot LED screen that covers the lobby ceiling. Its color-drenched images constantly rotate from cathedral ceilings to stained glass to garden scenes.
            The museum is a renovated food refrigeration facility built almost 100 years ago. Its 430,000 square feet cover eight stories, four of them major exhibit areas. The museum’s content focuses on the Bible’s impact on society, its narrative and its history.
            The impact floor includes a 3,200-pound copy of the Liberty Bell that was lowered into the
James I of Great Britain not only sponsored the
King James version of the Bible, but he published
some of his own biblical writing, including “The
Psalms of King David, Translated byKing James.”
This version was published in 1631, six years
after his death. It is part of the Green Collection
at the Museum of the Bible. (Photo by Mike Haynes) 
building with a crane before the new roof was completed. Like the original, the bell is engraved with a verse from Leviticus 25. It’s in the “Bible in America” section.
            The narrative floor has a recreated Nazareth village, including a first century synagogue replica, the New Testament Theater and, our favorite, the “Hebrew Bible Experience.” For 45 minutes, visitors walk from theater to theater and room to room, experiencing a blazing bush emerging from the dark, a trek through stylized walls of simulated Red Sea water and an emotional retelling of the first Passover.
            The history floor features not only scores of notable Bibles but Dead Sea Scroll fragments, videos by “Drive Thru History” TV host Dave Stotts and “illumiNatons,” a circular area with shelves of Bibles translated into hundreds of languages – and spaces for many more languages still to be translated.
            All that and more, plus a restaurant and a kids’ play area – and extensive research and education programs that already have been going for a few years.
 rd Psalm in Greek on Egyptian papyrus, probably from the years 225 to 325 A.D.; a 1400s Torah from Spain written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic; a copy of John Newton’s song, “Amazing Grace,” in the Choctaw language.
This page of a papyrus manuscript
includes the 23rd Psalm in Greek.
Part of the Museum of the Bible collection,
it was found in Egypt and probably dates
from 225 to 325 A.D. (Photo by Mike Haynes)
           The riches of this museum three blocks from the U.S. Capitol are diverse: Bibles once owned by Elvis Presley and Billy Graham; Julia Ward Howe’s 1861 handwritten words to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic;” a massive stone from Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem – the one the Romans destroyed in 70 A.D. (on loan from the Israel Antiquities Authority); an exhibit from the Vatican; the 23
            I was surprised by this Vincent van Gogh quote in the “Art and the Bible” section: “I cannot tell you how much I sometimes long for the Bible. I read it daily, but I would really like to know it by heart…”
            Maybe the most moving moment for Kathy and me was the finale of the museum’s first theatrical production in its World Stage Theater. It was “Amazing Grace: The Musical,” tracing Newton’s early life as a slave trader and his dramatic turnaround to oppose the immoral practice. Tears flowed as the audience joined the biracial cast in that amazing song.
            The musical now embarks on a national tour that will include stops in Ruidoso, New Mexico, April 4 and Wichita Falls April 17. I recommend it heartily. As I do this treasure of a museum.

This “digital guide” can take visitors around the
Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.
The touch screen uses precise GPS to show guests
what displays they are near and even to guide
them to preferred exhibits. (Photo by Mike Haynes)
The impact floor of the Museum of the Bible in
Washington, D.C., includes an exhibit showing
how the Bible has affected men and women
who are incarcerated in prisons and jails.
(Photo by Mike Haynes)