The humble potato chip is more popular in America than in any other part of the world. America's favorite snack food, it is a direct descendant of another popular potato snack, the french fry. How did it happen?
According to the popular story, a dinner guest (rumored to have been wealthy railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt) was dining at Moon's Lake House in Saratoga Springs, New York in 1853. He sent his french fries back to the kitchen because they were too thick. The chef, a Native American named George Crum, was annoyed at the guest's complaint, so he responded by slicing the potatoes into extremely thin sections, which he fried in oil and salted.
From that day forward, potato chips evolved into the many forms and varieties we have today including chips of many flavors, fat-free potato chips cooked in high-tech synthetic chemicals, and even artificially shaped chips pressed from potato pulp and sold in cardboard tubes.
Putting Prisons Out of Business The Art of Discipleship
October 6, 2006
Note: This commentary was delivered by Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley.
In January 2001, the doors of Washington, D.C.'s, ninety-year-old Lorton Correctional Facility shut for one final time. No more would it house some of the most notorious and dangerous prisoners in our society.
It seems the prison facility is undergoing its own rehabilitation. Earlier this month, officials opened the former prison doors for quite a new purpose. Plans are underway to re-open a section of the prison as a community arts center. The graffiti-covered walls will host murals and paintings, and artists will splatter imagination and color on canvases in former cells converted into studio space. Walls that once witnessed violence, desolation, and despair will now witness creation in the making.
As we celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the ministry of Prison Fellowship this year, I can't help but think of Lorton Correctional Facility. It is a prison that Prison Fellowship knew well. Some of the first Bible studies, discipleship programs, and seminars that we ever held took place behind its barbed-wire fences. I wish I could tell you that Lorton shut down in 2001 because every offender had been transformed through the Gospel, and the culture around the prison had changed dramatically enough that crime had disappeared.
While the circumstances for Lorton's closing were far different, it does not change the fact that the very idea gets me dreaming.
What if instead of spending billions of dollars building more prisons to warehouse offenders, Christian men and women around the country rolled up their sleeves, moved out of their comfort zones, and began going behind bars to teach and mentor inmates? What if instead of seeing the revolving door herd hundreds of thousands of re-offenders back to prison each year, the Church opened its arms to embrace the returning prisoner with the Gospel and with life-on-life discipleship? And what if Christians just like you began to have such an impact on the culture around us that broken families, violence, and poverty—all of which fuel crime—began to disappear? Yes, sin and crime will be with us until Christ returns, but what if we made such an impact that prisons were forced to start shutting down?
It's a vision of transformation of prisoners and of culture that sounds a little apocalyptic. It sounds a little like the kind of day Isaiah talked about when swords will be beaten into plowshares and lions will lie down with lambs. It sounds like the kind of day worth working toward, doesn't it? And it sounds a lot like the vision of Prison Fellowship.
As I think about the artists who will roll up their sleeves in the renovated studio space of a former prison, I wonder if I could call some of the men and women reading this commentary today to join me in a different kind of artistic endeavor. As Vincent Van Gogh once said, "Christ is more of an artist than the artists; He works in the living spirit and the living flesh; He makes men instead of statues."
We can join Christ in His work if we can cultivate that same vision for restoration. Would you join Christ in the ministry of transformation of souls? If you are interested in joining in this ministry of re-creation of lives, community, and culture, please call us (1-877-322-5527) or visit our website at www.prisonfellowship.org to find out how you can help.
Perhaps together we can begin to put prisons out of business.
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The bloody life and violent teachings of Muhammad, the founder of Islam
As American and European leaders continue to assure us that true Islam is peaceful, and formulate foreign and domestic policy on that basis, it is more important today than ever before for non-Muslims to know exactly what Islam's founder, Muhammad, actually did and taught. Now, in The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion, Robert Spencer provides a frank and accurate picture of the Muhammad that Muslims around the world revere: a warlord who preached violence, ordered the assassinations of his enemies, and used his "divine revelations" for his personal self-aggrandizement.
Working exclusively from the sources that Muslims themselves revere as most reliable for information about Muhammad, Spencer explains why it matters so much today what Muhammad was like. He traces Mohammad's tumultuous life in depth: from his first "revelation" from Allah (which filled him with terror that he was demon-possessed) to his deathbed (from which he called down curses upon Jews and Christians). It's all here: Muhammad's multiple marriages (including one to a nine-year-old); his convenient "revelations" justifying his own licentiousness; his joy in the brutal murders of his enemies; and above all, his clear marching orders to his followers to convert non-Muslims to Islam or force them to live as inferiors under Islamic rule.
Spencer also shows how modern-day jihad terrorists frequently invoke Muhammad's example to justify their bloodlust and exhort their followers to more violence. The true nature of Islam and the prospects for large-scale Islamic reform have important implications for host of issues -- notably the prosecution of the war on terror; the democracy project in Iraq and Afghanistan; and immigration and border control. That's what makes it crucial for policymakers and every citizen who loves freedom to read and ponder The Truth About Muhammad.