For those of us who are fans of NASCAR racing the Sunday February 18th 2007 Daytona 500 was spectacular for the 180,000 fans. This is the most unusual sport in the world in that unlike other sports where the champion event comes as the last event of the season,
in NASCAR the most prestigious race is at the opening of the season. . In this race at Daytona, Florida the sentimental favorite was Mark Martin. At the age of 48 he was in semi retirement and had finish in the top 10 in 16 seasons of racing. He lost the race by about 2 feet and was beaten by Kevin Harwick .In the closing second as Martin and Harwick were in a furious battle when behind them a spectacular multi car crash totally destroyed several cars and saw Clint Boyer literally cross the line in upside down on the roof of his flaming car. Under the rules on the final lap when a caution is called the race ends at that exact instant. There was some controversy that had the Caution been swifter Martin was ahead and would have won. It is interesting to note that the all-time NASCAR favorite was Dale Earnhardt the Babe Ruth of the sport. In 2001 as I watched on TV Earnhardt was killed in front of nearly 200,000 fans as he hit the wall on the final lap of a Daytona .There is irony in that Harwick is the driver successor to Earnhardt.

The race also recalls a wonderful occasion when daughter Lisa Hillenbrand and I rode the track in the Pace Car at Daytona. She invited me to join her while she was covering the 500 for Procter & Gamble (P&G) which had several cars entered in the race. It was a thrill for Lisa and I to go to the Garage and meet so many of the famous drivers. One was a P&G driver Pattie Mooes one of the sport’s first female drivers. It was only hours before a 500 mile 200 lap race at 180 miles per hour pitted against 41 of the most skilled drivers in the world. Amazingly she and the other drives were calm as if they were on the way to a family picnic. She was a delight. At her suggestion I held her heavily callused hand as she demonstrated the strain cause by the friction of the steering wheel on the bumpy 2.5 mile track during a 4 hour race.

Many people criticize auto racing fans on the grounds that the fans are “red necks” that only go to the races to see the crashes. The facts are that NASCAR is profoundly safety conscious. It has pioneered safety features that have improved non-racing vehicle operations. For example Daughter Laura Hillenbrand in recent articles has pointed out that immediately following Earnhardt death NASCAR conducted a massive driver safety investigation. As a result they intuited new head restraints; installed shock absorbing walls; and redesigned the cockpit of the cars. In the following five years not a single driver has been killed. Again in support of NASCAR they have very strict rules to enforce fairness and they are enforced very promptly and cheaters are very heavily fined much to the satisfaction of the fans.

It also reminded me of a much earlier Indianapolis 500 Memorial Day race when son John Hillenbrand and I were the guests of the then Mayor of Indianapolis, Indiana who is now a United States Senator Dick Lugar. The occasion was the Mayor hosting the International Union of Local Authorities (IULA) at their first meeting in the US. John and I had the thrill of riding in the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car.

Racing both horse and auto runs deep in our Hillenbrand family. From the earliest days of kids and I went to the Hagerstown Stock Car Races just outside of Hagerstown, MD. Our favorite spot was the first turn on this all dirt track. This was a place for the most action with risky passing and bump and run. They tried to keep the tract moist but with little success. After a few turns it would be great clouds of dust and the kids and I left the track looking like African-Americans. A publicist for the track was our wonderful friend John Fry and he gave me the honor of being flagman and starting the season's first race.

The interest in horse racing really started with daughter Susan who was taking riding lessons and fell in love with her pony sized horse named Silver. She was crushed when it was announced that the owner was selling the pony. It was nearly Christmas time so I secretly purchased the horse rented a horse trailer and parked it in the nearby schoolyard on Christmas Eve. Early the next morning I walked the pony a block to our Moreland Street house. I tethered her in the back yard against a small post. The kids came down and opened a whole pile of Christmas presents. Suddenly Susan glanced out the window into the back yard and for the first time saw Silver. . I will never forget her wonderful shout of joy. We took Silver to the farm where she lived out her days.

Laura of course got very interested in Silver and all horses. Our farm is across the Potomac from the near by Charles Town, West Virginia Shenandoah Downs Race Track. The kids and I often went to the track on a Saturday evening during the annual meet and had a great time both betting and studying the horses. We were very cautious gamblers. We took turns selecting our choice but usually bet on the favorite to show (the most caution bet imaginable). Laura was our youngest and was particularly impressed with the horses and caught up with the excitement of the races and the wonderful variety of racing folk. As they say, the rest is history culminating with her authoring Seabiscuit.

Rev. Bernard F. Hillenbrand

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It was an honor for the second time to address the Washington D.C summer meeting of Secretary of Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). My testimony was on the behalf of hundreds of thousands of people like myself who love one of the victims of CFS. I have had 25 years in that role. It started when my daughter Laura Hillenbrand and her then boyfriend now husband Borden Flannigan were at Kenyon College. She was in her second year had a 3.8 GP student and athlete She was suddenly struck with an undiagnosed ailment that forced her to return home. In a prize-winning story called A MYSTERIOUS ILLNESS. she describes the nature of her illness . In this primer on CFS she describes the hostile atmosphere at that time including confusion of the disease with AIDS. There was also the derisions which called it YUPPIE FLU or attributed it to psychological causes.

We have come a long way from those hostile times. However we still do not have an effective diagnosis and appear to be at a snails pace in finding a cure. My aim is to bring new hope during these doldrums based my experience with battles against other diseases. One of the oldest and most outstanding was the “MARCH OF DIMES” that resulted in the near elimination of polio. I recounted going door-to-door collecting dimes at the height of the Great Depression in an age when ten cents would buy a loaf of bread, a pack of cigarettes or one gallon of Gasoline.

Later I served as a Chaplain at Walter Reed Hospital whose name honors the great victory over Yellow Fever. This was at the early days of AIDS epidemic. AIDS victim from all the services came to this hospital. My first patient was a very young man who had just joined the Army. He was given a whole series of vaccinations against various diseases. We did not know it then but AIDS disables the immune system. I can remember placing a cot next to the patient's bed so that his mother could bring him comfort in his final hours. We now have a very simple diagnosis for a consisting of a mouth swab and a cocktail of drugs greatly prolong the lives of victims.

At the present time under the 21 year leadership of my friend Kimberly Mc Cleary Director of the CFS ASSOCIATION has launched a new research effort called Research Institute Without Walls. One of their missions is to explore techniques, procedures and drugs that have been successful in other diseases to test their effectiveness against CFS. Since this effort is funded by victims their caretakers and their support group it survives by very small gifts. I want to call this the “New March of Dimes” The ten cents that used to buy a gallon of Gasoline now costs four dollars. There are also other support groups that are doing worthwhile work and it is so encouraging to find them working together.

The most moving testimony at the hearings was from very young school-age boys and girls and their parents. Through no misconduct on their part they are living with the great suffering of CFS. The chairman of the advisory group was moved to remark “Because you have CFS today does not mean that you will have CFS tomorrow.” This is an appropriate American Battle cry of hope and confidence. It is based upon past success. I took the occasion then and I take it now to say to daughter Laura, to Borden and other CFS Victims that I love that you have my personal pledge to do all I can to find a cure. I am confident that a similar pledge is also being given by the hundreds of thousands through out the world who have someone they love who suffers from CFS.. Amen.

Rev. Bernard F. Hillenbrand

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“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive
those who trespass against us.” Matthew 6.9

Pastor Dean Snyder of Foundry United Church in his Easter Morning sermon cited this passage from the Lord's Prayer to support his contention that with respect to 9/11 we should stop remembering the hatred associated with this trespass against us. He then symbolically sprinkled pure water on the sanctuary floor to dramatize that cleansing of hatred.

As a nation we were stunned when in four simultaneous air strikes 2,766 Americans and others were killed or severely wounded. There were 460 first responders killed our injured. Rev. Snyder notes however that the 19 Terrorists were killed in the four airplane crashes and that since then master perpetrator Osama bin Laden was shot to death and buried at sea.

Our remembering that sustains hatred has been enormously expensive in American lives and the lives of others. . For the record in the decade since 9 /11 U.S. retaliatory military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan has suffered 6,000 killed and 43,000 wounded.. These wars have already cost more than one trillion dollars and climbing. The costs in innocent lives lost and property destroyed in these two counties is astounding. Domestically the post 9/11 financial costs for Homeland Security are monumental. The foot and other body searches are humiliating and the transportation operating costs are beyond measurements.

There are ample precedents for another way to forgive and forget those who have militarily trespassed against us. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and their simultaneous conquest and enslavement of a huge part of Asia is now fading into history. The United States post war occupation of Japan and the preservation of the position of Emperor gave us means of introducing Democracy into that previously isolated country. For example recent celebrations on the graves of sailors entombed in the Battleship Arizona have witnessed a strengthening bond between United States and Japanese citizens who served in the military of their country during the subsequent war..

On the other side of the world we responded to the Nazi declaration of war against the United States by an incredibly successful military operation. Again our post war response was the Marshall plan. The United States contributed great sums of money to rebuild houses, factories and infrastructure for the German people. In short the United States of America is now leader of the free world in part because we have both declared and practiced the forgiveness requirements from the Lord's Prayer.

More recently we and our allies are withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan. We are joined by Germany and Japan and most of the rest of the world in trying to persuade Iran from developing nuclear war capacity and North Korea from forging atomic missiles. Again with the help of much of the world we are supporting the masses fighting for reform in what we call the “Arab Spring “.

The teachings of Jesus Christ on forgiveness are a part of most of the world's religions and central to the practices of the world’s Psychiatrists and Psychologists. These teachings were initially focused on the individual's relationship to God and to his or her fellow humans. A very strong case is now being made that this forgiveness is crucial to the relationships of nations.

The Easter Celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ at Foundry gave us a fresh opportunity to remember that Christ is called the Prince of Peace and …why.

Rev. Bernard F. Hillenbrand


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" Dear Friends,

I have been greatly moved by Rick Santorum's wise pronouncements, guided by Biblical principles, especially those concerning marriage. Of course he believes that sexual intercouse should be used only for purposes of procreation (he says he has never worn a condom), but thereare some gray areas I was hoping he could clear up, so I wrote him the following letter:

" Dear Sen. Santorum:

" Thank you for doing so much to educate us regarding God's Eternal Law. I have learned a great deal from you and understand why you would propose and support a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sexmarriage, which of course is an abomination.

" As you said, "In the eyes of God, marriage is based between a man and a woman." I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can.When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

" I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how I might obey them:

" 1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies only to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Can I own Canadians?

" 2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her? (She works hard, but does eat a lot.)

" 3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanness (Lev. 14: 19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking when meeting young women at church socials, but most of them seem to take offense.

" 4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev. 1:9). The problem is with my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them, or would Lysol work?

" 5. I have a neighbor, Aaron Rogers, who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states that he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it? And how good is the Packers backup QB?

" 6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev.11:10) it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there degrees of abomination? Whatabout a homosexual at an oyster bar?

" 7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I do wear glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here? What about contacts?

" 8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die? I know they must be put to death, but I do not know the recommended method. .

" 9. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field (I think corn and alfalfa). And his wife wears garments made from two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev.24:10-16). Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their inlaws? (Lev. 20:14).

" 10. And last, I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean. May I still play football if I wear gloves?

" I know that you are very busy with your presidenial campaign, but, if you get a chance, I would really like your guidance on these critical and disturbing issues.

" Thank you again for reminding us of the eternal and unchanging truth of the
Holy Bible. God bless you. And may He guide you in your quest to lead this
great nation of ours. "

Sincerely Unknown Author

This came in my Email and I add it to my Blog because is exposes the falacy of the Republican Party's Homophobia

Rev. Bernard F.Hillenbrand

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I had a remarkable experience one evening many years ago. While flying from New York to Washington by chance I sat next to former Governor of Minnesota and perennial (eight times!) presidential candidate Harold E. Stassen. It was late at night and he was in a talkative mood. He recounted his various experiences in international affairs including his service in Great Britain. He got to know Winston Churchill pretty well. Here are some of the comments he made about this remarkable man.

He noted for example that he often went to the House of Commons when he knew Churchill would speak. On one occasion just after World War II when Churchill was out of office and critical of the incumbent Labor Party he arose on the House of Commons and noted as follows: “Great Britain is an island of coal surrounded by fish. Under the Labor government the two items that are in short supply our coal and fish.”

The Governor noted that Churchill had a son-in-law that he disliked very much. The unfortunate fellow added to his difficult relationship by calling Churchill “daddy”. One evening at dinner the son-in-law asked Churchill who is the most impressive world leader he had ever met. Churchill responded “Benito Mussolini. He had the courage to execute his son-in-law Count Ciano”.

Stassen also told the story of Churchill receiving a surprise invitation to address the Women’s Christian Temperance League. With his well-known propensity for alcohol he was intrigued and accepted. At the opening of the conference the chairperson in her introduction noted that the League had carefully selected the place for the meeting. She said that, based upon the reports of his daily consumption of Alcohol that Churchill had already consumed enough wine and brandy to half fill this auditorium half way to the ceiling. Churchill arose slowly raised his eyes to the ceiling and in a soft voice said “I am very humbled when in my advanced age I face the challenge of reaching all the way up to the ceiling.”

Stassen also repeated the famous story about the first woman elected to the House of Commons who was American Nancy Astor or Lady Astor. One day in a furious debate with Churchill she turned to him and said angrily “If you were my husband I would give you poison.” To which Churchill responded “Madam if you were my wife I would take it”.

It was another story about the rivalry between Churchville and Anevrin Bevan the Welsh leader of the Labor Party. At a break in the proceedings Churchville went to the restroom and walked right past Bevan who was at the first urinal. Bevan was very annoyed at the slight and snarled” Winston why are you being so uncivilized?” Churchill responded “Anevrin when you laborites see an instrument of production in private hands you want it nationalized.”
Churchill was a famous napping during dull moment and the House of Commons. One afternoon as Churchill was fast asleep Anevrin Bevan pass by and jammed his finger in Churchill's rather large belly and said “Winston what are you going to call the baby?” Churchill in a split second opened his eyes and said, “Anevrin”.

Rev Bernard F. Hillenbrand

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