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The Miracle of Dunkirk

Posted by on Sep 27, 2017 in A HAPPY HOME, Blog, History by the Slice | 0 comments

The bang of a bullet, as it penetrated the steel hull of the ship, nearly made me jump out of my skin. Several bullets punched their way through the hull, and water gushed in, flooding the boat. Fortunately, all of this action was taking place on the big screen, while I was sitting safely in my cushioned seat, and the only danger that I faced was that I might spill my popcorn every time the movie made me jump—which was often. The movie was Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece released this summer.  The movie was remarkably free of gory violence, but it was packed with suspense from beginning to end, as it followed three interweaving stories that took place during the famous evacuation of close to 330,000 British soldiers at Dunkirk during World War II. The evacuation of 1940 has...

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Poland, 1979: We Want God! We Want God!

Posted by on Aug 18, 2017 in A HAPPY HOME, Blog, History by the Slice | 0 comments

In 1979, schoolteachers in Poland were told to inform their students that the man about to visit their country “is our enemy.” Teachers were urged to explain to their classes that this man’s sense of humor and great communication skills made him “dangerous, because he charms everyone.” Who was this dangerous enemy? It was Pope John Paul II, and the warnings were sent out to schools in Poland because in 1979 the communists were in control. John Paul II was going to visit his home country for the first time since becoming Pope, and the communists allowed it because they thought he would “behave himself.” They gambled that he would not say anything too controversial in this officially atheist country. Poland might have been officially atheist at that time, but it was unofficially a very religious country with a...

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The Exploding Chocolates

Posted by on Jul 24, 2017 in A HAPPY HOME, Blog, History by the Slice | 0 comments

The Nazis once tried to kill British Prime Minister Winston Churchill with chocolate. According to a retrospective in Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, “Adolf Hitler’s bomb makers coated explosive devices with a thin layer of rich dark chocolate, then packaged it in expensive-looking black and gold paper. The Germans apparently planned to use secret agents working in Britain to discreetly place the bars—branded as Peters Chocolate—among other luxury items taken into the dining room used by the War Cabinet during the conflict.” Fortunately, British spies discovered the plot before the chocolate could explode. This story highlights the power of chocolate and its rich, creamy texture. What better temptation to lure someone into a trap than chocolate? The world’s love affair with chocolate can be traced back to the Mayans and Aztecs. The Aztecs believed that cacoa beans, which are used to...

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From God’s Restaurant to Mars Hill

Posted by on May 29, 2017 in A HAPPY HOME, Blog, History by the Slice | 0 comments

The sky was as blue as the Aegean Sea when my wife and I left our hotel and hiked off to visit the Parthenon, the ancient ruins of a temple that has stood at the heart of Athens for about 2,500 years. Before we climbed the winding slope leading up to the Acropolis, where the Parthenon stands, we popped in for breakfast at an establishment that was actually named “God’s Restaurant.” You know you’re starting your day off right when you have an omelet at God’s Restaurant. We took a million photos on the Acropolis, where you could get a beautiful bird’s-eye view of the city and its sea of white buildings. But the greatest thrill was coming across a small hill on our way down from the Parthenon. We had stumbled onto Mars Hill, the site where tradition...

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10 Steps to Reflect On for the Morning After Easter

Posted by on Apr 17, 2017 in A HAPPY HOME, Blog, History by the Slice | 0 comments

I have tackled my share of jigsaw puzzles over the years, and the most satisfying part is when you’re into the home stretch and all of the pieces are coming together fast and furious. There is a particularly special feeling of completion when that one last piece clicks into place. I had that feeling recently when a Bible class took me through the events of Easter morning and showed me how all of the puzzle pieces from the four Gospels fit together. The first Easter morning was a crazy and confusing climax to the most incredible week in the history of the world. But if you read the accounts in the Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, it’s easy to get confused about how all of the stories fit together. There are a lot of names to keep...

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The Greatest Escape

Posted by on Mar 27, 2017 in A HAPPY HOME, Blog, History by the Slice | 0 comments

I trudged along a canal in Berlin back in 2011, hoping to see the inside of one of the few remaining watchtowers in the city—a guard tower where East Berlin soldiers kept an eagle eye out for people escaping to West Berlin. The guards had shoot-to-kill orders. When I paid my visit, the Berlin Wall had fallen 22 years earlier, and this watchtower was only a distant reminder of one of the most bizarre barriers ever created—the Berlin Wall. In August of 1961, the border between Communist East Berlin and the free democracy of West Berlin closed overnight, and work on the Wall began in earnest. Some called it a “surreal cage,” which enclosed an entire nation behind a wall that snaked through the heart of Berlin. I had featured this watchtower in the novel I was writing in...

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