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Exactly 500 years ago – on October 31st, 1517, a monk named Martin Luther changed the world. Concerned about the serious errors he that he believed were being taught by the Roman Catholic Church, he wrote down a list of 95 problems that he believed needed change, and (depending on the historian you talked to) either nailed them to the door of the All Saints Church in Wittenberg, or else mailed them from Wittenberg to the archbishop of Mainz. Whichever way it happened, that event is how all the turmoil started.

I am studying at Brandenburg University of Technology, and my blog has been silent for a few months while I adjust to my studies. But I wanted to write something for this special time, the 500th year since Luther started the Protestant Reformation. But what is the Protestant Reformation? What happened 500 years ago that was so special? What is so important about this list that Martin Luther made? Today, as I travel out to Lutherstadt Wittenberg, the birthplace of this theological revolution, this post will upload and you can learn the basics of just what makes that day so remarkable.

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Though I’m busy with packing and preparing to go to Germany, I do want to write a short post on a current topic: Google and free speech in a market economy. Google has been taking a lot of flack recently for some of their decisions regarding speech in the workplace and websites from which they generate revenue. They fired James Damore for advocating positions that they felt detracted from a healthy working environment; after GoDaddy stopped hosting the neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer, Google picked up the domain only to also drop it after a few hours; they threatened to pull ad revenue from an alt-right leaning political opinion site because a particular article was written by a former contributor who participated in the “Unite the Right” rally; a far-left site claims that Google is reducing their exposure; and there are many other such accusations of censorship of all kinds.

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Hello there! This is just a general life update. This fall, I will be traveling to Germany to study historic preservation at Brandenburg University of Technology in Cottbus, Brandenburg. I am already preparing, since this obviously is a big trip. It was a bit sad to turn down Columbia University’s offer of admission, but this school was my top choice.

There will be no history weekend this weekend, I need to take a break. I have some other writings planned that I hope to finish before my trip, but I also have a lot of preparation to do. If I have time once I am in Germany, I hope to do some travel blogging on here.

Well, that’s all for now.

– Ken

Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

God desires us to worship him. But, if we have an unresolved conflict with someone, that will hinder our worship. In the passage above, Jesus explains that before we offer up service to God, we need to first reconcile any conflicts we might have with someone else. Does anyone hold anything against you? Are there any conflicts you have yet to resolve?

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A hamburger sandwich. Photo by Len Rizzi, public domain in the US. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by User:VulcanOfWalden.

It is now a truly international phenomenon: Millions of people throw down patties of ground beef on a grill, cook to order, and slide the meat onto buns to make a sandwich. And the popularity of the hamburger shows no sign of dying out any time soon. But what is the history of this favorite sandwich? Where did it come from?

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Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Phil. 4:8

What do you think about? Spend time pondering? Your mind and heart is from what all your actions stem. Do we spend time thinking about how we can help others? Improve their lives? How we can better take care of the world that God has placed us in? Do we think about things that please God, about doing what is morally right?

If you are a believer, God has given you the power of his Holy Spirit to do this. Through God’s power, you can discipline and train your mind to be focused on things that are right.

You see it every day at home, every day at work. It is a commonplace tool, so commonplace that I usually do not give it much thought, yet it is nearly indispensable. It is the broom. A great deal of ingenuity and effort went into the creation of this important tool. Today, we will learn a brief history of its development.

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The standard flat broom. Sleek and efficient when compared to its predecessors. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Uploaded by User:Mauzile. CC BY-SA 4.0.

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In the final part to my series on Russian colonialism, I looked at the the Russian efforts to colonize the Caucasus. In that discussion, I mentioned the country of Georgia. That mention led me to write about today’s topic: The medieval-era Kingdom of Georgia.

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Tamar of Georgia. 12th/13th century mural by an unknown artist. Public domain, uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by User:Kober.

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In August 2008, I remember watching on the news the story of how the Russian Federation launched a massive invasion of the bordering nation of Georgia, in order to aid separatists in the then-Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.The war was short, only five days, but ended decisively in Russia’s favor. This war was part of a larger, ongoing conflict in the Caucasus, one that has been going on for over 200 years. Today is the final article in my series on Russian colonialism. It will examine Russian colonization of the Caucasus, the underlying cause of the centuries-old conflict.

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Russian artillery shelling Chechen positions near the village of Duba-Yurt during the Second Chechen War, January 2000. Source: Photographer.ru, uploaded to the English Wikipedia by User:PeterPredator. This is a copyrighted image used under US fair usage guidelines.

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“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” 1 John 5:14

In this passage, the Apostle John tells us that we can be confident in our faith. We can go to the God who created the universe, and ask him to help us. John makes an important note, though: We should ask according to God’s will. If we ask within his will, our prayer will be heard. So how do we know God’s will? Studying the word of God, and through prayer. Jesus, who was God and yet also a man, prayed that God’s will be done, but he also expressed his anguish and physical desire that he not have to endure the torment that was coming. So, prayer is aligning our will toward God’s will, and seeing what he desires come to fruition within our lives.