The Common Law of Texas

A Colt Single Action Army Revolver, via Revivaler

Colt was also increasingly showing himself to be a gifted merchant, combining his natural flair for persuasion with a prescient grasp of mass marketing. He branded his guns not only with his name, but with engravings that were pressure-rolled onto the cylinders. The scenes he chose for these engravings–one showed a stagecoach holdup, men facing off with pistols, several on the ground wounded or dead–indicate how well he understood his gun’s appeal by 1840. Not only did the engravings associate his revolvers with self-defense and derring-do, they verified them as authentic Colts amid the onslaught of imitation revolvers he correctly assumed were coming. Nor did he neglect the presentation of the guns. Each came in a handsome mahogany box, lined in velvet, with a beveled lid and nameplate. An even better idea, which Colt arrived as later, would be putting some of the guns inside false books, a gimmick, but one that hinted knowingly at the future of these guns. Laws for Self Defense was the title on the spine of one of these books. Other titles included The Tourist’s Companion and The Common Law of Texas.

James Rasenberger, Revolver: Sam Colt and the Six-Shooter That Changed America

Here is an 1851 Colt Navy where you can zoom in on the cylinder and this link shows an 1849 model in the box.

You can learn a little more about Colt revolvers and Texas history here.

The Big Apple

Image by teetasse from Pixabay

From Maria Popova:

On May 3, 1921, John J. Fitz Gerald — a sports journalist for the New York Morning Telegraph reporting on the horse-racing circuit — suddenly began referring to results from New York City as news from “the big apple.” He soon titled his entire column “Around the Big Apple,” extolling the Big Apple as “the dream of every lad that had ever thrown a leg over a thoroughbred and the goal of all horsemen.” Eventually, people began wondering why he had so nicknamed their city.

Five years after he first began using the term, Fitz Gerald half-answered.

Several years earlier, traveling to New Orleans for a race, he had overheard two African American stable hands discussing the horses in their respective care and where they were headed next. One of the young men told the other, in a “bright and snappy” quip, that the horse was going to “the big apple.” Fitz Gerald, knowing that the horse was in fact headed to New York City, seized on the term without asking where it came from — something about it just felt like the right poetic image for the grandeur and lushness of life in his hometown.

He died without ever saying anything else about it, having seeded into the urban dictionary the single most powerful and recognizable botanical metaphor in popular culture.

Popova goes further, tracing out the origins and meaning of the phrase “big apple.”

I’ve heard New York described as “The Big Apple” a billion times. Only in passing have I wondered where this phrase came from and how it became associated with New York City. Much of our vernacular we inherited or picked up, and the meaning and origin becomes lost to time.

“The Big Apple” is just one example. If you want another fun dive, check out this list of phrases that came from Shakespeare.

What is ASMR?

According to Cal Newport:

Around 2010, a curious new term arose in obscure but energetic internet chatrooms: autonomous sensory meridian response. ASMR, as it was soon abbreviated, described a peculiar form of paresthesia experienced as a tingling that starts in the scalp and then moves down the back. It’s often triggered by specific sounds, like soft whispering or a paintbrush scraping canvas. Not surprisingly, those sensitive to ASMR sometimes found Bob Ross reruns to be a reliable source of the effect.

Examples include Charles Dickens’ writing room (above), Newt Scamander’s study (Harry Potter universe), and this strange collection of sights and sounds:

This Plyo Box is a Work of Art

plyo box
Bears, Royals, and Chiefs

One of the projects I’ve tackled during COVID-19 was building a 3-in-1 plyometric box. Here is the blueprint I used.

I bought a sheet of plywood at The Home Depot. I brought my supplies home, and my next door neighbor, Lance Lowe, used his table saw to make the cuts.

Cowboys, Rangers, and Jayhawks

Due to distancing measures, I dropped the board outside Lance’s garage, and he returned the pieces soon thereafter.

Because of what Baylor has meant to you in the past, because of what she will mean to you in the future, oh, my students, have a care for her. Build upon the foundations here the great school of which I have dreamed, so that she may touch and mold the lives of future generations and help to fit them for life here and hereafter. To you seniors of the past, of the present, of the future I entrust the care of Baylor University. To you I hand the torch. My love be unto you and my blessing be upon you.
– Samuel Palmer Brooks

Molly helped me assemble the box.

“We did it our way, baby!” – Barry Switzer
“I didn’t spend the night with the trophy. I spent it with my trophy wife.” – Andy Reid

After I put it together, Lance told me he’d be happy to brand the box with logo art from six of my favorite teams. I dropped the box on his driveway, and this is how it came back.

“Maybe when we get home, I can go to the third-base tree and pick another third baseman.” – Ned Yost
“It’s time.” – Nelson Cruz

Lance does all kinds of cool stuff like this. Check out his business, and put in an order for a cornhole set.

A Good Word from Mark Bailey

Mark Bailey is the President of Dallas Theological Seminary, where I was a student from 2002 to 2005. Dr. Bailey has served DTS as president for nineteen years, and will transition into the chancellor role on June 30. He will be succeeded by Dr. Mark Yarbrough on July 1, 2020.

On behalf of the seminary, Dr. Bailey issued a letter to the DTS family on Thursday, June 4 in response to events in my nation in these last days. He stated:

A Prayer and a Plea for Our Nation
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. (Proverbs 14:34)

Dear DTS Family:

As we watch the news and see our city streets in turmoil, my heart, like many of yours, aches. We all yearn for righteousness and peace. All Christians should feel extremely bothered, hurt, and righteously angered over the recent tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, not to mention all others who have needlessly died due to racial injustices and systemic racism. In many ways, the heart cry of the prophet Habakkuk expresses much of our current frustrations:

How long, O LORD, will I call for help, and You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” yet You do not save. Why do You make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; strife exists and contention arises. Therefore the law is ignored and justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore justice comes out perverted. (Hab 1:1-4).

Racism is a grievous sin, resulting in systemic oppression, and does not display our Lord’s heart. It is demonic, and we, as the body of Christ, are called to stand against it. While equal treatment and justice are American values that we proclaim, too often they are not experienced by all people.

At Dallas Theological Seminary, we denounce racism and all forms of racial injustice (DTS Statement on Unity Diversity and Community) and continue to learn how to live that out in practical and proactive ways.

Jesus commanded each of us to “treat others as you would like to be treated” (Luke 6:31). Openly speaking up for the marginalized and mistreated is a mandate found throughout the Bible. Proverbs 31:8-9 states, “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” The abuse of power creates chaos at every level of a culture. The words of James 2 also echo in our ears, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.”

Proverbs 29:2 explains, “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.” The world continues to witness the groans of hurting people. Throughout our history, those who should speak do not say enough in defense of those who are oppressed because of the color of their skin or their ethnicity. The unheard groans of oppression eventually lead to more suffering, grief, unrighteousness, and unfortunately, human vengeance. The family of DTS, as the body of Christ, collectively repents for the ways we do not honor Christ’s mandate and image Him well. We collectively mourn with our brothers and sisters who experience the damaging oppression of racism and live in fear as a part of their daily experience. We also join the voices of those protesting peacefully who have rightly denounced the violence and vandalism that distracts from the root issues.

If we want to see a decrease in social unrest, the church of Jesus Christ needs to lead out and speak up against all injustice and unrighteousness. “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.” (Prov. 29:18). We must model righteous anger and seek productive ways to join the protest against racism. We must seek the Lord and pursue innovative ways to bring change. History teaches us that God is honored, and change happens, when ministers and faith leaders are at the front of the charge, guiding the way. The prophet Jeremiah reminds us to “… seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

Our words can’t adequately speak healing and comfort to the centuries of injustices people have faced here and abroad, but the Word of God can. Our apologies may come across to some as hollow and self-serving; our goal at DTS remains to teach truth and love well. We desire to continue to grow in love, to bear the image of Christ better, and to reach our neighbors with the healing and love the Gospel of Christ brings. Please continue to pray as we move forward as God’s instruments of healing and change.

Three of our distinguished alumni have recently spoken about the events happening in our nation. I invite you to listen:


Mark L. Bailey, PhD
DTS President

I reflected on these same matters Friday in my eNewsletter. In 2002, my decision to attend Dallas Seminary was largely discerned in connection to my love of the Scriptures. I wanted to know the Bible, and DTS seemed to be the place where I could learn to do that best. I continue to value Dallas Seminary’s commitment to the Bible.

Dr. Bailey’s letter is thoroughly biblical. His response is rooted in the witness of the Word of God. I also received his words as being offered in humility, in grief, and in love. For that, I am deeply thankful. Dr. Bailey reminded me that as an ambassador for Christ I am called to live according to what is true and to evidence those commitments through love. As a minister of the gospel, I am called to do so with courage.

Acts of love include the commitment to pray and to listen. Prayer is not passive, but active, and is a first response. Listening, also, is an action.

But the question before us remains: “How do we serve as God’s instruments of healing and change?” What does God’s Word call us to do? How does the church exercise obedience to the command to love our neighbor as ourselves, and how does this take shape in our nation at this moment in time? That’s a matter for discernment. We need wisdom.

In Isaiah 1:17 we are commanded: “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

I find it significant that justice is described as something we are to seek and to do. Seeking leads to doing. But then, once done, seek. With justice, we are always on the way. Christian hope offers us a vision for what we are seeking, for on the day of Christ, our quest for justice will reach its end. Until then, we wait, we long, we cry out, we work. Pray. Listen. Discern. Act. Explore the options, consider them with God, and then do what is right. As an individual, act. Better yet, bind yourself to the church; let’s be the people God has always called us to be.

Thanks, H-E-B

Michael Leas, stock controller, store number 351, Edna: My overnight crew, they’re just coming in, and it seems like they’re ready. They just ask me what I need them to do. I haven’t had very many complaints from the guys or anything. It’s been really nice. You can tell that they understand it’s not our fault; this is just something that’s happening.

Craig Boyan: We’re not in a super glamorous job. We have a lot of hard-working people doing hard jobs. But there’s a strong sense of pride at H-E-B. We describe ourselves as a purpose-driven company, and we’re at our best amid times of crisis. There’s a great sense among H-E-B partners that they’re doing what’s needed to take care of Texans, and that keeps the morale very high.

[ . . . ]

Tina James: It’s not lost on us that we are offering an essential public function, and it’s not lost on our partners, either. And they continue to come to work with a very positive attitude, and continue to serve above and beyond even their normal hours. That never ceases to amaze me. We are very fortunate in that H-E-B has a chief medical officer as well as a medical board, so we have resources at our fingertips to offer up medical advice and guidance to our partners. So we play a unique role in our partners’ lives that allows them to have some comfort and calm so they can turn around and take care of our customers.

[ . . . ]

Craig Boyan: The spirit of Texans and their treating H-E-B partners with the respect and pride that they do makes us feel fantastic. I drove by a church the other day in San Antonio that had a sign out front that said ‘Thank an H-E-B checker.” We’ve seen an outpouring of support for our partners and truck drivers that gives us a great sense of pride.

– Dan Solomon and Paula Forbes, in Texas Monthly, “Inside the Story of How H-E-B Planned for the Pandemic

I don’t often give much thought to how food and other supplies are delivered and then made available by my local grocer. But I’ve been thinking about it more lately.

Thanks, H-E-B.