The WOW! for December 27, 2017 – Seeking to Save Beached Whales

WOW entries are compiled and distributed by the
Rev. Dr. William D. Peterson, a retired Presbyterian Church (USA) 
Teaching Elder/Minister of the Word and Sacrament.
Today’s entry marks the ‘final’ such entry, as the ending of the
calendar year of 2017, also marks the ending of the production
and distribution of this weekly entry in Still Faith-FULL.
Thanks to all who have let me know your appreciation through
the years of what originally, as the word ‘WOW’ was meant to
mean ‘Whacked Out Wednesday.’ <g>

See the struggle to save
10 Beached Whales



If you ever need an affirmation of the goodness of humanity, watch this video showing a group of people banding together to save a pod of beached whales. When ten 45-ton sperm whales stranded on a shore in Indonesia, locals and animal welfare groups  quickly helped them back to sea,  even using boats to pull them.

It’s unclear why whales beach themselves, but this heartbreaking theory stands out: if one member of the pod becomes stranded, the rest of the group follows as an act of solidarity.

WOW – A Holocaust Survivor’s Dream is Answered

December 20,2017

As you may already know, Still Faith-FULL will soon be ‘retired.’ Thus, though I don’t wish to be maudlin, I do wish to take advantage of the last few entries in ways that reflect the human spirit. Although I have thankfully not personally experienced the persecution or discrimination some know only too well due to race, national origin, gender, religion or other factors, I find inspiration in the stories of individuals and groups that have not permitted the trials and hardships of such experiences to squelch their passion for life.

This Holocaust survivor’s desire to wear a white dress for her wedding strikes me as being one such example of passion of this nature.


Holocaust Survivor’s Wedding Dress

Click below to read the story behind this wedding photo:


WOW! for December 06, 2017 – Gas Station Wisdom


Thanks to Paul Graves for sending this to me.


A filling station in Gauteng, South Africa (between Pretoria and Johannesburg) has become quite a landmark with its daily Petrol Pump Wisdom, which are uplifting quotes written on a chalkboard. Some motorists say they deliberately travel this route just to read the quote of the day.

The lady behind this wonderful initiative at Hutton Hyde Park is Alison Billett. She told SAPeople: “We inherited the board from the previous owner, Dick Hutton, when we bought the filling station from him almost 20 years ago.   We continued the tradition and it has become a landmark more so now that it’s on social media! Not a day goes by when I don’t get a call or a visit from someone telling me how much they appreciate the message as if every day there’s something that just speaks to what is going on in someone’s life and that inspires or motivates them. The boards were spotted by a motivational speaker from the UK, Geoff Ramm, when he was driving by one day and he was so taken by them he included a piece about them in his book! The boards have appeared many times in newspapers and magazines and been spoken about on radio stations all over the world. 9GAG has re-tweeted them a few times too!”

The WOW! for November 29, 2017 – Just What Is This Object in Space?


Attribution: ESO/M. Kornmesser


 Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
NO! It is  
The object above, is  an artist’s impression of the first
interstellar asteroid discovered on October 19th of this
year by the Pan- STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii. It was
named Oumuamua, which is a Hawaiian word intended
to reflect its standing as a ‘messenger from the past.’
As noted, it was first spotted streaking across the
cosmos on the 19th of October.

It was originally designated as an asteroid, but it is now
categorized as as a metallic (or rocky), dark red, elongated
interstellar body that is unlike any known asteroid previously
found in the solar system. 

The WOW! for November 15, 2017 – There Are Giants in This Desert

Cactus in Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona

The saguaro cactus can grow more than 50 feet tall and is found only here in the Sonoran Desert, across the border in Sonora, Mexico, and in a small portion of southeastern California. Though the saguaro isn’t endangered, it’s heavily protected by state and federal laws, due to its relatively small natural habitat. Saguaro National Park is divided into two sections and straddles Tucson on the east and west sides. It was established in 1994 to preserve the giant cactus and its desert habitat. 


For the local Tohono O’odham people, the giant saguaro cactus are not plants at all, but a different type of humanity, and are considered respected members of the Tohono O’odham tribe.




Click below to view more photos of this park,
map of the area, et al:


The WOW! for November 08, 2017 – A Model Railroad Setup Like No Other

This is what you call a Train Set!

Miniatur Wunderland (German for ‘miniature wonderland’), is a model railway attraction in Hamburg Germany. It is also the largest model railway setup in the world. It is located in the historic Speicherstadt district of the city.

In October 2016 the railway consisted of 15,400 m (50,525 ft) of track in HO scale. There are nine sections to the display, including Harz, the fictitious city of Knuffingen, the Alps and Austria, Hamburg, America, Scandinavia, a replica of the Hamburg Airport, and Italy.

By 2020, the exhibit is expected to have reached its final construction phase, including at least a total of ten new sections in a model area of over 24,757 square feet.

The exhibit includes 1,300 trains made up of over 10,000 carriages, over 100,000 moving vehicles, ca. 500,000 lights, 130,000 trees, and 400,000 human figurines. Planning is also in progress for the construction of sections for France, England, Africa and Australia.

The construction of the first part started in December 2000 and the first three parts, Knuffingen, Central Hamburg and Austria,were completed in August 2001.

The project was created by twin brothers Frederik and Gerrit Braun.

The layouts control room

Traveling through the Alps

Railroad bridge

Railway in Norway

Ship sailing in real water

in the Scandinavia section

Rome, in the Italy layout

View of the Hamburg Section

Football Stadium

Although I’ve not seen this model layout in person, the photos remind me of the miniature layouts in LegoLand in Denmark. Kathy and I had the privilege of spending time at that park during our 2000 visit to Denmark.  
Having grown up in California, and visiting Disneyland on a number of occasions, I must admit that at least in my more ‘senior’ years, it was nice to wander through the LegoLand features without having to walk as far as tends to be true in the huge amusement parks that are characteristic of such American attractions. 

The WOW! for October 11, 2017

The WOW for Wednesday,

October 11, 2017

The following is a copy of a message I recently received from this organization. I’ve removed the ‘click here to add your name’ links, as I lack the savvy to know how to remove my name and contact information from this message.

You can, however, find the contact information for the organization at the bottom of this communication.

In other words, today’s WOW is also a WHEW! on the Still Faith-FULL editor’s part. <g>



Dear William,

I’ll never forget my visit to the Mirpur slum in Bangladesh this year.

There, I met a group of girls, some just 5 years old, who had never spent a single day in school because they were forced to work as child laborers.

More than anything, these girls wish to be free – free from exploitation, chaos and violence. Until that day, these girls are fighting for every opportunity and every resource they need to build a brighter future.

So many of the girls I met in Bangladesh were like the young girls I met in Mirpur – facing the most heartbreaking odds with dignity, resilience and strength.

Women and girls suffer disproportionately in urban slums. Many go to bed hungry night after night. They become stricken with measles due to the lack of access to basic immunizations. They face beatings and other gender-based violence that gets overlooked. Many are forced into child marriages and experience early pregnancies that cause life-threatening injuries.

Despite these harrowing circumstances, so many young girls continue to fight. Today on International Day of the Girl, I’m thinking about all those amazing young fighters I met. Determined and empowered women and girls have always been at the center of progress in our world – and they’re leading the charge against eradicating the conflict, hunger and poverty that still plagues us today.

Poverty – in all of its pernicious forms – is a threat to girls everywhere, whether in my hometown of Washington D.C., or in an urban slum in Bangladesh. We know that women and girls are often the hardest hit by poverty and inequality. It can keep a good education or economic independence out of reach. It can create inequality and deny empowerment. Too often, it can lead to violence.

We cannot teach our girls to be ashamed, or afraid, or to make their dreams smaller in order to fit into the world. We must teach our girls that they deserve the same fundamental rights to freedom, autonomy and equality. They deserve a world as big and expansive as their dreams.

Because when girls can rise… when they can overcome obstacles… they can write their own story. And they can make lasting impacts in their communities. With 1 billion girls living around the world right now, they have the power to shape history.

We need their dreams. And more than ever, we need their leadership.


Gayatri Patel
Senior Policy Advocate, CARE
CARE Action Now is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(4) membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of CARE. Donations made to CARE Action Now are not tax-deductible.


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The WOW! for October 04, 2017

A few years back I began the ‘WOW’ weekly entries. At the time, WOW stood for ‘Whacked Out Wednesday.’ As of today’s entry, I am thinking that WOW is an acronym for far more than a day of the week, but instead should stand for a Whacked Out World.

Most all of us are certainly aware of the horrific and destructive hurricane that devastated parts of the U.S. mainland. That a subsequent hurricane would be so totally destructive of Puerto Rico and other islands has added to our understanding of just how vulnerable we who are human are to so-called ‘Natural Disasters.’

But who could have imagined that so soon after these forms of destruction, an apparently ‘lone gunman’ would choose to use high-powered weapons to randomly wound and kill so many innocent attenders of an open-air concert?

Given that the gunman took his own life prior to his capture, we have little knowledge of what could possibly have been his motive. Whether or not his female partner (who was out of the country at the time of his actions) can – or will – fill in the missing pieces of what would have led to the taking of so many innocent lives, coupled with the wounding of so many others, remains to be seen.

Through the years I’ve thought at times
“Could it get any worse than this?”

Thankfully, there have typically been periods of ‘normalcy’ subsequent to such periods. During those times, it seemed that “All hell was breaking loose.” However, who knows what the next weeks and months will bring in terms of either natural or human-acts of destruction.

We live in times that definitely ‘try the souls’ of men and women, but I am thankful for the many who join me in being ‘faith-filled.’ Such faith is not naive. In my case it does not include the belief that all that transpires is the result of the ‘Will of God.’ Rather, it is a faith that believes human freedom of will is a reality with, obviously, evidence of courage and cowardice and, hopefully and prayerfully, of peace, and deep gratitude.

Let us pray in our own ways, in many tongues, and through many traditions, that we will find paths toward unity and mutual cooperation. May we avoid acting in ways that demean not only other humans, but that threaten and/or destroy nature and its various creatures as well.


In hope and trust,


The WOW! for September 27, 2017 – Who would have guessed . . .

A prominent human myth is that we who are human are so much more intelligent than other species. However, those who study animal cognition can make a strong case that “It ain’t necessarily so.”
Case in point, a video in which an orangutan ‘builds’ a hammock for his use. An impressive example of something called ‘Animal Cognition.’
My thanks to Barry Brower for bringing this video to my attention.


Hammock Making 101

Orangutan Builds
a Hammock


Published on Dec 23, 2015 


The WOW! for September 20, 2017 – Unlocking the Secrets of an Ancient Biblical Scroll


Modern Technology

Unlocks Secrets of a

Damaged Biblical Scroll

Continue reading article

A composite image of the completed virtual unwrapping of the En-Gedi scroll.CreditSeales et al. Sci. Adv. 2016; 2 : e1601247



Nearly half a century ago, archaeologists found a charred ancient scroll in the ark of a synagogue on the western shore of the Dead Sea.

The lump of carbonized parchment could not be opened or read. Its curators did nothing but conserve it, hoping that new technology might one day emerge to make the scroll legible.

Just such a technology has now been perfected by computer scientists at the University of Kentucky. Working with biblical scholars in Jerusalem, they have used a computer to unfurl a digital image of the scroll.

It turns out to hold a fragment identical to the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible and, at nearly 2,000 years old, is the earliest instance of the text.

The writing retrieved by the computer from the digital image of the unopened scroll is amazingly clear and legible, in contrast to the scroll’s blackened and beaten-up exterior. “Never in our wildest dreams did we think anything would come of it,” said Pnina Shor, the head of the Dead Sea Scrolls Project at the Israel Antiquities Authority.


Click below to read more about this amazing technology

Bill Reflects

As I’ve shared previously, in 1962, at the age of 19, I had the remarkable privilege of participating in an archaeological ‘dig’ in what was then Jordan, but is now part of the occupied West Bank. Said experience included visits to the ‘Dead Sea Scroll Caves’, adjacent to the Dead Sea, though of course the scrolls themselves had long been dispersed here and there.

The faculty for our Archaeology and Bible History experience consisted of Dr. Joseph P. Free of Wheaton College, who also literally owned Tel Dothan, where we were to engage in the 1962 ‘season’ of doing archaeology; a Bible teacher from a Bible School in the States; and an ‘ancient scrolls’ scholar – also from an institution other than Wheaton.

The experience of being present in the Middle East was remarkable, but it was not until I returned to what had become Israel and the ‘Occupied West Bank’ that I actually had the privilege of seeing some of the Dead Sea Scrolls encased in a museum in Jerusalem.

As noted, my initial and intensive/extended trip to the Holy Lands transpired when I was an undergraduate at Wheaton College. The return and limited to two-week study tour transpired in the middle of my first year of seminary. I was now 49 rather than 19, and I’d also completed learning Hebrew and reading the Hebrew Scriptures in that language the previous summer, followed by a course on the Old Testament in the fall term.

What a difference 30 years can make in both life experience and even in one’s way of ‘interpreting’ Scripture. The multiple year span that led ultimately to being an ordained minister, also is part of the reason I chose to title this blog ‘Still Faith-FULL’, rather than Still Faithful. In truth, I had first begun using the title ‘Still Faith-Full After All These Years’ as the title for the multiple treatises I was required to write while in seminary for both the course work and as part of the pre-ordination process in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Now you know <g>.


The WOW! for September 13, 2017 – Perfectly Timed Photos

‘Timing is Everything’

In this day and age when so many options are
available to ‘tweak’ photos, I have no way to
discern if there has been some ‘photo-
shopping done on one or more of these
photos. I do, however, know who sent
them to me so I can in turn send them
on to the folk on Still Faith-FULL.
That individual is Joe Kramarz, and
anyone who knows Joe knows that
there is no way he would ever
intentionally deceive someone.
Uh, maybe just once in a while. <g>

The Island Where People Forget to Die

Source: New York Times Magazine
October 24, 2012
Ikaria (Off the coast of Turkey)
Stamatis Moraitis tending his vineyard and olive grove on Ikaria.
Credit Andrea Frazzetta/LUZphoto for The New York Times

In 1943, a Greek war veteran named Stamatis Moraitis came to the United States for treatment of a combat-mangled arm. He’d survived a gunshot wound, escaped to Turkey and eventually talked his way onto the Queen Elizabeth, then serving as a troopship, to cross the Atlantic. Moraitis settled in Port Jefferson, N.Y., an enclave of countrymen from his native island, Ikaria. He quickly landed a job doing manual labor. Later, he moved to Boynton Beach, Fla. Along the way, Moraitis married a Greek-American woman, had three children and bought a three-bedroom house and a 1951 Chevrolet.
One day in 1976, Moraitis felt short of breath. Climbing stairs was a chore; he had to quit working midday. After X-rays, his doctor concluded that Moraitis had lung cancer. As he recalls, nine other doctors confirmed the diagnosis. They gave him nine months to live. He was in his mid-60s.
Click below to continue reading this New York Times Magazine article: