Wed10222014

News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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‘Theological tennis’: The fall and rise of Christian morality

Editor’s note: The following column is a response to the article that ran in last week’s Spiritual Life section, “Back and forth: A stirring game of theological tennis,” by Los Altos resident Mike Bushell.

“If we discovered tomorrow that there were no God, would the world grind to a halt?” asked Mike Bushell, who calls himself an agnostic. “Would you start acting differently? Would society break down into some amoral anarchy?”

According to Bushell, the answer is no. He wrote, “We have the capacity and the responsibility to act morally ... without abrogating that responsibility to a Supreme Being.”

Is he right? After all, the world is changing fast. The widespread rejection of a Bible-based conscience has accelerated that change, and our news media bombard us with evidence of today’s heartless cruelties and amoral lifestyles. In fact, the word “moral” is fast fading from our vocabulary.

Reporter Melanie Phillips describes the social decay in British cities: “What has been fueling all this is not poverty ... but moral collapse. What we have been experiencing is a complete breakdown of civilized behavior. .... It’s a world without any boundaries or rules.”

Especially moral boundaries.

Yet, as centuries come and go, history occasionally reveals sudden, momentous changes that transform cultures in ways that defy logic. One of these leaps began more than 400 years ago. Its transforming power brought light into the dark Middle Ages. It spread hope among people bound by fear, superstition and tyranny.

Historian Randall Roth summarizes what happened. His research showed little variation in the rate of human violence between the 14th and 16th centuries. “Then, in the 17th century, there is a very big, dramatic drop,” he wrote.

Why? How did people suddenly become less violent?

According to James A. Sharpe, historian at the University of York in England, “The great decline in homicide in the 17th century was not accompanied by a rise in property offense prosecutions but rather by their diminution.”

In other words, theft as well as murder plummeted in the 17th century.

People had actually changed their values. They had become more honest as well as peaceable. But again, why?

History teacher Tom Cohen helps solve the puzzle: “The Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation put a lot of emphasis on individual conscience. ... The conscience becomes the internal gyroscope. (It builds) personal self-control.”

By God’s grace, people in Northern Europe were suddenly free to print and read the Bible, live by faith and follow their conscience. A century later, the evangelistic zeal that spread God’s truth and love throughout Europe would cross lands and oceans to reach the earth’s most oppressed people.

We still reap the benefits of a world pacified by the spread of Christianity. But it may not last long, for we now face a reversal of the tide that brought truth and hope to a broken world.

We face a new era. Christianity is mocked and the Bible-trained conscience is being replaced by contrary guidelines that twist, scorn or deny God’s truth. Consequently, many now redefine the conscience to match new cultural values.

But the Lord is our strength and refuge!

“Thanks be to God who leads us in His triumph!”

Berit Kjos of Los Altos Hills is a member of Union Presbyterian Church.

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