Tryon Palace: a story of entitlement


So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. – John 10:7-10

DSC_2096Rebekah and I always enjoy incorporating some interesting history to go along with our vacation. So this week we drove down to New Bern to take an extended tour of the spectacular “Tryon Palace” site.

Long story short, the Tryon Palace is exactly the kind of 18th Century entitlement fiasco that would have made me a Patriot in short order! Nowadays we hear a lot of “politics-speak” pointing the finger at those who have nothing, accusing the poor of rampant “entitlement”… but (and the Tryon Palace is a great historical example) it seems to me that entitlement issues are far more pervasive (and damaging for our society) from those who already have far more than enough.

Tryon showed up in North Carolina having been appointed Lieutenant Governor, and he already had his architect in tow. Once governor, he demand money from the legislature for the purpose of building an extravagant estate. He raised taxes to cover the project. He believed he was entitled to live in opulence, and that it was the duty of the colonists to pay for it. It’s a rationalization game that’s still played by many people today when they justify avoiding taxes and other responsibilities.

DSC_2290The residence was completed by 1770, but succumbed to a devastating fire that destroyed the main house in 1798. Eventually a state highway ran through the property, along with more than 50 homes and businesses.

Fast forward to the mid-20th Century, when a group of five women initiated an effort to restore Tryon Palace to its former glory. If I ever become discouraged and believe a project can’t get off the ground, I’ll think about Mrs. Latham and her daughter Mrs. Kallenberger, who moved heaven and earth (or at least moved the will of the legislature, moved a state highway, and moved more than 50 buildings) to completely restore – without compromise at all – this amazing site.

Rebekah and I took all the tours, including several other other magnificent period homes now owned by the Tryon Palace foundation; then we completed the afternoon by meandering around the grounds.

My limited WordPress account won’t allow me to post all the photographs, and I’ll be writing more about the other homes and gardens later in the week, but I hope this slide show gives a good introduction. I was especially captured by the series of walled gardens, and most particularly the gateways and archways. I have always been fascinated by paths and doorways; I find them invitational – wonderful symbols representing discovery, learning, and revelation.

DSC_2298“Behold I stand at the door and knock,” Jesus said. The kingdom of God isn’t an entitlement, it’s a gift. Every time I see a beautiful entry or gate, I think of Jesus and the best invitation of all.

“Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep…”

It’s the best invitation – DEREK


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