pandora’s box

“They gave Pandora a box. Prometheus begged her not to open it.
She opened it. Every evil to which human flesh is heir came out of it.

The last thing to come out of the box was hope.
It flew away.”

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


(an annoying pest moments before its demise / Julie Cook / 2017)

What have we become?

It was way back in 1989 when the world wide web, or more aptly known www., was
officially “created” by the British scientist Tim Berners-Lee,
an independent contractor working in Switzerland at the European Organization for
Nuclear Research…otherwise known as CERN.

It’s actually all quite above and beyond me really so I won’t even try to rehash any of it
or even attempt to explain it or its history except….
that I know that it was shortly after 1989 that one of those governing bodies
of all things science there at CERN proclaimed that access to and of the “web”
would be made available and free to the general populace….meaning you and me.

And life as you and I know it has never been the same.

And maybe that was the opening of pandora’s proverbial box.

Fast forward to 2017.

I am not a fatalist nor am I a henny penny the sky is falling doomsday sayer…
I’m also not one to put a whole lot of stock in prognosticators such as
the likes of a Nostradamus…
those soothsayers among us who carry the fatalistic signs proclaiming
that the end is near and we best all be ready…..

However that is not to say that I ever dismiss Christian mysticism…
I’ve lived long enough to know that I don’t know nearly as much as I often think I do.
I do believe in prophets.
I do believe in spiritual gifts.
and I also believe in spiritual curses…

I believe that there are those among us who tune in much better to God and His vast
and otherworldly Word than most of us average bears.
They hear and see and believe on a much deeper level than most of us are ever capable of
doing, possessing or going.

Theirs is a burdensome faith that most often comes with a heaviness that would suffocate
the average believer.
Carrying the weight of God’s very direct and personal words is not for the faint of heart.

Oh we’d all like to think we believe, we think we are faithful,
we think we step up to the plate when called…but trust me,
the majority of us fall much shorter than those few hearty inwardly seeing souls.

These certain individuals have been with us throughout the duration of time.
We know the ancient ones readily by name.
John
Jeremiah
Noah
Moses
Isaiah
Habakuk
Daniel
Simeon, etc…

on down to the very saints that today we so often reverently recall….
in places such as Fatima, Guadeloupe, Medjugorje, Lourdes
and even in the death camps of places like Auschwitz or in the Gulags buried deep
in Siberia.
Those select few have heard with a cutting clarity what the rest of us often naively
yearn for….but foolish mortals, you know not what you ask….

Most of us are not ready for such a sorrowful burdens of the Divine.
Think of the pieced heart of Mary…

And yet we must know that this mysticism of God is not far nor is it absent from our
modern-day lives despite many claiming quite the contrary.
Those frustrated among us who today proclaim we have no prophets,
no holy ones who see and call us to stop, look and listen–
No holy vocal polestars who point the rest of us in the right direction…

So what does Christian mysticism and the world wide web have to do with one another?
Well, not much really to the casual observer.
But to the more attuned…a great deal really….

Shortly after 1989 access to everything came to everyone with a frightening speed and
a deadly accuracy.
Now everyone had and still has the power.

The gift of technology was a boon but also a curse.

As it has begotten unto itself a wealth of spiraling accesses
of both new boons and endless curses.

It’s brought a connectivity to mankind that had never existed before.

Cell phones tying a crisscrossing virtual thread of global webs to the far flung edges
of civilization.
Internet at your fingertips anywhere, anytime….with anything you could imagine available
24/7 free of charge,
as our brains are now altered to seek out and be satisfied.

Twitter and its war of words with the tit for tat endlessness of anger and hatred…
Instagrams and its images galore be they good or be they bad….
Facebook and its sharing, bragging and constant underlying theme of human mayhem
Pintrest and its posting of the frustratingly fantastic
Snapchat and its humor of shenanigans
and so it goes…on and on, ad infinitum it begets and begets….

And what meaningful purpose does the majority of this all provide, offer or share
other than simply that, sharing…
with that sharing not always being a betterment for mankind kind of sharing….

And within all this dizzying wonderful and awful connectivity and sharing lies a
dark and sinister side…

Yet no one really wants to hear or acknowledge the darkness.
No one wants to see those who hold the signs proclaiming dangers or
that the end is near and are you ready….

For an unhealthiness has been bred deeply into mankind and it’s only boring deeper
and wider within.

Some now simply call the world flat…
Such as is the title of Thomas L Friedman’s 2005 book
The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century.

But at what cost have we flattened our world and ourselves?

There is new research stating that the brain has actually been altered by this
obsessive and loving addiction to our technology and it is called brain hacking…
(http://www.cbsnews.com/news/brain-hacking-tech-insiders-60-minutes/)
as in people are actually working on programs to addict your brain to
the need to access…..

So with this gift of access came to us a great responsibility along with a great curse…
Such that the majority of us were or are not ready nor prepared to bear…
rather we have been swept up within the fracas of begetting…
while the din of a million voices now vie for our thoughts…

Have we lost our ability of hearing…
listening and being attuned to those mystics among us calling out the words
of our God as we stare, with the blinders attached to our heads, ever so intently at the
devices at our finger’s reach……

Lest we be wary to whom and to what we now listen and give our beings over to…..

But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, until the time of the end.
Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
Many shall purify themselves, and make themselves white, and be refined;
but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand;
but those who are wise shall understand
But go your way till the end; and you shall rest,
and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.”

Daniel 12: 4, 9, 13

obscura

“As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression.
In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged.
And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air–
however slight—
lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”

William O. Douglas


(just a sliver of moon /Julie Cook / 2017)

Obscura…latin for darkened.

“The times are grievous.
The whole world is in turmoil because it has become worse than at the time of the deluge!
Everything is in suspense, like a thread;
when this thread breaks,
the justice of God will fall like a thunderbolt and will complete its terrible
course of purification.”

(Prophetic Vision of Sr. Elena Aiello,
Foundress of The Sister Minims, Dec 8, 1958)

Twilight has indeed settled over the land.
Yet most are unaware…merely basking in the madness of the current
Time’s waning light.

In response to someone who begged him (Saint Pius X) to “go soft” on
the Modernists, He retorted:
“Kindness is for fools!
They want them to be treated with oil, soap, and caresses but they ought to be beaten
with fists!
In a duel you don’t count or measure the blows, you strike as you can!
War is not made with charity, it is a struggle a duel.
If Our Lord were not terrible
(as in awesome and fearful / my words)
he would not have given an example in this too.
See how he treated the Philistines, the sowers of error, the wolves in sheep’s clothing,
the traitors in the temple.
He scourged them with whips!”

Taken from the Sacred Liturgy: Auferte gentem perfidam credentium de finibus
(Take the faithless tribe from the borders of the believing)
(Pius X is known for vigorously opposing modernist interpretations of Catholic doctrine, promoting traditional devotional practices and orthodox theology…. Wikipedia)

Because you have kept my word of patient endurance,
I will keep you from the hour of trial which is coming on the whole world,
to try those who dwell upon the earth.
I am coming soon;
hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.

Revelation 3:10-11

heart of the matter

Lord…
our heart is restless, till it rests in Thee.

St. Augustine


(heart of a purple cabbage / Julie Cook / 2017)

“You must pray not only with words but with the mind,
and not only with the mind but with the heart,
so that the mind understands and sees clearly what is said in words,
and the heart feels what the mind is thinking.
All these combined together constitute real prayer,
and if any of them are absent your prayer is either not perfect,
or is not prayer at all.”

St.Theophan the Recluse

I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses,
and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you;
and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
And I will put my spirit within you,
and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.

Ezekiel 36:25-27

E=MC2

It is better to believe than to disbelieve;
in so doing you bring everything to the realm of possibility.

Albert Einstein

I don’t know if you had an opportunity to catch the biopic miniseries on the
National Geographic Channel based on the life of Albert Einstein entitled Genius,
of which finished up last week with the airing of the final episode…
it was actually quite good and extremely fascinating.
And I suspect that they will be rerunning the series.

The series spanned about 10 consecutive Tuesday evenings for an hour long episode
and was based on the book by Walter Isaacson Einstein: His Life and Universe

The movie was produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.
Actors Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Flynn each played both the
elder(Rush) and younger(Flynn) Einsteins.

It was a well done series with a few little exceptions…
such as the scenes of Professor’s Einstein’s many trysts and dalliances
with various women…in particular a scene with his much younger secretary as they
“enjoyed” themselves in his office one afternoon up against the black board…
which was a bit too graphic and realistic for what I care for in a historical biography
that could otherwise have been so readily utilized within the classroom of say
high school age kids.

Other than that, the film was very informative and exceptionally well done.

One thing that struck me from the very beginning was how selfish Einstein was in
his relationships with people.
It took a much older Einstein to fully grasp this notion when he was confronted
with the blatant candidness from his then second wife, who
just also happened to be his first cousin…
and then later, near the end of his life,
by his estranged grown son Hans Albert.

Each berated the Professor for his utterly blind selfishness and insensitivity to and in
regard to the feelings and love of those who he should have been putting foremost
in his personal life.
From his many extramarital affairs to his total physical absence from the lives of his sons…
all of which he’d flippantly quip “they’ll understand”…..was a glaring flaw of character.

The other thing that struck me was how, as a young man, he renounced his German citizenship…
declaring himself a free citizen of the world who was null and void of all things political…
and hence responsibility to something larger than himself.
And also, in almost the same breath, proclaiming to be void of any sort of religious view…

And yet it was the older man who studied hard to become a citizen of the United States
and who also lobbied for the creation of the Jewish state of Israel.

One would most aptly presume that a man such as Einstein would have no use for religion
or the belief of an Omnipotent God.
Science and proof was his sole life’s purpose.
And for a while during his younger life, the lack of any sort or belief,
was indeed the case.

His was a life of physics and the quest of testing, defining and discovery.
To unlock and solve the mysteries behind what makes the universe just that…
the awesome mysterious universe that it is.

He had failures, he had frustrations, he had set backs, he had doors slammed in his face,
he struggled financially, he lived in dysfunctional relationships,
he suffered loss and sorrow, he was discriminated against,
he was betrayed and undermined by colleagues and scrutinized
for his convictions….plus he made some very poor choices…

And yet there is no disputing the fact that he was indeed brilliant none the less.

On more than one occasion he was asked about his belief in God.

“To sense that behind everything that can be experienced there is something that
our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly:
this is religiousness.
In this sense…I am a devoutly religious man.”

In response to a young girl who had asked him whether he believed in God, he wrote: “everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest
in the laws of the Universe—-
a Spirit vastly superior to that of man.”

And during a talk at Union Theological Seminary on the relationship between religion and science,
Einstein declared: “the situation may be expressed by an image:
science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
(quotes from an article by Bishop Robert Barron)

Einstein was born a Jew—and when he was younger and,
more or less very much a know it all…
thoughts of the God of Israel had very little if any appeal.
Remember this was a selfish young man as far as relationships were concerned….
he was never willing to give to a relationship the emotional commitment required…
or to invest in such for any real length of time.

Yet living and working in Berlin while Adolph Hitler rose to power and being a Jew,
a very famous Jew at that…despite being a non practicing Jew,
actually became a matter literally of either life or death for Einstein.

This was a time of a turning point for Einstein…
a turning point for his feelings and belief about being a Jew,
a free thinking man, and the responsibility that humans have to
something greater than themselves…
something even greater than his beloved physics.

I’m including NatGeo’s link to the series as viewing episodes from the homepage is possible.
just in case you’d like to watch one or two, or all….

I may not ever understand his science,
I many not always agree with his life’s choices or views…
but I can appreciate the fact that as brilliant as Einstein was…he eventually
understood the idea that there was a true connectiveness in man to that which is much
greater than himself…

http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/genius/

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thought

Isaiah 55:8-9

absolute

“In passing we should note this curious mark of our age:
The only absolute allowed is the absolute insistence that there is no absolute”

Francis A. Schaeffer


(the upside down gills of a spent mushroom / Julie Cook / 2017)

Death…
the one true absolute…
and yet,
there are those who would even argue the definitive nature of death….

What is it about man and absolutes??

On the one hand man riles against those who espouse in absolutes…
“be damned you fools” he will shout, “for I will not live by such pronouncements…”

While on the other hand he will test and retest in order to hold triumphantly
a handful of litmus papers of absolute proof…
that being the definitive definer…
as he will now forever hold those stained papers sacred.

Thou, oh ancient man, shall have no other gods but the Lord your God…

Absolute…

Yet man hordes a thousand other gods.
Clinging and clutching tightly to the fading fancies of his whims.

Thou shall take one woman as your wife and have no others besides her…

Absolute…

Yet man will alter and amend each law and sacrament in order to appease his current
fickled and twisted lust.

Thou shall honor and cherish your wife just as Christ honors and cherishes his own bride…

Absolute.

Yet man will opt not to have and to hold until death do part as he will grow weary
and seek that which is constantly fresh and new as he opts for the easier throwaway
mindset of the fleeting.

Thou shall cherish and love life and thou shall honor and love one unto another just
as you would wish to be cherished, honored and loved.

Absolute

Yet man will prefer to fight, hurt, murder, slander, defile, maim and destroy not
only others, but himself as well, as life and the living have lost all holiness…

For man has proclaimed himself his own god…

And thus it is man who extols that which is right and that which is wrong.

And since he is never satisfied with his choices for very long,
he will just as quickly turn each proclamation upside down,
in order to suit the latest craving or longing…
because nothing remains scared,
nothing remains holy
and nothing remains true…

for the only absolute in the mind of man is that there are no absolutes….

Then I saw another angel flying in midheaven,
with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth,
to every nation and tribe and tongue and people;
and he said with a loud voice,
“Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come;
and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the fountains of water.”

Revelation 14:6-7

after the rains

“… millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves
on a rainy Sunday afternoon.”

― Susan Ertz

It is amazing how quickly after a rain a mushroom sprouts its “fruit” and within a mere few hours
has “blossomed” into its full regalia.
And yes this one is indeed poisonous.

“Shower, O heavens, from above,
and let the skies rain down righteousness;
let the earth open, that salvation may sprout forth,
and let it cause righteousness to spring up also;
I the Lord have created it.

Isaiah 45:8

thinking good

“Help Other People By Thinking Good About Them”
Elder Thaddeus

Thinking good.
Sounds easy enough.
Yet is it?

Elder Thaddeus reminds us how much the world can effect those efforts of trying to
think “good”….turning those best efforts upside down as the world works
to cloud all thoughts of goodness, kindness, benevolence and graciousness.

Just turn on the news as any and all thoughts of anything good quickly dissipate.

“A person who is entrapped in the vicious cycle of chaotic thoughts,
in the atmosphere of hades, or has only so much as touched it, feels the torments of hell.
For example, we read the newspapers or take a walk in the streets,
and afterwards we suddenly feel that something is not quite right in our souls;
we feel an atmosphere; we feel sadness.
That is because by reading all sorts of things, our mind becomes distracted and the
atmosphere of hades has free access to our minds.”

Thaddeus (born Tomislav Štrbulović) of Vitovnica, was both a Serbian and Orthodox monk.
Born in 1914 to humble working class parents, Tomislav was a sickly child who was not
expected to live much past the age of 15.
It was shortly after doctors made their grim prognosis of his supposed short earthly life,
that Tomislav entered an Orthodox monastery.
In 1935 Tomislav made his final vows and became known as Fr Thaddeus.

Thaddeus served dutifully the spiritual needs of the Serbian faithful as heirmonk,
or what is known as both priest and monk during the 1930’s and 40’s.
As a priest Thaddeus would conduct services, administer communion, hear confessions, etc.
As a monk, he would be more prone to the life of a hermit, a life of solitude and prayer
within a monastery.

During WWII the Serbs suffered grievously at the hands of both the Nazi regime as well as
the Ustaše, otherwise known as the Croatian Revolutionary Regime—
a fascist National Terrorist organization which became a puppet state of Nazi Germany
during WWII.

The Ustaše was responsible for the heinous barbaric treatment and the mass murders of
hundreds of thousands of Jews, ethnic Serbs, Romas and all those living in Yugoslavia
who were not considered “ethically pure.”

It is estimated that upwards of 500,000 Serbs and Croats living within the borders of
Yugoslavia, those in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia, were systematically murdered in what
became known as the Serbian Genocide.
With the infamous Jasenovac Concentration Camp being known as the Auschwitz of the Balkans.

Fr Thaddeus was arrested and imprisoned by the Gestapo for refusing to stop
practicing his faith and for refusing to cease administering his office of priest.

Following the war and his eventual release,
Fr Thaddeus became the hegumen, or acting abbot, of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Belgrade.
He served at the church and several monasteries in and around Belgrade until his death in 2003.

He is both revered and respected by Serbs, Croats and Bosnians alike and many
Muslims who converted to Christianity hold Elder Thaddeus in special high esteem.

Elder Thaddeus is “credited for proposing the idea that our thoughts determine the
outcome of our lives.”

(Wikipedia)

I am always amazed by the wisdom of those who have suffered so grievously at the
hands of monsters…
those who have witnessed unspeakable horrors and yet have found the resolve and
eventually the peace to not only forgive and pardon those offenders,
but who actually go forward, teaching and reminding the rest of us what it is
that we must do in order to save not only ourselves but our sick and ailing world….

Elder Thaddeus is one such individual…

“We can keep guard over the whole world by keeping guard over the
atmosphere of heaven within us,
for if we lose the Kingdom of Heaven, we will save neither ourselves nor others.
He who has the Kingdom of God in himself will imperceptibly pass it on to others.
People will be attracted by the peace and warmth in us;
they will want to be near us, and the atmosphere of heaven will gradually pass on to them.
It is not even necessary to speak to people about this.
The atmosphere of heaven will radiate from us even when we keep silence or talk about
ordinary things.
It will radiate from us even though we may not be aware of it.”

Elder Thaddeus