work done while sleeping….

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long.
If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”

― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh


(tiny prayer box / Julie Cook / 2018)

The above image is that of a tiny, badly tarnished silver, prayer box.
This particular little box, along with others like it, was very popular in the late
80’s early 90’s.
This is the one that I had at the time.

Just inside the tiny box, you can see a bit of blue paper.
And might I add, that is a very tiny piece of blue paper with an equally tiny
written prayer.
But we might note that the prayer was anything but tiny.

Below is an image of another prayer box.
This particular box was discovered buried along a street in the old City of David sandwiched between some tile during construction taking place in a car lot.
This tiny box, made of some sort of animal bone, dates from either the 5th or
6th century AD and is considered to be a Byzantine prayer box.

Rather than a tiny piece of paper with a tiny scrawled prayer resting inside the tiny box, there is actually a small and very worn Icon, or painted image, of what is thought to be Mary.
Such a prayer box was intended to be carried in a pocket or pouch and acted as a
tiny traveling church, as one could open the box and pray before a holy image…
taking one’s prayers directly to the source.

The Byzantine time period from which this little box dates was a very tumultuous time
for the Middle East along with the whole Mediterranean region.

The Roman Empire had fallen to the Visigoths and Carthage had fallen to the Vandals…
add in the push from Attila’s Huns and it was a very dangerous time to be either
Jewish or Christain.

I can only imagine the prayers offered before this ancient little box…
as I am left to wonder whose box it was and how did it come to rest buried
in a parking lot in Jerusalem.

Right before Christmas a longtime blogging friend emailed me that she wanted me to
look into something she had just purchased.
This friend has since moved on from the blogging world, as she is a working mom
with young children whose time has not been her own.
She is an extremely devout Christian with a deep Jewish heritage.

She is very familiar with the idea of prayer, particularly those that are written and
placed before God.

It is a tradition that at the Wailing wall in Jesurelum, prayers are written down and placed in the crevices of the wall, as the wall is considered Holy by Jews as well as many Christians.

Often seen rocking slightly back and forth as their heads gently touch the wall, Jews will stand for long periods of time before the Wall, hands resting outward with palms facing upward or either with hands reverently folded…they will be immersed in deep meditative prayer.
Others, be they tourists or locals, merely push tiny bits of paper into the cracks as they lay their written prayers before what it thought the Divine Presence of
God Himself.

The Wall is considered Divine because it is a remnant of the actual Temple.

Human beings seem to have a very deep need for the tangible when it comes to their relationship with the Divine Presence of God…to be able to touch, to write to physically connect is of the utmost importance to many of the faithful.

Be it prayer beads, a knotted prayer rope, icons or even a prayer box–the
tangible and physical connection between penitent and God is a deeply profound
yearning as well as a mystery.

What my friend wanted me to look into was what is known as a sleeping Joseph.

Now that might sound odd and even appear odd but the story behind the small figurine is anything but strange and is actually rather full of gentleness and a gracious sense of comfort.

We know very little about Jesus’ earthly father Joseph.
He is only mentioned early on in the Gospels of both Matthew and Luke and later in the books of Mark and John
It is in Matthew (1:1-18) that we read of his lineage harkening back to
David.

It is also when we read of the importance of dreams regarding Joseph as God came to Joseph at the most key moments in his life as a husband and father during his sleep. First Joseph is reassured that Mary is indeed telling the truth regarding her pregnancy and that he is to follow through with marrying her.
Secondly, Joseph is warned to take his young family to Egypt in order to flee Herod’s wrath and the killing of the Innocents.

I can remember my Godpoppa, the Episcopal priest, giving a sermon one Father’s day
about Joseph.

And he noted what we already know, that historically, we know very little regarding Joseph as he seems to simply “disappear” from scripture once Jesus begins
his earthly ministry.
He is not mentioned throughout the three years of ministry as being present and is not by Mary’s side at the crucifixion.

And so we simply and sadly assume he died at some point during Jesus’ growing up.

As we are left to wonder about this earthly father of Jesus.

Thinking about Jesus’ earthly father actually brought tears to my Godpoppa’s eyes as he had lost his own father when he was only 16. His was a heartfelt observation about what a life Joseph must have lived.

He most likely taught Jesus the skills of carpentry.
How to be a craftsman using both his mind and his hands.
He taught Jesus what it meant to be reverent and prayerful
He taught Jesus the demonstrative nature of what Jesus intuitively knew,
how to worship His actual Father…no doubt a precarious balance and a heavy burden
for the earthly father.
He also taught the young boy respect.

There was a humble yet focused obedience that Jesus learned from Joseph.

And he learned about the importance of prayer…

The small figurine my friend shared with me is a prayer box of sorts.
The idea being that as you ready for sleep you place your concerns, worries, prayers
written down while placing them under the sleeping Joseph.

How often is your sleep disrupted by the heaviness of concern and worry?
Your thoughts, including your subconscious, consumed by the weight of whatever it is
that is eating at you. Your family, your friends, your work, your health, the health of those you love…there is a quickening of need that plays out even while you attempt to sleep—you pray as you drift off only to toss and turn…

The Joseph “prayer box” asks that you write down these concerns and or petitions,
laying them beneath Joseph—a man who was accustomed to Godly encounters during his sleep through his dreams, as you literally give your concerns over to God.

Trusting that He will, as He does, see, hear and know…

This is not a discussion on the topic of Saints nor of the notion of their interventions or of denominational differences, infighting, and angst…
it is rather a reminder of the human need and desire for a tangible and or physical connection as we literally acknowledge the weight of our concerns, worries and thoughts along with the very real need to literally give them over to God.

For God does speak—now one way, now another—
though no one perceives it.
In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when deep sleep falls on people
as they slumber in their beds,

Job 33:14-15

gee, haw…

“If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master’s presence.
And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your
heart back and place it again in Our Lord’s presence, though it went away
every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.”

St. Francis de Sales


(a pair of Belgium working horses on Mackinac Island / Julie Cook / 2017)

My husband and I hopped in the car the other evening, as we were getting ready to
head over to Atlanta to see our son and daughter-n-law…
and I don’t know what brought it up, but we got off on a small technology tangent.

Most likely what got us started was my wanting to turn on the seat warmers.
Temps had not reached above the freezing point all day, and now the sun was quickly
setting sending temperatures plummeting.
Needless to say, I’ve been mostly cold for the last two months.

My husband said, for no one in particular, “technology left me years ago…
it left me back with gee and haw…”

“GEE, HAW???!!!!” I practically shout before bursting out into full laughter.

For those of you unfamiliar with such words, Gee and Haw are the two words used with
working animals such as mules, draft horses, and even sled dogs.
Gee means for the mule, horse or dog to turn right
Shout ‘Haw,’ and the animal turns left.

My husband can remember as a little boy visiting his grandparents up in north
Georgia with his grandfather using mules to plow the fields.
He’d shout “Gee” then “Haw,” and those mules knew exactly which way to turn.
That was probably in the early 1950’s as rural Georgia was just that, still very rural.

We had actually heard the same terms used recently, this past summer when visiting
Mackinac Island as there are no vehicles on the island—only draft horses doing
everything from acting as the taxis to delivering UPS.
Gee.
Haw

Low tech.
And I must say, I for one, found it somewhat comforting.
It was actually really refreshing.

I know it, being technology, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon but instead will only be advancing…
And sadly so…
for technology has, if it hasn’t already, gotten entirely out of hand as well as a disaster
just waiting to happen…

This insatiable need of ours to see, to know, to hear, to tell everything instantaneously is a very dangerous false need.

It has created a very dangerous sense of profound falsehoods that most of us don’t even
realize.
For we are a people who are greatly dependent upon our technology—for even life
and death issues…

But let’s look at a couple non-life-threatening examples of when technology goes
awry…or perhaps just more of an irksome trouble.

During the busy Christmas shopping mayhem season, my husband’s internet randomly went out at his store. His is a busy retail
business, so when there’s a technology issue and his register goes out, or his credit card machine goes out, he loses money as people will walk out the door.

We spent hours on the phone with AT&T trying to find a person who was actually
“stateside” as we continued narrowing help down to Georgia, then down to our individual town.
That took hours of waiting and frustration. All the while the store is full of people
who want to be waited on and checked out.
We were told it would be days before they could get someone out to check out our problem.
Days was not an option.

In the meantime, we had to pull out the old-timey credit card swiper….remember
those low tech little machines?

A customer would lay their card down on top of a triple carbon copy slip
while the clerk swiped the little lever over the card and carbon paper. The
customer’s card info would be swiped and imprinted onto the carbon ticket.
The customer would then sign the swiped carbon slip as the clerk would then pull off
the customer copy while keeping the store copy…
then off went the happy customer with their purchase.

The old-timey swiping machine worked perfectly fine as we waited for the AT&T technician
to eventually make the trip to the store.
Turns out the internet was out for unknown reasons randomly in the shopping center…
the next time it went out, a week later, the technician sent us out get a new cable…

sigh…

Last evening we went to neighboring town for supper at a Craker Barrel.
I often crave Cracker Barrel’s simple homey fare offering of
good ol’ southern prepared food.
Chicken and dumplings, fried okra, spicy collard greens, southern style green beans…
or even their offering of breakfast for supper.
Plus they had a roaring fire going and we were fortunate to snag
a table by the fire.

When we’d finished our meal we took the bill out to the register to pay.
The line snaked all the way back into the dining area.
We figured they were low of help at the registers…
but that was not the issue.
Their card machines weren’t working probably and weren’t reading folks
debit or credit cards correctly.

Finally, as we made our way to a cashier, we told the manager we were going
to pay with something very novel…real money.

The manager was grateful and said he wished he had one of the old-timey
credit card swiper machines but since he was the oldest one on staff, he was the only
one who even knew what such a machine was…

Low tech.

Those are just a couple examples of small technological issues
of when things don’t work or go wrong.

Now let’s consider a bit larger trouble.

Saturday, a statewide alert went out in Hawaii, alerting the public that a ballistic missile was on its way to the Islands.
It was one of those Amber style alerts that went out on everyone’s phones.
It was not a drill and everyone needed to seek immediate shelter.
For those in Hawaii, it was the end of life as they had known it.

With North Korea’s 24/7 threats, threatening to send a nuclear warhead
in the direction of Japan, South Korea, Hawaii, or Alaska…well its all had everyone
a tad bit nervous…so Saturday, it seemed that the unthinkable was actually happening.

However…

The issued warning alert was in actuality incorrect.
It had been issued by mistake.
There was no missile, no need to duck and cover.
No need for immediate Last Rites.

I wonder how busy the ER’s were following the correction with those feigning a
possible heart attack?

So it should come as no surprise that we’ve gotten really good these days at lamenting,
“technology, it’s great when it works…not so much when it doesn’t…”

And yet I rather miss our low tech dealings during these waning days of ours…

Gee
Haw

Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
Psalm 146:3

Generational monkeys and angst, part deux

A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart.
Proverbs 21:2

He took what is mine so that He might impart to me what is His.
He took it not to overturn it but to fill it.

St Ambrose


(a selfie taking Macaque at the center of a debate regarding images
and monkeys / wikipedia—why does he look like he’s missing the same tooth I just had pulled??? At least I’m crossing my fingers for the implant!)

As promised, our friend of Wee Flea fame, David Robertson is back with part II
of his takeaway from Rod Liddle’s book
Selfish Whining Monkeys, How we ended up greedy, narcissistic and unhappy

A cheeky book examining “our” generation—along with the hows and whys as to our
having totally careened out of control…
leaving the roadway, having crashed, rolling over and over…
as we are now slowly burning in the bushes.

As I mentioned yesterday, David reports that the book is not written by a Christian
nor is it directed toward a Christian audience as it is a tome laced with a rawness
along with a gracious offering of the F word…
yet David offers that once you look past the junk, the insight is actually
very telling.

And so David in his kindness has pulled out a top 25 highlight list that he has
graciously compiled on his blog for those of us who might not want to
actually, read the book.

1-13 was in his Part I post from yesterday, today he offers us Part II—
I’m just pulling out a few of the tidbits that sting me the most…

I’ll let you click the link at the bottom for the
full coup de grâce—-
Oh, and you do know what coup de grâce actually means don’t you???
It is the merciful death blow allowing the misery to end…
I fear we still have our fair share of suffering to endure…

14) The Uneducated Generation

“children are not, in general, capable of making sensible decisions which impact upon their future. They make decisions based upon the here and now. They are not old enough to take the long-term view.” Page 89.

“The children – the students – emerge, as a consequence, with a highly developed, perhaps unreal, sense of entitlement. They have not been corrected; they have instead been indulged. The world, later, will come as a shock to them, I think.” Page 93.

“It is the poorest kids who suffer most from this modernist approach to education. Middle-class children have the amenities, the infrastructure at home to compensate. The poorest kids depend upon school as their sole conduit of learning. A policy, or ideology, designed to improve the chances of the least well-off as had the results of penalizing them still further.” Page 94.

“British kids, then, are squeezed by ideologies from the left and the right. From the left: you are your own masters, sort out right from wrong and take no shit from supposed figures of authority. From the right: live, consume, die.” Page 96.

“We do not wish for them to be bored, of course, and we think that we can buy boredom from them with consumer durables, corporate entertainment and early evening courses in tae kwon do.”Page 97.

15) A Motherless Generation

“The children born in 1970 to working mothers were much more likely to fail educationally, more likely to be unemployed, more likely to suffer psychiatric problems or mental stress than those born to mums who stayed at home and looked after their children. Irritatingly, the amount of time a dad was at home with the kids mattered not one jot. It was the mother who was important.” Page 106.

16) The Unequal Generation

“Almost 70% of total national newspaper columnists went to fee-paying schools, whereas this gilded elite, this expensively educated, comprise just 7% of the population….. In fact, anywhere there is power, or dosh, the sons, and daughters of the wealthy predominate.” Page 118.

“Some 58% of those working in the law – rising to 80% when you get to High Court judges in the very top barristers – and 55% of senior civil servants. They also make up more than 60% of the top echelon of those in the City of London, some 70% of surgeons and consultants, and 55% of journalists,…… 80% of the very top jobs in society are held by people who went to private school.”Page 121.

“when I joined the BBC today programme at the end of the 1980s, I noticed very quickly that almost everyone else to work on it had been privately educated.” Page 125.

23) A Deluded Generation Enslaved by its own Freedom

“We have been led, since the middle of the 1980s, by an elite which increasingly bought into the secular social liberalism and moral relativism of the 1960s and the laissez-faire economics of the Chicago school. And while the rest of us followed along more or less willingly, it was the Metropolitan bourgeoisie that gained the most.” Page 230.

“As we always will, we did what we thought we could get away with. Now it transpired that we could get away with an awful lot; we could get away with stuff we hadn’t dreamed of before. The thought that along the way we got rid of those controls that made our life more pleasant, more coherent, better for children, more peaceable and communitarian, did not seem to occur. We thought we liked this new way we were, these new deregulated humans, fearful of nothing but I think that we have deluded ourselves. We filled our boots and deluded ourselves.” Page 231.

And so I will leave you to go over to the Wee Flea in order to peruse the remaining
nuggets which David has pulled out of Mr. Liddle’s book—of which just so
happens to all thankfully be the ‘G’ version versus the ‘M’ version
in the actual book—-with ‘M’ standing for mature—

As I am certainly a “mature” individual…I just happen to prefer to read, hear,
digest that which is not so crass nor crude…

Now if I could just work on our President’s choices…

Selfish Whining Monkeys – Part 2

Listen, my son, accept what I say,
and the years of your life will be many.
I instruct you in the way of wisdom
and lead you along straight paths.
When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
when you run, you will not stumble.
Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
guard it well, for it is your life.

Proverbs 4:10-13

the monkey of generational angst

“America isn’t breaking apart at the seams.
The American dream isn’t dying.
Our new racial and ethnic complexion hasn’t triggered massive outbreaks
of intolerance. Our generations aren’t at each other’s throats.
They’re living more interdependently than at any time in recent memory,
because that turns out to be a good coping strategy in hard times.
Our nation faces huge challenges, no doubt.
So do the rest of the world’s aging economic powers.
If you had to pick a nation with the right stuff to ride out the coming
demographic storm, you’d be crazy not to choose America, warts and all.”

Pew Research Center, The Next America:
Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown


(a young Macaque courtesy the web)

(*****yesterday’s post had quite the typo—commandant verses what I actually meant,
commandement…thanks David!! Sadly, I can look at something a thousand
times and still see it as what I meant rather than what I typed…
such is an aging brain—onward and upward!)

A life long friend and I can often be heard grousing about this current generation’s
sense of entitlement, self indulgence, whining, progressiveness, liberalism, irresponsibility, lack of morality….
all the while as we fuss over their ‘addiction’ to all things social media
and materialistic….

And it goes without saying that I am convinced pervious generations groused
about us…however I’m wondering if perhaps their grousing was more so with a
deep and very real sense of foreboding.

For I am a baby boomer. That blossoming group born post war—
as I was post Korean war.

After my friend and I have gone on a bit, trading lamentations, I tell her that
“You know, this is really our generation’s fault…”
“What?!” she’ll exclaim….
“Yep, it’s our generation that is really to blame…”
“We are the ones who did this to them.”

“But shhhhhhhh,” I’ll warn, “we don’t want to give them the satisfaction of
having one more person, place or thing to blame
as they love to cast off any and all culpability for their actions…”

“We were made of tougher stuff” she’ll counter indignantly

And while we’ll both admit that we are not nearly as tough as say that of the generations of our grandparent’s and parent’s, those of the “Greatest Generation”…
one thing is certain, we are tougher then this current bunch of whining
“snowflakes”—-that is a truth!

And as much as I fuss about millennials, my son continues to defiantly insist to me
that he is not, nor has he ever been, a member of this millennial generation
of which I am constantly fussing, cussing and complaining about….

However according to those who figure out such statistics and numbers,
the millennial generation falls between the ages of those who are between
18 to 34….so sorry Son, but you are on the wrong side 34 by almost 4 years.

And so I often wonder exactly when it was we went so wrong….with them….

So as I ponder this latest conundrum…our Wee Flea friend is at it again….
offering tantalizing morsels for sample…
and it is right along this notion of generations and their dysfunction that he
is happily taking us.

Our friend the Wee Flea has read a book that, whereas it was not written by a
Christian and is not necessarily a book for Christian audiences, David did find
the book most enlightening….
he does warn however that the F word is frequently used.

Now this is where David will venture more bravely than myself as he has read
and seen those things that I will readily and quickly cast aside as rubbish
as I have a low tolerance for crude language, hedonism, vileness,
defamation or sarcastic flippancy…..

Yet David is good and diligent to sift through the spoils in order to find
the buried gems….

His latest offering is a book by a fellow named Rod Liddle…who happens to be a
journalist and contributor to The Spectator
and I will say that what I have read from The Spectator, I have greatly enjoyed.

The Spectator is a British conservative weekly publication with a focus on all things
political and of current affairs. It’s been around since 1828 so it must be doing something right. I’ve looked into subscribing as an ‘across the pond subscriber’
unfortunately the cost would be exorbitant….
so I settle to just catch the random article here and there….

The book by Mr Liddel is entitled
Selfish Whining Monkeys…
how we ended up greedy, narcissistic and unhappy

David was kind in that he tells us that if we don’t feel like reading the book,
he’s identified 25 main characteristics of our generation and offers them in his blog.

and oh how it stings….

The Lost Generation –

“It is hard to argue against longer life expectancy, greater affluence, safer workplaces, the freedom to escape from a hopeless marriage, the rights of women to be treated equally, and so on. But a certain moral code has been lost along the way, which has contributed largely to our country becoming close to bankrupt, a nation of broken families clamouring about their entitlements siring ill educated and undisciplined kids unfamiliar with the concept of right and wrong, where there is an ever diminishing sense of community and belonging, a perpetual transience, if you fancy a cheap oxymoron.”p. 10

“peace has made us complacent, freedom has made us irresponsible, affluence has made us acquisitive, comfort has made us neglectful of others, and security has made us – oddly enough – tremblingly insecure.” Page 11

12) The Divorced Generation

“beyond that, though it was a betrayal of my boys. Having made the decision to have children, I should have stuck with it. But I didn’t; my personal happiness seemed to count for more than anything else.” Page 75.

“The loosening of the divorce laws, and the swift removal of stigma from those who have been divorced, came from the top down. It was designed to enable the more affluent in society to continue to pursue that most compulsive of post-1960 pastimes, serial monogamy.” Page 76.…

Like so much socially liberal legislation presented to the electorate as a wonderful means of acquiring those most liberal of things, freedom and equality, divorce reform benefited only the well-off, by and large. It was legislation designed to enable the affluent to XXXX around with impunity, (no fault, remember!), And hang the rest. Hang the kids. Children from broken homes make up 80% of the population of Britain psychiatric units……. Whoever the 1971 divorce format was brought into ‘enable ‘, it was certainly not the children. It was not the children, and it was not the poor.” Page 77.

13) The Sexualised Generation

He talks about the 1970’s and Gary Glitter singing to 14 year old girls – ‘Do you wanna touch me?” What do you think he was referring to…?

This as I hear Rod Stewart singing somewhere back in my shadows in my head…
do I think he’s sexy or Mick Jagger singing about wanting to spend the night
together…
sigh…..

Anywhooo, this is but a few of the gems I plucked out of Davids’ list which I
found most telling.
David has only offered 1 though 13 in today’s post as he’s divvying the list up
into a Part I and Part II posting—tomorrow he will offer us Part II–

I can hardly wait to see how much lower we will sink into the truth…
to be continued…..

Rod Liddle – Selfish Whining Monkeys.. A Review – Part 1

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100:5

how a panic gets started…

“I always thought a shipwreck was a well-organized affair,
but I’ve learned the devil a lot in the last five minutes.”

Erik Larson, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania


(a decadent chocolate treat from The Confiserie Sprüngli / Zurich, Switzerland /
Julie Cook / 2012)

I think most of us know that it is unlawful to yell “FIRE” in a crowded
public venue when there is actually no fire.

The original use of the phrase “shouting fire in a crowded theater” actually
dates back to a Supreme Court case from 1919.
It was a case that dealt with the distribution of anti-war pamphlets and whether such
an act was a violation of the original Espionage and Sedition Acts of 1917 / 1918—
and was such an act in opposition, as well as a violation, of free speech or was it considered ‘a clear and present danger.’

It was actually Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who coined the phrase when
he wrote the unanimous ruling over the case.

And according to Wikipedia:
People have indeed falsely shouted “Fire!” in crowded public venues and
caused panics on numerous occasions, such as at the Royal Surrey Gardens Music Hall
of London in 1856, a theater in New York’s Harlem neighborhood in 1884,
and in the Italian Hall disaster of 1913, which left 73 dead.
In the Shiloh Baptist Church disaster of 1902, over 100 people died when
“fight” was misheard as “fire” in a crowded church causing a panic and stampede.

All of this came flooding back to the forefront of thought when I saw a news report
with the near cataclysmic title
“Start Hoarding! Chocolate on Track to Disappear in 40 Years”

WHAT????

Chocolate gone in 40 years????

We might just say down here in the South, “thems fighting words”

After reading that title I felt a sudden urge to run to the kitchen, throw open
all the kitchen cabinet doors and take immediate stock of all the chocolate I have
stashed away for baking purposes….
Do I need to run the the grocery store and purge the shelves of 70% Cacao bars for all
my baking and dessert purposes????

Visions of pandemonium breaking out on the candy aisle at the local grocery store
as visions of a bunch of older ladies on walkers and kids with sneakers that light up fighting over bags of M&M’s…not a pretty picture.

And so goes the latest in a string of earth shattering headlines that when all
is shifted and shaked out…are not exactly as life shattering or life ending as
the words allude.

Clicking on the story and reading the tale behind these alarming headlines and
whereas the dwindling supply of chocolate is truly a real concern…
the headlines are not as dismal nor as damning as they lead one to believe.

And therein lies our trouble.

Sensationalism.

The “news” media has learned that they can grab and stir up the masses into
a frenzy of epic proportions with just a couple of carefully lined up words.

And we, the receivers, fall hook, line and sinker to the gurus of verbiage.

The moral of this tale you ask…..
well perhaps it is two fold…..
Firstly do not take headlines at face value….

In education we call such headlines “a hook”—-as in it grabs your audience…
pulling the recipient quickly into a state of curiosity while knowing that they,
your target audience, will be naturally curious… wanting to know more,
experience more, participate more….

And secondly–yes, in the reality of life, the cocoa plant is in peril….
yet is the peril as grave as we are being lead to believe?

I think the jury is still out on that….
and therefore, it would behoove us to be a bit more cautionary when it comes
to feeling the need to race to the store…grabbing up those precious bags of M&Ms
out of the hands of the grandparents and those fighting grandchildren…

https://www.usatoday.com/videos/news/world/2018/01/02/start-hoarding-chocolate-track-disappear-40-years/109090682/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=usatodaycomworld-topstories

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God,
which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

atheists ain’t got no songs…..

Do not be afraid.
Do not be satisfied with mediocrity.
Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

John Paul II


(Steve Martin appearing on David Lettermen singing Atheists ain’t got no song / 2011)

When I scanned my emails and saw that I had a notice of a new posting
from a blog I follow, I opted to investigate a bit further—

I realized there was actually a videoclip in the posting that was sitting at
roughly 42 minutes…
I wasn’t really certain I wanted to be contained for almost three quarters of an hour watching a videoclip in the middle of the day.

There were things to do.

How could I justify sitting at the kitchen table watching a video clip for nearly 45 minutes….what about the cleaning, the wash, the filing, the bills, the shrimp…
the shrimp that needed deveining for this evening’s supper….???

I am a person who isn’t one to sit around.
I am a doer and constantly moving about…as something always needs tending to.
Sitting in the middle of the day, listening and watching a videoclip is a little
hard for me to justify

45 minutes, really??!!

Yet I was curious.
And I also do quote this man all the time.

I am constantly offering this man’s teachings, his preachings, his defenses,
his proclamations…to you…and so do I not owe it to you to really
know a bit more about him????

Of course I do.
If one wants to be truly credible, one must invest time and understanding
before sharing.

Yet I’m not Scottish…well that is… not me exactly but in heritage, yes.
I’m certainly not a Presbyterian nor am I an Evangelical…
I’m still an Episcopalian by name…but just one who happens to no longer
agree with the direction of the Episcopal Church.

What I am is a conservative Christian who believes in the importance of
spreading the word about God, Jesus, sin, death, life and salvation….

So perhaps I needed to invest the time.
Something was nagging at me to give it a look.

I clicked on the video and after about 2 minutes in, I stopped it.
I knew I needed a pen and paper as there was much to be writing down.

David Robertson, the Reformed Presbyterian Minister who heads St. Peter’s Church
in Dundee, Scotland had posted his latest blog post in which he was offering
a videoclip from address given in 2010 for the Christian organization that he
is apart of, SOLAS.
And despite the videoclip being nearly 8 years old,
David had stated that if one really wanted to understand what he was about,
this was probably the best explanation.

The Christian group there in Dundee named SOLAS—was something I really had no idea
about or what it was, I just knew it was something he had his hand in…
but now know—
Solas is a Gaelic word meaning Light—and that Light is the Light of Jesus Christ….

If you visit my world here often, you hear much reference to David.
I found him via this little blog world of ours.
And when I read the things he was writing on his Wee Flea blog, I found myself
most often in total agreement, not all the time mind you, but most of the time as
I’d find myself nodding and offering a silent “Amen”

And as I don’t always agree with everything…
I’ve yet to meet a Christian who is usually 100% with another Christian—
heck most folks find something to disagree over with their own priests, pastors or minister. I don’t know any Christians who totally agree with
each and everyone’s doctrines or denominational background…but at the end of the day
if the bottom line is Jesus Christ for each of us then that is truly our common ground.

Doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic or Baptist, Pentecostal or Greek Orthodox…
if Jesus Christ…His birth, his life, his ministry, his death, his resurrection
is the chief cornerstone in your life—then we are all on the same page.

I had not read any of David’s books.
I hadn’t even heard of him before…but it seems he was pretty famous for
having debated and besting the avowed Atheist Richard Dawkins.

He even went on to write a book that acted as a Christian follow-up to
Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion.

So today’s videoclip, which I’ve attached below was indeed enlightening.

It made me think of Wally’s little meme and comment yesterday which was
“If somebody took a poll of 10 of your acquaintances and asked them the most
notable thing about you, how many of them would say:
“Oh they really love Jesus!?”

(https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com)

This really made me think.
I told Wally I’d probably get “good wife, good mom, good cook,
good teacher’…..but would anyone start with the fact that I do love Jesus,
proclaim Him as my Salvation…have I simply done that more inwardly and
just for self….??
I wasn’t sure I could answer that “thought” and even told Wally I
had been given much to ponder.

I will spend some time over the next couple of days focusing in on some of the key
thoughts I took away from watching David’s video.

He did offer something rather hilarious and that was a mention of Steve Martin singing
the song Atheists ain’t got no songs.
He said if you’d not heard it or seen it, google
it, it was worth the look….and it was!

It was a clip from a David Lettermen show and in true Steve Martin form,
it is hysterical while ringing of so much truth…

I don’t know about Steve Martin’s religious beliefs but I think he leans
toward agnosticism….but no matter, as I thoroughly enjoyed the song…
I think you will too

Plus—do yourself a favor, carve out the roughly 42 minutes to listen to David’s
address.

It matters not that his focus is the Church there in Scotland.
Scotland has a rich Christian history—and was once the loudest Evangelistic voices
in most of the world…but then something happened…just as it is happening here
in the US.

It matters not that you may be Lutheran, Anglican, Southern Baptist, Methodist,
etc…the message is the same.

And I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again…it was a quote from the
former Anglican Bishop Gavin Ashenden,
“It is the secular culture that is attracting many believers”—as more and more
people leave the Church, preferring the worship at the altar of the worldly….

There was a time when my mom, God rest her soul…my quiet, shy and very Episcopalian
mom would have warned me not to be talking about such…I wouldn’t want folks to think
I was some sort of nut, religious fanatic or “Jesus freak” or God forbid,
part of a cult…
but I would have to now say to mother, what better time then now Mom?
What better time than now….?

Give me Scotland or I die

increasing and decreasing

I have an increasing sense that the most important crisis of our time is
spiritual and that we need places where people can grow stronger in
the spirit and be able to integrate the emotional struggles
in their spiritual journeys.

Fr Henri Nouwen

“Christian spirituality, the contemplative life, is not about us.
It is about God.
The great weakness of American spirituality is that it is all about us:
fulfilling our potential, getting the blessings of God, expanding our influence,
finding our gifts, getting a handle on principles by which we can
get an edge over the competition.
The more there is of us, the less there is of God.

Eugene Peterson


(snow encrusted camel / Julie Cook / 2017)

Have you ever found yourself holding a cup or glass of liquid that comes all the
way to to very top…
Someone has either over poured or just wasn’t thinking…
and so now obviously, you can’t add nary an ice cube to the glass without
sending the contents cascading outward and downward…

To add the ice, you’d need to first sip out a good bit or pour out a little
of the liquid, making room for the ice.

And on top of that, you have to be oh so very careful while just trying to get
the glass up to your mouth without sloshing everything everywhere.

If then our lives are just as full, filled to the very brim…
full of external entities, as well as full from within from our very
egotistical selves, how can there any space or room…for anything?

And yet we somehow think we can continue squeezing in just one more thing
or taking on one more little extra…shoving and pushing much like an
overstuffed suitcase.
Obviously we can’t sit on our lives trying to get things sufficiently and
tightly closed…
so clearly something is going to have to go.

Much like the time I was once returning from a trip abroad and my suitcase
weighed over the allotted allowance by 7 pounds….
I had a choice…either I was going to have to pay a hefty fee for being overtly full,
or as we did, I had to scramble right then and there at the check-in counter,
yanking things out while my aunt was stuffing my residual into her lighter bag.

These are the moments when we begrudgingly realize that there is simply no more
room to take on anything or anyone else for that matter—
as there is neither room nor space to truly do justice to whatever or whomever
we are trying to squeeze in…

Squeezing for the sake of squeezing just doesn’t make much sense…
as it’s truly just a waste of energy and time.

So its time to let go and lighten the load.

And what better time is there than a new year—
the perfect time to sort and purge.

Yet it’s one thing to purge ones world of excessive stuff, emptying closets,
drawers, shelves…hauling this and that to the Goodwill or even the dump….

But the real question, the looming question, the question that is really about life and death, is how does one purge one’s self of the excessive stuff of self?
How does one make room internally, opening up space for a God who wants to be
invited in?

Since this is the time of year when we are reminded of the need to be about change…
as well as the importance, or lack thereof, of both our internal space and of our
place in this world of ours,
perhaps we are now more open to the notion of a truly crucial need.

We must decrease, as He must increase…..

This is to be an action, not a reaction, that is to become a conscious action
in that it shall be a lasting process….
A process which requires both thought and time—as it will not be accomplished
in the blink of an eye or within a day, a week, a month or even over the course
of a year…but rather over the remainder of one’s lifetime.

This isn’t about losing weight, exercising, getting organized, being thrifty…
it’s about change…a change for the sake of a relationship…
and for a life… not fleeting and overwhelmed, but focused and everlasting…

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and
has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.
He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances,
that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two,
thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body
through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.
So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace
to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit
to the Father.

Ephesians 2:14-18