Thank you

Grief is the price we pay for love.
Queen Elizabeth II


(Town and Country)

Indulge me please, if you will, as I look backwards a bit—to a different year,
a different day, a different funeral…but yet…a funeral that harkens forward
to today’s global family’s funeral.

There were, no doubt, countless numbers of funerals today around our world.
Hearts that are broken.
Lives that are now turned upside down…all as good-byes have been somberly said.
Good-byes that we mere mortals find most difficult to comprehend.

Death.

We as a collective group of humankind do not “do” death very well.
We find it very difficult to wrap our heads, let alone our hearts, around
such a notion.

We often feel anger, resentment, unbearable sorrow and for some, yet for a
fortunate few, we might even feel a sense of relief and yes,
eventually if we are fortunate…we feel that ping of hope.

There has been lots of global news as of late…sorrows, tragedies,
storms, pain, suffering…
yet the majority of the news, along with a good bit of the the world, stopped
today to say their farewells to a well known woman.

All as a family grieves and a nation grieves and as a global world family
grieves…

Yet in all the well televised grief, one thought came galloping into my mind—
the simple thought of gratitude.
That of a simple, “thank you.”

For I believe a soul’s example of simply living out one’s life day to day,
is the best example, the best teacher, any of us will ever or can ever receive.

And so we look back to April 2021….
knowing in our now hindsight that the gentleman in the photograph at the
end of the post who is tipping his hat, undoubtedly extended his hand to
the lady we bid farewell to today…

more and more alone…
but we all know we are never alone…and she knows too!

“What you are to do without me I cannot imagine.”
George Bernard Shaw

“The strongest men are the most alone.”
Ibsen


(BBC)

Anyone who might have watched the funeral Saturday for Prince Philip,
or even caught a passing news story regarding his service,
undoubtedly saw the painful image of an elderly woman clad in black, stooped
with age, sitting alone in a cavernous and seemingly empty sanctuary.

Donning a black mask–attempting to breath, shedding tears, mouthing
the ancient words to an ancient faith…muffled and hindered–all adding
to the heaviness of grief.

It matters not that she just happens to be the current sitting Queen
of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland along with
other realms, as well as head of the Commonwealth and Defender of the Faith…

On Saturday, Elizabeth that elderly woman, was very much alone.

Elizabeth is the only ruling leader, from around this great big world of ours,
who is a part of that Greatest Generation…
She is the only remaining active leader who can personally remember the
time when a world was torn a part and a time when she,
along with the rest of her generation rolled up their sleeves,
doing what it took to fight tyranny and defend Western Civilization’s
democratic freedom.

I was deeply struck by that thought…
the only remaining currently active leader…

Awed by such a thought and yet I also was left feeling rather empty.

We are losing members of our Greatest Generation daily…
actually quite rapidly.

“According to US Department of Veterans Affairs statistics, 325,574
of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II are alive in 2020.”
nationalww2museum.org

Those who I have known and loved, those who served either in war or
at home, are now gone…all but my one remaining aunt who will be 96
later this year.

Before they were wed, Prince Philip served active duty in HMRN
(His Majesty’s Royal Navy) and while as a young princess, Elizabeth,
upon turning 18 in 1944, insisted on joining the women’s branch
of the Royal Army–the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS)

Despite royal lineage, they each chose the path of service.
It mattered not that their service would be precarious and even dangerous…
doing one’s part for the betterment of the whole was the only thing
that mattered.

And that is what troubles me.

Elizabeth is now alone—as in having lost those who lived that
previous time with her.
Those who knew peril yet persevered none the less.
They were stalwart.
They didn’t complain, they simply pressed on…ever forward.

No limelight, no self seeking attention, no apology tours, no
tell all books, no interviews of self complaints…
no “look, woe is me” placards worn around one’s neck…
there was nothing about self because there was no time to
think about self–there were too many others to worry over.

More or less, it was a stoic approach to a foreboding and
unrelenting storm.

And by the way, you and I, and all the generations behind us,
are the better for their generation.

But the thing that truly saddens me is that the following generations
don’t get it…they have no idea as to the sacrifice or lessons that
are to be gleaned.

I can only imagine the grief this woman feels in her heart.
Her family are all a rather fractured lot and now she has lost her
only remaining stalwart companion–
a man who had been by her side for 73 years.
That companion, that husband, that “stay” is now gone–leaving
a woman lost in her solitude.

Her grief, as witnessed in that picture of a lone figure bidding
her husband good-bye, is palpable…but I also know that Elizabeth
has a strong faith.

She and Billy Graham had a chance encounter decades ago.
A documented encounter that appears to have had a lasting effect
on Elizabeth’s faith.
So whereas Elizabeth is certainly feeling most alone today,
she actually knows that she really is not alone…not ever really.

She knows who her Savior is.

So whereas I am not worried that Elizabeth will succumb
to her grief–because she is a woman of duty and service who knows where
her true Hope lies—rather—I worry for us…
I worry for both you and I.

We are rapidly losing the leadership who understood what it meant to serve.
To put others ahead of self…putting others before their own self-centered
wants or needs.

No talk of self or selfish agendas…
No dalliance in to false ideologies.

Simply the defenders of both freedom and faith.

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who will judge the living and the dead,
and in view of his appearing and his kingdom,
I give you this charge:
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct,
rebuke and encourage—-
with great patience and careful instruction.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.
Instead, to suit their own desires,
they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say
what their itching ears want to hear.
They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship,
do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

2 Timothy 4:1-5

the day after…

You desire that which exceeds my humble powers,
but I trust in the compassion and mercy of the All-powerful God.

Saint Stephen

“If you know what witness means, you understand why God brings St. Stephen,
St. John, and the Holy Innocents to the crib in the cave as soon as Christ
is born liturgically. To be a witness is to be a martyr.
Holy Mother Church wishes us to realize that we were born in baptism
to become Christ — He who was the world’s outstanding Martyr.”

Love Does Such Things, by Rev. M. Raymond, O.C.S.O.


(the recycle bin / Julie Cook / 2021)

The paper is torn and discarded.
the ribbons are cut and forgotten…
while the bows are simply tossed aside.

The table is a cluttered mess.
Dishes, bowls, plates, glasses all sit scattered in a skewed
disarrayed jumble.

Empty boxes long to be filled while other empty boxes are
forlornly broken down.

The moving of seasons…the in between of what was and what must be…

Is there a glow in the aftermath of what was?
Or does there remain a sense of longing?

The secular world clashes with the world of Christian heritage.

The calendar tells us that today is Boxing day…
the newspapers tell us it is the day for after Christmas sales.
Yet the Church calendar tells us that today is the
feast day of St.Stephen.

Previous posts have been written about both–

And yet we cannot ignore the fact that we are reminded that there
remains a history…
a history that is both ancient as well as more recent.

A clash of time and space…
between the then and now.

And whereas most of us have lived these past four weeks though
the season of Advent–a four week anticipation of light while we
transition from what will be to that of the miraculous…
we must remember that our world does not stop on December 25th.

St Stephen reminds us of this.
The first recorded Christian martyr.

Oddly or purposely we are reminded that sacrifice must follow
the joy of birth.
Or are the two not already intertwined?

It seems as if we are dogged by the specter of death.
Unfair as that may seem.

Here we are basking in the joy of the innocence of birth yet we are
reminded that sacrifice must follows directly behind that joy.

Yet if there was or is anyone who had to understand the notion of sacrifice,
it would be Mary.
A woman who’s heart would be pierced.

And so as we begin the transition between then and now..the old and the new..,
may we be reminded that we are afforded but a brief time in which to bask
in our joy…for tomorrow will always remind us, time is of the essence,

There were thus two things which the Savior did for us by becoming Man.
He banished death from us and made us anew; and,
invisible and imperceptible as in Himself He is,
He became visible through His works and revealed Himself
as the Word of the Father,
the Ruler and King of the whole creation.

St. Athanasius,
On the Incarnation

What he knew and others chose to ignore. Déjà vu or simply a continuum? (let’s revisit this shall we?)

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic,
an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.

Winston Churchill


(Winston Churchil /Casablanca, 1943)

Following the 2014 Winter Olympics hosted in Sochi, Russia–
the world was basking in the afterglow of global peace and harmony.
This collective sense of worldly kumbaya was found in the simple idea of
the competition of winter athletics.
Yet that sense of good cheer was quickly crushed when that year’s
Olympic hosts, that being Russia, boldly decided to invade neighboring
Ukraine. A sovereign nation.
And now once again, the world sits waiting and watching as a hungry ravenous bear
raises a massive deadly paw, poised to strike.
So given our times…be it 2014 or 2021, I offer this previous
post—not much seems to have changed in 7 years…

On March 21, 2014, with the sweeping act of a single pen, Valdimir Putin signed away Crimea, transforming a portion of Ukraine back to what was Soviet Russia. Changing the world map.

In 1938 Adolph Hitler annexed Czechoslovakia, with a similar sweeping act of a pen, known as the Munich Pact.
Changing the face of Europe forever.

This week, Lithuania’s president Dalia Grybauskaite, who is attending a European Council meeting of the heads of state discussing the EU’s response to the situation in Ukraine, told a BBC reporter that we, the world, are sitting on the edge of a new Cold War.

In 1946, Winston Churchill, addressing Westminster College in Missouri, introduced the world to the phrase “iron curtain” just as the Cold War was rearing its ugly head.


(Churchill surveys the ruins of chamber of The House of Commons after
a German assault of the Blitzkrieg.)


(The smiles of Uncle Joe deceive, while a wise Winston is all too keen to true motives.)


(1943 Churchill addresses a joint session of Congress urging the American allies to remain steadfast, staying the course, in their “duty to mankind”)

Within the blink of an eye and the sweeping act of a pen,
the world changed this week.
The world map shifted as a piece of the free world was unimaginably
sucked back in time.
If we, the world, choose to simply remain as mere spectators,
change will continue–history teaches us such.

Winston Churchill was the lone voice of foreboding warning alerting
the World to the true motives of first, Adolph Hitler,
then those of Joseph Stalin.
Each time, the free world chose to ignore his words.
Words which were alarming, scary, troubling.
Who wanted to think of such?
Why should anyone worry,
it’s not like this was happening in the backyard of the US or
that the island nation of Great Britain would be affected.
That was all over there, not here—
these being our thoughts as we lulled ourselves into looking the other way.
Maybe it’s all just bravado and bluff.
We just want to live our lives.
We don’t want to dwell on bad things. . .

But then the bad things happened. . .

Each time, Churchill was correct.
And each time, the world was too slow to react.

I wonder what Churchill would say after this week’s blatant act of
“what’s yours is now mine” by Valdimir Putin?
I somehow think there’s an “I told you so” out there somewhere.

May we be mindful of our continuing duty.

(and on we go…once again…over and over and over…)

living in before

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there,
wondering, fearing, doubting,
dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.

Edgar Allan Poe

“Some dreams are best not to wake up from.”
Hiroo Onoda


(before the beaver, there was a tree / on the shores of Mackinac Island, Lake Huorn /
Julie Cook / 2017)

*****What is written below is the offering from a previous post written in 2017.
Since I’ve recently been thinking a great deal about before and afters…
as well as the distance of both space and time within the context of our lives,
I opted to go back in time to some previous posts that spoke of such
particular themes.

We all have a before—-as in a past.
We also have a present—as in the now…
and if lucky, we will have a future.

Before, now, after.

Those befores, nows and to-bes (afters) each intermix with the same before,
nows and to-bes of our fellow man. Colliding together on a myriad of
planes of dimension.

And so when I found this particular post, I found it of great interest
on a variety of levels.
Firstly it offers an amazing story of one man’s commitment to the
service of his nation.
A misguided service most would likely agree, but commitment none the less.
Yet it is a story of both before and after.

The post explores the idea of all of our before and afters…
and our perception of time–as to how that perception effects
both our befores and afters.

And so I offer it to you as a both a bit of a history story but
also as a post that looks at our lives on a deeper level
of what we may or may not care to acknowledge…

—————————-

Following the official unconditional surrender offered by the
Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and General Yoshijiro Umezu,
on behalf of the nation of Japan on September 2, 1945 aboard the USS Missouri…
a ceremony presided over by General Douglas MacArthur,
Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Pacific…
life for a handful of soldiers remained unchanged…
their lives, duty and existence continued on as it had before the surrender.

For despite the war having been officially declared over, there remained a smattering
of Japanese soldiers hunkered down and holding on to various small
South Pacific islands…
soldiers, cut off from commanding units and or communication, all unaware
that their nation had surrendered let alone that the war was now
indeed officially over.

Hiroo Onoda was one such soldier.

Onoda had been trained as an intelligence officer…
specifically trained to gather intelligence in order to carry out and conduct
a guerrilla war against the enemy.
He, and a unit of men underneath his command, had been taken to Lubang Island
in the Philippines with direct orders.

On December 26th, 1944, Onoda was sent to Lubang Island in the Philippines.
His orders from his commanding officer, Major Yoshimi Taniguchi, were simple:

You are absolutely forbidden to die by your own hand.
It may take three years, it may take five, but whatever happens,
we’ll come back for you. Until then, so long as you have one soldier,
you are to continue to lead him. You may have to live on coconuts.
If that’s the case, live on coconuts!
Under no circumstances are you [to] give up your life voluntarily.
Daven Hiskey
Feb 9, 2010
‘Today I Found Out’

Following the end of the war Onoda fought on for another 29 years …

Onoda had refused to believe the “propaganda” in the way of dropped leaflets,
villagers pleas or former fellow Japanese soldiers sent to tell Onoda the truth.
He refused to believe any of it but rather was convinced it was all a ploy
by the enemy to take control of the island.

Until 1975 when his former commanding officer,
now an old man working at a bookstore in Japan,
was brought to the island to convince Onoda of the truth.

Reluctantly, yet ever the solider, on March 10, 1975 at the age of 52 an emaciated
Hiroo Onoda put on his 30 plus year old dress uniform and marched
from his jungle hideout to present then Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos
his samurai sword.

Over those 30 years Onoda’s small band of fellow soldiers had either
eventually surrendered or died…
but Onoda remained a loyal guerrilla fighter making life miserable for the local
islanders. The islanders did their best to convince Onoda that Japan had
surrendered and that the war was over. During the 30 years Onoda fought his single
war, 30 villagers were killed and 100’s of others were wounded by this
lone guerrilla fighter

The story in itself is fascinating as well as sad.

Yet Onoda’s story is not just a story of survival or of disbelief,
or of skewed conviction but rather his is a tale about living life
in the before verses the after.

There was a single event that had marked the end of the war…
However Onoda had not been privy to that event.
He had not witnessed the surrender.
He knew his Nation’s determination.
He did not actually hear with his own ears the words spoken by his leaders.
He had been given a single command, and until he heard a reversal command
from his commanding officer, he would do his duty and serve his nation to his
utmost ability.

Rarely is such conviction found in men.

I thought of this story yesterday following the news I received regarding
the death of my aunt. Whereas she had been sick and even worsening,
the death from cardiac arrest came suddenly and unexpectedly yet in hindsight,
most likely blessedly.

Had I not answered my phone yesterday morning….
in my small narrow world, my aunt would still be alive.
She would be living on in my perceived reality.

For had I not heard the word, had I not been informed of the factual event
I would have gone on as before…knowing she was sick, fighting cancer, hanging on…
but not having died….not just yet.

The life of living before or the life of living after.

Before is usually what we know, what we’ve come to expect and what we rest in.
After equates to new, different, unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

In all of this I think of Thomas, the doubter.
The one disciple who had not been with the others when a risen Jesus
had manifest himself to their broken hearts.

And as Thomas happened to be away from the group, still broken hearted,
still wounded of spirit, still grieving…
he refused to believe the fantastical and or miraculous offered by his friends.

“Not until I see with my own eyes, put my hands in his wounds…I will not believe.”

Oh how we are all so convinced by the acknowledgement of our senses.
Convicted by sense.

For Onoda, the war had actually been over for those 30 years he lived in a
remote jungle fighting a non-existent war.

For my aunt, she died at 12:40 yesterday afternoon had I or had I not
answered the phone.

Jesus rose with or without Thomas having been present to see, touch, hear, feel…..

But because Jesus knew that we would all be so much like Thomas—needing
to be convinced, He offered Thomas, who continues offering each of us
the acknowledgement….
“my Lord, my God….”

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them,
“Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger
in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them.
The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said,
“Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas,
“Put your finger here, and see my hands;
and put out your hand, and place it in my side;
do not be faithless, but believing.”
Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him,
“Have you believed because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

John 20:24-29

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2541104/Japanese-soldier-Hiroo-Onoda-refused-surrender-WWII-spent-29-years-jungle-died-aged-91.html

“Opening Shots Against the New Paganism”

“One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.”
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World


(political cartoon from the Roanoke Times)

As time allows, I’m still making slight headway in the book
THE LION OF MÜNSTER–The Bishop Who Roared Against The Nazis
by Daniel Utrecht of the Oratory

If curious, here’s a link to the previous post written about this
daring Catholic prelate who took a loud vocal stand defying
Adolph Hitler and his Nazi madness.

THE LION OF MÜNSTER…we need more lions

So yesterday, picking up the book, I read the following passage
from the chapter entitled the same title of this post…
and it was like a sledgehammer hit me on the head—

I’ll let you read it, allowing you to digest this snapshot of
German schools along with The Catholic Church and how each one
clashed with the controlling policies of Nazi
Germany… and I wonder…does it sound familiar??

Bishop von Galen was consecrated and enthroned on October 28,1933.
Just over a week later, On November 6, he wrote a private letter to
the superintendent of schools for Münster.
Schools had received lesson plans “in connection with All Souls’ Day”
to teach “the theory of heredity and ethnology”
in all subjects. The details leave no doubt as to what this phrase meant:
hatred of the Jews.

“Very clearly, the Nazis meant to convince everyone, especially the young
of German racial superiority.

Thus in a letter written to the school superintendent to express his disagreement
to such racial and pagan theories, Bishop August Galen began his open disdain of
Hitler and his New World Order:

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching and
having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their
own likings and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander
into myths (vv.3-4, RSV),
he commented that “a Bishop dare not keep silent if false teachings
and unbelief raise their head, if what is warned of in the letter
to Titus comes to pass:
‘A word of truth is so much more necessary when enemies of religion,
such as we now see, are fighting not only against this or that
teaching of the Church but deny or falsify the very foundations
of religion itself and the most holy mysteries of revelation”‘

“Whoever undermines or destroys man’s faith in God attacks
the very foundations of religion and the whole of culture.”

Critical Race Theory…hummmm

Memento mori

“Begin now to be what you will be hereafter.”
St Jerome

Memento mori (Latin for ‘remember that you [have to] die’)
wikipedia


(painting of St. Jerome by Caravaggio (1605-6))

Yesterday I caught a great little write up regarding St. Jerome.
September 30th, yesterday, in the Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox churches,
was the Feast Day of St. Jerome—
or more succinctly, the day The Church recognizes the life and legacy
of one of the great early fathers of the Christian Church.

In a quick nutshell:

Jerome, also known as Jerome of Stridon, was a Latin priest, confessor,
theologian, and historian; he is commonly known as Saint Jerome.

Jerome was born (c. 342–347) at Stridon, a village near Emona on the border
of Dalmatia and Pannonia.
He is best known for his translation of most of the Bible into Latin
(the translation that became known as the Vulgate)
and his commentaries on the whole Bible.
Jerome attempted to create a translation of the Old Testament
based on a Hebrew version, rather than the Septuagint,
as Latin Bible translations used to be performed before him.
His list of writings is extensive, and beside his Biblical works,
he wrote polemical and historical essays, always from a theologian’s perspective.

Jerome was known for his teachings on Christian moral life,
especially to those living in cosmopolitan centers such as Rome.
In many cases, he focused his attention on the lives of women
and identified how a woman devoted to Jesus should live her life.
This focus stemmed from his close patron relationships with several prominent
female ascetics who were members of affluent senatorial families.

Thanks to Jerome’s contribution to Christianity,
he is recognised as a saint and Doctor of the Church by the Catholic Church,
the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church, and the Anglican Communion.
His feast day is 30 September.

(Wikipedia)

Well, from his biography, we can see that Jerome was probably one of the
first pro-women fellows for his time.
Imagine that….
And happily Jerome is the one who gave us the Latin Bible…

So whereas we can understand why Jerome is always painted or drawn as
sitting at some sort of desk…for he was a translator and scholar…

But also within those images Jerome is always depicted with a skull
either on his desk or in his hands.

And this is where the write up comes into play.

The write up comes from a Catholic Company’s Get Fed segment.
This fed segment was in honor of St. Jerome and focused in on the reason as
to why there is always a skull sitting in close proximity to the
studious saint while he labors writing.

Now we come to the skull. Not something we would normally put on our desks.

In portrayals of St. Jerome and other saints, the skull symbolizes our mortality.
Memento mori —the memory of death—is something we as Christians should
always have in our minds, though not for the sake of meaningless morbidity.

Instead, the recollection of death reminds us to stay
detached from worldly things and to be always prepared to die,
since we will die eventually, and sometimes unexpectedly.
When our own death does come, may the Lord find us ready!

For Jerome and other ascetics, the skull is particularly suitable.
They deliberately separated themselves from the world and embraced
a life of prayer and penance in order to better attach themselves
to spiritual things and to prepare themselves for the next world.

The skull could also indicate St. Jerome’s spirit of penance
for the sins of his youth.
While studying in Rome as a young man, he fell into the immorality
common among his confrères.
Spurred by a guilty conscience and frequent visits to the Roman catacombs,
he converted and was baptized in the 360s.

Memento mori, detachment, penance—a skull in your study seems a little
more reasonable now, doesn’t it?’

And it was the notion that “the memory of death—is something we as Christians should
always have in our minds, though not for the sake of meaningless morbidity.”

Instead, the recollection of death reminds us to stay
detached from worldly things and to be always prepared to die,
since we will die eventually, and sometimes unexpectedly.
When our own death does come, may the Lord find us ready!

And it is this single thought, that of detachment, that is sadly the furtherest
notion from the minds of oh so many.

Detachment from the world.

How can any of us be detached when our world is more alluring than ever…
A sparkly shiny temptation vying for our very souls.

Our governments vie for our total dependance.
Big tech vies for our total allegiance.
Big merchandizing vies for any and all income.

It will only be in detachment that we can truly find our our salvation.

May the Lord find us ready indeed…
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For the law of the Spirit of life has set you
free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.
By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,
he condemned sin in the flesh,
in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us,
who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit

Romans 8:1-5

the various degrees of a world…safer or less safe…

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy,
the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

C.S. Lewis

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living.
The world owes you nothing.
It was here first.”

Mark Twain


(historyhit.com

You see this picture of Winston Churchill?

You can clearly see the Prime Mister, along with several commanding officers,
surveying some of the British troops.

Off to the far right of the photograph walks Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery,
the senior serving officer to the British army during WWII.
General Montgomery was crucial to the success of Allied forces
defeating Hitler and his mindless Nazi murder machine.

And here we see another picture…


(AP photo 1959)

It’s an actual photograph the was used by the AP Press and taken
the year I was born, 1959.

I’m fortunate to have several actual photographs of Churchill that were used
in both magazines and newspapers throughout his life.

I think they call these first edition or simply original photographs with documentation.

The picture I have was taken 19 years following the initial
photograph from 1940.

In the first photo, we see two leaders, along with their troops,
as they were all preparing to embark on a world war that would
determine the course of Western Civilization’s democracy.

An embarkation for the betterment of the free world.

The second picture shows two older, yet no less formidable,
men greeting one another before attending a meeting of Parliament regarding
the Suez Debate.

19 years had passed and they and their input were still considered viable
and even necessary.

Both of these men were from what we consider a first world country.
81 years ago they were preparing to do battle against men also from
first world countries. As well as second and even third world countries.

Today we hear a great deal about a first world and her “problems”—
spoiled problems really.

Problems that consist more of want rather than need.

Problems about such things as to where we might wish to go out to eat?
“What do you mean the movie I wanted to see is sold out?”
“Why can’t I get my new appliances in when promised?…
You know the current ones I have are outdated!”
“Why can’t the dentist get me in this afternoon vs tomorrow?”

On the flip side, third would problems are based primarily on a basic need
of survival—
it is not so much based upon wants and whims but rather upon survival needs.

“We need to find clean drinking water.”
“The drought has destroyed our family’s only source of food.”
“We must walk 25 miles in order to find a doctor in the neighboring
town to help the baby get well.”

On my end, I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about first world problems.

“A mother laments that her daughter can’t find a dress in her correct size
for the homecoming dance—
there seems to be a production and material shortage.”

“This house we’re building is taking much longer than we anticipated
because our builder can’t get the lumber.”

“I really wanted that new couch for the den but it would blow the budget.”

These are problems more of want and convenience rather than that
of need and survival.

So I got to thinking…

We know there are first world problems, if you can call them problems–
and we know there are third world problems—problems about basic needs…
shelter, protection, medicine, food, water…

But…wait…what of second world problems??
Is there even such a thing as a second world?

After a little investigating, I discovered that there is indeed a
category of a 2nd world…but we never really hear about it do we?

According to Investopedia.com

What is Second World?
The outdated term “second world” included countries that were
once controlled by the Soviet Union.
Second world countries were centrally planned economies and one-party states.
Notably, the use of the term “second world”
to refer to Soviet countries largely fell out of use in the early 1990s,
shortly after the end of the Cold War.

But the term second world has also been used to cover countries
that are more stable and more developed than offensive term
“third-world” countries but less-stable and less-developed
than first world countries.
Examples of second-world countries by this definition
include almost all of Latin and South America, Turkey, Thailand, South Africa,
and many others.
Investors sometimes refer to second world countries that appear to be
headed toward first world status as “emerging markets” instead.

By the first definition, some examples of second world countries
include: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania,
Russia, and China, among others.

With regard to the second definition, according to geo-strategist
and London School of Economics doctorate Parag Khanna,
approximately 100 countries exist that are neither first world (OECD)
nor third world (least-developed, or LDC) countries.
Khanna emphasizes that within the same country there can be a
coexistence of first and second; second and third;
or first and third world characteristics.[1]
A country’s major metropolitan areas may exhibit first world characteristics,
for example, while its rural areas exhibit third-world characteristics.
China displays extraordinary wealth in Beijing and Shanghai,
yet many of its non-urban regions are still deemed developing.

So I find it interesting that nations such as China and Russia, our
long hard fraught archnemeses, our adversaries, can be first,
second and even third worlds all within one…
whereas here in the US, Canada and much of Europe,
we consider ourselves first world.

Perhaps we should consider the land mass of each of these countries.
In Russia there are 11 different time zones compared to our 6..
yet oddly France claims 13 given their country proper along
with their sovereign lands.

It is an odd conundrum.
Land mass equating to first, second and third worlds.

So whereas there were once men who were determined to defend and protect
the freedoms of not only their first worlds but that of all worlds…
A globe where the chance for freedom for all worlds, no matter their “status”,
could be attainable.

Yet sadly we find very few who are now willing to defend and protect
those very freedoms…freedoms for all of our worlds…
freedoms that men, only 80 years ago and less, were readily willing to die for.

It appears that the agenda of both democracy and the freedom has gravely shifted.

So—let’s ask some of our older citizens or those now citizens who have immigrated
from the 2nd and 3rd world nations…
Are we more free, safer and secure under our current leadership than we were
80 yers ago?

I think I know the answer…

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.
But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh;
rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Galatians 5:13

THE LION OF MÜNSTER…we need more lions

Woe then to our poor German people. Disorder and revolutionary
convulsions will not come to an end until the batter of everyone
against everyone has spent all its power.”

Bishop von Galen


((c) Redmich/Thinkstock)

Since I’ve started reading a new book, I’ve decided we need
some lions…heck I’ll be happy to have just one lion!

What you say???!!!….I hear you smugly inquiring…

Yep, a lion.

This book is a historical book…
it’s a story about a man born in 1878,
born into a well to-do German family.

The boy would eventually grow up to become a priest…
eventually a bishop, an archbishop and later, a cardinal…
but more importantly…he became a lion….

He became a voracious and loud roaring nemesis of Adolf Hitler.

His name was Archbishop Clemens August Graf von Galen.

I won’t waste our time today with the biographical background and growth
of this man, although it does lay out who this would-be lion, a lion
who would never back down, was to grow to become…

Heck, I’m only to page 37 and WWI has just ended.
And already, with only 37 pages in, there is oh so much to share!

So today, I’ll just offer enough to give us pause to ponder.

So picture yourself looking into a mirror of the past, but
you still can see your own reflection. That’s what this book
is—a mirror.
A mirror of what was and fretfully would will most likely be.

The words I’m choosing to share today are actually words that
this lion wrote following the devastating war that was to end all wars…
that being WWI.
Later similar words would come prior to WWII…

Following WWI, Germany had been defeated and her citizens decimated—
a situation that the world perceived as fitting since
the Germans had been the obvious aggressors and instigators of this
catastrophic World War.

But this book actually examines a devout Christian’s nonobjective view
of his homeland and of the troubles his nation was preparing to
fall victim to.

Following the Treaty of Versailles…Germany was hurled
into the black hole of impotence.
It was enough of a black hole that could generate the
cataclysmic energy that would allow a man like Adolf Hitler
to rise to…an evil dominating world foe of democracies and freedom.

Before the first world war, Germany was known for being one of the most
highly educated and cultured societies that existed.

And so it is to this very day, 76 years following the end of WWII,
that I still have to study and re-study the dynamics that allow me
to wrap my head around the idea that a nation of knowledge
and refinement can grow into a mindless nation bent on
destruction, death and world dominance.

Jumping forward a bit in the book, we read that it was shortly
after Adolf Hitler seized power and the Nazi Party turned
Germany into a totalitarian state in 1933,
Blessed Cardinal Clemens August von Galen began openly speaking
out against the dictatorial regime as the new bishop of Münster.

“The book’s author notes that
the Nazis killed people for distributing von Galen’s sermons,”

“Throughout World War II, Bishop von Galen became one of Germany’s
most outspoken bishops, authoring letters and sermons that challenged
the Nazi regime’s racial ideologies.
In 1937, von Galen assisted Pope Pius XI in the writing
of his 1937 anti-Nazi encyclical “Mit brennender Sorge”
(“With Burning Anxiety”), and in 1941,
he delivered three sermons denouncing the euthanasia program,
confiscating of church property and the injustice of the Gestapo,
appropriately earning him the nickname “The Lion of Münster.”

But this wise man understood back in 1917 what would eventually
lead to the opening of door for the likes of Hitler.

He spoke of the great importance of leaders and leadership…
in particular those those in position of governmental leadership,
to know who it was they served and to always remember what it meant to be
a servant.

A servant.

“What, Galen asked, makes for a good community—
one in which people of different classes, professions, and social positions
really consider themselves to be united and to which they can give their hearts,
their loyalty, and their service?
“Why”, he continued, “did Germany not have such a community?”
For although it had the externals of a community–indeed,
a self-governing community, since all power has been given
to the people–in fact the people of different classes, professional standing,
political parties and religions felt themselves at odds with each other.

The fault, he argued, was egoism, disordered self-love,
by which everyone seeks his own interests with concern
for the good and rights of his neighbor.

Years later, Galen wrote:
“if the right of the state, today the might of the majority,
really makes right, then why only this might?
Why not also the might of the stronger fist,
why not the might of money, why not the might of craftiness
and clever business dealings?
The destruction that is introduced into the community by the
working out of this fundamental principle should open people’s
eyes to the destructiveness of this principle itself.”…

“If the state is the creator of all rights and the
all-powerful lord of all rights, the, many concluded,
their rights and freedoms would be secure only if they themselves
were the holders of state power.”

“We will not come to an inner people’s community,”
he concluded, “as long as State absolutism is the fundamental principle
of our political life.”
Such absolutism leads inevitably to centralization and attacks
on any persons or groupings that are independent of the state.
That was the reason for the Kulturkampf (culture struggle),
for the Prussian state saw the Catholic Church as the bulwark
of freedom and the rights of individuals and small communities
against arbitrary state power.

And so I will leave us today to ruminate over the notion that our
dear Western Civilization is currently looking in a mirror of decades past….
Yet what we are seeing looking back at us is the makings of a monster with nary
a lion to quell the rampage…

Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll
written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.
And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice,
“Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”
And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able
to open the scroll or to look into it,
and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open
the scroll or to look into it.
And one of the elders said to me,
“Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah,
the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the
scroll and its seven seals.”

Revelation 5:1-5

what has “he” done now?????

“People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have
allowed themselves to become.
And they pay for it very simply;
by the lives they lead.”

James Baldwin


(a card dating from 1918)

I was in the kitchen, starting supper er when I heard a wail of what one could only
be classified of that of a dying animal…”WHAT HAS HE DONE NOW???!!!”

Bewilderment mixed with frustration mixed with resignation.

The “he” in this wail would be Joe Biden.
The reason for the high pitched yell was due to my husband seeing the latest
in the way of news….”France recalls ambassadors to the US and Australia in
response to AUKUS nuclear submarine pact”

Before he even heard the story, he knew that this present administration
merely added one more misstep to their continuous pattern of gaffe after gaffe–
week after week after week.

This little tale came on the heels of the day’s earlier news of a drone
attack in Kabul that killed citizens rather than a targeted Taliban leader.
And we wonder who is calling the shots…as in literally.

Tripping and falling down a never ending set of stairs.
Dragging the good folks of the US along for the bumpy ride.

So what if France gets her feelings hurt that the US opted to align
herself with Australia rather than France.
What’s the big deal?

The big deal is that you don’t treat your allies as expendables.
You keep them in the loop even if the loop is hard.
Friends don’t like to be blindsided and that is exactly what
happened…the US blindsided France just prior to publicly announcing the
Australian deal…it didn’t help that the UK was an involved accomplice.
And in turn, France felt let down, hurt and betrayed.
I think “stabbed in back” is how they worded it.

We call that burning bridges.
I learned early on in my career, you don’t burn your bridges as you never
know whose help you might need later down the road.

France was key to our own fight for independence.
Without France’s help…we might still be citizens of the Crown.

Wonder how Harry and Meghan would feel about that?

So we’re learning to limit our news input as it is not conducive to the nerves
or heart. And just can’t take one more presidential miscue at the expense of
we the taxpaying people and now at the expense of our once formidable allies.

Sigh.

Vive la France, Vive la liberté

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-58604677

we are better than this

“Experience teaches us that it is much easier to prevent an enemy
from posting themselves than it is to dislodge them after
they have got possession.”

George Washington

“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”
George Washington


(A Tattered American Flag Flies is a photograph by Dennis Drenner
which was uploaded on January 24th, 2018.)

“Our cruel and unrelenting Enemy leaves us no choice but
a brave resistance, or the most abject submission;
this is all we can expect –
We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die:
Our own Country’s Honor, all call upon us for a vigorous
and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail,
we shall become infamous to the whole world.
Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause,
and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is,
to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions –
The Eyes of all our Countrymen are now upon us,
and we shall have their blessings, and praises,
if happily we are the instruments of saving them from
the Tyranny meditated against them. Let us therefore
animate and encourage each other, and shew the whole world,
that a Freeman contending for Liberty on his own ground
is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.”

George Washington

“As Mankind becomes more liberal,
they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves
as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections
of civil government.
I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations
of justice and liberality.”

George Washington