thin black line, 6th Ave Heartache

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

An odd thing happened two nights ago.

Now you need to remember that I was taken off my HRT (hormone replacement therapy)
about 7 weeks ago.
Hormones, I’d been on nearly 30 years.

Sleep has never been great, but take away the hormones and things immediately went
from bad to really really bad in literally a single night’s time.

However two nights ago, despite battling the need to breathe while living
with a sinus infection along with poison ivy, I was actually asleep.

How do I know?
I was flat on my back.

I’m usually a side to stomach sleeper yet at some point or other,
when I’m really asleep, asleep—
I’m always mysteriously flat on my back.

At 1:30 in the morning, I became aware that I was itching.
Groggily I started scratching at my poison ivy now spreading across my torso.
Suddenly in my head, I was hearing a song that I know I had not heard playing that day
as some sort of background music in a store.

Clear as day, playing lyrically in my head.

It was a song I’ve always liked..a 90’s sort of song…Why I’ve always liked it,
I don’t know, but it has always made me feel a bit heavy-hearted and melancholy.
Again, I’m not sure as to why.
Although it’s an older song, it seems to still be quite relevant.

Rousing my brain to full awake mode, I opted to get up and head into the bathroom
in order to slather on some more anti-itch medicine— all the
while that song kept ringing in my head…

“And the same black line that was drawn on you
Was drawn on me
And now it’s drawn me in…”

I crawled back into bed now restless as my thoughts were racing.
All the while still itching and listening to non-existent music playing.

Why was this song stuck in my head—especially when I was good and asleep??

The following morning, after grabbing my coffee, I googled the song.

According to Wikipedia , The lyrics are based on Dylan’s (Jakob Dylan)
own experiences while living in New York City, in particular, the story of a homeless man
who would sit outside Dylan’s window and play the same songs every day.
One day, the man was gone, but his things were still there,
until gradually people started taking them.

Well, that seemed to make it all feel even worse…doubly more sad than before.

So I kept digging a bit further.

What did the Bible have to say about a black line??

As I kept looking, I was constantly being redirected to the mark of Cain.

Hummmm.

Remember, being raised a poor illiterate Episcoplain kid, the breadth and depth
of Bible study was never my forte.
But I was now intrigued.

I knew Cain and Abel…really the very first tale of humankind’s lowest moments.
Or actually, that might have been their parents…but either way, we humans weren’t off
to the best of starts.

Choice…we never seem to have mastered choice…but I digress.

Why would God want me to think about all of this at 1:30 in the morning?
I know, I know…time to God is irrelevant but to a woman who hardly ever has deep
sleep, as in REM, I was just a tad frustrated.

There were (are) a lot of articles on the web about the mark of Cain
and many of them have some sort of racist connotation.
Naturally…it always goes back to race.

It seems race has been with us since the beginning of time and we still don’t know how to
deal with it—- gees…!
But again, I digress.

So after reading, I managed to find an interesting article on Bibleodyssey.com
written by Eva Mroxzek, an assistant professor of Jewish studies at Indiana University.

She hit on the whole good mark, bad mark thinking…
Cain killed his brother and God marked him for life.
The question…was or is…. was or is the mark a mark of shame or a mark of protection?

Was it leprosy?
A ‘keep your distance’ sort of mark?
Did God turn his skin a darker color?
Did God have a horn grow out of Cain’s head?
Did it have to do with circumcision?
Did God give Cain a dog?
Huh???

Did God have mercy on Cain and forgive him for having killed his brother…the first
recorded murder in human history only to followed by the greatest act of forgiveness??

But wait…was that the greatest act of forgiveness or was that actually
during Good Friday…
digressing again…

So, was the mark a mark of forgiveness…

On and on the so-called wise ones have debated this issue for eons.

And yet oddly here it comes visiting me at 1:30 in the morning by way of a 1996 song.

Ms, Mroczek notes at the end of her article…
“But the most striking interpretations rely on a later meaning of the Hebrew word oth:
a letter of the alphabet.
A midrashic text suggests that God inscribed a letter on Cain’s arm as a mark of protection
(Pirqe Rabbi Eliezer 21).
Thus, the mark of Cain becomes a sacred sign.
In another midrash (Tanhuma Genesis 10),
it is the word Sabbath that is inscribed on Cain’s face—after the personified Sabbath day
itself begged God to forgive Cain’s sin.
And a targum—an Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Scriptures—
identifies the mark as the holiest sign of all: God inscribes on Cain
“the great and honorable name of the LORD,” namely the tetragrammaton,
the four-letter name of God (YHWH).

https://www.bibleodyssey.org/people/related-articles/mark-of-cain

So the jury is still out.

Why the song?
Why the direction toward Cain?
And is this a message of foreboding or passage of forgiveness.

I’ll let you know what happens when the next hot flash rouses me from
what little precious sleep there is…I’m sure God will have His say…
I just wish I was wise enough to figure out where He was taking me.
But if I knew that…there’d be so many answers to so many questions…

Heartbreak does seem to be happeing on all sorts of 6th Avenues across this Nation…

Sirens ring, the shots ring out
A stranger cries, screams out loud
I had my world strapped against my back
I held my hands, never knew how to act
And the same black line that was drawn on you
Was drawn on me
And now it’s drawn me in
6th Avenue heartache
Below me was a homeless man
I’m singin’ songs I knew complete
On the steps alone, his guitar in hand
It’s fifty years, stood where he stands
Now walkin’ home on those streets
The river winds move my feet
Subway steam, like silhouettes in dreams
They stood by me, just like moonbeams
Look out the window, down upon that street
And gone like a midnight was that man
But I see his six strings laid against that wall
And all his things, they all look so small
I got my fingers crossed on a shooting star
Just like me just moved on

So I’m not alone..

The continued persecution of Christians in the Middle East is one of the great
underreported stories of the 21st century.

Douglas Murray, in his insightful book The Strange Death of Europe,
warns us that there is a real danger of Europe losing its Christian roots,
values and freedoms, something which he as a gay atheist deplores.
I fear that the conversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque is a sign of more
troublesome times ahead.

David Robertson


(Interior of the great dome, Hagia Sophia /Paris Review)

The other day I offered a post regarding the news that the once-massive
Christian enclave of the East, the Basilica of Hagia Sophia,
had once again fallen to Muslim rule ( or perhaps ‘once again’ is not accurate as Muslim rule has shadowed the church since the 15th century–it just hasn’t been a practicing mosque but rather a museum in a Muslim nation)

(https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2020/07/17/the-future-of-hagia-sophia-should-be-very-troubling-to-christians/)

Hagia Sophia, constructed in 532, stood as a Christian beacon in the East, as well
for the West following the sack of Rome, until 1453–
the year when Constantinople fell to the Ottomans.
She was desecrated and turned into a mosque.

Several hundreds of years passed when the mosque next became a museum.

And then change came once again last week when the church turned mosque,
turned museum returned to a Muslim Mosque.

For nearly a thousand years, she faithfully served her flock.

And so the question that sits like an elephant in the middle of the world’s living room…
what does this mean for the Faithful now…

Our friend the Wee Flea raises this same question in his most recent post…
“The Tale of Two Buildings–the Hagia Sophia and the Free Church Manse

David begins his post by reflecting on the demise of Christianity
in the very place of her inception, the Middle East…

The Assyrians for example have shrunk from 1.3 million in Iraq to less than 250,000.
They have scattered over the world.
There are around 40,000 Assyrians in Sydney – one of whom is my barber!
In Turkey, Christians are systematically persecuted.
Foreign church workers are arrested and expelled;
evangelical churches are regularly attacked by extremists.
To even suggest that the killing of over one million Armenians by the Turks in 1914-1923
was genocide will result in you going to jail.
I recall in 2007 being in Ephesus just after three Christian leaders
had been brutally tortured and killed –
the fear amongst the Christians was palpable.

I suspect that turning the Hagia Sofia into a mosque will only make things worse
as it will encourage the more radical Islamists to fulfil their dream of a society
where Sharia law is fully enacted, and the Christians and secularists are removed.
Another Hagia Sophia in Nicaea, where the Second Council of Nicaea was held in 787,
has already been turned into a mosque. It is a concerning development which
raises a number of questions.

Turkey has, like China, signed the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights,
which amongst other things, guarantees freedom of worship, expression and belief.
Like China, it appears that its signature is meaningless.

Another area of concern is the problem of the lack of freedom in many Islamic countries.
In the West, Muslims are rightly free to worship and build mosques –
something I have defended in the past and will defend again.

There is a bigger issue here.
I have no problem with there being different religions within a pluralistic and tolerant society.
But what if that religion itself is opposed to pluralism and tolerance,
which I argue Islam is, and seeks to impose its own Sharia law?

David continues his post with a more personal reflection regarding the Chruch manse that he
and his family called home for 27 years…a church manse turned Muslim home with the
entire neighborhood becoming Muslim…

A casual observer might think that David’s feelings are somewhat racist in that he is concerned
about a Scottish neighborhood becoming Muslim, but he clearly notes that Islam is
not a race but rather a religion…and it is one that has at its core the goal of
the decimation of Christianity…

And so yes, there are big questions that remain—
What is happening to the Chruch from both within and from with-out

See David’s full post here:

A Tale of Two Buildings – the Hagia Sophia and the Free Church Manse – CT

about as civilized as a baboon

“I know your race.
It is made up of sheep.
It is governed by minorities.
Seldom or never by majorities.
It suppresses its feelings and beliefs and follows the handful that makes the most noise.
Sometimes the noisy handful is right.
Sometimes wrong.
But no matter, the crowd follows it.
The vast majority of the race, whether savage or civilized are secretly kind-hearted,
and shrink from inflicting pain.
But in the presence of the aggressive and pitiless minority, they don’t
dare to assert themselves.”

Mark Twain

Baboons, despite having rather cute babies, are not known for possessing a
very civilized demeanor.
Baboons are indeed social creatures, just like we are…
They can be, at times, loud and raucous just like us…
Plus they are very territorial…what’s theirs, is indeed theirs…end of sentence.
They are physically strong and can oftentimes be temperamental and even quite mean.

Sounds familiar.
Think rush hour traffic and road rage.

And sadly, much like us, they even possess a darker side…
they are known to be cannibalistic…
meaning that they can kill and eat other primates…also killing and eating their own…

Yep, they eat their own.

Now, where have I heard that before???

‘They will eat their own’…??

Oh, I think it was in reference to our oh so “woke” world.
They are beginning to eat their own.
Think the cancel culture and it’s hearty appetite for those now
wishing to bow out of the culture club…J.K. Rowling comes to mind…

For better or worse I suppose, we and baboons don’t seem to be too far apart.

Besides that whole opposable thumb business, when it comes to primates,
mankind has always prided himself on the fact that he alone has achieved a
sense of civility as compared to the rest of the animal kingdom.

We were civil beings.

And it is in that smugness of civility that we have long touted being ‘greater than’
and far superior than the animal kingdom.
We have rules for heaven’s sake—we have laws, and we even have decorum…
therefore it just makes sense that we are truly a far higher and more intelligent being
than our animal kin—right???

According to the dictionary,

Civilized:

1.at an advanced stage of social and cultural development.
“a civilized society”

2. polite and well-mannered.
“I went to talk to them and we had a very civilized conversation”

Advanced, developed, polite, well mannered…
Certainly higher than baboons—right???
Given the past couple of months, I’m beginning to wonder…


(Woman defecating on an overturned police car/ Reddit)


(Minneapolis riots, The Globe Post)


(The Atlantic)

In the past God overlooked such ignorance,
but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed.
He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

Acts 17:30-31
New International Version

St. Kateri, lessons of love

“Who can tell me what is most pleasing to God that I may do it?”
St. Kateri Tekakwitha

Rarely if ever in the many millennia of human civilization has there been a people group
who has not committed some atrocity.
American Indians are no exception

Casey Chalk, The Federalist

Kateri Tekakwitha—
Her feast day was July 14th and yet I just recently learned about her and her life.
She was of Algonquin and Mohawk roots.

Kateri’s baptismal name is “Catherine,” which in the Haudenosaunee (“Iroquois”)
language is “Kateri.” Kateri’s Haudenosaunee name, “Tekakwitha,”
can be translated as “One who places things in order” or “To put all into place.”
Other translations include, “she pushes with her hands” and
“one who walks groping for her way” (because of her faulty eyesight).

Kateri was born in 1656 at the Kanienkehaka (“Mohawk”) village of Ossernenon,
which is near the present-day Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville, New York.

Kateri’s father was a Kanienkehaka chief and her mother was an Algonquin Catholic.
At the age of four, smallpox attacked Kateri’s village, taking the lives of her parents and baby brother,
and leaving Kateri an orphan. Although forever weakened, scarred, and partially blind,
Kateri survived.
Kateri was adopted by her two aunts and her uncle, also a Kanienkehaka chief.

(Kateri.org)

History teaches us that many of the Native Americans contracted smallpox from the Europeans
with some Europeans purposefully infecting resident tribes.
Yet history also teaches us that tribal violence and attacks upon other tribes was
a constant threat to a tribe’s way of life.

A Mohawk war party in 1647 attacked and practically exterminated an Algonquin community.
The Iroquois, who practiced both slavery and cannibalism,
routinely tortured to death captured enemy warriors.
Kateri witnessed the torturing of Mohican warriors who had attacked her Mohawk village in 1669.

(The Federalist)

Kateri, upon meeting Jesus, put all of the difficulties of her past behind her.
Her sole focus became Christ.

Kateri often went to the woods alone to speak to God and to listen to him in her heart
and in the voice of nature.

When Kateri was eighteen years old, Father de Lamberville, a Jesuit missionary,
came to Caughnawaga and established a chapel.
Kateri was fascinated by the stories she heard about Jesus Christ.
She wanted to learn more about him and to become a Christian.
Father de Lamberville asked her uncle to allow Kateri to attend religious instructions.
The following Easter of 1676, twenty-year-old Kateri was baptized.

Not everyone in Kateri’s village accepted her choice to fully embrace Jesus,
which for her meant refusing the marriage that had been planned for her.
Kateri became a village outcast. Some members of her family refused her food on Sundays
because she would not work.
She suffered bullying, as some children would taunt her and throw stones.
She was threatened by some with torture or death if she did not renounce her religion.
Because of increasing hostility from some of her people, and because she wanted to be free
to devote her life completely to Jesus, in July of 1677,
Kateri left her village and traveled more than 200 miles through woods and rivers
to the Catholic mission of St. Francis Xavier at Sault Saint-Louis,
near Montreal.
Kateri’s journey through the wilderness took more than two months.
At the mission, Kateri lived with other Indigenous Catholics.

(Kateri.org)

Katei lived a life dedicated to serving Christ and Christ alone– because of
her virtue, modesty and humility, many Native Americans who knew her referred to
to her as a “Holy Woman.”

Kateri died on April 17, 1680, at the age of 24.
Her last words were, “Jesus, I love You.” Like the flower she was named for,
the lily, Kateri’s life was short and beautiful.
Moments after dying, her scarred face miraculously cleared and was made beautiful by God.
This miracle was witnessed by two Jesuit priests and all the others
able to fit into the room. Many miracles were to follow.

Three people had visions of her in the week following her death.
A chapel was built near her grave, and soon pilgrims began to visit,
coming to thank God for this Holy Woman.

Kateri is known as the “Lily of the Mohawks” and the “Beautiful Flower Among True Men.”
She is recognized for her heroic faith, virtue, and love of Jesus,
in the face of great adversity and rejection.

(Kateri.org)

Our Patron Saint

I learned about Saint Kateri when I read an article by Casey Chalk, a columnist for
The American Conservative, Crisis Magazine, and The New Oxford Review.
The article, Saint Kateri’s Story Dispels The Myth Of White People As Uniquely Evil,
brought to light the story of St. Kateri but it also highlighted the complexities of
early Native American tribes.

Indeed, tribes in the American southeast in the 18th and 19th centuries managed plantations
that “rivaled those of their white neighbors.”
In 1860, citizens of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Cree, and Chickasaw tribes owned more
than 5,000 black slaves.
So much for simplistic narratives about the white,
European oppression of American Indians and people of color.

And whereas our past, be it black, white, red, brown, yellow—slave, freeman or tribal member…
the one underlying thread is a single, yet deeply important component—
it is single fact that we are all the children of one God, one Father,
and as those children we have but one Savior found in Jesus Christ.

Mr. Chalk’s article reminds us that history is complicated—
and that man is perhaps even more complicated than his own history.

Certainly, the United States has an obligation to right past wrongs,
of which there are many, against indigenous peoples.
But we also have an obligation to avoid superficial,
Manichean portrayals of history that unnecessarily divide our nation and
inflame ignorant ideologies of hatred and outrage.

“There can never be peace between nations until there is first known that
true peace which is within the souls of men,” said Black Elk,
a Lakota medicine man who was present at both the Battle of the Little Bighorn
and the massacre at Wounded Knee. Later in life,
he converted to Catholicism and became a renowned catechist.

He, too, is being considered for sainthood.
The humble, pious, and patient witness of St. Kateri Tekakwitha
and Black Elk offer a better way of overcoming our national distemper,
one marked by love, forgiveness, and truth.

https://thefederalist.com/2020/07/14/saint-kateris-story-dispels-the-myth-of-white-people-as-uniquely-evil/

lunatics at large!!! Where have all the sane people gone?????

“Sane people did what their neighbors did,
so that if any lunatics were at large, one might know and avoid them.”
George Eliot, Middlemarch


(edvard-munch.org)

About 8 years ago, when I first began this little blog of mine, I posted a little disclaimer …
that being—as a newly retired teacher, I still felt as if I had a few things left
in me to teach..things that still needed to be studied…

Two key components to that need of continuing education were–
A) the history of our Western Civilization and that of her Judaeo Christian bedrock
on which it was built—as well as…
B) the importance of knowing from whence we came in order that we could know where
we were going.

There were also other pressing issues but knowing one’s history,
as well as one’s foundation, were the lynchpins.

And yet we are currently watching our culture throw that proverbial baby out with the bathwater.
All because our oh so woke world cares not about her past but rather only about her
own selfish agenda.

And that my dear students, is what we call ignorance.

Or maybe it’s what we call stupidity.

Or maybe it happens to be both—ignorant stupidity.

Madame Speaker has demanded that all the portraits of all Civil War era
Speakers of the House be removed from public view.
Much like that crazy uncle who needs to be hidden away from the guests during the holidays.

Statues around our Western Civilization…statues of Columbus, Winston Churchill,
and all Confederate leaders are being defaced or toppled.

Rioters are commandeering our cities, claiming swarths of city blocks as new sovereign lands.

Our police have lost all due process and are leaving their posts.

Lawlessness rules supreme.

Face maks are mandated.

Rioters do as they please.

Where is our sanity in the midst of this chaos?

Your history matters people.
It defines you–for better or worse.
We pray that the worse part is what will serve to make you better.
But if you continue to stick your fingers in your ears, ignoring the facts,
then you are bound to the ties of failure.

Let me share an intimate look at history.

When our two-year-old granddaughter comes to visit…in order to
consolidate the hurried pace of getting ready for bed, she and I
will hop in the shower together.

If ever a kid loved water, it is her.
She could stay in a tub or shower all night if possible.
Happily turning into a wrinkled prune.

She will sit on the shower bench telling me to sit beside her,
this as the warm rainfall showerhead gently rains down over our heads.

I’ll scrub her little feet and lather her head as we style
soapy hair into fun and fanciful shapes.

She asks that I cup my hands together, filling my hands full of water so
she can try and take a drink.
She asks that I fill her pink water pitcher full of water so I
can pour it over her head.

I think of us sitting together in this shower, warm and happy…
an intimate setting when everything seems right in the world…
all within our happy little world.

And then I think of a different time…
a time when other women and their children and grandchildren
huddle together, all awkwardly and yet intimately naked, thinking that this
was to be their last sacred time together.

They had been herded into “the showers” ridiculed, naked, and afraid.
Holding tightly together in a final intimate last moment before
the deadly ‘showers’ began.

I am removed from their nightmare by 75 to 80 years.

At this moment, I am happy and feel a deep sense of gratitude to be able to
share in this rather intimate night-time ritual with my granddaughter…

Yet there were other women who would have also relished in such an opportunity…
but rather theirs was to be a final solution to a culture’s perceived problem.

Madness.

Yet madness still prevails.

Learn from your history and your past my dear students.
Do not repeat the same errors of previous “woke” generations.

However, I fear your pride has blinded your eyes and chilled any hope of compassion
from your heart.

Continue on this path and we are all doomed.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar,
and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved,
and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought
you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming
of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved,
and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise
we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

2 Peter 3:10-13

looks are deceiving

Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky


(driving into Atlanta from the west / Julie Cook / 2020)

Nearly 40 years ago when I first moved away from home, having taken my first teaching position
in a small city about an hour’s drive west of Atlanta, this was the view that would
herald my return to the city.

This was the view I would see, as I crested the last hill on the interstate before I was near my
home stretch.

It is the view of the city as seen coming in from the west on 285, just before Six Flags.
It is also a view of a city that has only grown in its vista’s expanse over these
past 40 years.

And yet what a deceiving view it is currently.

This particular Sunday morning there were a few popcorn clouds dotting a sweeping blue
summer’s sky coupled with a lighter than average load of traffic—
all of which just might deceive one into thinking that everything was peachy perfect and
right with the world.

But I knew differently.

I was heading over to stay with the Mayor and Sheriff as their mom had some
appointments Monday morning–but I knew that life in Atlanta was not what it seemed
to be from this bucolic meets urban vista as seen from afar on this Sunday morning.

There had been an arrest gone bad over the weekend and once again,
there was someone resisting arrest.
This person made the decision to wrest a taser from an officer then opted to
run away while pointing the taser back at the officers, and thus…
he was shot and killed.

The choices we make can be life-altering, and even life-ending,
yet we don’t seem to grasp the severity of such choices.

Crowds once again gathered overnight, not to simply protest, but opting rather to riot–
shutting down the major downtown interstate and burning a Wendy’s to the ground.
The same Wendy’s that had been the scene of the altercation.

Police were again immediately fired—and thus so much for due process at the workplace.
And the Atlanta police chief, who had just been praised a mere week prior for her
steely approach to Atlanta’s chaos, averting catastrophe, sadly abruptly resigned.

Groups such as the NAACP cried for the white sheriff’s head on a platter.

And so I was driving and the city grew closer with each passing mile,
I wondered what sort of mayhem was now simmering in the city of my birth.

According to news outlets both local and national…Atlanta is a city on edge.
I did not see that during my stay…but then again I was watching during the day
and was not visiting downtown.

It would behoove us to always remember that looks may indeed be decieving…

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption,
but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

Galatians 6:7-8

so in the end, who’s to say??

In short, cloth masks are largely symbolic.
Molly McCann, The Federalist


(my little supply)

I’ll admit that I’ve been a bit defiant when it comes to the wearing of a mask
while venturing out in public.
I’ve made several mentions of such here in blogland.

I am fortunate in that I live in a smaller city that has no mandate
to her citizens of the must-wear or else camp.

Naturally, if my governmental officials tell me to wear a mask, otherwise, I’ll die…
well, that’s pretty clear cut, I’d don my mask.

Yet that sort of mandate comes with caveats.

Such as absolutes versus suppositions.

This whole notion of to mask or not to mask came up yesterday when a kind woman commented on my post
“Freedom…hummmmm”
(https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2020/05/26/freedom-hummmm/)

Her comment to me:
I believe that wearing a mask is the polite thing to do in consideration
of the health of others as well as yourself.
How hard is that?
Wearing a mask in public areas is showing self-respect for yourself and respect for others.

My response:
If I am required to do so, I certainly will but what we know about the masks that
the average person wears, of which are not medical grade, is that they are not a defense
against a virus— viruses are smaller than the pores of the fabric so the protection,
if any, is negligible.

I’m all for being polite but I’m also all for being smart.
And as for respect, the wearing of a mask, of which is not
shown to be of any real health benefit, is not my idea of respect
but rather more like blindly following mass hysteria

The majority of the masks being worn by the general public are more or less
dust protection masks.
Masks that help filter out pollen, smoke, and yes the obvious, dust…
and let us note the words “help filter” — which is not 100% filtration.

We know that viruses are so tiny that they can pass through the pores of cloth style masks.
Rather it is the medical-grade masks that will do the trick but they are needed for our
medical teams and first responders as they come face to face, literally, with this virus.

There has been a shortage of medical-grade masks because a panicked populace went out
with a henny penny mentality to gobble them up–and when those ran out they
bought every other sort of mask.
That panic-driven purchasing has left the folks who really need the protection
in the lurch.

That’s what a media-frenzied driven hype does to people…
it generates panic grabbing—hence the shortages of toilet paper, but I digress.

Back when this pandemic mess was just starting to ramp up, the word
from fellow blogger IB, over on Insanity Bytes, was this:

First a word about masks.
So, talking to the general public here, regarding infection control,
should you wear a cloth mask?
Probably or possibly, but with big caveats.
Viruses are really tiny, they go right through the weave of material.
So if wearing a cloth mask makes you feel better, go for it,
just don’t let it give you a false sense of security.
You still need to keep your distance from other people.
Also, you have to dispose of it or wash it frequently, otherwise,
all you’re really doing it putting a dirty rag over your face and rubbing germs right
into your mucus membranes. How long does it take for a mask to become contaminated?
About two seconds.
One sneeze.

https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2020/04/01/the-glove-queen/

IB does have a scientific background and speaks with the knowledge of her field and craft.

Tuesday when I went to the car dealership to have my car serviced…the technicians
who greeted me were each wearing masks and gloves.
The gentleman who checked me in was not.
I was not.

As I made my way to the waiting area,
there were some folks with masks and some folks without masks.
Plus all those waiting and working the showroom were all nicely spread out.

I do know that when one of the folks wearing a mask started coughing and sneezing,
despite their mask,
I found myself with that sinking feeling of ‘great, here comes the good old cold”

Yesterday I read an interesting article on the Federalist regarding the issue
of masks or no masks.
It seems that the mask issue has become more than a medical issue—
it is now a politicized issue.

It is not merely a matter of health but it has morphed into a matter of being a
Trump supporter vs one who is not.
It seems that Trump supporters don’t wear masks.
Those on the left, who despise Trump and all those who support the president,
are demanding masks to be worn at all costs.

Virginia and her Governor are a case in point as the Governor has mandated
that his state’s residents all wear masks.

And remember, this is all Trump’s fault.
So to me, this has all gotten absolutely ridiculous.
It has become a matter of control rather than health and safety.
And that is something I cannot abide by.

The article, which I’ve linked to below, was written by Molly McCann—
Here are a few excerpts.

An April 18 article in the Washington Post underscores the strategy,
presenting the mask controversy as a left versus right debate.
People resisting mandatory mask policies are, per usual, painted as unreasonable,
headstrong, and backward—displaying ignorant American bravado while
rejecting science and good sense.
(That caricature is itself a tool to mock, marginalize, and silence dissent.)

The most telling passage of the article is this one:

For Trump’s supporters, declining to wear a mask is a visible way to demonstrate
“that ‘I’m a Republican,’ or ‘I want businesses to start up again,’
or ‘I support the president,’ ” said Robert Kahn, a law professor at the University of St.Thomas
in Minneapolis who has studied Americans’ attitudes toward masks.
‘Masks will quickly become the new normal in blue states,
but if social distancing continues through 2022,
the mentality among Republicans could well change, too:
If I can go to work and the cost of marginal improvement in my life is wearing a mask,
maybe Americans of both parties do accommodate ourselves to it.’

Masks Are of Limited Benefit
The truth is you aren’t irrational or obdurate if you are skeptical about masks.
The “experts” have admitted that masks’ efficacy is usually negligible.
Dr. Anthony Fauci himself, in a “60 Minutes” interview early in this pandemic,
dismissed masks as essentially useless.

“There is no reason to be walking around wearing a mask.
When you are in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel better,
and might even block a droplet,” he said with almost an eyeroll,
“but it’s not providing the perfect protection people think it is,
and often there are unintended consequences…”

Fauci may have changed his tune, but plenty of sensible doctors are still speaking up.
Last week, a doctor in the Wall Street Journal pointed out that cloth masks—the type worn
by the overwhelming majority of the population—are not very effective,
echoing Fauci’s earlier admission. The WSJ author noted that even the N95 masks fall short:
“They’re considered effective at blocking coronavirus particles only when they’re
form fitted and tested to make sure there isn’t any leakage.”

In short, cloth masks are largely symbolic.
The science hasn’t changed, but the agenda has.

Implementing mandatory mask policies across a society of 300 million because
it makes some people feel better is absurd on its face.
But the policy makes a lot of sense if you understand its purpose and usefulness to
shift the American mindset.

Mandatory masks are a critical predicate conditioning us to accept abuses of our liberty.
Mandatory masking provides the foundation on which governments continue to justify emergency
measures and rule by executive fiat, and it creates a national mood of consent that
America will accept indefinite government expansion because we face a “new normal.

https://thefederalist.com/2020/05/27/mandatory-masks-arent-about-safety-theyre-about-social-control/

Even well known liberal left-leaning CNBC had an interesting article
posted back in early March.

“Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS!” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams
said via Twitter over the weekend.

“They are NOT effective in preventing [the] general public from catching coronavirus,
but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients,
it puts them and our communities at risk!”
The warning from America’s top doctor is consistent with medical advice from the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
which has said there is no evidence to support wearing face masks.

Instead, Adams said “the best way to protect yourself and your community
is with everyday preventative actions, like staying home when you are sick and
washing hands with soap and water, to help slow the spread of the respiratory illness.”

‘Not a lot of evidence’ to support wearing face masks

It has been suggested wearing face masks could be useful if you’re sick in order to
prevent you from sneezing or coughing into somebody’s face, David Heymann, who led WHO’s
infectious disease unit at the time of the SARS epidemic in 2002-2003,
said at a Chatham House press briefing last month.

But, “a mask that is used to stop getting an infection is sometimes not very effective
because people take it off to eat, many times they are worn improperly (and)
if they get wet and somebody sneezes on that mask it could pass through.

So, there is really not a lot of evidence (to support wearing masks).”

Thus the moral of this convoluted little tale—
if I’m told “no mask, no shirt, no shoes, no service”
I’ll be donning my mask— otherwise, I’ll be 6 feet away while washing my hands.

Lastly, I find it all rather ironic that there are those out there who
are claiming to be ‘following the science’
(hence the shuttering of the various Houses of Worship while allowing
the doors of abortion clinics to swing wide open) but is not “the science” telling us
that the common mask is actually not medically beneficial?

So in the end, who’s to say?…
Obviously a great many who are both in and out of the know.

freedom…hummmm…

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety
deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Benjamin Franklin, Memoirs of the life & writings of Benjamin Franklin


(image courtesy a business site)

If the truth be told, I’ve had one particular thought crossing my mind over and over
throughout this most surreal time in our lives.
That thought is simply one of freedom.

I’ve even addressed it here in blogland, when the time has allowed, during this past nearly
three months of living life in the Twilight Zone.

There has been a roller coaster of emotions for all of us…
emotions of sorrow, fear, confusion—-

And there has been a stone wall of both frustration and anger.

I have noted before that I live in a “free” state.

A classification that I find extremely bizarre.
When would an American find themselves differentiating between a free
and non-free state other than say, during the Civil War?!

But for our 21st-century way of thinking,
a free state is a state that is lifting its pandemic bans.
Non-free states remain closed.
As in non-functioning.

I have recently enjoyed the opportunity of actually going out to eat.

Actually sitting down at one of my favorite restaurants and actually enjoying a dining experience
albeit with masked servers and socially distanced table set-ups.

People in our state can go get a haircut—something I’ve yet to do as the process
is a tad tedious and makes for very limited appointments so I’ll stick to my
ballcap for now.

The liquor store is still curbside.
Which I kind of enjoy but miss looking at the pretty bottles.

Our farmer’s markets are open.

I’m going to get my car serviced tomorrow—at a dealership 45 minutes away, in another town…
meaning I am free to travel about without restriction.

In Italy, they had to have official paperwork allowing them to venture
out of their homes in order to go to the grocery store or Pharmacia.

Whereas our parks are beginning to reopen, our lakes and marinas have never closed.

And we should note that our grocery store chains, Wal-Mart, Target, Lowes
and Home Depot have never closed–
nor did they even ration the number of patrons entering the stores–masks or no masks.

And for the record, I do not wear a mask.

If I am told I had to do so if it meant visiting a certain business, I would oblige–
but if not mandated, I don’t.
I am not sick.
I have not been exposed.
Plus I try not to let fear dictate my life.

Good hygiene practices and common sense rather than fear seem to both win out for me.
But I digress…

One thing I have found perplexing is the tit for tat that governors in
“non-free” states are having with their fellow governors in free states–
along with that of their /our President.
They are trying to remain locked down come hell or high water—
and if they aren’t careful…it just might be both.

People are not being allowed to work.
They are being furloughed, let go, or permanently closed down.
And small businesses, the backbone of this nation, are not being allowed to operate.

As this all makes good economic sense to whom???

Another odd happening throughout the country during all of this mess
is that one has been free to go get an abortion if one so chooses as abortion clinics
had been categorized as “essential” yet church doors remain sealed.

So that means that one’s spiritual wellness is not essential but murder and death are…
go figure.

See Citizen Tom’s posting on the Prince William-Manassas Family Alliance in Virginia for
more of the story of the idiocy reigning supreme in the Commonwealth of Virginia regarding the
rights of the unborn–or maybe that should read…no rights for the unborn.

THE ABORTION MASQUERADE

And if I hear another pastor or priest dictate that they are keeping the doors
shut to their particular houses of worship because they are following
“science” —–well, just knock me in the head!

Men and women of the cloth are to follow the Word of God—
and I’m pretty certain God’s doors are open as He will certainly approve of the various
and the necessary health precautions for his precariously fragile creations.

Wear masks if you must, wear gloves if you must, receive communion, the Host, in open hands and use a
throw away cup for the wine verses a chalice—
Sit in pews 6 feet apart or on every other pew…don’t sing if you think it too
precarious and contagious (as in healthwise and not song-wise) but for Heaven’s sake
and for our sake, let the people pray and worship in God’s house!!!!

Did we close the churches and synagogues during the Great Depression or WWII???
Or what of the summers when polio was plaguing our children?
Or when TB was running rampant?

When people most needed comfort and hope, the various houses of worship opened
wide their doors.
They may have donated church goods to be melted for the war effort, they may have
had fewer attending due to polio or TB concerns, but the doors were open none the less,
allowing the spiritually hungry to come inside and find sustenance.

And so I caught another great post over on the Smoke of Satan and the Open Windows of Vatican II
musing over our plight in the Twilight Zone

“How did a temporary plan to preserve hospital capacity turn into two-to-three months
of near-universal house arrest that ended up causing worker furloughs at 256 hospitals,
a stoppage of international travel, a 40% job loss among people earning less than $40K per year,
devastation of every economic sector, mass confusion and demoralization,
a complete ignoring of all fundamental rights and liberties,
not to mention the mass confiscation of private property with forced closures of millions of businesses?

Whatever the answer, it’s got to be a bizarre tale…”

https://smokeofsatan.wordpress.com/2020/05/25/the-2006-origins-of-the-lockdown-idea/

And now, we come back full circle to the notion of Freedom.

A notion, along with the fact that I am writing this post on Memorial Day,
is a most poignant thought.

It is the day we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our very freedoms.

But the question remains…what of those freedoms?

Who now dictates those freedoms?

I will close today’s rambling with a look at the opening quote by Benjamin Franklin…

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety
deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

What are you willing to give up for a bit of temporary safety?
Everything?
I hope not.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore,
and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
For you were called to freedom, brothers.
Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word:
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
But if you bite and devour one another,
watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Galatians 5:1 and 5:13-15

Contrasts

Never to suffer would never to have been blessed.
Edgar Allan Poe


(Getty image)

For whatever reason, I get daily Travel and Leisure as well as Conde Nash travel emails.
I suppose it’s because once upon a time, I most likely subscribed to something.

Yet during this time of quarantine, I have not much cared to be a virtual traveler.
I might be an armchair quarterback when watching my beloved college football
but I definitely prefer to be a real-life traveler.

And so I’ve pretty much trashed all the travel notices I’ve received these oh so many weeks,
as I’ve wondered if travel will ever be what it was.

While scrolling through emails yesterday, something interesting actually piqued my curiosity.

It was an article with 21 pictures of what a locked-down Italy looked like.

If you’ve ever been to Italy then you know it seems as if the country is comprised of
more tourists than local residents.

Tourism has gotten so overwhelming that the Italian government was having to issue hefty
fines to bring a bit of calm amongst the throngs of madness.
It is said that there are very few real Venetians or even Florentines who still remain
in their collective overrun cities.

And so I was curious as to what a mostly deserted Itlay might look like.

The images were eerily serene.
However, knowing of the death toll that Itlay has experienced and the hardship this tiny country
has endured, viewing the images was not necessarily for a cursory glance on a rainy
Sunday afternoon.

There was a poignancy found in the images.
An emptiness.
A sadness.

There was the image of a single figure, a pope, clad in white and sitting alone in a darkened and
empty St Peter’s square observing the solemnity of the Easter Vigil…

To the ruins of the Coliseum surreally quiet and alone for the first time in centuries.

The empty gondolas bobbing up and down in eerily empty canals…

Yet I think it was the image (seen above) of the small church in Venice with photographs of
its parishioners taped to the pews that touched me the most as to how this pandemic has effected our
collective human family.

The small parish priest had asked his parishioners to please mail or email him
their pictures so he could, in turn, tape them to the pews in order that they could “be in attendance”
with him…there in the quiet and still little church, as he conducted Easter mass…alone.

Since all church services were canceled this Easter,
one pastor in Venice asked his parishioners for their photographs,
then placed them in the sanctuary and performed Mass for them on Easter Sunday.

https://www.cntraveler.com/gallery/photos-of-italy-on-lockdown-from-a-vacant-colosseum-to-empty-churches-on-easter?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=cnt&utm_mailing=CNT_Daily_PM_041920&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_medium=email

I next read a heartbreaking story of a woman who was unable to visit her dying father in the
the hospital due to the quarantine.
The hospital was only five miles from her home, but her dad had contracted the virus
after having to go to the hospital following a fall at home.

He had been in good health up to his fall and was expected to be fine.
But while in the hospital, he developed a cough and fever…with the hospital realizing its greatest fear…
their patients were contracting the virus within the hospital itself.

The story is difficult to read as it is helplessly sad.

One of his four grown children relays how she and her siblings
stayed on the phone with their father for his final 36 hours of life
simply listening to his labored breathing before finally, there was no more sound.

‘We hear you, Dad’: A daughter stays on the phone for hours and hours as
her father dies alone from coronavirus

https://www.yahoo.com/news/hear-dad-daughter-stays-phone-120345094.html

And yet the enormity of all of this heartbreak, sorrow, isolation and emptiness is contrasted
by petty partisan politics.

Following the first two articles, I read two very different types of articles.
Articles by Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Gingrich is indeed a very smart and astute man.
He is currently on lockdown in Itlay as his wife is US Ambassador to the Vatican.
A position the late journalist Cokie Robert’s mother once held.

The former Speaker of the House was expressing his frustration with the current speaker,
Speaker Pelosi, and the squabbles she is currently having with the President over passing
a bill intended to bring financial aid to small businesses.

If anyone is hurting right now, it is our small businesses.
They have had to either shutter their doors or operate
very sparingly.
They have had to let go of employees.
Many cannot contiue paying their bills with no business to be had.

Yet the Speaker continues to refuse to work with the President.

The impeachment fiasco was bad enough…but we now have real people,
not celebrities, not high-end athletes, not entertainers, not politicians, but real people…t
he you and me kind of people..who need help— and they need it now!

And yet…we have people like Madame Speaker who continues to want to play cat and mouse.

Madame Speaker was being interviewed from her home by a late-night talk show host.
It seems she was standing in her kitchen in front of her two rather fancy Wolf sub-zero
refrigerators while babbling on about having to spend 58 dollars for 5 pints of ice cream as she
desperately needed to restock what she and her husband had already eaten.

58 bucks on high end ice cream while there are folks who can’t pay their bills
because they’ve lost their livelihood or worse, their health.

Something is wrong in all of this.

When we need help–many of the very people we elected to help us, choose to eat
expensive ice cream instead.
No wonder Speaker Gingrich sees the correlation between Marie Antoinette telling
a starving French population to simply eat cake while our Speaker of the house
eats her posh ice cream—as a President is trying desperately to bring aid
to those in desperate need.

Newt Gingrich: Coronavirus crisis makes some leaders believe they have god-like decision-making capacity

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/newt-gingrich-coronavirus-crisis-makes-some-leaders-believe-they-have-god-like-decision-making-capacity

Newt Gingrich: Like Marie Antoinette, Princess Pelosi enjoys luxuries but ignores needs of desperate people

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/newt-gingrich-the-job-killing-democrats

Bitterness

Between the uprightness of my conscience and the hardness of my lot,
I know not how either to show respect to my feelings or to the times.
The bitterness of my mind urges me at all hazards to speak what I think,
whereas the necessity of the times prompts me, however unbecomingly,
to keep silence.
Good God!
Which way shall I turn myself?

Thomas Becket


(5 o’clock somewhere / Julie Cook / 2020)

Way back in the early ’80s, I was but a young naive, early twenty-something art teacher.

As an art educator, I thought it was my duty, meaning I had the bright idea,
that I should create a European adventure in order to take my students upon—
one that would focus on the great art capitals of Europe.

Ahhhhh…

Note to self…when you are mid-twenties…don’t take teens on a trip…
especially out of the country.

And don’t do it when terrorism was actually becoming a thing
and there was no such things as cell phones.

That will be another story for another day.

However, for now, I want to share one little story.

At that time, as a young art teacher, who had recently been a young student myself,
I had a deep love and fascination with all things Italian.

I had minored in Art History with a focus on the Italian Renaissance.
Italy was, to me, the mecca of the art world.
And to truly appreciate such, I had immersed myself in all things Italian.

As a kid, I always loved Italian food, albeit 1960’s Americana Italian.
As an adopted kid, I just knew my true roots were Italian.

Was I not the secret love child of Sophia Loren???

Yet sadly that all actually proved to be a Scotch / Irish and English background,
but I digress.

So when our little adventure finally brought us to Italian soil, I had the
bright idea that I would, by gosh, treat myself to a quintessential Italian drink…
Campari.

That glistening brilliant red Italian liqueur.
I had seen all the famous advertisement posters… Campari was THE
Italian drink…

I remember marching up to a bar at a disco we had taken to kids to enjoy
and boldly telling the bartender I would like a Campari on the rocks.

Oh I felt so Sophia Lorenesque—-waiting on Dean Martin to come croon me a sweet Italian
love song.

I was so excited, so full of expectation…that was all until I brought that glass to my
expectant lips and took a big swallow.

There are no words for the nano-moments following.

It was a swallow followed by a quick spitting out what remained in my mouth.

Oh my great heavens above, I had just ingested kerosene!!!

A fire was now coursing down my throat as the bitter taste of poison cloyingly
coated my mouth.

If not some sublime red delightful liquid, what in the heck was Campari!!!?????

Oh, what my naivete and immature taste did not understand of aperitifs and digestifs
and more importantly bitters.

A story I now recall fondly as I’ve actually acquired quite the taste for Campari–
albeit mixed with a bit of lime and prosecco.
In more of a spritz verses that of a hardcore sipper.

And all this talk of bitters brings me full circle to our lives today.

For we are living during some bitter days.

A shadowy Spector seems to be waiting on each of us with some sort of sadistic
bated breath.

We are finding ourselves isolated, dislocated and as if living in some strange foreign land.

Our world has been literally turned upside down.

And how ironic that we should find ourselves in the midst of one of the holiest times
in all of Christendom—the week leading to Good Friday…and eventually Easter.

A time of jubilation followed by humility, betrayal, torture, and eventually death…

It is a bitter time.
A time of gall and bile.
A time of blood and vomit.

Not a pretty picture.
Not a picture of sweet little bunnies and precious little lambs.

This is a time of reality.

A time of life, lies, deceit, and death.

And how odd that our world now is actually walking the same sacred
walk we Christians have walked now for nearly 2000 years…
the Via Dolorosa…

A painful and difficult journey.

Yet what we followers of Christ already know…
the ending is not nearly as tragic as the world would have us believe.

Victory, in the end, is truly ours.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,
and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning,
nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”