is the devil is in the details…

“Till I go mad and my heart is utterly changed,
See this sword?
The prince of darkness sold it to me.”

Karl Marx “The Fiddler”

“If Marx, Bruno Bauer and Feuerbach associate to found a
theological-political review,
God would do well to surround himself with all his angels
and indulge in self-pity, for these three will certainly drive him out of heaven…”

quoted from D. McLellan, Marx before Marxism, MacMillian)

Yesterday I wrote a post about salvaging a few books left over from college and the rather
prophetic connection associated with one of those books.
It was during the purge of the attic that I found and opted
to recuse a few of these old reads.

You may have noticed one of the books in yesterday’s photo and found yourself wondering
about it.

It is a small book with a very unsettling title that seems to be more accusation than title.
It was written in 1976 and is a book I’ve actually had since high school.

“Was Karl Marx a Satanist?”
by Richard Wurmbrand.

I’d imagine that most folks seeing such a book, given our current state of political affairs,
would most likely roll their eyes as if to say,
“it figures you conservative religious types would think such.”

But if anyone should know whether Marx was a Satanist or not would be Richard Wurmbrand.

The Philadelphia Herald once stated that “He (Wurmbrand) stood in the midst of lions,
but they could not devour him.”

His biography reads like the script of some sort of beyond reality novel…

Richard Wurmbrand was born the youngest of four boys in a Jewish family on March 24, 1909,
in Bucharest, Romania.
Gifted intellectually and fluent in nine languages,
Richard was active in leftist politics and worked as a stockbroker.
On Oct. 26, 1936, Richard married Sabina Oster, who was also Jewish.
They placed their faith in Jesus Christ in 1938 as a result of the influence of a
German carpenter named Christian Wölfkes.
Richard was ordained as an Anglican, and later Lutheran, minister.

During World War II, Richard and Sabina saw opportunities for evangelism among
the occupying German forces.
They preached in bomb shelters and rescued Jewish children out of the ghettos.
Richard and Sabina were repeatedly arrested and beaten and, at least once,
nearly executed.

Sabina lost her Jewish family in Nazi concentration camps.
In 1945, Romanian Communists seized power and a million Russian troops poured into
the country. Pastor Wurmbrand ministered to his oppressed countrymen while engaging
in bold evangelism to the Russian soldiers.

That same year, Richard and Sabina attended the Congress of Cults,
organized by the Romanian Communist government. Many religious leaders
came forward to praise Communism and to swear loyalty to the new regime.

Richard walked up to the podium and declared to the delegates, whose speeches were
broadcast to the whole nation, that their duty was to glorify God and Christ alone.
Between 1945 and 1947, Richard distributed 1 million Gospels to Russian troops,
often disguising the books as Communist propaganda.
Richard also helped arrange the smuggling of Gospels into Russia.

On Feb. 29, 1948, the secret police kidnapped Richard as he traveled to church and took
him to their headquarters.
He was locked in a solitary cell and labeled “Prisoner Number 1.”

In 1950, his wife, Sabina, was also imprisoned.
She was forced to serve as a laborer on the Danube Canal project,
leaving their 9-year-old son, Mihai, alone and homeless.

He was then taken in by Christian friends, who risked imprisonment to care for the
child of a political prisoner.
Sabina was released after three years, and Richard was also later released,
only to be re-arrested and then released in an amnesty in 1964.

In December 1965, two organizations paid a $10,000 ransom to allow the
Wurmbrand family to leave Romania.
Reluctant to leave his homeland, Richard was convinced by other underground church
leaders to leave and become a “voice” to the world for the underground church.
Richard, Sabina and their son, Mihai, left Romania for Norway and then traveled on to England.

Richard began his ministry of being a voice for persecuted Christians in the West,
where he also wrote his testimony of persecution, Tortured for Christ.
Later, Richard moved to the United States, and in 1967 the Wurmbrands officially began
a ministry committed to serving our persecuted Christian family called Jesus to the
Communist World (later renamed The Voice of the Martyrs).
This work continues today in more than 60 countries where Christians are persecuted.

TorturedforChrist.com

During his imprisonment, according to The Telegraph,“Wurmbrand was beaten on his body
and on the soles of his feet, given mind-altering drugs and forced to watch the humiliation
of fellow prisoners.

Through everything, he refused to recant.

For three years he was held in solitary confinement in a cell some 35 ft underground;
he kept sane by preaching himself a sermon every night,
fixing more than 300 of them in his brain with mnemonics and rhymes.
After his release, he published 22 as a book, Sermons in Solitary Confinement (1969).

Only once did he have anyone else to speak to – a prisoner in the next cell to whom he
communicated in Morse by tapping on his cell wall and whom he converted to Christianity.
Sabina Wurmbrand meanwhile was forced to work as a slave labourer;
at one stage, while building a canal, she was reduced to living on grass.
After her release in 1954, she was denied work for refusing to divorce her husband.
When later informed that he had died in prison,
she refused to believe it even when strangers called on her claiming to be former prisoners
who had attended his funeral.

In May 1966 when Wurmbrand testified in Washington before the Senate's Internal
Security Subcommittee, he stripped to the waist to show 18 deep torture wounds
covering his body.

Wurmbrand was a fiery, almost explosive man who never fought shy of controversy.
Although he always spoke about his oppressors with understanding,
he was passionate in his belief that "Communism is the greatest crime in humanity"
and was highly critical of those who sought dialogue with Communist regimes.
In 1967, on a visit to Britain, he roundly condemned British churches for their lack of
interest in the plight of Christians under Communism:
"What is happening in China?" he demanded.
"All the churches have been desecrated and closed, but nobody protests."

The British churches, he believed,
had been compromised by their membership of the World Council of Churches which included
members of the officially-approved Russian and Romanian churches.

(why do I now see Bishop Gavin Ashenden in my mind's eye nodding in agreement?)
He recalled how, during his incarceration,
he had been asked whether he would like to become a bishop -
so that he could help to influence the World Council of Churches in "our" favour.

So if anyone knows Communism, The Soviets, as well as Socialism, on an intimate level...
it would be Richard Wurmbrand.

In his book "Was Karl Marx a Satanist", Wurmbrand does not merely make a case for such
a notion but rather states, after meticulous research,
that which is not conjecture but is rather a definitive fact.

And so the answer is yes.
And in turn, we now know that the father of communism and socialism was a practicing Satanist.
(Read the book in order to glimpse the known and little-known documentation which
details Marx's practicing involvement)

Ironically Marx was once an ardent Christian during his youth, but it at some point
during his time in college, there is a grave transformation.
One from a heartfelt warmth to a bitter unfeeling cold.

For time's sake, I will leave the reading and study to you for the details of the whys,
whens, and wheres---just know that Wurmbrand offers copious documentation.

Wurmbrand notes that "All active Satanists have ravaged personal lives.
This was the case with Marx, too."

Arnold Kunzli, in his book K. Marx--A Psychogram (1966), tells of this life,
which led to the suicide of two daughters and a son-n-law.
Three children died of malnutrition.
His daughter Laura, married to the socialist Laforgue, also buried three of her children.
Then she and her husband committed suicide together.
Another daughter Eleanor, decided with her husband to do the same.
She died.
He backed out in the last minute.
The families of Satanists are under a curse.

I find it interesting that in western civilization we are witnessing a resurgence, along
with a keen interest and desire, of and for all things 'ism' within our culture,
chief among them being that of Socialism

Socialism is the growing darling of the Democratic party...
a tantalizing trinket from Pandora's box no longer found in the outer fringes of the party
but rather a dangerous siren singing her alluring song while making headway deep
into the rooted elect.

And this rooted elect has little to no need for the tenents of a Judeo Christian society.

"exactly as Satanists do; unlike atheists, they do not deny the existence of God, except to deceive others;
they know of His existence but describe Him as wicked"

Am I saying that Socialists are Satanists?
No.
But what I am saying is that the birth of socialism, and that of her first cousin communism, has
their roots in the heart and mind of one man who embraced the darkness.

I would utter caution in this race to embrace the latest resurgence of isms in Western Civilization.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12

no shame…but where are we really?

“the age of self-afflicted shame, is over…”
Mike Pompeo

Our (latest) Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo was in Cairo this past week.
And depending on your choice of news coverage, you may or may not have heard much about his trip
or of the speech he made.

And depending on that news outlet you tend to watch, read or listen to…you might have
gotten some mixed signals.

And to be honest, I’d like to be able to say huzzah to his speech…but does Pompeo’s speech mirror
the full policy of the US?

That, I’m not sure.

Our President tells us we’re pulling out of Syria.
His Secretary of Defense, General Jim Mattis, has resigned.
Word is that they are at odds over such a decision.

I have really appreciated what I have read about General Mattis’ leadership—I even wrote
a post about the character behind General Mattis…the type of military leader you’d want
having charge over your own son or daughter.

Last evening I heard that Trump is the most popular Republican president, in well, ever.
And as I am a huge Reaganite, I had to go double check out that latest factoid and there does some
to be some validity to such a boast.

Not that I don’t support our President, I do…it’s just that I feel that we, as a Nation,
have entered a new era of something other than…other than who and what we use to be.
An era that I’m not fond of.

Socialistic Democrat is an oxymoron that I don’t think I care to wrap my brain around.

When the likes of Joe Lieberman is publically mocked and disrespected by a  new up and coming
young Democrat, we’ve got trouble worse than most millennials will sadly ever understand.

But one thing I can appreciate is the speech that Mike Pompeo offered in Cairo.

America is not a nation that apologizes for supporting various nations.
With Israel being one of those nations—the elephant in the room when it comes
to the United States and the Middle East.

Nor shall America excuse the Muslim world for its culpability for those
who, in the name of Islam, commit heinous crimes against humanity.

We did not excuse a fallen Nazi regime.
In fact, there was an allied trial holding those who remained, accountable for their actions…
despite the argument that they were merely the following orders of others.

Here is an excerpt of Secretary Pompeo’s speech.

I found it powerful and reminiscent of an America I once knew…
I suppose we’ll see what will follow…

“It was here, in this city, another American stood before you” and, “told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from ideology.”

Pompeo’s view is unequivocal and crystal clear: “America is a force for good in the Middle East.”
He didn’t even add the usual qualifiers about our historic imperfections.
Expect our adversaries abroad and snowflakes at home to be mighty upset at this moral clarity and self-confidence
from the greatest, freest country on Earth. Our real allies will love it.

Pompeo’s speech had three watershed components:

First, Pompeo made it clear that the chief focus of U.S. policy in the Middle East is thwarting Iran’s
dangerous and tyrannical ambitions.
While violent jihadist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda still exist and deserve our attention,
they are now a lesser threat.
Also, by condemning Obama’s decision to do nothing in 2009 and 2010 when Iranians took to the streets
to protest their oppressive regime, Pompeo opened the door to supporting Iran’s internal opposition.

Second, Pompeo specifically called out “radical Islamism” and condemned Obama for not doing so.
This is a refinement and extension of President Trump’s condemnation of “radical Islamic terrorism,”
which is the tactic that Islamists use when they go violent.

Far from semantics, this change from “Islamic terrorism” to “radical Islamism” means that finally,
40 years after Islamists took over Iran, 36 years after Islamists blew up our Marine barracks in Beirut,
and nearly 18 years after Islamists attacked us on 9/11,
we can clearly name the ideology that animates most of the problem actors in the Middle East.

In contrast to failed efforts to either spread American democracy or apologize for it,
this means we can rally all of those opposed to radical Islamism,
including monarchies and imperfect republics across the Middle East that oppose Islamist theocracy.
It means we can be clear about opposing not only terrorists like Al Qaeda,
but Islamist political groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.

Third, Pompeo outlined the Trump administration’s rigorous efforts at diplomacy across the Middle East,
which have contributed to radical change and unprecedented cooperation.
Pompeo disclosed that “Egypt, Oman, Kuwait and Jordan have all been instrumental in thwarting Iran’s
efforts to evade sanctions,” and lauded assistance from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

He added that “private companies in France, Germany, Britain and elsewhere have calculated
that enriching themselves through work with the regime is bad for business” –
a gentle and much-deserved slap at the governments of those fading allies
that have actively opposed getting tough on Iran.

Pompeo reminded the audience that last year,
“the Israeli national anthem played as an Israeli judo champion was crowned the winner
of a tournament in the UAE.”
This story and scores like it have been missed by our mainstream media.
American strength and moral clarity and fear about the threat from Iran are dissolving
old animosities and creating new alliances. We may actually see new Arab embassies in Israel.

Finally but crucially, Pompeo included a cautionary principle regarding what the U.S.
is willing to do in the Middle East.
Remarking about U.S. support he said: “But ‘assist’ is the key word.
We ask every peace-loving nation of the Middle East to shoulder new responsibilities for
defeating Islamist extremism.”

This is the fundamental essence of “America First.”
We will not apologize for America, we will stand up for our interests,
and we will cooperate with our allies as long as they are willing to share the burden
of preserving freedom.

Adding an additional touch of pragmatism, Pompeo condemned the Syrian tyrant Bashar Assad,
but cracked open the door to aiding postwar reconstruction if Assad kicks the
Iranian military out of Syria.

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/pompeo-at-site-of-obamas-address-to-muslim-world-rebukes-his-legacy-age-of-self-inflicted-american-shame-is-over

This is the plague with which the Lord will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem:
Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets,
and their tongues will rot in their mouths.
On that day people will be stricken by the Lord with great panic.

Zechariah 14: 12-13

Knight of the Holy Ghost

If there were no God, there would be no Atheists.
G.K. Chesterton

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him,
but because he loves what is behind him.”

G.K. Chesterton

Here we go again…another story in the form of another book has just appeared on the scene…
as if out of the blue, vying for my full attention…enticing me, luring me, practically
begging me to add it to the ever-growing pile of books.

The title is what caught my eye first.

“Knight of the Holy Ghost”
by Dale Ahlquist

I like the sound of that.
As in…I want to join!
I want to be a part of such an Order.

The book is about a familiar figure–well, familiar to me that is…

G. K. Chesterton.

Here is the into by the publisher for the book:

Who was Gilbert Keith Chesterton?
A rotund man in a cape brandishing a walking stick? Certainly.
A twentieth-century writer? Prolifically.
A great champion and defender of the Christian Faith? Gallantly.
He is known too as the “prince of paradox” and an “apostle of common sense.”
Chesterton has lately been enjoying a resurgence in popularity.
His name appears on blog posts and news articles alike.
His name is spoken more often on college campuses,
and schools around the United States are being named after him.

Who was this engaging, witty, prophetic man?
Allow Dale Ahlquist, the president of the American Chesterton Society, to introduce you to him.
In a rollicking adventure quite Chestertonian in flavor,
Ahlquist captains an expedition of discovery into who this GKC fellow is.
He deftly and cleverly explores Chesterton as a man, as a writer, and as a potential saint.

Those curious about Chesterton will have their initial questions answered.
Those who might be dubious about Chesterton’s reputation will be challenged to reconsider.
Those who consider Chesterton an old friend will be delighted.
All will be engaged by amusing anecdotes, plentiful quotations,
and a thoughtful study of the life of G. K. Chesterton.

And for those of you who don’t really know this larger than life individual and would like
a little more background other than an introduction to a new book…
I actually offered a taste of background a couple of months back in a previous post…

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2018/08/18/sanity-remains-despite-insanitys-fight-for-dominance/

“For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mr. Chesterton…Gilbert Keith to be exact,
Mr. Chesterton came into this world in 1874 in London and died in 1936 at his home
in Buckinghamshire, England.

He was a prolific writer, being considered by many, the greatest writer of the 20th century.
He never attended college however but rather opted to attend art school,
earning a degree in illustration.
Yet it was after being asked to contribute an essay on art criticism to a magazine that
his lifelong passion for writing and his career as a writer, would not stop until
his death at age of 62…
and yet it never really has stopped as his words live on most enthusiastically
to this day.

And it is due to his prolific writing that Mr. Chesterton remains as current and
as relevant as he did at the turn of the century…that being the turn of the 19th
to the 20th century.

It was actually from the writings of Chesterton that lead a young atheist by the name
of C.S. Lewis to conversion to Christianity…
but Chesterton first would have to come to conversion himself.

Born of Unitarian parents, as a young man Chesterton and his brother veered toward a
fascination with the occult and that of Qujia Boards…as this was a time of cultural
interest in such…a time when seances were all the rage and much in vogue with most of
cultured society.

Intellectualism and science were both coming into their own as Christianity was
being seen as the stuff of fables and fairy tales as well as too stringent for
those seeking to dabble in all things ‘other than’…
for this was an age of enlightenment.

Chesterton credits his wife Frances, who he married in 1901, with actually leading
him back to the fold of believers.
They became members of the Anglican Church…yet Chesterton would refer to
Anglicanism as a “pale imitation” and eventually joined the Catholic Church in 1922.

It was at this point that Chesterton became what many consider to be one of the
staunchest of all times apologists for the Christian Faith.

Chesterton was equally blessed with the gift of gab and debated the likes of
H.G. Wells, Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell, and Clarence Darrow and not only
lived to tell about it but was considered to be the victor of each debate leading
George Bernard Shaw to proclaim that “the world is not thankful enough for Chesterton.”

And so as I read today’s quote, I found it amazingly instep and even quite timely.

In fact, reading the quote and not knowing it was from Chesterton,
I would have thought any ardent
Christian living today might have said such.”

That quote was:
“For at present we all tend to one mistake; we tend to make politics too important.
We tend to forget how huge a part of a man’s life is the same under a Sultan and a Senate,
under Nero or St. Louis.
Daybreak is a never-ending glory,
getting out of bed is a never-ending nuisance;
food and friends will be welcomed;
work and strangers must be accepted and endured;
birds will go bedwards and children won’t,
to the end of the last evening.”

—G.K. Chesterton
from the essay What’s Right with the World

It was when I read the Chesterton quote that I recalled having recently
come across the verse from Lamentations…

My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

Lamentations 3:20-24

I closed out that post with the following words…words that were only written back
in August…yet words still applicable today given the on-going political tit for tat…

So given Mr. Chesterton’s words regarding our tendency to take politics
(and our current state of events) way too seriously,
of which is oh so easy to do with one click of a button, it is a deep comfort
to see those long-standing words still there, still consistent, still constant…
a reminder that despite our dire current state of affairs,
the Lord remains my portion as my hope rests only in Him…

So yes, I think a Knight of the Holy Ghost is truly in order—someone we certainly need
…one who will fight for the Truth of the One True God while
rallying the troops to rise above this worldly madness.

One more book to add to the pile….

Lifeline

I think of prayer as a spiritual lifeline back to where I most want to be.

Marianne Williamson

(US Sailor Petty Officer First Class Joe George / Photo: George-Taylor family / Speical for The Republic)

(****for some bizarre reason, the post I wrote yesterday and attempted to post
via my phone this morning did not post in its entirety.
I’ve had to delete it and go back in to find what I had last written and saved.
I’ve cut, paste and fixed the original post intended…which you will see here…)

Last night with the television on, while the news played on in the background
as some sort of mindless white noise,
I was perched on the couch with my trusty little laptop in my lap.
I was struggling with my ponderings.

I didn’t know what to write.

What was to be the next day’s post??

Time, or the lack thereof, has been such an issue so being short, sweet and concise
seemed essential.

Suddenly, a familiar voice caught my attention, pulling me back to the moment.
The voice was that of Gary Sinise and it was coming from a trailer for a new story coming
to PBS.

As most folks know, Gary Sinise is most remembered for his iconic role as Lt Dan
in the movie Forrest Gump.

I was not a fan of the movie.

I found it just way too silly and bordering on stupid.

Sure there was that hoped-for lesson at the end of unconditional love, but I just
wasn’t won over by the attempt.

However, my appreciation for Gary Sinise runs deep and comes from his tireless work for
and with veterans along with and for their families.
He actually oversees a foundation that focuses on our veterans, first responders
and their families…

At the Gary Sinise Foundation, we serve our nation by honoring our defenders,
veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.
We do this by creating and supporting unique programs designed to entertain, educate,
inspire, strengthen, and build communities.
Freedom and security are precious gifts that we, as Americans, should never take
for granted.
We must do all we can to extend our hand in times of need to those who willingly
sacrifice each day to provide that freedom and security.
While we can never do enough to show gratitude to our nation’s defenders,
we can always do a little more.
-gary sinise

So now it seems that there is a new documentary coming to PBS about Pearl Harbor.

The trailer is narrated by Gary Sinise.

The story is about the heroism of an unsung naval roughneck and boxer,
Naval Petty Officer First Class Joe George.

With only seconds to make a life-altering decision, to defy or not to defy the orders given
by his commanding officer, a 26-year-old Petty Officer George unwittingly turned hero.

It was within those few seconds of wavering that meant the saving of 6 men who
were caught on the burning USS Arizona, men who without the quick thinking and action
of Joe George, would have all burned alive–
right in front of the eyes of this young sailor.

However, despite his selfless act, Petty Officer George was never recognized for
his action of heroism nor was he to ever talk about what happened that
fateful December 7th day…
not until very late in his life did he verbally recall a very visceral nightmare.

Fast forward to our current day.

Joe George passed away in 1996, at the age of 81, but that did not stop efforts to
bring a long overdue recognition to a man who was never acknowledged as the one man
who made the difference between life and death for the lives of the last living
6 men on the USS Arizona on that horrific Sunday, December 7, 1941.

PBS will be airing his story.

President Donald Trump posthumously awarded the Bronze Medal of Valor to George’s
daughter in 2017.
The ceremony took place on the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii–it was the first
time a medal ceremony had ever taken place at the Memorial.

But there would never have been a ceremony or a PBS story had not two of the
surviving 6 men, who now in their mid to upper 90’s, made it their mission to
make certain that Petty Officer George was recognized for saving their lives
as well as for his actions of bravery and heroism.

In a previous article written in an Arizona newspaper, the story ran that,
“Donald Stratton, 94, and Lauren Bruner, 96, will go to Washington, D.C.,
next month and hope to meet with lawmakers,
Navy officials and representatives from the White House.

Their goal is to secure a posthumous award for the sailor, Joe George.

“He should have the Navy Cross,” Stratton told The Arizona Republic last year.
“He saved six people’s lives. Joe saved six lives and he didn’t get crap.”

https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-best-reads/2017/06/05/honors-forgotten-hero-uss-arizona-survivors-take-their-case-washington/364303001/

Their decades-long efforts were finally acknowledged when Petty Officer Joe George
was officially honored by the Navy and the US Government on December 7, 2017…
76 years after the very day he risked everything for his fellow sailors.

The story is full of the providence of God’s hand.

George had been confined to his to repair ship which was tethered to the
USS Arizona there at the Pearl Harbor docks…

Had George not gotten into trouble the day prior for brawling in town,
he would not have been on the repair ship, confined to quarters.

He would not have seen those last 6 men stranded on the deck of a ship engulfed
in flames.

With the final bomb dropped, engulfing the Arizona in a massive fireball,
had George not defied the orders given to cut the tether, he would
have left those 6 men to perish in the flames joining the other 1177 men
who perished on that ship that life-changing day in 1941.

Instead, he managed to throw another rope 70 feet to the stranded men, who quickly
tied it off and began the hand over hand climb from the burning and sinking
death trap to the safety of the repair ship.

Once the men were safely aboard, the tether was cut allowing the repair ship
to slip away unharmed from the dying Arizona.

Stratton and Bruner both acknowledge that George saved much more than 6 men.
He saved the lives of the children and the grandchildren and the
great-grandchildren that would grow from those 6 men.

Generations of families now exist because of the bravery of one man.

Stories of men like Petty Officer Joe George are so important.

They remind us of what was.
They remind us of what we can be.
They remind us how fortunate we are and just how much we owe to one another,
our fellow human beings.

They remind us, a currently hate-filled and divided people,
that we are better together then we are separate.

To forget such stories, allowing them to slip away into the fog of the past
is not an option.

We are who we are because of who they were.

I somehow doubt that many of our current day, angst-ridden, hate-filled,
angry progressive liberal culture understands the gravity of the actions of men
like Petty Officer Joe George nor of the lasting impact such actions have had
on our own lives today.

If we opt to ignore and forget our past, we are bound to repeat our mistakes.

https://www.foxnews.com/shows/the-story

http://www.wwiifoundation.org/films/sinise/

https://www.aptonline.org/offer/LIFELINE-PEARL-HARBOR-S-UNKNOWN-HERO

https://www.nps.gov/valr/learn/historyculture/joe-george.htm

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:12-13

the secular stealing the Sacred

As a survivor of the Communist Holocaust I am horrified to witness how my
beloved America, my adopted country, is gradually being transformed into a
secularist and atheistic utopia, where communist ideals are glorified and
promoted, while Judeo-Christian values and morality are ridiculed and
increasingly eradicated from the public and social consciousness of our nation.
Under the decades-long assault and militant radicalism of many so-called
“liberal” and “progressive” elites, God has been progressively erased from
our public and educational institutions, to be replaced with all manner of
delusion, perversion, corruption, violence, decadence, and insanity.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn


(vintage Christmas Card)

About a week back or so, I wrote a post about the fact that we actually have two
Christmases…with the truth being that we do…we do have two.

And in turn, we have what seems to be a melding.

One is the secular Christmas of Santa, presents, stockings, commercialism and merchandising.

The other, of which is the original of the two, is the Christmas of a birth.

A birth that isn’t just any kind of birth…but rather it’s the birth of
a Savior…the birth of the Sacred.

So now that we have all of that clear—I should let you know that I have always tried hard
to keep the two separated yet at the same time, trying to keep them as one.

I think that chore is more of a burden that is not merely my burden alone…
but rather a burden that most Christians have struggled with…that being
the balance of the Sacred and secular.

And it seems as if, every year about this time, I jump on a tiny soapbox pontificating this
same ol conundrum…
And every year I tell myself, enough is enough.
I won’t get sucked in…not again.

There’s a lot of work to do for our secular side.
And it’s really a great deal of busy, and even expensive, sort of work.
And oh how we stress over it all.

We fret over the tiniest of details.
We strive for perfection while always falling short as we are then made to feel as if
we did not live up to the expectation our culture has put upon us.

But let’s be honest, we really put it on ourselves do we not?
If put another way, we actually “allow” it to make us feel as if we have not lived
up to the perfection….
However, me thinks there is something more going on here, more than meets the eye…

It’s actually something which many would consider near criminal…
A crime that is actually taking place in plain sight—
yet none of us appears to be any the wiser.

It is the stealing of the Sacred by the secular.

Yep, you read correctly.

The secular is, or certainly is trying, to steal the Sacred.

Yet here’s the thing…we are allowing it to happen.
We are complicit.
We are falling hook, line, and sinker— while all throughout this theft, we’re being dupped.

It is in our defense, that I state for the record, that we are being hoodwinked.
We are being lulled into this crime of complicity by the shiny lights and sounds
of the slick merchandising of the season that now ramps up sometime after July 4th.

So this year, my one small “rebellion” against complicity…

I opted not to send out Christmas cards.

At first, it was going to be the lights.
Then it was the tree, the gifts, the cooking, the decorating….see what I’m saying??
we’re living on an out of control fast rolling snowball turned avalanche.

Every year, early in the Fall, I’d seek out my Christmas Cards.
I did not take the task lightly.

When our son was little, ours was the basic card of a small family wishing
A Merry Christmas to all.
It was always a photo type card of our little boy with a Christmas Greeting from
all three of us.

Yet as time passed and he grew to be a young man versus that of a little boy, I shifted our
card focus from the greeting of a family through the image of their child to now
a card of only the Sacred.

A religious card that proclaimed the birth of a Savior.

It was not to be one of those types of cards with pictures of the whole family at the beach,
or on some exotic trip or some sort of montage of family feats and accomplishments…
nor was it to be one of those letter types of card that is a laundry a list of who, what
and where of the great and grand.

I understand that the simple sacrificial Christmas card morphed into becoming a surrogate
form of communication…
It became the equivalent of filling in the gaps of a year without having touched base
with the list of names on a list.

The Christmas card turned into the catch-up of life, liberally spiked with a heavy dose
of grandstanding.

It became the litany of a brag sheet of trips, events, accomplishments, and milestones…
Nothing about Christmas…that being Christ’s mass.

Nothing about Christ even being hidden in the details of that spectacular vacation to Machu Pichu
or your eldest now graduating top of her class.

Where is Jesus in the tales of where you went, who you saw, or what you accomplished?
Are there any thoughts or reflections regarding your service to Him or his sheep?

I don’t mind the images of the little children or even those of grandchildren as children
seem to be the connecting glue between the Sacred and the secular…
it is the children…or so that is what it should be.
The Sacred is that of a child and the secular is that of collective children.
Or so it was to be…
Innocence and the mystical mixed with the gift of Sacred birth.

So I figured…I’d send out my card here instead.
Just one big card for friends, family, and even strangers…

And since I would have sent them out by now, I figured I should do so here today.

So I offer you this lovely Italian baroque time period painting of the Nativity–also known
as the Adoration with Saints Francis and Lawrence…
a beautiful image for reflection and proclamation.

Yet it is a painting by the Italian artist Caravaggio—commissioned in 1609 as an altarpiece
for an oratory in Palermo, Sicily, the Oratorio di San Lorenzo…
A painting with a mysterious past, painted by a rogue of a painter…

It would be centuries following its completion that the painting would be
quietly taken by two men working for the Mafia and in turn
it would be “lost” for nearly 40 years.

A painting of the Sacred, painted by one who was anything but…
A painting that was stolen by those who were perhaps even worse than the artist…

Thus we have an example of the secular literally stealing an image of the Sacred….hummmm

(here’s a little link to the backstory behind the painting and artitst…I’ve written
about Caravaggio before…a very secular rogue of an artist who could paint oh so powerfully
the of the Sacred in a way unmatched by many other artists…one of my favs…
http://art-crime.blogspot.com/2009/12/breaking-news-on-stolen-caravaggio.html )

May we all be blessed as we recall the Sacred birth of Salvation…


The Adoration / Nativity with St. Francis and St Lawrence / Caravaggio 1609)

Wise men still blessedly seek and know…

“God desires to reveal His heart to us and to build His heart
into us as we seek His face.”

Bill Mills

Something I learned this past week that I didn’t know,
is that as soon as a President becomes President, the planning for his death and funeral
is set in motion.

Being President is such a huge role that it seems that it doesn’t matter when you leave the office—
not nearly as much as it does as when you leave this life.

Shortly after taking the helm, President 41 was approached by his aides that he would need
to sit down in order to write up his final wishes for his funeral service…
orchestrate it, if you will, down to every last detail.

Here he was just settling into the new job and when he’s told he needs to focus on his death.

An odd paradox to any new president to be sure.

Reluctantly President 41 agreed but forlornly mused that he doubted anyone would be
showing up.

He wasn’t being self-deprecating for show…he honestly thought no one would really
want to show up for such a thing as his funeral.

I admit– I hate funerals.
I attend them only if it is absolutely necessary.

I think that goes back to when I was 7 and my grandfather died unexpectantly.
I was crushed because he was so great, so grand, so special…so mine…
So when he died, I had to grow up fast enough to be a “big” girl throughout his
death and funeral.
I next had to witness the very visible downward spiral of my grandmother shortly following…

It was a hard time for a 7-year old little girl who adored her grandparents.

I’ve never cared for funerals since.

I buried my cousin, who was my best friend when I was 21; my mother when I was 26;
my grandmother when I was 26; my other grandmother when I was 29; my brother when I was 35;
my dad when I was 58; my aunt when I 58…
that doesn’t count the numerous friends and colleagues I’ve helped bury nor that of my
husband’s family…it just never seems to end.

So I can understand the reluctance in having to sit down and plan such a thing when such
thoughts seem to need to rest on a back shelf someplace else…
at least for just a little while longer.

I suppose the sense of urgency for a president to plan his own funeral may have come
from the assassination of a youthful John F. Kennedy.
I’ve not researched this so I could be wrong…it may actually go back much further than that
but I just figure after JFK, the suddenness of death didn’t seem so far removed after all.

Yet over the course of this seemingly long week of somberness and grief, I have
actually been sweetly blessed.
I have learned some important lessons.

Lessons such as… allowing one’s life, rather than ones’ words, to be the true witness of
how to live and of how to treat others.

I’ve learned how to be a servant.

I’ve learned how to be gracious in all circumstances.

I’ve learned how humor cures.

I’ve learned the importance of always being gracious and humble.

I’ve learned that there is hope in death.

I’ve learned that age is just a number.

I’ve learned that physical limitations should not be seen as a limitation to living but
rather as an opportunity.

And I’ve learned that as we grow older, we do indeed grow wiser.
Or so should be our hope.

We lose the smugness and arrogance of a more youthful self and we realize that there
are things that are truly greater than ourselves.

I watched many an older gentleman, this past week, speak of a dear old friend in terms
of a knowingness.

These men, most of whom hail from “the Greatest Generation”…
men who were once important and powerful, speak now of their smallness compared to the greatness
of their Creator, their Savior, their God…
He who is much greater than themselves.

I heard them speak of God and His greatness as well as His graciousness.
I heard them speak of humility and lessons learned.

These are men who lived large lives and yet remained grounded.

I told a blogging friend this past week that every time one more member of this Greatest
Generation dies, I feel a little less safe and little less secure.

That was until I heard and saw the visible lessons offered by our 41st president and those
who knew him best…throughout a life well lived and through a slow dying
of which ended with love and grace.

The reflection of a parish priest who witnessed the 60 plus years of a loving friend stroke
the feet of his dying friend.
Of how the President seemed to have slipped into that place between life and death
as those who gathered around him waited.

Yet James Baker stood at the foot of the bed and rubbed the feet of his friend and who
in turn, with eyes closed and no words spoken, smiled.

The priest thought of Jesus who after all had been said and done that Passover evening,
proceeded to wash the feet of his dear friends.

This oh so divided Nation that is rife with its fair share of smugness, arrogance, defiance,
and yes, even hate…a Nation I have been so fretful over…

Well, it was throughout this week that I was reminded that we are capable of being better
when we are needed to be.
We can rise above when necessary…

And so my friends, it is that time…it is the time that we hold ourselves accountable.
We must be wise and not foolish.
As it is imperative that we remember that there is something, Someone, so much greater
than ourselves.

He is our Creator and we are his created and it is time that we seek His grace.

“His mission was not his own”

“His mission was not his own”
Words shared by The Rev Russell J. Levenson Jr
during his eulogy of his friend and parishioner, President G.H.W.Bush


(18 year old Lt George H.W.Bush in naval uniform)

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you came out on the other side
wondering how in the world you made it through?
How you survived and made it out alive?
Or more likely that you fared better than those around you?

Have you ever found yourself wondering or even lamenting “why me?”

Why me Lord?
Why was I spared and they weren’t?
Why did I win when I shouldn’t have–
knowing that someone else should have won?
Why was I so fortunate, or so lucky, and why were “they” not?

These can be haunting questions for anyone.
They can be a life’s curse or a life’s blessing.

For there is a great responsibility to whom much is given.
(Luke 12:48)

And life, for those who have had near brushes with death, know all too well, that
life suddenly becomes a tremendous responsibility.

Yet such a question as ‘why me’ can be particularly haunting
for one so young. For one who actually stares at death and yet surprisingly,
is allowed to walk away when others were not.

We have seen this in wars and sadly in recent terror attacks and mass shootings.

And it just so happened that this very overwhelming life issue of ‘why me’ actually
happened for a newly turned 20-year-old boy who found
himself alone in a small rubber yellow life raft, bobbing up and down in the middle of
the Pacific Ocean after having baled out of a burning airplane…
coming to the stalk revelation that he’d been spared while his friends had not.

This same “why me” question came up three times Wednesday during the funeral of our
41st president, George H. W. Bush.

First, the question was raised by Jon Meacham, the famed author, and presidential historian.
He painted the scene vividly as only such a gifted writer could.
A young naval pilot and his crew taking off from a Navy aircraft carrier with a bombing mission
on the docket.
They were to take out a Japanese radio tower on a tiny Pacific island.

“Shortly after dawn on Saturday, September 2, 1944, Lieutenant Junior Grade
George Herbert Walker Bush, joined by two crew mates,
took off from the USS San Jacinto to attack a radio tower on Chichijima.

As they approached the target, the air was heavy with flack.
The plane was hit.
Smoke filled the cockpit; flames raced across the wings.
“My god,” Lieutenant Bush thought,
“this thing’s gonna go down.”
Yet he kept the plane in its 35-degree dive, dropped his bombs, and then roared off out to sea,
telling his crew mates to hit the silk.
Following protocol, Lieutenant Bush turned the plane so they could bail out.

Only then did Bush parachute from the cockpit.
The wind propelled him backward, and he gashed his head on the tail of the plane
as he flew through the sky.
He plunged deep into the ocean, bobbed to the surface,
and flopped onto a tiny raft.
His head bleeding, his eyes burning, his mouth and throat raw from salt water,
the future 41st President of the United States was alone.

Sensing that his men had not made it, he was overcome.
He felt the weight of responsibility as a nearly physical burden.
And he wept.
Then, at four minutes shy of noon, a submarine emerged to rescue the downed pilot.
George Herbert Walker Bush was safe.
The story, his story and ours, would go on by God’s grace.

Through the ensuing decades, President Bush would frequently ask,
nearly daily— “why me?
Why was I spared?”

Next in line during this service, this looming question was raised by the former
Canadian Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney who also eulogized his former world leader compatriot
and more importantly, his dear friend.

Mulroney opened his verbal tribute to his friend by asking those in attendance if they could
remember what they were doing just after their 20th birthday.

Most should remember the joy and gaiety found in the passing a milestone—
that being the leaving behind of the tumultuous teenage years as they were
now standing on the great periphery of adulthood.

And yet I wonder as to how many of us know that at 20, one is more child than adult?

Mulroney shared that as he had just turned 20, he was working as a laborer in the outskirts
of Quebec while still living at home and thankfully enjoying his mother’s cooking.

All the while his one-day dear friend was bleeding and clinging to life in a liferaft
out in the middle of the Pacific ocean weeping “why me??”

For a third time this somber day of a State funeral, another speaker addressed the question…
“Why me?”

This time the speaker was President Bush 41’s parish priest,
The Rev. Bruce Levenson who once again raised the question but who rather matter of factly
gave us the answer.

Father Levenson explained that “his mission was not his own.”

His mission was not his own.

It was other than and much more than that liferaft bobbing up and down in the
ocean…

Yet that is not to say that the lives of his comrades at arms on that fateful day
were any less important.
Any less than, as some might think with such a response to such a question.
That somehow, they were simply “allowed” to die while young George was allowed to live.
The issue of allowance is not to be the issue here nor are we to be recipients of such
deep knowledge.

For God uses our lives and our deaths to extend far beyond our simple understanding.

It is the ripples that reverberate outward from the dropped stone in the pond.

The ‘why me’ questions that have been asked by countless individuals who have lived to tell of
another day all live with a tremendous burden of guilt and a tremendous burden of responsibility.

Father Levenson, James Baker, Al Simpson, Brian Mulroney and even son George H. Bush
each reminded us that a day did not pass in George Herbert Walker Bush’s life that he did
not ask that question…nor not feel the heavy responsibility.

He either asked the question audibly or silently…but he asked none the less each and every day.

I am reminded of the 1946 Christmas Classic It’s a Wonderful Life.

The entire premise of the movie, for Jimmy Stewart’s character George (so aptly named),
was what would life have been without him. How in turn would the lives of those who
were a part of his own life turn out without a George Bailey to interact with them?

One dark and lonely Christmas eve night so long ago, George was inches away from ending his
own life, by jumping into an icy cold river.
Yet God needed to give George a wake-up call.
He still needed George to do some important things.

Much like in the real-life story of a young George Bush…God still needed
for him to do some things.

Now I can’t say that all such stories have happy endings.
Nor can I say that all spared lives seem to turn out better than imagined.
So why George H. W. Bush?

That is the question remaining for all those lives that have been affected,
touched and even created because of him to ponder…as well as those of
us who have been directly or indirectly affected by his actions, choices,
legislation as well as leadership to ponder…

Yet the one thing that I do know…the same thing that President Bush knew…
is that God will have has His ways.

Ways that elude us.
Ways that often frustrate us, but they are His ways and His alone none the less.

What President Bush learned, one of life’s most important answers, was that his life,
his mission was indeed not his own…
it was God’s.

That we should all bend our ways to be His ways…

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!
You have been faithful with a few things;
I will put you in charge of many things.
Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Matthew 25:23