Memento mori

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

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


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

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

In a quick nutshell:

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

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

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

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

(Wikipedia)

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

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

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

And this is where the write up comes into play.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Detachment from the world.

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

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

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

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

Romans 8:1-5

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

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

C.S. Lewis

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

Mark Twain


(historyhit.com

You see this picture of Winston Churchill?

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

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

And here we see another picture…


(AP photo 1959)

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

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

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

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

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

An embarkation for the betterment of the free world.

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

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

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

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

Problems that consist more of want rather than need.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I got to thinking…

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

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

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

According to Investopedia.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think I know the answer…

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

Galatians 5:13

THE LION OF MÜNSTER…we need more lions

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

Bishop von Galen


((c) Redmich/Thinkstock)

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

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

Yep, a lion.

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

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

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

His name was Archbishop Clemens August Graf von Galen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A servant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revelation 5:1-5

what has “he” done now?????

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

James Baldwin


(a card dating from 1918)

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

Bewilderment mixed with frustration mixed with resignation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wonder how Harry and Meghan would feel about that?

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

Sigh.

Vive la France, Vive la liberté

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

we are better than this

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

George Washington

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


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

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

George Washington

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

George Washington

mystery

“Love is an endless mystery, because there is no reasonable cause that could explain it.”
Rabindranath Tagore

(Moses by Michelangelo / Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli /Rome / Julie Cook 2018)

“A sculptor who wishes to carve a figure out of a block uses his chisel,
first cutting away great chunks of marble, then smaller pieces,
until he finally reaches a point where only a brush of hand is needed
to reveal the figure. In the same way, the soul has to undergo
tremendous mortifications at first, and then more refined detachments,
until finally its Divine image is revealed.
Because mortification is recognized as a practice of death,
there is fittingly inscribed on the tomb of Duns Scotus**, Bis Mortus; Semel Sepultus
(twice died, but buried only once).
When we die to something, something comes alive within us.
If we die to self, charity comes alive;
if we die to pride, service comes alive;
if we die to lust, reverence for personality comes alive;
if we die to anger, love comes alive.”

Fulton J. Sheen, p. 219
An Excerpt From
Peace of Soul
(**John Duns OFM, commonly called Duns Scotus, was a Scottish Catholic priest
and Franciscan friar, university professor, philosopher, and theologian.
He is one of the three most important philosopher-theologians of
Western Europe in the High Middle Ages, together with
Thomas Aquinas and William of Ockham. Wikipedia)

So the other day I posted one of my more short and sweet offerings…
When time is scarce, I rely on a good picture and a couple,
of what I think to be, pointed quotes.
Most often the quotes offered are by the Saints, Christian theologians,
Christian authors and or Christian mystics.

And so it was on a recent day when I posted a quote by C. S. Lewis:
“In the old days, when there was less education and discussion,
perhaps it was possible to get on with a very few simple ideas about God.
But it is not so now. Everyone reads, everyone hears things discussed.
Consequently, if you do not listen to Theology,
that will not mean that you have no ideas about God.
It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones—bad,
muddled, out-of-date ideas. For a great many of the ideas about God
which are trotted out as novelties today are simply
the ones which real Theologians tried centuries ago and rejected.”

C. S. Lewis, p. 155
An Excerpt From
Mere Christianity

that I received the following comment:

“In the old days, when there was less education and discussion,”

This was true in regards to both theological and knowledge of everything
but I believe that is the only part the great writer Lewis got
right in this quote.

Theology has not changed, the stories and traditions are basically
exactly the same today but likely more complicated than when they
were created but the general knowledge of our world has
increased dramatically.

We have the massive advancement in both scientific knowledge
and increased educational opportunities that have accumulated mostly
over the last two hundred years, this has cost all religions dearly
in a decline of power especially in first world industrialised countries.

As there is now more freedom of thought there are answers
that explain what we experience in the light of reality without
any supernatural input.

Well, I’ve not had a chance to respond to this particular commenter but
thought I could maybe take a little time now in order to do so…

The picture above is a marble statue carved using the famed Carrara marble
of Carrara, Italy. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrara_marble)

The statue was carved by the famed Italian artist Michelangelo…
a statue of Moses that was to adorn the one-day tomb of Pope Julius II.

Pope Julius and Michelangelo had quite the love-hate relationship.
It was this same Pope that sent his guards to bring back the
run-away artist who tried to skip out on his Sistine Chapel project…
but I digress.

Isn’t this just an amazing piece of craftsmanship?
Do you see the veins and tendons in the muscular arm of Moses?


(Julie Cook / 2018)


(Julie Cook 2018)

When I was in Girl Scouts, we were given a bar of soap and were to use our
trusty Girl Scout knife in order to carve something out of the soap.

Despite my grandiose hopes of carving out a bear, I think I managed to
have a whittled pile of soap shavings.

So to be able to see something in a massive chunk of rock and to then,
with only hands, hammer and chisel–with no modern electric or technological
assistance in order to bring forth “life” is, to me, simply amazing.

It is a gift.
Not a rote learned skill…
Now whereas it does indeed take skill to be such a craftsman,
it also takes much more.
It takes vision…seeing that which lies within…
And it also takes something that borders upon the mystical.

Life breathed into a handful of dust….

So our friend’s comment today speaks of both knowledge and understanding.
Noting that each one has more or less come steamrolling in within the
last 200 some odd years…but I dare say it all really took off during
the day’s of Michelangelo…the age of the Renaissance…
and by gosh, it hasn’t dared stop to look back.
Think the Age of Reason…the Age of Enlightenment…
The Industrial Revolution…Post Modernism, Post Christianity…

Whereas we greatly pride our 21st century selves on our breadth,
depth and scope of knowledge…there are, contrary to popular belief,
a few truths that remain…despite man’s dire
attempts to counter it all with his / her hubris and arrogance.

“Supernatural input” our friend notes.

Yet, despite the argument that we are so advanced and now know
all there is to know, there actually remain certain truths…

Take Biology for instance…
I would think Biology is one said truth.

Male.
Female.
Egg.
Sperm.
Conception.
Birth.
Life.
Death.

And yet, therein lies the mystery.

Conception / birth / life / death…

Sure there are miscues and misfires.

There are anomalies.
There are exceptions
There are mysteries.

But that does not diminish the truth.

Male.
Female.
Conception.
Birth.
Life.
Death.

Our friend speaks of a “freedom of thought giving way to answers that explain
what we experience in light of our reality…”

Hummmm.

Thought does not necessarily equate to reality…does it?

This particular individual speaks of the supernatural no longer being necessary…
but if it is “super” as well as natural…then is that not a mystery in itself?
That which remains rooted in that of the unknown?

And so as I consider today’s quote by Archbishop Fulton Sheen,
I marvel.
Our lives are not so readily written off as compartmentalized
reason now are they?

“When we die to something, something comes alive within us.
If we die to self, charity comes alive;
if we die to pride, service comes alive;
if we die to lust, reverence for personality comes alive;
if we die to anger, love comes alive…”

a little slide of hand…


(27 Feb 1926, Sat The Richmond Item (Richmond, Indiana) Newspapers.com)

I caught a rather interesting story yesterday offered on Newspapers.com regarding
the great escape artist, Harry Houdini.

I thought I might offer the story here as it makes for a nice
diversion from our current headlines.
It offers a snippet of interesting history while touching
on the political climate of Houdini’s time.

For a little bit of background on Houdini, for those unfamiliar with
this early 20th century entertainer, I did a little digging.

According to Wikipedia, Houdini, whose birth name was Erik Weisz
and whose father was a Rabbi, was born in Hungry in 1874.
The family immigrated to the US in 1878, calling Wisconsin home before
eventually moving to New York.

As a young boy, Erich (the family adopted the German spelling upon
immigrating to the US) developed a love running cross country
as well as becoming a trapeze artist.

Young Erich would go on to become a professional magician,
changing his name to Harry Houdini after the French magician
Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdinthe.

Houdini would eventually become America’s favorite escape artist,
illusionist, stunt performer and mysteriarch.
He was a Vaudeville favorite and eventually performed globally.

Contrary to popular belief, Houdini did not die from a stunt gone awry,
but rather from peritonitis from a ruptured appendix at the age of 52.

It is speculated that the ruptured appendix may have originated from
a man who had come to Houdini’s dressing room prior to a performance and
repeatedly hit Houdini in the abdomen.

Houdini often boasted that he had an extreme tolerance to being hit
in the abdomen.
This curious man took Houdini at his word by repeatedly hitting him.
Houdini abruptly had the man stop, explaining that he had not
braced himself appropriately for the blows.

Within a few days of the hitting incident and having suffered severe pain
since the man’s punches, Houdini began running a fever.
He was taken to a local hospital where he was diagnosed with a
ruptured appendix.

To add to the mystique of Houdini,
he was known to be a practicing Freemason.

Fast foward to the roaring ’20’s.

America, as well as much of Europe, had become fascinated with
all things of the supernatural.
Mystics, fortune tellers, snake oil doctors, Mediums and seances had become all
the rage.

Intriguing entertainment and fun parlor tricks yet there was
something much more alarming and even deeper than mere entertainment.

Many people longed to reconnect with those loved one who had “passed
over to the other side.”
Those who had lost loved ones who were sorely pressed to hear from
those lost loved ones—longing to hear from them just one more time
would cling to every word offered by a “Medium”—a person who
could connect to the nonliving.

Houdini, who prided himself on his professionalism, was hard pressed
to expose those who were profiting off the emotions of the bereft—
as well as those who were casting a doubtful light on Houdini’s craft.

Houdini boldly brought this issue before Congress as he wanted to have
a federal law created against those working under the guise as mediums
while profiting falsely from the emotions of those who were hurting…

As part of Houdini’s crusade against fraudulent mediums,
two congressmen (Senator Royal S. Copeland and Representative Sol Bloom)
sponsored an amendment to a Washington DC law that would essentially
ban fortune telling in DC.
The proposal was met with stiff resistance from the spiritualist community,
who charged that it would infringe on their right to religious freedom.

Houdini had hired a small army of ‘detectives’ working to uncover the
imposters and hucksters.
One of his most ardent ‘detectives’ was a 34 year old named Rose Mackenberg.

And so during the congressional hearing “the biggest bombshell of
the hearing—at least as far as the news media was concerned—
was dropped by Mackenberg herself.

Prior to the May hearings,
Houdini had sent his undercover investigators, including Mackenberg,
to visit suspected phony mediums in DC and gather evidence against them.
During her testimony, Mackenberg alleged that two spiritualists
had independently divulged that a number of their clients
were U.S. senators, and she even went so far as to reveal the names of
four of those senators while on the stand.

But most shocking of all, Mackenberg testified that one of the mediums,
Jane Coates, had boasted that seances had been held in the White House,
with President Coolidge and his family present.”

So it seems that maybe we should have exorcized the White House years ago
and maybe we wouldn’t be having the problems we’re having today…
but of course I digress…

Here is a link to the story…it makes for some interesting reading…
enjoy the diversion…

https://blog.newspapers.com/astonishing-adventures-of-houdinis-favorite-detective/

civilization run amuck…Lord have mercy

In the space between chaos and shape there was another chance.”
Jeanette Winterson, The World and Other Places: Stories

looters 2

Images of looters ransacking Neiman Marcus in San Francisco

“Instead of Gnostics, we have Existentialists and God-is-dead theologians,
instead of Neo-Platonists, devotees of Zen, instead of desert hermits,
heroin addicts and Beats (who also, oddly enough,
seem averse to washing), instead of mortification of the flesh,
sado-masochistic pornography; as for our public entertainments,
the fare offered by television is still a shade less brutal
than that provided by the Amphitheatre, but only
a shade and may not be so for long.”

W.H. Auden, The Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Essays, Volume III

Hear our prayers oh Lord

Not too long ago nor too far away

“As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too.
Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action:
you liberate a city by destroying it.
Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will
solemnly vote against their own interests.”

Gore Vidal

“Political correctness is going to kill American liberalism if it
is not fought to the death by people like me for the dangers
it represents to free speech, to the exchange of ideas,
to openheartedness, or to the spirit of art itself.
Political correctness has a stranglehold on academia,
on feminism, and on the media.
It is a form of both madness and maggotry.”

Pat Conroy, My Reading Life

Not too long ago nor too far away…there was once a high school teacher.

Now for the purpose of this story, we should note that this teacher was
actually older…that being toward the end of her career verses
being at the beginning…for she was but a mere babe when she began
teaching…this story takes place long past that baby beginning.

So let’s put this teacher, say, at about the age of 50.

She had taught at the same school going on for nearly three decades,
which made her a bit of an institution within an institution.

Still viable and loved but just older and wiser.

During her years spent at this school, this teacher had watched as pay phones
and office phones gave way to cell phones. Radios become iPods, and paper
books become ebooks. Chalk boards became smart boards.
She was there for the first computers and eventually retired as each student
had a digital notebook.

This teacher had pretty much seen it all.

One day, this teacher’s school, a school which prided itself on always being
above the curve, as in always being cutting edge,
began to implement what they proclaimed as a paradigm shift—
a new and improved way of thinking.

Let’s note that this started a good 10 years prior to end of
our story…starting when this teacher was, say, in her 40s.

As time passed, change began to accelerate exponentially.

A 6 class period day transitioned to a 4 x 4 block schedule.

Teachers were made to participate in focus groups during their
planning periods, as well as on workdays.
They were given books to read.
Think book club a la pedagogy.

Speakers were brought in to offer new ways of looking at education.

Oddly it all became a bit more precise as well as peculiar.

White teachers were suddenly being told that they were no longer relating
well to their black students.
This was a reason as to why there was growing resentment from the black students
toward the white teachers.

The resentment had not been readily realized…not until the teachers were told
it was happening. We don’t even know if the kids were privy to said resentment.

White teachers were told they must begin to discipline their black students
differently.
They were told that they must try multiple means of confronting discipline
issues before ever writing a student up for an offense.
Sometimes those students who were written up for an offense were simply
sent back to class with no real cause and effect.
Much to the frustration of the teacher.
The teacher then looked rather unsupported by her superiors.

Teachers were told to be mindful of what they said and how they said it.

Students began to feel empowered over their teachers.
And thus lies much of the problem.

Respect suddenly went out the window.

Most of this new thinking was coming from Black colleagues and
administrators yet embraced by many white administrators.

White female teachers were told by black administrators that young black
male students had little to no respect for them and therefore the
white female teachers needed to work extra hard at getting through to
these young boys.

One day a speaker was brought in on one particular workday for a bit of role playing.
He had all the teachers line up along a straight line.
He would ask a question, and depending on each individual teacher’s response
to the question, they were to either step forward or backward.

Did your grandparents go to college? 2 steps forward if so; two steps back if not.
Were you raised in a two parent household? 2 steps forward if so; two steps back if not.
Did your mother work outside of the home? 2 steps backwards if so; 2 steps forward if not.
Did you have your own car in high school? 2 steps forward if so; 2 steps back if not.
Did you have to work you way through school? 2 steps back if yes, 2 steps forward in no.
Did you attend summer camp? 2 steps forward if yes, 2 steps back if not.

On and on went the questions.
And so I think you’re probably figuring out where all of this was going.
By the end of the questioning, the original straight line was now vastly staggered —
those out front were not considered so much winners as much as they were
considered “privileged”—or is that labeled as privileged?

Hummm…privileged…now where have we heard about being privileged?

As time passed and toward the end of this teacher’s career,
there was a weekend workshop that everyone was encouraged to attend.
It was a conference on racial thinking within our schools.

Now remember, this story is not a current story but rather a story that took
place almost ten years back…long before CRT right?

Well…maybe not exactly.

This older teacher had a younger colleague who was also a dear friend.
The older teacher was white, married and a mom.
The younger teacher was black, not married and overweight.
Yet both of these ladies were friends both in and out of school.
Thick as thieves.

They worked well together and often created or spearheaded new initiatives
within the school.
Initiatives with a Christian focus as each woman was a committed Christian.

The younger teacher had actually gone to this same school when she was in high school
as she had grown up in this same community. Her parents were well known and
well respected professionals in this community.

The younger teacher was very smart and opted to go back to school in search
of her doctorate.
She chose Woman’s Studies—of course she did.

She had an Asian woman chair who was her doctoral mentor.
This particular academic was a self proclaimed feminist…
she noted that her “partner” who was a man, was her lesser.

The older teacher began to notice a significant change in her younger friend.
There was an anger that came bubbling to the surface.
She constantly fussed and cussed the good ol white boy system
of administration in the school system.

She fussed and cussed and greatly disparaged a friend and colleague’s
husband who was a police officer—a white police officer who she feared
might pull over her young black nephew.

Why fret in this small town community unless one was fed the notion of fear
by others…

Now back to the workshop on racial thought.

This younger teacher attended this particular conference,
the older teacher did not.

At the end of the weekend the older teacher called her younger friend, asking
how the conference went.
The younger teacher began a small tirade.
She fussed that several administrators did not attend.
She fussed that a young white male teacher stood up taking
umbrage with the presenter– all the while she maligned said young
white male teacher and yes, colleague.

She disparaged the administrators who actually did attend, sitting stone faced
with arms folded or so she raged.

Come Monday this younger teacher came by the older teacher’s classroom and
simply blew up–
she blew up and turned on her older white friend…for no real reason…
but turned as the older teacher simply was sitting there and was deemed
to be representative of all that was wrong with life and education.

The older teacher was blindsided and distraught when her young friend
stormed off.

What had she done??

Nothing.

Nothing but to represent some sort of imagined injustice.

The older teacher was crushed.
Hurt by someone she felt she no longer knew.

The young teacher remained defiant.

The older teacher retired a year later.

So now back to this blog post…

About a week ago I read a marvelous post by our friend Mel Wild regarding
Critical Race Theory—the new hot button topic in our educational system.
Here is a link to his post:

https://melwild.wordpress.com/2021/07/01/pulling-back-the-curtain-on-critical-race-theory/

I realized after reading Mel’s post that I had actually witnessed CRT creeping into
our schools years ago.

I commented on his post and Mel responded:

Yeah, it’s been the proverbial frog slowly being cooked in the kettle since the 1970s from the radical left. They were very shrewd, slowing taking over all our cultural instititions over the last five decades, especially in indoctrinating our children.

The idea of “white privilege” actually came from guilty white academics!
The term was popularized by Peggy McIntosh,
feminist activist and women’s studies scholar
who wrote a paper called “White Privilege and Male Privilege:
A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences
Through Work in Women’s Studies” in 1988.

Now, these social sciences radicals are trying say that math is racist!
“2 + 2 = 4” is part of white supremacy, etc..
This is not only stupidly insane but dangerous.
Not to mention, it actually disempowers people of color and makes
them the left’s slaves because they will not longer be able to
function on their own in the marketplace.
This is NOT compassionate.
It’s evil.
Not only that, we will cease to function as a society
if we fully embrace this nonsense.
If we survive at all, our society will become feudal,
where the intellectuals and globalist plutocrats rule over
miseducated peasant masses.
But, apparently,
that’s what some of them want.
The rest are the indoctrinated sheeple.

Next, Citizen Tom has also offered a similar post:

https://familyallianceonline.org/2021/07/08/crt-challenge-racist-teaching/

If, as a parent, you think CRT is a liberating sort of mindset that your child
needs to be exposed to, you are sadly mistaken.
CRT is a form of deep divide and Marxism at its best.

It will drive a dangerous wedge between our students and teachers.

All the while, how we teach children will never be the same.
Go back and read your history lessons…our global history.
Go back to Germany following WWI and read the impetus for
the likes of an Adolph Hitler…read of a Valdimr Lenin, a Karl Marx,
a Leon Trotsky, a Joseph Stalin, a Fredrich Engles, a Mao Zedong…
read about what happened on the opposite end…what happened with McCarthyism…read about J Edgar Hoover and paranoia…
read what happens when certain people learn how to manipulate others.
Then read about folks like George Soros, Bill Gates and those who
think they are the wise ones while you and I are considered the goats
who simply need a herder…

And then pray my friend—pray very hard!

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant,
abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal,
not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit,
lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.
Avoid such people.

2 Timothy 3:1-5

conspiracy, good practice or a dark path slippery slope


(Sutjeska, Tjentište, Bosnia and Herzegovina via the web)

So I did it again, I watched a bit of the news.

I caught the tail end of a story about the Biden Administration’s
desire to head out, hitting the asphalt, in order to go door to door
checking to see who has and who hasn’t gotten their COVID vaccine.

Hummmm…

Let it be known, I didn’t grow up like my parents did who spent their youthful
summers, back in the 30’s and 40’s living under a veil of fear…
fear not so much from a raging world war across an ocean but rather fear
of disease…
as in polio and tuberculosis.

Both diseases—viral and bacterial were running rampant when my parents
were young.
People were told to avoid crowds—
Summer’s, in the South back in those days, were pre air conditioning days—
Since it was hot, sticky and steamy,
everyone wanted to duck into a theater to watch a movie or head
to one of the many community pools.
Places where all types of humanity collided together.

Both places where folks were told to avoid yet beckoned for one and all.

But I can tell you, both my parents threw caution to the wind.
Dad loved his Buck Rodgers and Mother loved to swim.
Even in the big city, kids could pretty much come and go with
nary a thought as to safety.
Kids ran free—walking or riding a bike to wherever they wanted to go.

Yet the fear of contracting polio or TB was real…
especially after a 39 year old husband and father in New York
went to bed one evening with a slight fever and then
woke up in the morning and was unable to move his legs.

That 39 year old husband and father was Franklin Roosevelt.
He had somehow contracted polio.
And the rest is history.

And might we note that my grandfather, who I never met, died in 1940 from
Tuberculosis.

So I understand the reality of worry and fear regarding “catching”
a debilitating “bug.”

And so as vaccines were formulated, eventually we all began to be
‘vaccinated’.

And so as a child, I can remember receiving my polio sugar cube…a real sugar
cube doused with the vaccine.
At my elementary school, we lined up in our various grades,
wending our way to the Nurses clinic to receive our dosed sugar cube.

And blessedly with time and diligence, polio was eventually eradicated.

And so I am perplexed as to how I feel about the Biden Administration
wanting to go door to door to “check on” whether a vaccine has been
embraced or not…

I really don’t like the idea of our Government knocking on doors
checking on folks medical privacy—hence why we have HIPA—a health
privacy protection component that keeps our medical info just that…
our own.

But now…that is not so much the case.

So how do I feel about Big Government knocking on our doors
inquiring as to wether we have been vaccinated or not…and if that
answer is not, what will they then do or say????
I don’t know…but I think I’m feeling very uneasy.

I read a blog post yesterday that piqued my interest.

It was actually a re-blog from another person…
a person who thought the idea of the Big G, as in Big Government, knocking
on our doors and demanding to know whether we’d been vaccinated or not
was a reason that average citizens should be concerned.

This notion of ‘knowing’ reminds me of census takers….
those folks who are hired by the Big G government to inquire as to our income,
household numbers, etc…

How old are you?
Who is the head of your household?
What is the highest level of education reached within your household?
Can you read?
Can you write?
What is your gender?
What is your income?
Do you rent or own your home?
Etc.

Now the question is going to be, ‘are you vaccinated?’
And if your answer is no…what will that look like?

Here is a link to a copy of that post:

https://leohohmann.com/2021/07/07/what-should-you-do-when-federal-agents-arrive-at-your-door-with-questions-about-your-personal-health-decisions/

And here is an excerpt along with a look at a very interesting book–
a book I immediately ordered once I saw it:

What should you do when federal agents arrive at your
door with questions about your personal health decisions?

Below is an excerpt from a review of Black’s book by the
Alliance for Human Research Protection.

“A question that had eluded historians for decades was how
did the Nazis obtain lists of Jews – not only in Germany but
throughout Europe—whom they rapidly rounded up for deportation
and ultimately for extermination?
Black pursued this question until he found the answer:
IBM and its German subsidiary which custom-designed,
named after Herman Hollerith, who founded IBM in 1896 as
a census tabulating company.

“But when IBM Germany formed its philosophical and technologic
alliance with Nazi Germany, census and registration took on a new mission.
IBM Germany invented the racial census—listing not just religious affiliation,
but bloodline going back generations. This was the Nazi data lust.
Not just to count the Jews—but to identify them.

“People and asset registration was only one of the many uses
Nazi Germany found for high-speed data sorters.
Food allocation was organized around databases,
allowing Germany to starve the Jews. Slave labor was identified,
tracked, and managed largely through [IBM] punch cards.”

Interestingly, the IBM of today is also involved in the creation
of digital health passports, partnering with vaccine-maker
Moderna in New York’s Excelsior Pass, which is being required
for anyone attending sporting events or other large-venue events
in New York.

Microsoft is likewise partnering with the city of Los Angeles
schools and Anthem Health to implement the Daily Pass QR Health Portal
that will track every student in that district under the premise of
“protecting” people from COVID.

“The voluntary ‘health passes’ now being rolled out are just
the tip of the iceberg. Before long, they will become mandatory,
at which point unvaccinated individuals will be effectively excluded
from society,” writes Dr. Joseph Mercola in his article IBM Partners
with Moderna for COVID Reset.

As I was reading this post, I was intrigued by this book
regarding IBM and Nazi Germany.
How DID the Germans know the names and locations of all the Jews??

I always wondered how they knew such without the type of technology we
possess today.

And of all organizations…it was IBM who gave up those names
and information.
It was a business that was first charged with, of all things,
census information.

The Nazis knew because IBM had documented households…
their ethnicity, their income, their religion, their family members…

So how do I feel about the Big G government coming to my door inquiring as
to whether or not we’ve been vaccinated….?
I don’t know.
I’be been vaccinated but do I want Big G to be privy to such???
Again, I don’t know.
What will the repercussion be if a household opts not to answer…
what if they actually refuse to answer yay or nay?

What of personal choice?

A dangerously slippery slope…

But Peter and the apostles answered,
“We must obey God rather than men.

Acts 5:29