Thin Blue Line Strong

“It may…be judged indecent in me to come forward on this occasion; but when I see a fellow-creature about to perish through the cowardice of her pretended friends, I wish to be allowed to speak, that I may say what I know of her character.”
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

A few weeks back I read a dialogue between a BLM activist and a Thin
Blue Line supporter. Note how I use the words activist and supporter.

Activist: a person who campaigns to bring about political or social change.

Supporter: a person who approves of and encourages someone or something
(typically a public figure, a movement or party, or a policy).

The BLM activist had gotten into a tit for tat with the Thin Blue Line Supporter

(in case you didn’t know…BLM–Black Lives Matter
Thin Blue Line—supporters of our law enforcement)

The BLM activist was vehemently going on about how black lives mattered,
while the Thin Blue ling supporter shot back that blue lives mattered too.

Well the BLM activist quipped that there are no such things as blue people.

But here’s the thing—we know the metaphors but oddly the metaphors are
only allotted to one side.

In the immortal words of our biology wiz and friend IB, ai yi yi….

Po-tah-toe vs Po-ta-to

And thus this conversation came flooding forward after I read Stephanie’s
latest Caringbridge journal entry regarding her husband Rob—the policeman shot
in the line of action earlier this week and who remains in Atlanta’s Grady Hospital’s
ICU.

Our school (the school I taught at for 31 years) has an
academic awards ceremony each spring.
The evening highlights the various academic and scholarly accomplishments
of our students..and yes, even our scholarly athletes.

Each year those students who have maintained a certain high GPA,
are earmarked as an honor graduate—
honor graduates are in turn encouraged to look back over their school years
in order to pick one of their teachers from their entire
schooling who they believe made the biggest impact on their educational growth.
These teachers, be they elementary, middle school or high school
are then awarded an “apple” plaque that is engraved with the name of the honoring
student during the academic honors program.

I was blessed over my many years to receive a lovely orchard of apples.
It was / is a tangible reminder of why we teachers do what we do.

So reading Stephanie’s latest entry regarding her and Rob’s son
Grady’s honor night this past week was more than touching.

The fact that our principal, superintendent and admin staff went that
extra mile to live-stream the event to Rob’s hospital room,
just so he could experience this special night with his son, as well as wife,
is, well…what CHS does best.

On top of that, knowing that Carrollton and Carroll County’s local
law enforcement personnel gathered together to participate en masse
to help Grady celebrate this important night all the while he is
fully aware that his dad is in a bit of dire straights was and
is tremendous.

Yes…blue lives do exist…they go the extra mile for all of us mere mortals

From Stephanie:

I left the hospital before visiting hours concluded today to attend
Honors Night with Grady and watch him receive awards for being
a projected honor graduate and a beautiful plaque for earning
his fourth-year academic letter.
So many members of our law enforcement family joined us for this celebration.
We are so grateful for the sacrifices they make every day,
but tonight was super special to have them surrounding us to support Grady.
The school was able to stream the ceremony live for Robbie to be able
to watch it from the hospital,
and they scheduled Grady to receive his awards at the beginning
of the ceremony so that Robbie would not tire while viewing the video.
Our school system’s superintendent, Grady’s High School Principal,
and the High School Administrative Team did a beautiful
job organizing the ceremony.
They recognized our law enforcement family and made a beautiful tribute to Rob.
They asked us to join them on stage for Grady to present his Honor Teacher award,
and he gave it to me.
I was so surprised and shocked.
Receiving an “apple” from a student is the most humbling and
rewarding experience for an educator.
To receive one from my own son truly was the most
fulfilling moment of my entire career.


So all metaphors aside—all lives matter—and that’s not racist…

that’s simply biblical… 

Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

1 Corinthians 12:14

when change is needed

When we are no longer able to change a situation –
we are challenged to change ourselves.

Viktor E. Frankl

For the last couple of days my posts have centered on, firstly,
the notion of tradition.
That thought then lead to the notion of change.
And not that I believe tradition needs to change…
quite the contrary.

But then the news hit close to home Monday when a friend’s husband, who happens
to be a police officer and was responding to an all-call for officers in the county
to respond to an immediate need to render aid to the Georgia State Patrol who were
actively involved with a high speed chase and shots being fired.

My friend, her husband the officer and their teenage son’s lives
have now changed forever.

The following link is to an Atlanta news station offering a video of one of
the suspects firing at other officers responding to the call following the shooting
of my friend’s husband.

https://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/video-suspect-seen-firing-multiple-rounds-directly-at-officers

These types of incidents are happening all over our country.
A police officer stops a car for a minor traffic offense and
suddenly the stop escalates into utter violence.

The driver and passengers pull out firearms and decide, rather than deal with
what would have been a routine traffic stop, they opt to shoot and run.

Why is that?

Law enforcement all over our country seem to have bullseyes on their backs.

But again, why is that?

Of course we are hearing the masses cry out that the police are targeting minorities.
That the police are profiling.
That the police are brutal.
And I’d agree that not all officers are good.
But the majority are good.
They are doing a job that is taken seriously.

And we, you and I, are the better for it.

So what would have precipitated all this negative thinking?
What has precipitated all the violence directed toward law enforcement
who are out simply doing their job?
What of this defund the police movement?

While all of this madness was swirling in my head, I happened upon the latest thinking by Newt Gingrich…but what does Newt know…he’s just some old white guy…

Consider these indicators that our civilization is beginning to fall apart.

Several days of looting and rioting in Minnesota have occurred even as a trial of a former policeman is underway proving the rule of law works.

A policeman is killed during a car stop in New Mexico, and our elites ignore the murder. In fact, Mayor Mike Elliott of Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis said in the middle of the rioting: “I don’t believe that officers need to necessarily have weapons, you know, every time they—they’re—they’re making traffic stop or engaged in situations that don’t necessarily call for weapons.”

There is a war on police underway with 264 killed in 2020, a jump of 96 percent over the previous year. In New York City, hostile forces use Molotov cocktails to set police cars on fire. Murder rates are skyrocketing around the country with 2020 the biggest one-year jump in homicides in American history – 36.7 percent.

Faced with aggressive criminal behavior and violence against innocent people – including young children being killed – Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib calls for “no more policing, incarceration and militarization.” Ironically, Rep. Tlaib represents Detroit. According to the City of Detroit’s 2020 Crime Report, there were 327 homicides in 2020, up from 275 the previous year – a 19 percent increase. There were 1,173 non-fatal shootings in 2020. This is up from 767 the previous year, which is a 53 percent increase.

In Seattle, Portland, and Milwaukee, no-go zones similar to those in France have been created which are effectively localized secessions from the United States.

Portland continues to be attacked nightly by anarchists. Despite pious statements by public officials, no effective action is underway to restore law and order.

In San Francisco, the declaration by the communist district attorney that theft under $900 will not be prosecuted has led to so much shoplifting that Walgreens is closing all 10 of its drugstores in the city.

The threat to American civilization goes far beyond violence in the streets.

Woke CEOs who refuse to condemn genocide and police state tyranny in China are quick to attack Georgia – even though President Joe Biden was just plain wrong (perhaps lying) about the state’s new election law. Moving the All-Star Game from Georgia to Colorado hurts Black small businesses (there are eight times as many employees of Black-owned businesses in Georgia than in Colorado). Furthermore, Colorado’s current voting laws are stricter than Georgia’s new ones. For the woke, it is virtue signaling – not fact – which matters.

The television establishment systematically lied to defeat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. CNN’s Charlie Chester recently asserted: “I came to CNN to be a part of that. Look what we did, we [CNN] got Trump out. I am 100 percent going to say it, and I 100 percent believe that if it wasn’t for CNN, I don’t know that Trump would have got voted out…I came to CNN because I wanted to be a part of that.”

Of course, The New York Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, and ABC would dispute any CNN claim that it alone defeated Trump. The two papers won Pulitzer Prizes for lying about Trump.

Traditional media hostility and dishonesty are overshadowed by the internet giants, who are increasingly acting like Russian oligarchs. They are trying to erase a leader who was supported by more than 75 million Americans with a ruthlessness worthy of Soviet tyranny and the Chinese Communist Party.

Crony capitalism is becoming bolder as big government and big business reinforce each other at the country’s expense.

Overt racism through race-based reparations, school quotas, and anti-white and anti-male curricula are a return to government-fueled discrimination and segregation.

Finally, when the state of California is considering requiring students to chant every day to an Aztec god who was the center of a human sacrifice cult, there are sound reasons to believe American Civilization is in crisis.

If we are going to remain America, we must oppose the forces trying to destroy us.

The Crisis of American Civilization

indissoluble bond

The highest glory of the American Revolution was this:
it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government
with the principles of Christianity.

John Quincy Adams


(detail from a triptych I created before retiring,
based on the Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald)

I found this followup article to yesterday’s post…an article that actually preempted
my post from yesterday by a couple of day’s…a penultimate of sorts from
the Washingtonexaminer.com

With a similar observation, the article by Kimberly Ross, notes that
“For the first time in 80 years,
the number of Americans with dedicated church attendance has fallen below 50%.
According to a Gallup poll released Monday, only 47% of those polled confirmed that they
are members of a religious body.
This is quite a decline from previous years of polling,
which saw the number hover around the 70% mark for several decades.
Unsurprisingly, the downward trend began around the dawn of the new century.”

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/what-does-declining-church-attendance-mean-for-our-society?utm_source=deployer&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Beltway+Confidential&utm_term=Post+Up+Opens+2020&utm_content=20210401154409

And whereas I do fret and truly worry about how and where our liberally woke , Antifa laced and
oh so socialist minded society seems to be racing…gunning for our Judaeo Christian foundation,
I continue to find hope—glimpses of light that remind me that no one on Earth can nor will silence
the Resurrection of Life eternal.

I have read that God will not, cannot, ever be silenced…
yet in that proclamation however,
there is not a guarantee that the United States is destined for the ride.
The ride that connects the dots from Resurrection to Return.

And yet that very question remains in the minds of many of the faithful in our Nation.
Can we, will we be able to work toward remaining in that time line…or will we not.
Maybe we shouldn’t care.
Maybe we should.

Seek while He still may be found…

“Our national discourse is fraught with anger and tension.
There has been great struggle, sacrifice, and sadness over the past year.
There is uncertainty surrounding both economic and public health.
With challenges still remaining, there is no better time to seek spiritual guidance
and hope at places that foster relationships and fellowship.”

trying my soul

Leaves without flowers:
these are they which have words without works.

St. Thomas Aquinas
from the book Sermon in a Sentence, Vol. 5


(a soon to be blooming vine / Julie Cook / 2021)

Is it a coincidence that this week of all weeks, Holy Week, a week of the trying souls,
that WP is once again trying to make the new block editor the the only option for posting??
That the classic editor is becoming more and more elusive?
Perhaps my beloved classic editor is to be eliminated all together?
Is it not just a small microcosm, a random example of our current times?

The canceling, the exclusion, the elimination of the what was…
all for that ‘something’ that the powers that be deem to be so much other than
as well as better than…
something deemed to be more inclusive, and in turn, better?

But is all of that truly better?

Elusive and difficult, at best, is not better.

Does it matter that a portion of the population prefers what was???
Preferring that ‘what was’ is something that works best and better for others??
Or is it that ‘they’ and ‘it’ are both simply obsolete?

My husband and I ran to Home Depot today…a trip we make almost three times a week,
while we head to Lowes the other days of the week—
either way, we are in search of things needed for this new old home we’ve “inherited”
via purchase.
But let’s not go there today.

So I opted to sit in the car while my husband ran into the store.

While I sat in the car I pulled out my phone and saw that I had a notice that
The Chosen was offering their new trailer for the soon to be released Season 2.

The Chosen–that marvelous crowd funded show about the life of Jesus…via the
backstories of those who came in contact with the son of a carpenter…

I clicked on the trailer.

Isn’t it funny how God often desires to “speak” to us, His children, in places and in ways
we’d never imagine?
It matters not when nor where God opts to speak out loud to us–He will speak no matter
what or when!

He spoke to me today in the parking lot of the Home Depot in Athens, Ga.

I heard a resounding word—“your world is small, MY world is all encompassing.”

I looked at all the cars, all the folks pushing carts all around me…
Everyone was busy.
Life was on the move…and yet…
I had a resounding sense that all that I was seeing and experiencing was oh so small
and insignificant.

There was a true sense of peace in all of that.

All the news, all the mayhem, all the politics, all the legalities, all the pandemic..
all the madness taking place..none of it mattered…I felt a sudden sense of being
small and insignificant.

And in that insignificance, in that smallness…there was a release.
A peace found in the small…
No news
No storms
No politics
No laws
No division
No defunding police
No lawmakers
No masks
No vaccines
No trials
No hate
No death…

All bits and pieces of insignificance.

Our God…your God, my God..
Greater than anything of this world…
Greater than our own thoughts and imagination…
Thank goodness!!!

“I’ve appointed the Devil to tempt and to trouble My creatures in this life
[St. Catherine of Siena reports that Our Lord said to her].
I’ve done this, not so that My creatures will be overcome,
but so that they may overcome, proving their virtue and receiving from Me the glory of victory.
And no one should fear any battle or temptation of the Devil that may come to him,
because I’ve made My creatures strong, and I’ve given them strength of will,
fortified in the Blood of My Son.
Neither the Devil nor any other creature can control this free will,
because it’s yours, given to you by Me.
By your own choice, then, you hold it or let it go if you please.
It’s a weapon, and if you place it in the hands of the Devil,
it right away becomes a knife that he’ll use to stab and kill you.
On the other hand, if you don’t place this knife that is your will into the hands of the Devil—
that is, if you don’t consent to his temptations and harassments—
you will never be injured by the guilt of sin in any temptation.
Instead, you’ll actually be strengthened by the temptation,
as long as you open the eyes of your mind to see My love, and to understand why
I allowed you to be tempted: so you could develop virtue by having it proved.
My love permits these temptations, for the Devil is weak.
He can do nothing by himself unless I allow him.
So I let him tempt you because I love you, not because I hate you.
I want you to conquer, not to be conquered,
and to come to a perfect knowledge of yourself and of Me.”

St. Catherine of Siena, p. 159-60
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare

sharing the right things???

“It is a lesson we all need—to let alone the things that do not concern us.
He has other ways for others to follow Him; all do not go by the same path.
It is for each of us to learn the path by which He requires us to follow Him,
and to follow Him in that path.”

St. Katharine Drexel


(the sun, clouds and sky / Julie Cook / 2021)

Time may one day be back on my side…
and so with no further ado, while I try my best to
jump back on this blog train….
let’s get on with the meat and potatoes…the substance and sustenance
of what really matters.

Picture the hobo train jumper running alongside a moving train full
of open boxcars…
He’s running as fast as he can in order to keep up with the
rapidly accelerating train…his outstretched arm straining to grab hold of a
hand rail that is just out of reach.
Does he dare leap, hoping to grab hold while pulling himself up into the open car
or does he slow his pace and let the train move on without him??

The risk?

Getting crushed and run over or missing the train???
Which is the greater loss??

I’m the train hopper, straining to grab hold—still running to
stay up with the moving train….that moving train is life itself!
And it will not be slowing down and it will not wait on us.

So I’m taking the chance, I’m leaping.
The hour is dire.
We need to speak up and out during these scary and very dark days.

As I was getting all my little computer ‘windows’ open, ready to start a post,
I was pulling up my email…and while doing so, I was quickly scanning the Yahoo
cover page of “news” snippets…a wealth of the headlines and the ‘dead’lines.

And suddenly one word came into clear focus in my brain…SHARING

The entire notion of sharing…

Sharing is caring right???
Isn’t that what we tell kids??

But is it???
Is it caring or is it careless??

One look at any electronic outlet (FB, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, etc)
and it’s clear as rain, sharing is the name of the game.
That whole notion of TMI (too much information) has gone out the window.
Folks now want to air all sorts of laundry…the good, the bad and the ugly.
Boasting and Bragging
Shaming and degrading.

And so what is the benefit of such mindless, idol sharing?

The majority of what is being shared is more sordid, vile, foul, gossipy
false and inflammatory rather than it could ever be edifying, gracious and glorious.

There is so much we, the followers of Christ, need to be sharing throughout these most
precarious days as time is of the essence.

So let’s ask ourselves…are we sharing that which is truly worth chasing
a moving train over or is is more dribble than substance??

“Now there’s no one who approaches God with a true and upright heart who isn’t
tested by hardships and temptations.
So in all these temptations see to it that even if you feel them,
you don’t consent to them.
Instead, bear them patiently and calmly with humility and long-suffering.”

St. Albert the Great, p. 164
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare

a lamb lead to slaughter or just another dumb sheep?

I have strayed like a lost sheep.
Seek your servant,
for I have not forgotten your commands.

Psalm 119:176


(Francisco de Zurbaran / Agnus Dei / 1639)

If you know me, you know I have always loved that whole sheep and shepherd thing.
In fact I’ve often waxed poetic about moving to Ireland, living somewhere near
Dingle, with about 5 sheep.

A plot of emerald green land that looks out over the Atlantic Ocean….
ahhhhh… (thanks Paul)

I suppose this affinity of mine actually goes back to having grown up in a traditional
Episcopalian church…more “high” church—more Anglican than what we know now.

Each Sunday morning, working our way through the morning’s daily office, we would recite the
Confession taken from the Book of Common Prayer.

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
We have offended against thy holy laws.
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;
And we have done those things which we ought not to have done;
And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.
Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults.
Restore thou those who are penitent;
According to thy promises declared unto mankind In Christ Jesus our Lord.
And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake;
That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
To the glory of thy holy Name.

Amen.
1928 Book of Common Prayer

I so often felt like that erring and straying sheep…especially as I aged.
I could err and stray with the best of um.

So I always keenly felt that whole “I am the Shepherd and the sheep know my name”
You know, that verse out of John??
I would yearn to hear that loving and forgiving voice of my Shepherd.

We sheep aren’t often the brightest and are easily lead astray.
And yet Jesus took on that role of sacrificial lamb.
Laying down His life for His own sheep…the Agnus Dei.

You know that wonderful piece found in Isaiah???–
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished

Isaiah 53:6-8

So much symbology…so many beautiful and yet tragic images.
Albeit tragic melding into triumph…

But today, I felt perhaps a little ‘less than’ triumphant.
I simply felt that I was being a good dumb sheep.

I was joining the herd.

Maybe they should use the term ‘flock’…
Flock immunity vs herd immunity.

I don’t know if you’ve had your “vaccine”.
I don’t know if you want to get “the” vaccine.

I thought I didn’t want to get my vaccine.

There are so many schools of thoughts—so many bickering camps out there–
each touting a different mantra regarding the vaccine.

“It’s a biologic not an anti virulent”
“It will alter your DNA”
“You’re doing your part for your fellow man”
“It’s made from aborted fetus cells.”
“You’ll be dead in a year”
“You won’t be able to travel if you don’t get the shot”
“It’s the culling of the human race”
“Do your part”
“It’s the mark of the beast”

That last one gets me a bit because this new zip code of ours ends in 666—
of course there are two other numbers in front of that little triple line up…but
none the less, I hate even having to give out our zip code.
And that is in part as to why my husband feels that we’ve had such a time with this
new old house of ours.
Never buy something you didn’t build is his mantra…
But that’s another story for another day.

I have a dear friend who I grew up with who is a doctor.
She’s been practicing for over 30 years—she is well established and well respected.
She was adamant…DO NOT GET THE VACCINE! DO NOT LET THEM VACCINE SHAME YOU!”

Really??

Then I have another friend who is a doctor…one who has also been practicing for over 30 years
and is also well established and respected—plus these two both grew up with me and they went to
med school together.
He was like…”don’t forget to get signed up for your shot, my wife and I have already had our two.”

So.
Hum.
A quandary.

Throw in reading various takes on all of this and the confusion between the
do’s and the don’ts is exponential..
It is a matter of ‘name your game’ sort of thinking.

We had COVID back in November and thankfully lived to tell about it.
I figure we have some immunity going on but for how long is anyone’s guess.

I confess…. we felt vaccine shame….
and since my husband is 71, I got him signed up through the country’s health department.
I took him yesterday.

My new doctor signed me up despite my being 61 as she proclaimed that I am my husband’s caregiver.
Oh if she only knew…

Anywhooo, she signed me up in her office this past week.
And so I had to be at the University Cancer and Blood Center yesterday morning at 9AM sharp.

Driving over, I really felt like some dumb sacrificial sheep.
Was it the right thing to do??
Was I signing my own death sentence or was I simply doing my part for all mankind???

Who knows.

But what I do know is that the most caring professional group gave me, along with 799 other
sheep, a first dose yesterday morning.

Plus they gave me a goodie bag…

I’m a sucker for a goodie bag.

Plying me with chocolate is probably a good idea–thus I don’t think too much
about this whole ordeal of leading me to the slaughter business…

But like our friend Kathy said over on atimetoshare, “I guess if I’m going to die from it,
it doesn’t really matter, because that means I’ll go to heaven sooner,
but God is in charge of all that too.”

Amen Kathy!!!

God is still in charge!

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

when the crud is not the crud and other odd phenomenons

“There is no such thing as moral phenomena,
but only a moral interpretation of phenomena”

Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil


(Dr. Seuss’s Sneeches)

There was a time when we would catch a cold, or more accurately the crud, as those sorts of symptoms
are lovingly referred to a catch all crud…you know the symptoms…
that of a sore scratchy throat,
a runny or stuffy nose, a post nasal drip
with a hacking or phlegmy sort of cough…
at times, it’s even accompanied by aches and / or light chills.

A typical winter visitor.

Nowadays however…those sorts of symptoms have folks looking at you a bit sideways.
Leary and skeptical as they step an extra 6 feet away.

“Did you just cough???” an alarmed voice practically shrieks.
Fever, do you have a fever???
Can you smell??—

Well if your nose is all clogged up and your sinuses are giving you fits, breathing,
let alone smelling, are both difficult at best.

Suddenly you feel the need to tie a bell around your neck.
You feel you’re living in Nathanial Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter…
although your letter is not a giant red A but rather the mark of the Covid beast.

Colds, sinus infections, even the flu are now all considered Covid unless otherwise noted
by a medical professional— and then people are still skeptical.
You saying you’ve gotten a cold or suffering from allergies is no longer good enough.

Folks want to tie you down and slam a giant swap up your nose.

I’ve had Covid and I’ve had a bad cold.
I know the difference.
And right now, it’s a bad cold.

But try letting the general population know the difference and
‘them become fighting words.’

No one believes you anymore.
Your word is no good.

I ran into the grocery store the other day and almost had to laugh out loud.

Naturally we were all wearing our masks like good stewards,
but one young lady had also added a pair of ski goggles.

I looked for a biohazard suit but she just had on a major mask with some
serious goggles.

I thought to myself…”you know, I would hate to live with that much fear…”

So before you mark me as some capitol rioter or uber conspiracy theorist…
just know that I realize that we’ve been hit with half a million deaths in this country.
And yes I’ve known those who have succumbed and died from the virus.
And I have even known some who took the vaccine and died two weeks later.
So yes, I do know it is real, but I also know hysteria when I see it.

So while we’re talking about hysteria, let’s take a look at, for instance, Dr. Seuss.

That almost mystical and rhythmical child’s author of yore.

Seems that our dear Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, is rapidly becoming persona non gratis.

A pariah of sorts.

The once beloved children’s author, who was the epitome of tolerance,
had he still been living, would have turned 117 yesterday.

Yesterday, as in “Read across America Day”, as in my grandkids went to daycare
in their Dr. Seuss pj’s all for Dr. Seuss PJ reading day…as in we all love Dr. Seuss…
or so I thought—we loved him last week.
This week, obviously, not so much.

As in my beloved The Grinch Who Stole Christmas book that I still have these 61 years later…
is now looked at sideways.


(1957)

Sadly it seems that our current Woke folks out there have decided that Sneeches and Whoos and
red fish, blue fish are currently out of step with our suddenly perfect society.

Isn’t it just grand knowing we live in a perfect society?
However, I fear that in that perfect society, it might just be filled with
imperfect residents.

Woe be unto us all.

For these days will pass by like a puff of wind.

And all those who are perfect among us will be caught up in the wind…

Grab the hand of a Sneech because we’re all about to be blown away.

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy,
and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it,
because the time is near.

Revelation 1:3

The real enemy is already vanquished…for good

“But since the adversary does not cease to resist many,
and uses many and diverse arts to ensnare them,
that he may seduce the faithful from their faith,
and that he may prevent the faithless from believing,
it seems to me necessary that we also,
being armed with the invulnerable doctrines of the faith,
do battle against him in behalf of the weak.”

Justin Martyr (St. Justin),
Fragments of the Lost Work of Justin on the Resurrection


(detail from Caravaggio’s The Madonna and Child with St. Anne (Dei Palafrenieri) 1605)

I have always loved the works of Caravaggio—his play with dark, light and the juxtaposition of space.
Such skills helped to create a dramatic punctuation—effects found in many of his paintings.
Such skillful drama was only highlighted by Caravaggio’s own personal torment and
living the life of a rounder, rapscallion and wanted criminal.

Lots of symbology rests in this particular painting of The Madonna and Child with St. Anne


(Galleria Borghese, Rome)

An unusual image yet one that is both visceral and powerful.

I personally like the imagery of both mother and son, Mary and a young Christ,
each stomping the head of the snake.
It is an allegorical take on Christ’s victory over Satan.
And with Mary’s initial yes to God, she became privy to that very victory.

However it would indeed pierce, if not nearly breaking, her heart before there would be
that final Glory.

I can’t help but think about this image while watching our nation’s news play out in front of us.

With this second impeachment of former President Trump, as a taxpayer, I have been rather incensed.
Because if you are an able body with a pulse, you and I are paying taxes…
and these taxes of ours are helping to pay for political shenanigans.

The former President, along with us taxpayers, have been in this same spot not long ago.
It was a political circus act then, a wasteful black hole of time, energy and our money—
just like it was this past week.
A cheap and tawdry fictional paperback novel masquerading as a real political process.

So one would hope and think that with his having been voted back into normal private life,
that would be the end of our troubles with our rabid political leadership’s fraudulent
spending of ‘we the people’s’ money.
Yet sadly that has not the case.
Being returned to private life is not enough.

So the image of someone who is terrified of snakes,
who has taken a hoe to the head of said snake,
chopping off the head yet not being satisfied with the notion of the head being severed
and thus the snake being dead, continues to pound at and chop up the snake just to be
satisfied that that is indeed to end of the snake.

So don’t get me wrong— I’m not saying the former president is some sort of serpent,
contrary to what many may think.
And no, I’m not saying that there is a correlation to Jesus crushing Satan in any of this
political fiasco…it’s just that I can’t help but picture in my mind some crazed person
with hoe in hand, beating and chopping an obviously dead snake…adding an exclamation point
to the end of said snake…much like our political leaders—as in enough just isn’t enough.

However…the wonderful moral to this, as well as to all stories, is that politicians, snakes,
fiascos, lies, taxes, politics, republicans, democrats, presidents, pandemics, etc, all aside..
it that the victory, in the end, is indeed ours— Jesus has crushed Satan and in the
end we, both you and me, win.

So Jesus has no need to beat a dead horse—He’s already won… and in turn—so have we!

For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.

Deuteronomy 20:4

revisiting a 6 year old post (Turning Point)

What most of all hinders heavenly consolation is that you are too slow in
turning yourself to prayer.

Thomas a Kempis


(detail of a pinecone / Julie Cook / 2014)

** I made a terrible mistake last evening…I watched the news.
It was Fox, who since the election, I’ve just kind of cut ties with,
just as I’ve cut ties with all major news outlets…
I am more than disheartened with the “conservative” news program’s seemingly
feeble attempts to stand up against the growing national oppression of our freedom
of speech and thought…
yet sadly, they fall woefully short…and still….I watched.

I was quickly reminded as to why I now avoid all news.
It is sickening.
It was a startling reminder that we are living George Orwell’s 1984.
We are living Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
Maybe we are even living in the midst of the Book of Revelation…

And if that’s the case, things really are scary, but thankfully in that
most frightening of thoughts, there remains hope for those of
us with weary souls because we know Our Redeemer will reign supreme
and this nightmare will end.

We are living in the midst of a massive Spiritual battle..
a battle of light vs darkness.

A place where Americans view one another as their own worst enemy.
Free speech and thought as not free or even allowed.
We have forgotten our past, our history, our ideals…
We have become our own worst enemy.
And it all began when we turned our back on God.

So as I watched, I felt sick to my stomach.

And since we are living life in the Twilight Zone…
I decided to cast my thoughts backwards…tumbling back in time.
I went back 6 years ago…6 years ago to a time that was pre-Trump.
It was life during Obama’s reign.
And oddly what I wrote those 6 years ago did not speak of calm, peace and a kumbiya existence–
but rather it was a shadow of things to come…it’s just that we had no idea of knowing
how bad it would all become…

Here is that 6 year old post….

As a tale-end Baby Boomer and child of the Cold War, the Soviet Union, the USSR,
The Federation of the Russian Republic or simply Mother Russia,
has always been an uncomfortable shadow over my shoulder,
just as it has for most everyone my age and older.
The enigma known as Russia, who most graciously hosted the world last February
for the Winter Olympics only to turn around and shock us all a few months
following with the “invasion” of Ukraine, has remained a conundrum for the free world
since the Russian Revolution of 1917 which gave way to birth of Communism.

When I was in high school, which seems to be many lifetimes ago,
I had the good fortune of taking a Russian History course—with the most memorable
experience being of my introduction to the writings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
I had the good fortune of reading several of his books…
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The Gulag Archipelago and Cancer Ward.

Now all these many years later I find myself drawn back to the writings
and words of Solzhenitsyn,
of which I find more prophetic than I had ever imagined.

For those of you unfamiliar with Solzhenitsyn, in a nutshell,
he was a Russian soldier (WWII), Gulag prisoner (for nearly 10 years),
writer and novelist, historian, Soviet dissident,
Nobel Prize recipient and finally, again, Russian citizen.

As a life long member of the Russian Orthodox Church,
Solzhenitsyn was guided by a deeply spiritual moral compass.
He was a very loud and vocal opponent of Totalitarianism,
of which expedited his forced exile from the Soviet Union,
yet he could also be equally critical of the West and its obsession with Capitalism,
Consumerism and Materialism. All of which reminds me of the chastisement the West
often received from Pope John Paul II,
as well as Mother Teresa—as perhaps those who have suffered more grievously under
the Socialist and ultra Nationalistic Regime of the Nazis and then that of
the Communist Soviets, have perhaps a clearer perspective of our
often blind view of what we consider to be “the good life”

I am poignantly reminded of Solzhenitsyn, his words and wisdom as well wise counsel
and rebukes of those who have witnessed first hand the sinister wiles
and atrocities of Evil, particularly during this time of year as it seems
the world always appears to crescendo to a heightened sense of madness–just
as the holidays come into focus. I don’t know why that is except that
as the world seems to not only witness an abundance of joy and goodwill,
there seems to be an equal measure of evil and chaos.
Perhaps it is because Christians are drawn to the birth of the Savior and Jews
begin the celebration of the miracle of light and the rededication to the Second Temple–
a time of a tremendous pull of people toward God—as it seems Evil
must have its share of the pie by unleashing its part of unimaginable
pain and suffering in order to create some sort of sadistic counter balance.

Perhaps our senses are on hyper drive this time of year as we keenly
feel the highs of Joy and Wonder along with the bottomless pit of despair
and suffering as they each roll in to one. These thoughts reverberate
in my mind just as Sydney, Australia was held hostage Monday
by a radical Islamist madman leaving 3 individuals, including the gunman, dead.
Then on Tuesday, Pakistan witnessed an unimaginable attack on a school
leaving 132 children and 9 adult staff members dead all at the hands of the Taliban.

We currently have a menacing cyber attack taking place at Sony as North Korea
is suspected to be retaliating to the release of a tongue and cheek movie
which sadly mocks an attempted assassination of an, albeit, unhinged world leader.
Sometimes I think we, those of us in the West with our often sophomoric
entertainment industry, have lost our sense of what is considered off limits or
morally wrong when it comes to the exploitation of movie making and entertainment–
but I suppose a moral compass would be needed in the first place in order to be
reminded of such. . .

We have just marked the tragic anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre
as we continue reading headline after headline of local, national and global tragedies.
Just as the world tries to come together in some sort of unity marking two
very sacred holy times of the year as well as the secular merry making
of Santa, Papa Noel and Kris Kringle’s arrival.

In reading Solzhenitsyn’s book Warning to the West,
which is actually a brief composite and compendium of the texts to three
separate addresses made in the US in the late 1970’s,
it is startlingly frightening noting the parallels of then verses now.
I am keenly reminded of the relevance of Solzhenitsyn’s words which were uttered
almost 40 years ago as they could very well be spoken on the world stage today
regarding today’s global state. I will leave you with a few pieces of his
excerpted texts in order to ponder and ruminate the relevance and warnings
which echo across our prosaic landscape as we wrestle to make sense of the
tragic events which continue to unfold before our very eyes this holiday season. . .

“Is it possible or impossible to transmit the experience of those who have
suffered to those who have yet to suffer?
Can one part of humanity learn from the bitter experience of another or can it not?
Is it possible or impossible to warn someone of danger?
How many witnesses have been sent to the West in the last sixty years?
How may waves of immigrants? How many millions of persons? They are all here.
You meet them every day. You know who they are: if not by their spiritual disorientation,
their grief, their melancholy, then you can distinguish them by their
accents or their external appearance. Coming from different countries,
without consulting with one another, they have brought out exactly the same experience;
They tell you exactly the same thing: they warn you of what is now taking
place and of what has taken place in the past.
But the proud skyscrapers stand on, jut into the sky, and say:
It will never happen here. This will never come to us.
It is not possible here.”

“In addition to the grave political situation in the world today,
we are also witnessing the emergence of a crisis of unknown nature, one completely new,
and entirely non-political.
We are approaching a major turning point in world history, the the history of civilization.
It has already been noted by specialists in various areas.
I could compare it only with the turning from the Middle Ages to the modern era,
a shift in our civilization. It is a juncture at which settled concepts
suddenly become hazy, lose their precise contours, at which our familiar and commonly
used words lose their meaning, become empty shells, and methods which have been reliable
for many centuries no longer work. It’s the sort of turning point where the
hierarchy of values which we have generated, and which we use to determine
what is important to us and what causes our hearts to beat is starting
to rock and may collapse.
These two crises, the political crisis of today’s world and the oncoming spiritual crisis,
are occurring at the same time. It is our generation that will have to confront them.
The leadership of your country,
which is entering the third century of existence as a nation will perhaps
have to bear a burden greater than ever before in American history.
Your leaders will need profound intuition, spiritual foresight,
high qualities of mind and soul.
May God granted that in those times you will have at the helm personalities
as great as those who rested your country . . .”

(excepts taken from a speech delivered in New York July 9, 1975,
at a luncheon given by the AFL-CIO)

where or when did it all go wrong

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.
We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream.
It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same,
or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s
children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Ronald Reagan


(Time Magazine cover from 2007 / Julie Cook / 2021)

So many boxes.
So many books.

The heavy dead-weight boxes of books are categorized by genre…
history, political, spiritual…Bibles, Pope John Paul II, St. Francis, Mother Teresa,
presidential biographies, WWII, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, The Holocaust,
saints, cookbooks…on and on it goes…

Unpacking this unending mountain of boxes, I stumbled upon my collection of books
regarding Ronald Reagan.

I gingerly pulled out the books and magazines from this latest deep abyss,
taking stock of what I wanted to keep readily available and what could be stored away.

In the treasure trove, I found the above Time Magazine.
It was dated 2007.

I was still teaching at that time and I remembered that I had the magazine sitting on my
desk in the classroom.
A student saw the magazine and had a knee jerk reaction…
they scrawled a written response to the title of the story line…

I had a fit as I can’t stand to deface something I want to save…

The cover image was powerful…the scribbled black ink “GWB” was nothing more
then graffiti.

Sigh.

“How The Right Went Wrong”

This student penned GWB—as in George W. Bush

At the time, in 2007, some of my young charges were less than pleased with then President
George W.Bush.

We were embroiled in a seemingly endless war in the Middle East.

And so I now wonder…where and when exactly did the Right go wrong?

I suppose once life slows down, I will re-read that article–
looking back to what 14 years ago we wondered what might be the problem with Conservatism.

In 2007 we wondered what went wrong.
In 2021 we now consider such a word as pariah.
A taboo sort of mindset.

It seems much more has gone wrong than merely the loss of the right verses the wrong.

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!

Isaiah 5:20