What is Grace—I just keep having to ask

I have had to experience so much stupidity,
so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow,
just in order to become a child again and begin anew.
I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths,
to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace.”

Hermann Hesse

“Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of
extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces.”

Matthew Henry


(a tiny bloom of a strawberry to be / Julie Cook /2015)

****Even though this is actually a post that I wrote 6 years ago,
the notion of Grace has never been far from my thoughts.
For you see, I am very much a product of Grace.

Over and over, or so it seems.

Merriam Webster defines grace as:
a:unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification
b: a virtue coming from God
c: a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance

And so here’s the thing about this “unmerited Divine assistance”-
it is a gift that is freely given.

It is neither earned nor bought.
And it pricks the most tender part of one’s soul.

It pricks the hard steely, yet false, façade and bravado we call self.

It breaks down the walls and the hardened heart while it fills
a sea of endless wounds.

A flood washes over us and we find ourselves terrified of letting
go and letting Grace transform us.

So why is it so hard to receive something so welcoming and healing?
The answer is beyond my soul—it is not something I can logically comprehend…
and maybe that’s the thing.

Grace is not logical.

Grace brings us to our knees…because we know we have not earned this
gift called Grace.
Quite the contrary.
We have done everything in our power to shun it and even repel it.
We bristle at such tender warmth while being too cold,
too hard, too lost to see the simple Truth.

For me it’s seems to have come in phases–
throughout this thing I call life.

Maybe it’s just a matter of me needing to be reminded…
reminded that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t as accepting
of the initial gift as I needed to be….
For I still have kept a deep part of my wounds hidden.

Too ashamed, too hardened, too wounded to think
Grace would or could ever make me truly whole.

I’ve recently been reminded of this most tenderest of gifts.
It’s broken my heart…broken my façade..
and that’s just what Grace does…
it breaks us and then it heals us and then it makes us whole.

And thus we are each the better for Grace…

And so I want to thank my dearest of friends who recently offered me Grace…
Grace coupled by her own graciousness.
A gracious heart…reaching to a wounded heart.
It is a gift she has freely given me—
a freely given gift that was not nor ever has been deserved nor earned,
yet one that was freely and lovingly given…no strings, no penalties.
And it is within this most generous gift that I have been poignantly reminded me
that God is not yet finished with me and that He continues to want
me make me whole.
Love can and does heal a multiple of sin…

and now the post from 2015–

Do you know Grace?
Have you seen it out and about?
During your comings and your goings?
Have you ever been properly or formerly introduced?

I truly much doubt so…
As Grace is often quiet and demure.
It prefers to go rather unnoticed until it is called upon…
More shy than bold.
It is neither garish or loud.
Nor is it boisterous or showy.

What exactly is Grace you ask…

Grace is the second chance when all other chances have been used up.
Grace is the peace in the midst of the fierce raging storm.
Grace is acceptance when the world screams rejection.
Grace is forgiveness when the act has been intolerable.
Grace is hope when none had been previously offered.
Grace is mercy when judgement should be called for…
Grace is life when one actually deserves death…

It should be noted that Grace is not cheap.
For it cannot be bought nor sold.
It can not be bartered over or traded.
It cannot be taken or stolen…
For it is actually free—free to both you and me.

Yet this free Grace was once actually rather costly.
For that which is free today to both you and me, once cost God a great deal.

Think of this question…
Would you ever hand over your child…
Your only child, to be brutally tortured and murdered before your very eyes…
Just to be able to offer someone else their freedom?
I would think not.
Yet that is exactly what happened.

A price paid for the healing power of Grace.
A tremendous price that cost God so very much–
Yet it was a price He willingly paid out of a tremendous love for both you and me. . .
and it is because of that very Grace that I am here, writing you today…

“Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares.
The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin,
and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices.
Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury,
from which she showers blessings with generous hands,
without asking questions or fixing limits.
Grace without price; grace without cost!
The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid
in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing.
Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending
it are infinite.
What would grace be if it were not cheap?…

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance,
baptism without church discipline,
Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession.
Cheap grace is grace without discipleship,
grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ,
living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field;
for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has.
It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods.
It is the kingly rule of Christ,
for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble;
it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves
his nets and follows him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again,
the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow,
and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.
It is costly because it costs a man his life,
and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.
It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner.
Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son:
“ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.
Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear
a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.
Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

parents…teach your children well…so there will be no more horse’s asses

And you (Can you hear?) of tender years (And do you care?)
Can’t know the fears (And can you see?)
That your elders grew by (We must be free)
And so, please help (To teach your children)
Them with your youth (What you believe in)
They seek the truth (Make a world)
Before they can die (That we can live in)

song lyrics by Graham Nash


(The Mayor and Sheriff this past summer at the beach / Julie Cook / 2021

So we’ve all probably witnessed or read of the following tale…

And I’m probably already going viral as we speak…

So let me set the scene…

My husband and I ran into a nearby Target today as I needed to pick up
a few items.
This particular Target is larger than the one we had in our previous community.
I think they call it a super Target.

I really don’t always think bigger is better but that’s just me.

So while we were cruising up and down the various aisles, grabbing what we needed,
I heard a loud ruckus heading our way.
Loud laughter and what sounded like a basketball bouncing up and down on the floor.

What the heck???

My gaze was now fixed toward the end of the aisle as I was waiting to see
what this growing crescendo of noise was all about…

And that’s when I saw them…

5 young teens were kicking a soccer ball down, in and out, the various aisles.
Loud, pushing, shoving, laughing with one another while all acting a fool!

And that’s when it happened.

Just like a cat who bristles and puffs up at some approaching adversary,
I felt myself bowing up for a fight.

I turned my gaze toward these boys.
My eyes narrowed with a steely glare…and that’s when I felt that
familiar out of body voice ready to howl from a place from deep within…

I was in full blown honey badger teacher mode, ready to pounce.

And it only quadrupled when I saw the phone in one of the boy’s hand.
He was recording their reckless antics…
all the while, the soccer ball was kicked into a shelf full of
shaving cream cans…all of which came tumbling off the shelf,
loudly crashing to the floor.

Manager???
Can we say “MANAGER”???!!!!
Where in the world is some sort of manager????
What of parents?????
Where are the parents?????

This reminded me of my first year teaching…
it was the last day of school and the kids broke out all the
fire extinguishers while the principal locked himself in his office.
Bedlam…
And this was just that…bedlam.

The inmates were running the asylum.

They saw me seeing them–and my glare was now laser focused and
they knew it…as their laughter only grew.

This “incident” would no doubt hit their insignificant tik tok postings
showcasing just how fun it can be to go into a store and act like complete
immature horse’s ass while others look on in disgust.

So right when I was ready to spring into action, ready to snatch up some hooligans
by the scruff of their necks…
my husband’s voice broke my concentration...”Don’t even think about it!”

I felt his hand grab my shirt, nudging me in the opposite direction of the boys.
“Let’s go check out.”

He knows ‘teacher mode’ all too well.

So my thoughts today turn to parents.
I was a stupid teenager once.
I was also a parent to a teenager
I was also a high school teacher for 31 years.

Parents…please, please….teach your children well…
and if you do, no one will have to be that stupid unruly horse’s ass.

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

freedom of normalcy—pandemic paradigm shift!

Intellectual progress usually occurs through sheer abandonment of
questions together with both of the alternatives they assume —
an abandonment that results from their decreasing vitality and
a change of urgent interest.
We do not solve them: we get over them.”

John Dewey


(a map of Norway /atlas.com

Yesterday I read a most wonderful post over on Mel Wild’s site,
In My Father’s House.
If you’ve never read any of Mel’s posts, I highly recommend them!
Nourishing food for both soul and mind!!

Yesterday Mel wrote about our need for a pandemic paradigm shift—
meaning we need to be looking at all of this current mess much differently—
lest we lose our ever-loving minds…
as in both our minds and freedoms are in very precarious
places these days.

Mel’s post began with this paragraph:

“Norway has become the latest country to drop ALL Covid restrictions
(see Daily Mail article here), joining an increasing number of other countries.
Norway will have no vaccine mandates, no vaccine passports, no masks,
no social distancing. Large venues, concerts, parties,
sporting events are all allowed, no restrictions on public places or
gatherings of any kind.

He went on to cite the an article by Kim Iversen of the Hill…
Iversen states that…
“the reason for lifting the restrictions isn’t what you would expect:

“The Norweigan government didn’t cite high vaccination rates or
even having the virus under control as justification for returning to
life as normal.
Instead, the Prime Minister said the lifting of restrictions is due to
fatigue in the public of constantly changing restriction and the lack
of normalcy in their daily lives.
She cautions that the virus is still with the world, so take
personal responsibility.”

What they’ve done is changed their whole mindset about the Covid pandemic

We should note that the Prime Minister of Norway is saying that she is lifting
the Covid restrictions in her nation not because Norway is the poster child
of vaccines and lower cases…quite the contrary..

But what she is saying is that in her country she is witnessing
an overwhelming fatigue of the people…
fatigue in the lack of normalcy in their daily lives…

She knows they do not have a huge vaccination rate and that Covid is still
very present in Norway…but she is allowing the citizens to make choices while
living a more normal existence—noting that Covid is now a new virus that will
most likely be with us from here on out…much like all the various flus
and other viruses we combat.

And that’s the thing…we deal with these other viruses by taking our
seasonal precautions—we opt to get vaccinated or not, we take vitamins,
we wash hands, we stay home when sick…

I think I much like Norway…might need to visit it one day!

Here is the link to Mel’s post:

https://melwild.wordpress.com/2021/10/01/its-time-to-shift-our-pandemic-paradigm/

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

Light, truth, humility

Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God’s own nature,
do not return to your former base condition by sinning.
Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member.
Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of
darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God.

St. Leo the Great


(Black eyed Susans / Highland, NC / Julie Cook / 2021

“Once, while I was wondering why Our Lord so dearly loves the virtue
of humility, the thought suddenly struck me, without previous reflection,
that it is because God is the supreme Truth and humility is the truth,
for it is the most true that we have nothing good of ourselves but
only misery and nothingness: whoever ignores this,
lives a life of falsehood. they that realize this fact
most deeply are the most pleasing to God, the supreme Truth,
for they walk in the truth.”

St. Teresa of Avila, p. 175-6
An Excerpt From
Interior Castle

***(the Sheriff’s daycare room is quarantined so the Sheriff will be coming
for a visit during the next couple of days… so I will get back to cookieland
as fast as I can)

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

I can feel it coming…

Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Viktor Frankl

I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh lord
And I’ve been waiting for this moment, for all my life, oh lord
Can you feel it coming in the air tonight, oh lord, oh lord

Lyrics by Phil Collins


(a single leaf suspended between tree and earth / Julie Cook / 2021)

I can feel it.
The question however is, can you?

Can you feel it?
Can you sense it?
Or have you been too desensitized to that which is taking place
all around us?

Change– a great, mighty and yes, even grave change is in the air.

Many of us are already well aware that we cannot possibly know the time
nor the place…
But yet, this change is coming nonetheless.

A great many of us sense that the change is coming and coming soon.

It might be incremental at first.
Slow and innocuous.
Seeping in quietly yet deadly, like a colorless and odorless gas.

Maybe it’s merely what we’ve been witnessing taking place throughout our country
in these past few years…
think BLM, Antifa, the Proud Boys…

Was it born during a crusade?
Was it born in the dark ages of the plague?
Was it born in a Spanish Inquisition?
Was it born in France during the Reign of Terror?
Was it born in the birth of a young nation following its own revolution?
Was it born on the fields of Antietam, Gettysburg, Bull Run, Vicksburg,
Appomattox…or the scorched earth tactic ravaged on Georgia?
Or was it born in the corded nooses dangling from trees?

It might have been born in the mustard gas wafting through
the trenches of WWI ….
It might have been born in the death chambers and ovens of Poland
and Germany.
Maybe it was born in Stalin’s iron fisted USSR gulags.

Maybe it was born in a fast paced and currently overreaching technology.
Maybe it was born on the heaviness of 9/11
Maybe it’s born on our southern borders?
Or was it born in Benghazi or Afghanistan?

Or was it simply born in the disobedience found in a now hidden garden?

Has it simply been unfolding, ever so slowly, for eons?

Division.
Anger.
Resentment.
Fear.
Paranoia.
Bullying.
Lying.

The latest pandemic has only helped to embolden this ensuing change.

Mandates.
Masks.
Ultimatums.
Us vs them.
Passports.
The clean vs the unclean.
Freedom vs dictation.

Virus and illness vs death or life…

Elitism.
Wokeness.
Liberalism.
Cancel Culture.

Christianity, morality, conservatives all now equated to pariah.

Persecution?
Yes.

And with these overwhelming thoughts of change—
in that change is indeed a’coming–
I was actually amazed at the coming together of some giant collective
thinking taking place on a single afternoon.

First there was IB offering a telling vid clip based
on a post found on http://www.aier.org

And I think it’s that ‘in your face’ flaunting by a maskless Squad debutant
that has been truly the taunting on the cake.
An exorbitantly decadent who’s who Met affair featuring
the likes of a young woman feeling her oats, daring
to wear her statement of taxing the rich, stretched across her derrière
as she tips her bareless shoulder, rubbing it with her ever so rich fellow guests.
It was enough hypocrisy to last a lifetime.

The Best Defense Against Violence


https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2021/09/15/the-moral-vacuum-kate-wand/

Then our dear wise sage Oneta offered up her own take on
this air of change with the following post:

MANDATES AND WEARY CHRISTIANS

Posted on September 16, 2021 by oneta hayes

“I’m just not watching anymore TV,” stated my friend.
We had just attended a meeting in which someone said the mess
in our country was our fault, speaking of senior-aged Christians,
laying the blame on our lethargy in letting “stuff” happen without speaking up.
I agree completely.

We have been taught “Live in peace with all men”
and “let there be no divisions between you.”
Letters to editors of papers and magazines—almost unheard of;
attendance at local political rallies—almost unheard of;
protests on the streets—almost unheard of;
spitting fire on tweeter—unheard of.
That’s the way it has been!
It is the fault of sleeping Christians.
Too often Christians point out that we do not fight the way the world fights.
Our duty is to put on the armor of God and pray.
Yep.
But do you believe even five percent of people who
claim to be Christians do that?
Even if we do that, it does not absolve us of having
an obligation to be good citizens of the nation in which we live.

Meanwhile the evil has crept in tide by tide so it is
now a huge wave swamping the land.
Boy scouts have to take girls; “rainbow”
no longer represents a promise of God;
urinals removed from restrooms because it might offend
“persons with no male genitalia;” babies murdered by the millions.

So it goes. Evil has overtaken us. And Christians are weary.

My nephew, Teral, put the following scripture on FB this morning.
And he shall speak great words against the most High,
and shall wear out the saints of the most High,
and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given
into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

Daniel 7:25 KJ

This is speaking of the anti-Christ.
I do not know whether or not the anti-Christ now lives.
But I do know there are things happening right now that
are preparing the way for him.
The current “mandate” orders are a significant sign.

Other translations of the above scripture say
“saints are worn down, oppressed, persecuted.”
I am witness to that truth.

Another interesting thing about this scripture is
“think to change times and laws.”
Isn’t that referring to breaking down of traditions and laws?
Looks like it to me. We are certainly having a change in laws,
moral laws, even in Constitutional laws.
And traditions?
Now it is no longer to talk of mothers and fathers!
A combination of anything can be family –
if indeed one demands a family at all.

And lastly there was the wisdom of Mel Wild of In My Father’s House.
His latest post (actually last two posts) explores the current ignorance found
in those claiming that Christianity is actually Socialism in sheep’s clothing.
His post Sorry, Jesus is NOT a Socialist lays out the truth
that our current culture cares not to acknowledge.

https://melwild.wordpress.com

So let’s round out this small treatise with the master of drums himself,
Phil Collins…who sadly today, due to injury can no longer play his
beloved drums…

a clear blue sky…

And they were canopied by the blue sky,
So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful,
That God alone was to be seen in Heaven.
Lord Byron, “The Dream,” 1816


(Julie Cook / County Cork, Kinsale, Ireland / Sept 2015)


(Julie Cook / County Cork, Kinsale, Ireland / Sept 2015)

Despite the calendar refusing to turn from one season to another, there
was that ever so gentle hint of change.

The lack of humidity, coupled by a deep azure blue sky up above,
brought a slight smile to my face while I walked between the two
school wings.

I was well aware the bell was soon to ring as we readied to move from
2nd period to 3rd.
Over in an adjacent building, I had to pick up some copies for my next class,
so I joyously soaked in the quick respite of peace found outside
on this beautiful September morning.

As I walked back into my building, ready for the bell to ring, I took up
my usual position standing by my classroom door, ready to monitor
the hall during class change.

With the ringing of the bell, doors flung open as a throng of adolescents
chirpped and chatted their way out into the hall…a sea of bodies moving
much like fish, navigating both up, down as well as around the stream of a hallway.

Suddenly, a neighboring teacher and coach, came running up to me grabbing my arm.
“They’ve attacked us…they’ve hit New York and D.C…
“Turn on your television!!!” he yelled out over his shoulder as he continued
racing down the hall.

“What?”
“Attack?”
“Who?”

As my kids began to trickle into the room, I hurriedly went over to
turn on the classroom television.

And there is was…smoke streaming upwards from one of the the
World Trade Towers.

Some of my kids had already gotten wind of what was taking place while
others remained blessedly, albeit briefly, clueless.

There was now a heavy silence in the room as my kids walked in, dropping
their backpacks on the floor as they gathered in front of the T.V.
Some stood, some sat on the table tops, all staring silently at the images on
the television.

One girl broke the silence with a panicked plea…
“Mrs. Cook, my dad, my dad, he flew up this morning to New York for business.”
“Go use the phone in my office to call your mom…”

The remainder of the day was a heavy haze.
New York.
D.C.
Pennsylvania…

The teachable moments that day were unfolding before our eyes on every channel
on every television around the world.

There remained a heightened sense of what could possibly happen next.

Following the end of the day, I waited on my son, who was in the 6th grade,
to walk up from the Jr High so we could go home.
It was more than time to go home.

Like the other kids, he walked into my room overwhelmed.
I got my things together and we walked quietly to the car.

This particular night was to be our monthly school board meeting.
It was the night that the Teacher of the Year was to be announced.
I happened to be one of the three teachers nominated.
I was representing the high school.
The two others were from the elementary school and our junior high.

I had so hoped our superintendent would cancel the meeting
but he was of the mindset that we would not let “the terrorists” win…soooo
the meeting was to begin at 7.

I called my husband telling him that I didn’t want him to accompany me
to the meeting that evening but rather I wanted him to stay
home with our son.
At this point, we really didn’t know what else, if anything, would happen.
Plus the heaviness of what was playing out before our eyes was simply
overwhelming…I wanted to be lost in my thoughts.

Before getting ready to head to the BOE, I walked out onto our back deck.
At the time, we lived about an hour west of Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson
Airport…we lived in one of the westerly flight paths…planes overhead
were always common.
On this particular late afternoon, the sky was eerily quiet because the
Government had grounded all US and international flights in and out…
all around the country.

At the BOE meeting, when it was time to begin the meeting, we all stood for
the Pledge of Allegiance—tears poured from all the gathered faces.
The Board Chairman asked for a moment of silence for all the
lives lost and for all those still missing and for those searching.

He then lead us in reciting The Lord’s Prayer.

The sobs were palpable….

And so now, all these 20 years later…
I wonder….
what have we gleaned, what have we learned?
As an educator, that is always the question…what has been learned?

Looking around…I think we’ve learned very little, if anything.
Despite our vow to remember, we’ve actually forgotten.
We’ve skewed the factual with the desirable.
We’ve softened as we’ve chosen to ignore or even twist reality.

When speaking of Nazi Germany, Winston Churchill once mused
“What kind of people do they think we are?
Is it possible they do not realize that we shall never cease
to persevere against them until they have been taught a lesson
which they and the world will never forget?”

His was a vow that those oppressors and usurpers of democratic freedoms
should never forget that those who have chosen the path of freedom
have vowed to fight the good fight to the bitter end.

I dare say our leadership today has long forgotten such a vow.

The vow to defend Western Civilization from the onslaught of
tyranny and oppression.
But rather our leadership and many of us have actually fostered a culture
of ill that strives to despise itself.
We have turned away and within… as we choose to devour ourselves
from the inside out.

Did approximately 3000 people die in vain September 11th 2001?

What of those individuals who when faced with the choice of burning to
death chose to jump to their death…were those heinous choices in vain?

Did thousands of first responders die in vain that day as they raced toward disaster
rather than retreating?

Have thousands more, who over the past 20 years have fallen victim to lasting
toxins, have they suffered and died in vain?

Have thousands of servicemen and women died in vain defending
the very freedoms that you and I simply take for granted?

Did 13 servicemen and women die last week, in vain, when hastily retreating
from an undignified exit to an unfinished mission all because of a sitting
president’s ill advised plan?

I really don’t know what to think on this 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Who is this America that now looks in the mirror?
I dare say that all those who gave and have given their lives
on and since that fateful September day would no longer recognize the
nation we have become.

Time lessens our sorrow but it also dulls our minds and hardens our hearts.

“True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.”
Clarence Darrow

pete and repeat, on and on it seems to go…

Child #1 “Pete and Repeat were sitting on a fence.
Pete fell off.
Who’s left?”
Child #2 “Repeat.”
Child #1
“Pete and Repeat were sitting on a fence.
Pete fell off.
Who’s left?”…

What the people need is a way to make ’em smile
Line from the Dobboie brothers


(a city sign perches in the city center of Highlands, NC / Julie Cook / 2021)

Do you remember when “they” told us “get the vaccine and you don’t have to
wear a mask”????
Do you remember that????

I’ve had Covid.
I’ve had the vaccine (the two shots vs the one)
I now feel fully double whammied…maybe that’s like
more of a doubled immunity.

So imagine my chagrin this past weekend when we pulled into this
particular little mountain town retreat in which we chose to spend our
38th anniversary celebration.
“MASKS ARE MANDATED INSIDE OUTSIDE SIDEWALKS”

GEES LOUISE!!!!!!! was my initial response as we rolled into town.

“Oh you selfish person you” scream the woke cupcakes over this
initial reaction of mine.

But you need to know something…you need to know that I will always honor
a business’s personal concerns for their own establishment and employees.
My husband was a small business owner for the last 50 years…
so yes, I get that.

But I draw the line outdoors.

It is still very much the summer here in the South—hot, hazy and humid.
Mountains or no mountains…we be hot!

Try breathing through a mask—filtered hot contaminated air coming in,
carbon dioxide going out via the mask…of which means residual C02 remains or
comes right back in…
a perfect wet humid mix of bad air breathed in and out.

Oh how our Italian friends would very much find fault in these bad vapors.

And now let us add in the trash residue…

And so as I labored breathing, watching the other empty masked faces…
suddenly I heard a long forgotten song playing out in my head…
a song by the Doobie Brothers–

Listen to the Music–
Don’t you feel it growin’ day by day?
People gettin’ ready for the news
Some are happy some are sad…
Oh… we got to let the music play
Umm-hmm
What the people need is a way to make ’em smile
It ain’t so hard to do if you know how
Gotta get a message, get it on through…
Oh now mama don’t you ask me why

Yesterday I mentioned that the US had left behind 90 million dollars worth of equipment
in Afghanistan—I mistyped…that was meant to be 90 BILLION dollars in equipment.

That 90 billion is tax payer monies simply abandoned by a sitting president.

It was not as if we were being overrun and had to make a hasty retreat…we
did not. The hasty retreat was of our own current president’s doings.

So if you’d like a free Black Hawk helicopter, maybe a humvee…
all you need to do is to sneak across the Afghani border and claim
your helicopter and or vehicle of choice and fly or drive that puppy
right on out of town.
You are a taxpayer and therefore you are part owner…
and if we are simply leaving such behind, by all means, please, go get yours!

Let us remember that we impeached Richard Nixon for truly a much lesser offense
then that of President Biden.

Nixon obstructed justice and abused his power…
Biden has lied and failed American interests at home and abroad…
think loss of lives,
Biden has abused his power as well as having been negligent in the handling
of American troops.
He has aided in the documented deaths of 13 Americans as well as countless
Americans who have been left behind…as in, stranded.

There has been a blatant abandonment of American citizens…
purposefully and knowingly leaving Americans in harms way.
Bypassing his duty to serve and protect the American people and her
interests both home and abroad.

Impeachable offensives.

Far more egregious than those counts brought against President Trump.
There was no blood on the hands of Trump.
Merely falsified Russian collusion and a falsified pro quid pro.

Blood and the loss of life with intent is far more damnable.

So we wonder…what type of president do we want.
An emboldened go getter or a weak reactive man who claims he’s not
the one in charge.

It seems to be our choice.
So what say you…
Pete, or repeat?

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy
that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life,
and those who find it are few.”

Matthew 7:13-14