Heaven is exclusive…yikes

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here.
This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…
Come further up, come further in!”

C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle


(Augusta National Club)

So the other day, a friend and I were chatting when the conversation rolled around to the
story about how her daughter had flown home this past weekend in order to attend a wedding
and the festive reception aftermath.

The shindig was held at one of Atlanta’s myriad of private “country” clubs.
City clubs, country clubs, tennis clubs, swim clubs, golf clubs, polo clubs…
clubs, clubs, clubs…
Atlanta has always had its fair share of clubs.

However, this particular club is one of Atlanta’s oldest and finest.

Back in college, I had the pleasure of attending a friend’s debut at this said club…
Do they still have such things as debuts??…
Those rights of passage for the more upper-crust amongst us?

Anywho, back to clubs.

This was my first and seemingly last visit to this particular club.
I checked it off my list of things to do before I died..wink, wink.

This club is one of Atlanta’s most prestigious, oldest and most exclusive.
It was founded in 1887 as a private club for Atlanta’s post-war elite males.

It was called a ‘driving’ club because of the carriages that were driven to the club.

This club did eventually allow women and the naturally flowing of families…
but there are still very few, if any, Jewish members and only but a handful of African American members.

In fact Jimmy Carter’s Attorney General, Atlanta’s own Griffin Bell,
a long-standing member of this club,
had to relinquish his membership, back in the day, when he was appointed US AG—
He had to part ways with the club due to its limitations of membership.

The waiting list is currently decades-long, shrouded in mystery and the fees to join is
that of a nice sized fortune.
Plus you need to “know” someone in order to get a foot in the door.
So certainly it is more trouble than most folks want to mess with…hence why
there are other clubs for all sorts of folks.

It’s an old vestige to a different time.

Now I really have no issues with “exclusive” clubs nor do I really care about their
existence or not…
They’ve been around as long as I can remember and I’ve known many
friends who have been members as well as those who would never want to be members…

Much like ancient secretive societes.

And yes, I will confess that my parents did join what was a new country club back
in the early 1960’s…
They joined just so they could take us swimming and have a place to go eat from time to time.
But knowing my dad like I did, it was a far cry from a whos who sort of club as he
would never pay dues for such…he just wanted to get us out of the house and dump us
off to swim throughout the summer.

Now whereas I don’t care who belongs to clubs or not…
there are those who do care…and some who care very much.

For the longest time, Augusta, Georgia’s home of the Master’s Golf tournament,
Agusta’s National Country Club, did not allow women or minorities as members.
I think Condoleezza Rice was the first of both…
a great choice as I really like Ms. Rice, but I digress…

However it was under the pressure of the press, along with various special interest groups,
that the club has since allowed women and minorities to become members…
However, due to the fees and dues, along with the necessity of knowing someone,
plus an often forever waiting list, these are hindrances that put the idea of membership
out of the grasp of most average folks.

And again, like I say, I really don’t give a hoot one way or another
but the irony of this notion of exclusivity is not lost on my thoughts.

Maybe if I played golf or tennis or wanted to socialize on a level beyond socializing
at the grocery store or at the post office, I might be interested…
but since I don’t…I’m good.

However, not all folks feel like I do.
Lot’s of folks do not like the notion of ‘exclusive’

Our overtly equity driven and level playing field culture does care and they care
very very much…

They care so much so that they petition, boycott and rage a twitter war while
wrecking all sorts of havoc…
They busy themselves shaming those exclusive places and those who want exclusiveness
into opening their doors to one and all…in turn, ending any and all exclusiveness…
because everyone will now equal…so yay for our equal culture…

Hummmm.

But really…who cares?

Why do I want to pay and play a part when I’m not keen on paying or playing
in the first place?
I don’t.
So let’s let sleeping dogs lie…or is that lay?
Right?

Lets leave those who wish to be exclusive, to their exclusiveness.

All of this is fine and good…but…when we seem to find the shoe on the other foot…
when what we do, what we say and how we react becomes a key to all this exclusiveness
while we allow such to become paramount…we find ourselves in a full-blown tizzy.

We want desperately to knock the high horses low while elevating the lowly to the higher position…
It’s an age-old human conundrum…envy, coveting and lusting…
as we yearn to assuage our egos by placing everyone even an even keel.

So guess what…here’s a brain explosion…

Something you may have never considered.

Heaven is actually exclusive.

Whoa.

Yeah, I know how you hate hearing such…
In fact, you don’t like hearing such, nor do you even agree…

But it’s true whether you like it or not…

Heaven is truly exclusive.

It’s exclusive to and for all those who hold the fact that Jesus Christ
is Lord and Savior.

Matters not whether you consider yourself a ‘good’ person or that you live
a ‘good’ life…
the one key factor to “getting” in is that you have made Jesus Christ your
lord and savior.

The entrance fee has been paid in full.
The monthly dues have been paid in full.
The membership is open to anyone no matter skin color, financial holdings, social
level or educational accomplishments…in fact, you don’t need any accomplishments…

Plus there’s only one person you need to know in order to help you get in…

It’s that simple.

And yet despite the clamors and protests by the counter culture and our uber progressive
society, Heaven will always remain exclusive…

The one key for membership…Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

principles found in an oddly shaped black hat

Great ambition is the passion of a great character.
Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts.
All depends on the principles which direct th
em.
Napoleon Bonaparte


(one of only a handful of Napoleon’s hats that remains / Le Proccope Restrauant /
Julie Cook / Paris, France / 2018)

Well, after a week of here and there babysitting, I’ve finally, however painfully
and reluctantly, returned The Mayor back home to Atlanta.
She was returned home in one piece albeit with her nagging cold still intact.

And so slowly I am now literally picking up the pieces while working on regaining
my thinking brain.

So on Saturday our local news offered the latest breaking state news that has me more
than simply thinking…

But before I get to that story, let me offer up a tiny precursor…
a tiny tale that reminds me of this particular current news situation of ours.

The hat in the image above is but one of a handful of the remaining famous bicorne hats
worn by France’s most famous leader, Napoleon Bonaparte (Marie Antoinette aside).
The last known hat of only 19 that remain, went to auction earlier this year.
It was a hat that was supposedly recovered from the battlefield at Waterloo and
fetched a whopping $325,000 at auction.

History offers us the small tidbit that, whereas most military leaders of the day
wore their hats with points facing forward and back, Napoleon,
on the other hand, preferred wearing his hats sideways.
This allowed Napoleon to be readily identified when on the battlefield.
A rather bold stance given the fact that many military leaders preferred blending in so
as not to be easily “picked off” by the enemy…
because what’s an army without its leader?

But given Napoleon’s ego, it is no surprise that he would prefer to be noticed
rather than not.

And I must confess, I have always had an affinity for France’s most famous,
or perhaps more accurately, infamous little general…
And so since I’ve previously written about that attraction before it should come as no
surprise of the level of excitement I experienced when recently given the opportunity
of seeing one of his earliest bicorne hats up close and personal.

On our recent visit to Paris, we opted to enjoy an evening’s meal at Le Procope, Paris’
oldest consecutively operating restaurant.
Le Procope has been serving discerning pallets since 1686.
They also boast having one of the most synonymous items associated with one of Paris’
most well-known individuals.
One of Napoleon’s earliest bicorne hats.

The story goes that Napoleon would often frequent Le Procope.
But so did Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Rousseau, Robespierre, Marat,
and George Sand to name just a few
But the story goes that as a young soldier, Napoleon would come to eat and in typical
fashion, brood night after night…running up quite the tab.

As payment for his escalating bill, Napoleon paid with what he had…that being his hat.
He informed the proprietors that one day his hat would be world famous because he would,
in turn, become famous.
And obviously, the proprietor took him at his word and accepted the hat.

And so now the oldest restaurant in Paris boasts owning one of the earliest hats
worn by what many consider to be France’s greatest and most brilliant tacticians and
military leaders.

Well, that is how they feel now as we all know that France has had an up and down,
love-hate relationship with her dearest yet height challenged leader.

I say all of this because as an up and coming soldier, Napoleon was like any young
soldier, woefully strapped for cash.
Acknowledging that he needed to pay his debt, he did so by giving what he had, his hat…
coupled with the guarantee that the hat would indeed suffice as payment as it would
certainly, cover his expenses given that his future was on track for fame…

And so this not so modest offering has indeed become quite rare and somewhat priceless
while in the end, Napoleon’s guarantee had come to fruition and then some.

A few weeks back I wrote a post about life in ‘the middle’—
as in our nation’s recent proclivity for being pretty much split down the middle given
our voting persuasions.

There are no clear-cut winners anymore because it’s now a matter of an almost equal tug of war
with an opponent’s toe barely crossing the line when suddenly the other opponent, who’s still
pulling, is proclaimed the victor…

So with more near miss victors than ever before…
a wealth of those having won by only a toe’s length or the proverbial skin of the teeth,
the losing side has taken to the ugliness of temper tantrums.

The problem in all of this is the growing numbers of near-miss victors and their equally
determined tug of war partners unwilling to surrender—despite their toe having crossed
the line.

It just seems there are simply no real clear cut winners any more—no full out right bodies
that come flying over the line after being jerked over by the formidable foe—
rather it’s come down to a constant stream of photo finishes.

Take for instance the recent race for Governor here in Georgia.

The numbers told us that the Republican Brian Kemp won.
The numbers were simply not there for his Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams.
Although the numbers were indeed close.

Brian Kemp is a what many consider to be a typical good ol’ boy, Southern politician
while Abrams is a single black woman who was poised to be the first black woman
to hold such a prestigious office here in the deep south…
putting her on the edge for making monumental history.

Lots of unspoken thoughts and opinions are now floating and flying around about both of
these tug of war opponents and their collective sides.

So in typical ‘in the middle’ mindset of this nation…Abrams whose toe was pulled slightly
over the line…obviously over the line…refused to let go of the rope despite
the arms raised of the victor Kemp.

Two weeks have now passed despite Kemp claiming the victory in the wee hours of the vote counting,
as Abrams has now dug in and refused to give up her end of the rope.

Mathematically it has been clear that it would be impossible for her to call for a re-count
let alone a runoff.

So finally yesterday, two weeks after the fact, Abrams emerges to make a statement.
She announces that Kemp will be governer but that she will not concede…
in fact, she will file a lawsuit over Georgia’s voting irregularities…
Irregularities for a state that proudly boasts that its voting practices have been on point
for the past oh so many years.

On the one hand, we have someone admitting their opponent has won the prize while they in turn
refuse to admit that they have lost.
A refusal to concede while skirting around the obvious.
A win and a loss…no tie.

No longer do we as a public witness any level of magnanimity between opponents.
There is no graciousness between opponents let alone between one party to another.
No sense of decorum.
No extending of the hand from the vanquished to the victor noting a race well run…

Rather there is refusal.
There is denial.
There are claims of foul play.
There is the stomping of the tantrum’s foot.

No more is there a “may the best man, or woman, win” mentality.

No longer are there lessons of fair play or the lessons of how to win or lose graciously
being offered for our youth.
No examples of taking the high road.
No living with the numbers…
Rather its a matter of refusing to acknowledge defeat.
No more selflessly throwing one’s support behind the victor in order to work together
for the betterment of “the people”…for the sake of both sides of voters.

This current sort of mentality and poor sportsmanship leaves me, a voter, resentful of the
tantrum makers.
It makes me angry.
I am discovering very quickly that I have no tolerance for obstructionists.
Those who are the stalematers, the momentum breakers, the saboteurs of our own successes.
Those who wish to stop the good of the entire nation for the good of themselves.

And so I think of Napoleon.

But not so much for reasons one would assume.

Yes, he was a man who was small in stature but huge in ego.
A man who even I admit hated the notion of losing.
His was a life of battle and conquest with the ultimate goal being his own rising to the top.

Not the most magnanimous of mindsets.

Humility was not a word ever used to describe Napoleon.
No self-deprecating in his corner of the world.

The question of his true motives and his real concern being either for France and her people or
simply for himself…well…only history can help us pick that apart…

And yet here in this tale of an obscure little black and oddly shaped hat,
we learn of a would be great man acknowledging his being in a bit of a tight spot.

We hear the acknowledgment that even those
with great expectations of self can still recognize and even own up to stumbling
while being, in the end, at somewhat of a loss.

In this case, the loss of enough cash to pay one’s bill.
Living fast, loose and large and not being able to afford to do so.
Just like so many in our society today.

And yet we know Napoleon did not run out on his debt…something he easily could have done.
Yet there was the matter of honor and of principles.
Honor and principles that many of us lack today while preferring to live loose and large…
We assume that someone else, such as the government, should come to the rescue
and excuse or even pay for such wanton living.

But here, an otherwise self-centered egotist owns up to owing…
and pays his bill with the only thing he really owns at the time, he pays with a hat.
A hat along with a promise…
All while a gracious proprietor, who at the time, probably rolled
his eyes as he’d heard his fair share of grandiose dreams from one dreamer too many,
in turn, graciously accepted this pitiful payment none the less.

A simple act of give and take.

As we learn that a truthful acknowledgment, albeit hard truths, actually give way to a glimpse
of humility.
And there must always remain humility if there is to be any sense of hope in our society.

So when even just a hair of that toe crosses the line, admitting we’ve been defeated is not only
the right thing to do, it is the only thing.

Fair and square losses…
losses with no amount of whining, fussing and cussing, challenging, foot stomping
or threats of lawsuits can turn a loss into a win…
and if it could, in the end, would the win by hook and crook be worth the cost of our
humanity?

I worry that our society has lost all hope for the glimmer of her principles, those being
foremost graciousness and humility.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but
each of you to the interests of the others.

Philippians 2:3-4

to be kind

“Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush,
anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on,
so that children have very little time for their parents.
Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the
disruption of peace of the world.”

Mother Teresa

“It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us.
It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain
of someone unloved in our own home.
Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.”

Mother Teresa


(the wee one letting her feelings be known during a shopping outing / Abby Cook / 2018)

I would wager that most of us would agree that it’s pretty easy to be kind to a baby
or for that matter, a small child.

That is unless you’re some kind of depraved individual but those are sad thoughts for another day.

Babies just seem to have a way of drawing us in…into their little worlds.
They do so with their large inquisitive eyes, their sweet and heartwarming smiles
and their openly unconditional acceptance.

You have a bad hair day — a baby doesn’t care.
You have visible scars — a baby doesn’t care.
You have internal scars — a baby doesn’t care.
You have issues, a baby simply doesn’t care.

They smile, they coo, they draw us in…

And suddenly we have no cares.

We don’t care about much of anything but for this exchange of warmth and kindness.
We are lost in the kindness.
It just feels good.
No cares, no worries…just basking in an exchange of endorphin pumping feel good
between two individuals.

That is of course until said baby or small child decides they are displeased with life’s
current circumstance.
All of which could be due to hunger, teething, a soiled diaper, colic,
too hot, too cold, too tired…you name it.

And it is at these very moments that our own capacity for kindness seems to quickly
dissipate as our nerves take over and kindness takes a back burner.

So we ask ourselves…does kindness come naturally?

I’m no psychologist or anthropologist or neurologist.
I don’t study people’s brains or actions or reactions.

Rather I am just a wife married for 35 years, a mom to a 30-year-old, and now a grandmother
to a 5-month-old. Plus I was a high school teacher for 31 years…
so I kind of know people and I often know myself…be that for good or bad.

Kindness seems to be more of a reciprocating response.

Now granted there are certain folks out there who just seem to be more innately
kind than others.
Think Melanie versus Scarlett.

And yet I’ve observed some really gruff individuals lose some of that bristled gruffness rather
quickly when met with pure kindness.

In our day’s quote, Mother Teresa observes that we often tend to be more gracious,
more kind to strangers much more readily than we do to those actually closest to us.

An odd human condition.

She notes that perhaps it is easier to be kind and gracious to those we don’t know rather
then those who actually deserve our kindness the most….those who are closest to us
in our lives. Yet it is those individuals who we often look over, take for granted or
just assume they care despite our brusqueness, attitudes, selfishness, curtness,
rudeness, and self-absorption.

I know this to be true.
I recall now in hindsight my days as an adolescent and I feel the constant need to offer up
my apologies to Mother.

I also know that during 35 years of marriage, I’ve had a lot to learn in the way of kindness.

Two imperfect people are joined in the union of marriage…to have and to hold…to
love, honor and respect, to live with until death does them part…
all the while, the perfect union and marriage is being lived by two very imperfect people…
a bit of a blind leading the blind.

I know that I tend to be a bit hard-headed and stubborn. I blame an Irish heritage.
I know that I tend to be the one who is always more right than wrong despite my
husband not yet figuring this out.

And yet I also know that I can be more Scarlett than Melanie…
wanting things my way…
I can be selfish, snappy, short-tempered, overwhelmed and moody.

And I also know that my husband has a high frustration level,
very little patience and is a 69-year-old by-product of a very abusive alcoholic father
who left deep lasting scars.
Add in the fact that my husband is nearly deaf so he can misinterpret, misunderstand
or miss everything I say…talk about over the top frustrating.

And so often in this life of ours, kindness has sadly taken a backseat.

And yet kindness seems to be a glue.
It is a binding agent.
It can bind two imperfect people together placing them under the blanket, or yoke if you will,
of the One who casts the perfect light of hope and healing over our human brokenness.

And yet we know this act of kindness must often be learned as well as worked on.
It is something I have learned that is a grace that more often than not
must be prayed for, cared for and nurtured.
It is a grace that God will and can work in our hearts.

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost;
he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.

Saint Basil

can you read between the lines or do I need to loan you my glasses?

Others have commented that it was such a powerful message and it should
get people to reading the bible.
Still others that even if it wasn’t spot on we should take the Philippians 1:18
attitude “But what does it matter?
The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true,
Christ is preached.” –
But that is the key question – was Christ preached?
Was the love of Christ preached?

It wasn’t.
David Robertson


(what will be/ Julie Cook/ 2018)

I suppose I should clarify a few things.

I do not describe myself as an evangelical, a charismatic, a reformist, a progressive,
a liberal, a right winger, a holy roller, a Calvinist, a Wesleyan, a Lutheran,
or even a Henry the VIII follower for that matter…although I was raised in his brand of
the church…

Rather simply put, I claim that of being orthodox—-
Meaning that which is “sound or correct in opinion or doctrine,
especially theological or religious doctrine.
Conforming to the Christian faith as represented in the creeds of the early church.”

As in God said it…therefore it is.

It’s quite simple really as there are no mincing of words.
As the mincing of words, God’s word to be exact, is a practice that so many Believers,
as well as nonbelievers alike, deeply enjoy engaging in these days.

It’s a cut and paste sort of mindset.

Meaning we cut out that which we don’t like while pasting in the parts we do like.

We embrace words such as love, inclusive, wide, happy, feel-good, acceptance, united,
renewal and even embrace itself…
all the while rejecting words such as truth, covenant, tenant, consequence, choose,
narrow, difficult, hard, fact…

My orthodoxy is a very far cry from today’s post-Christian, post-modern, anything goes,
feel good ideology that’s currently spreading like wildfire throughout Western Civilization.

And you should know that I’ve tried it my way, the world’s way, other’s way, no way…
but the only way, of which I’ve always learned the hard way, is that in the end,…
it can only be God’s way.

And so when I hear, see and read so much heightened excitement over a sermon delivered
during a wedding that has been passed off as some sort of faith grounded Christian
new age theology, I am perplexed.

In oh so many weeks I have uttered the same words over and over again…words steeped all
within the same and similar vein…
that of false prophets, false doctrine, cultural shifts, culture gods…
as I remind all of us that the Devil’s minions can recite Scripture with the most
sound theologian.

I have long stated that we are at war…

A deep and divisive Spiritual war.

I know that the battles will rage on but the actual war has already been long won…
I know this good news.
This while many of us are left here to continue the good fight.
As well as left to sound the clarion call into battle.

The sheep and goats are being separated.
There is no getting around that fact.

And that is not a gloom and doom prophesy but sound Scriptural fact.
One of those facts our post-Christian society hates to acknowledge.

So when an animated prelate delivers cut and paste words of which our culture
longs to hear is it a wonder we embrace them??
We say “see, he get’s it…”
He uses the right words…words of love, inclusiveness, union, Jesus, acceptance…

But what our itchy ears fail to hear is that the words don’t fit in sequence with one another.

Chunks of mandates are left out.
Entire tenants are ignored.
A whitewashing has taken place of the original facts.
All being passed off as an old Gospel that is actually quite new.

I could hear all of that in his sermon.
Why do so many others not hear?

Gavin Ashenden heard what I heard.
David Robertson heard what I heard.

“I don’t believe that 2 billion people heard the Gospel in this sermon.
The only people who heard the Gospel in it were Christians who already know Gospel.
Instead of rejoicing in the crumbs we get from heretics,
we should be seeking to learn more of Christ ourselves and get out there and tell the world
about the real Jesus – one person at a time!

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
David Robertson.

David has offered a reflection for Christian Today, here is a link to his thoughts with only
more to follow…

Bishop Michael Curry’s Sermon – A Distorted Gospel Divides the Church

when disagreeing becomes a hate crime

The idea of opposing dangerous ideologies is not foreign to Americans,
but the idea of opposing an ideology that is also a religion is more problematic.
It has become increasingly problematic now that we live in an era in which merely
disagreeing with another’s opinions is tantamount to a hate crime.

William Kilpatrick
excerpt from LifeSite.com


(statue of homeless Jesus outside of Christ Cathedral Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Ideology versus religion.
Disagreement versus hate.

We seem to be having a very difficult time discerning between these 4 words.

Ideology:
a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture
b: a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture
c: the integrated assertions, theories, and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program

Religion:
a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

Disagreement:
the state of being at variance

hate:
a: intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury:
b: extreme dislike or disgust

I stumbled across the following article that I found most telling.
The title alone grabbed me and reeled me into reading further.
The Catholic Church Needs to Wake Up to Islam

The article focused on the hierarchy of the Chruch,
in particular the Catholic Chruch, and its inadequate response,
handling and understanding the difference between a religion versus that of an ideology.

With the religion and ideology in question being Islam.

A religion and ideology that has minced no words in its disdain for
those of the Judeo/ Christian world.

The problem is that church leaders seem not to understand that the two are indeed the same…
as in one in the same…a mindset along with a belief system.
Mr. Kilpatrick pointedly explains that the church fathers just don’t seem to “get that.”

Not only does the hierarchy of the Catholic Church struggle with the difference…
most of the Christian fold struggles.
They, they being you and I, struggle along with most of the secular west.

For you and I need to understand that a basic ingredient to our western DNA psyche is
the fact that we like to and want to “play nice”—it’s who we are.
We’re a kumbaya lot.

And that’s because we think and feel that that’s just how normal civilized human beings act…
People want to play nice right?

We want to and desperately try to give the benefit of the doubt to each and all—
along with that whole notion of ‘do unto others as you would want to be done unto you…
despite any religious inclination or not…that mindset is really at our core.

The problem is that various ideologies do not “play nice” nor do they care to play nice.
And we westerners just don’t get that.

And in our rush and zeal to always play nice, we’ve raced off half-cocked
decreeing that anyone who disagrees with an ideology…
well, they are guilty of being hateful…as in committing hate crimes.

So we’ve basically thrown the concept of disagreement out with the bath water and
hopscotched all the way over to hate.

Remeber when we use to acquiesce to those we couldn’t come to terms with by
saying “well, let’s just agree to disagree” …meaning that we realized that we were at
an impasse of thought on a topic or issue but we’d remain civil, cordial and even peaceful
by letting the disagreements pass without driving a wedge of contention—
each of us would keep our independent thoughts without fussing or bickering or
forcing our ways, thoughts, ideas upon the other.

It’s what civilized folks did.

Unfortunately, our society has morphed into something else entirely.
We no longer allow for disagreements but rather equate the word disagreement
with the word hate.

Two entirely different words with two entirely different meanings yet we’ve twisted them
together…melding the two into one.
Yet unlike Islam which is both a religion and ideology,
disagreement and hate are not one and the same.

And so sadly we are now seeing the various leaders of both the Christian and Jewish faiths
failing to understand the trouble in all of that thinking.

Yet what is most worrisome in all of this is that the Judaeo/ Christian faiths are
not offered or afforded the same gift of tolerance or global acceptance and the right
to disagree as, say, the ideology of Islam receives…
or even atheism for that matter…but that issue of thought
is for another day.

So now Christians and Jews are expected to bend to the wields of the very ideology
that actually seethes a deep hatred toward their very existence.

So it was with great interest that I read the following words and article by
William Kilpatrick in an article in Crisis Magazine.

Mr. Kilpatrick offers a warning that it would be wise that our religious leader stand firm
against ideologies…while explaining that to stand firm does not mean that we are to hate…
merely that we hold true to the tenants of our faiths…

By contrast, Church leaders and Pope Francis in particular, have become,
in effect, enablers of Islam.
Pope Francis has denied that Islam sanctions violence,
has drawn a moral equivalence between Islam and Catholicism
(“If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence”),
and has campaigned for the admittance of millions of Muslim migrants into Europe.
Moreover, he has criticized those who oppose his open borders policy as hard-hearted xenophobes.
In return for his efforts,
he has been publicly thanked by several Muslim leaders for his “defense of Islam.”

One might be tempted to use the word “collaborator” instead of “enabler.”
But collaborator is too strong a word. In its World War II context,
it implies a knowing consent to and cooperation with an evil enterprise.
It seems clear to me that the pope and others in the hierarchy are enabling the spread
of an evil ideology; however,
it’s not at all clear that they understand what they’re doing.
Francis, for instance, seems to sincerely believe that all religions are roughly equal in goodness.
Thus for him, the spread of any religion must seem like a good thing.
It’s an exceedingly naïve view, but one that seems honestly held.

But one can’t plead ignorance forever.
Eventually, the reality of the situation will become plain to all but the most obtuse.
At that point – at the point the threat is undeniable –
we assume that the people in power will wake up and take the appropriate actions.
But what if the awakening comes too late? The pope, for one,
has shown little evidence that he will change his views on the subject.
If anything, he has doubled down –
recently going so far as to say that the rights of migrants trump national security.
We should not look to the pope to lead the way on this issue.
He seems constitutionally incapable of entertaining doubts about his Islam policy.
It looks like the impetus to change course will have to come from bishops,
priests and Catholic laity.
They had better get busy.
There is no time to waste.

Published with permission from Crisis Magazine

https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/the-catholic-church-needs-to-wake-up-about-islam

the Christian Paradox

“We live in an age when unnecessary things are our
only necessities.”

Oscar Wilde


(the sad little cherub birdbath has seen better days / Julie Cook / 2017)

Reflecting back over this past and most chaotic year—chaotic on so many levels….
As it has been chaotic, yes, personally but perhaps the correct word there
would be difficult….

Yet chaotic is what it has been, none the less and more importantly, on
a National and Global level….
thus making it more acute because its a sort of chaotic which affects us all.

It has been a year which has seen its fair share of words and acronyms,
some tried and true, some new and biting…each having left us changed.

Words and letters such as BREXIT, Tweet, Trump, Merkel, May,
Hillary, Russia, Putin, LBTGQ, ISIS, snowflakes, cupcakes, harassment,
sexual, misogynist, tolerance, intolerance, conservative, media, fake news,
liberal, Socialist, Nazi, Communist, accept, Democrats, Homophobic, Republicans, e-mails,
leaks, white supremacist, racist, walls, migrants….

On and on the list has grown….
so perhaps the ending of this particular year is coming none too soon.

It has certainly been perplexing watching the shift in dynamics within our Nation
as well as within the world at large.

It has been disconcerting watching this shift in Culture—
particularly in and with what we thought we knew.

It is maddening to be called “phobic” when one simply disagrees with a sinful
lifestyle.

In the latest posting of Anglican Unscripted, Bishop Ashenden was also opining
the same sorts of issues but with a more keen eye on the shift within Christian
Culture and the Church….

The good Bishop notes that there are all sorts of calls emanating from various pulpits,
all the way to Canterbury itself, the ancient seat of the Anglican Church—

Calls are being made for a total acceptance, absolute tolerance and drastic change….
Coupled by the actual accusations towards those who opt not to get on board with the
acceptance, the tolerance and the change….
Actually accusing those who cling to Scriptural Authority as being outdated,
out numbered and flat out wrong.

I can remember when words from various pulpits were words of God, Salvation, Fatih, Sacrifice, Obedience, Jesus, Love, Grace—
not this modern mantra of jumping on the culture train or else…….

Bishop Ashenden notes that it seems as if the majority of the English Clergy,
(and I would include their kissing cousins of the Episcopal Church), are
either outright socialists or of socialist leanings.
While frustratingly the more Orthodox remain silent for fear of reprisals.

As it appears that the majority of both clergy and laity have lost confidence in the Spiritual message of Salvation, that which calls for all humans to repent,
having rather “transferred their allegiance to a political solution.”
Because who wants to be told to repent from a lifestyle that society has
deemed worthy as God has succinctly and resoundingly deemed as sinful?

And what we the Faithful must note….is that within that notion of all things
of a political solution, there is absolutely no call to or for repentance.

Anglican unscripted:

And now we look to the paradoxical…

We look to the counter balance to all of the liberal heavy handed hullabaloo
with the story of the ancient Coptic Church in Egypt.

It is a church whose roots are found in St Mark who brought the Gospel to Egypt
during the reign of the Emperor Nero.
A long suffering church body of Believers who have suffered at the hands of Islam
since Muslims invaded their homeland in 641.

Believers who do not adhere to the cultural gods, but rather adhere only to the
Word of the One Almighty and Omnipotent God…

For there is no demand for change, or tolerance of the sinful, or acceptance of
society’s demands.


(Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Church of Egypt)


(The Amir Tadros coptic Church in Minya on Sunday.
The building was set ablaze on Aug. 14)

Consider the following comment….

What kind of faith makes people go back to church immediately after that
church was bombed?
What kind of faith makes people chant the Nicene Creed right after their church
was bombed?
What kind of faith makes a community continue liturgy outside because their church
wasn’t yet safe enough to be in?
What kind of faith makes one go on national TV and tell persecutors that they
are loved and forgiven after they just attacked and killed 28 Christians?
The unshakable faith of Christ.

We mourn.
We are in pain.
We are angry.
We have lost many brothers and sisters in Christ, and their blood continues to flow.
But many of us neglect to remember something –
the Coptic Christians remain undefeated.
They continue to grow.
They continue to inspire and strengthen the faith of Christians around the world.

https://howtoreligion.wordpress.com/2017/12/29/coptic-orthodoxy-and-self-defense/

And so will round out these thoughts with the words of the late Orthodox monk and saint,
Saint Paisios…..

“[St. Paisios responds to the question: ‘Geronda, what is this joy that I feel?
Can it be that I am not aware of my sinfulness?’]

No, my child!
God gives you a chocolate here and there, in order to give you joy.
For now, it’s chocolates; later, it will be wine —
like the wine they drink in Paradise.
Do you know how sweet is the wine they drink there?
Oh my!
If God sees a little philotimo (*), a bit of good disposition,
He offers His Grace abundantly, and it intoxicates you —
even from this life.
The spiritual delight one receives, and the transformation he feels in his heart
when the Grace of God visits him, cannot be given…
even by the best cardiologist in the world.
When you feel such joy, try to hold on to it for as long as you can.”
~+~
(*) – Philotimo, is the spontaneous, self-sacrificing love shown by humble people,
from whom every trace of self has been filtered out,
full of gratitude towards God and their fellow man.
Philotimo comes from a deep, abiding connection with God,
so that one is constantly moved to do and seek that which is good,
right and honorable.
(Although this definition has been repeated many times during these teachings,
the last time was 5 months ago,
I feel it is never too often to remind us of its awesome meaning!)

From Discerning Thoughts

And so we end this year of the humanly chaotic being warned.
For we the faithful are being called.
Called not to be quiet, not to fear reprisals, not to accept that which is wrong
but to hold up to the world the Image of God incarnate in His only begotten son….

His duality is seen in the oldest documented Icon of Christ the Pantocrator.
One side of his face is the Christ who is benevolent, kind and loving,
the other side is of the Christ who sits in judgement….judgement of all mankind.

What those who clamor for all things cultural and accepting have chosen to ignore
that Jesus will indeed sit in judgement.

We are called to repent.
To be repentant.
For in that repentance and in that the turning away from sin is found
the true acceptance of Salvation.


(Christ Pantocrator, the oldest known Icon of Christ, 6th Century AD / St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai)

Adequate grasp

The greatest test of whether the holiness we profess to seek or to attain
is truth and life will be whether it produces an increasing humility in us.
In man, humility is the one thing needed to allow God’s holiness to dwell
in him and shine through him.
The chief mark of counterfeit holiness is lack of humility.
The holiest will be the humblest.

Andrew Murray


(the sea is His and He made it / psalm 95:5…Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2017)

“lacking an adequate grasp on the holiness of God…”

As I was reading a fellow bloggers post yesterday morning, this particular line jumped out at me.
It was a profound notion……

adequate,
grasp,
holiness,
God…

Four seemingly simple words…yet when combined…massively powerful…

Chances are that if you’ve bought into the sweeping wash of secularism that is
currently blanketing most of the landscape….
then you do not have an adequate grasp on the holiness of God…
because chances are…
you don’t give much credence to the concept of either holiness or God.

We’ll assume that you certainly know and understand words like ‘adequate’…
and we’ll even wager that you probably don’t much like a word like adequate
because you actually prefer things like big, grand, plentiful, extra, great,
more, bar none, superior….
you don’t like just plain adequate.

You also, hopefully know the word grasp…as in…you get it, you understand it,
you comprehend it…
Yet because you’re a secularist and because secularists don’t like to do
the ‘grasping’ of anything too far and beyond…
preferring rather such notions of a mass acceptance of what is simply sitting right
in front of one’s face, words like grasp don’t go far in your limited view.

And as for matters of holiness and God…well…
those concepts are most likely not much on your radar either…
Because that’s how secularism is…
it separates…
it separates God from everything else…as in…
He’s over there and we and all our stuff are over here…
as in separate, as in secular…..

For secularism has no need of the notion of holiness nor of God because those things
speak of things and beings and places that are ‘other than’…
as in something or someone who is elsewhere and beyond….as in Greater than…

Secularism likes things that are here, now and readily available and easily grasped…
as in less than actually…simple and easy…
Not being bothered with that which is greater than….
because cutting out the greater than makes things easier to handle…

Yet you should know that you can’t cut God out of anything because
He is in and of everything…
As that my friend is more than of an adequate grasp of the holiness of God…

The knowledge that He is of and in absolutely everything…
as in there can be no separation…
no secularization where God is concerned…
because He and His being permeates absolutely everything and therefore
it is impossible to cut Him out of that which He belongs….

and thus…we now have an adequate grasp on the holiness of God……

For thus says the high and lofty One
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit,
to revive the spirit of the humble,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Isaiah 57:15