The question…would St. Valentine still give his life today?

“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is,
than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings,
what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends,
what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”

Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

We’re off to celebrate a certain Mayor’s 2nd birthday.
Birthday on Monday.
Party on Saturday.

But before we get to birthday celebrations, we need to remember the day of all things Amore…
Yes, Dean Martin is indeed crooning in the background…

I wanted to stop long enough to consider the real person of Saint Valentine.

A Christian martyr versus the modern-day commercialized king of roses,
chocolate, and amore.

I caught this great piece yesterday on the Federalist regarding the life of the real
St. Valentine along with the story of his martyrdom.
The question posed was what might be St. Valentine’s thoughts regarding
today’s modern 21st century’s concept of marriage…?
Would he still sacrifice his life for today’s shifting thoughts on marriage?

Because that’s what St. Valentine did—he gave his life over to martyrdom for
performing Christian marriages— of which ran counter to the pagan thoughts of
marriage throughout Imperial Rome.
He would not bow to Ceaser nor Rome’s pagan gods.

This is a great piece—so please enjoy.
And just remember…there actually remains a real-life story…one of true agape love
which lies buried beneath those roses, chocolates and special romantic
dinners out.

Now off for the Mayorial celebrations!

Would Saint Valentine Be A Christian Martyr For Marriage Again Today?
We can especially feel an intense hostility towards the very idea of marriage that
Saint Valentine represented: the union of one man and one woman, centered on Christ,
and loyal until death.

One of the many legends about Saint Valentine is that he was a Christian priest martyred
by Roman authorities for secretly performing Christian marriages.
We used to think of Saint Valentine as the good guy in that scenario.
Today?
Not so much maybe, given the hostility towards the idea of Christian
marriage in our culture.

Saint Valentine would have committed a double offense by the time he was beheaded
in 270 A.D.
First, he defied Emperor Claudius II’s ban on marriage, a ban intended to create a
larger pool of effective soldiers by preventing young men from becoming attached to wives and families.
Second, as a Christian, Saint Valentine would have refused to bow down to false gods and the state,
and taught his brethren likewise.

The custom of burning incense to the pagan gods and to Caesar would have violated
the conscience of any devout Christian because it would be a public betrayal and rejection of Christ.
In addition, incense is significant in worship.

When the custom was in force, the authorities didn’t actually require anyone to
believe in the gods, but simply to go through the motions.
They thought it was no big deal. But it was a very big deal,
because the point was to enforce conformity and capture people’s consciences.

That’s not to say Christians uniformly resisted. Most likely obeyed,
while those who resisted were persecuted, even put to death.
Needless to say, this caused some division among Christians.

Christians during the great persecutions had a special example of
steadfastness in Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, who was 86 when he was arrested
and martyred around the year 155. According to tradition, when brought to judgment,
the Roman proconsul was astonished to see in Saint Polycarp a venerable old man
he did not want to execute.

So he offered him what he thought was a generous out: if Polycarp would just
toss a teensy pinch of incense (not even noticeable) to Caesar, then he would be set free.
Of course, Polycarp would have none of that. So he was burned alive instead.
Sacrificial Love versus Shiny Object Love

There are plenty of other legends about Valentine and other saints.
The point is that Valentine’s Day originated as a celebration of the sacrificial love
upon which Christian marriage is based. To “be true” is to be willing to make the
ultimate sacrifice for someone, and to proclaim that love for better or for worse, until death.

Valentine’s Day is still filled with beautiful traditions, such as exchanging
heartfelt notes of love and gifts to those we care about.
Who doesn’t enjoy the beauty of roses and the deliciousness of chocolate?
Commercialization is a given, and often a testament to things we love anyway.

But in many ways Valentine’s Day got hijacked by the shiny objects offered by
the sexual revolution: self-gratification, “free love,” etc. For many, sexual attraction
or hooking up is the only reason to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Self-sacrifice?
What’s that?
Sacrificial love doesn’t sell.
Often people seek out others who practice it because they prefer not to practice
it themselves.
Funny how that works.

By 1998, Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues” decided to dub the day “V-Day,”
which she said stood for “Victory, Valentine, and Vagina.”
Well, not much love and sacrifice there. V-Day is still around, with the
mission of raising awareness of violence against women, “both cis and trans.”
(Since 1998, of course, the V-Day folks discovered that “men can have vaginas.”)

In any case, the V-Day project represents a trend that seeks to separate men and women—
on Valentine’s Day.
Such separation is the end result of the sexual revolution.
After all, the push to legally abolish all sex distinctions is nihilistic,
especially towards marriage.
Hostility Toward Christian Marriage

As V-Day plods its cheerless way onward, we seem to be witnessing a revolve back
in the direction of persecution. First, there was a celebration of Saint Valentine
and sacrificial love, particularly in Christian marriage.
Then the predictable focus on romantic love, much of it in the Victorian era
that popularized the sending of Valentine cards.

With the sexual revolution, we get a more direct focus on sex as the centerpiece
of the festivities.
Predictably, the sexual revolution then spawned resentment rather than love,
now by using the day to raise awareness of wife-beating and other forms of
violence against women.

We can especially feel an intense hostility towards the very idea of marriage that
Saint Valentine represented: the union of one man and one woman, centered on Christ,
and loyal until death. His crime was to bring a man and a woman together while
the state meant to keep them apart.
The marriages he performed were anathema both to Roman imperialism and to
today’s worship of hook-up culture, adultery, divorce, and abortion,
all celebrated in the media and pop culture.

The hostility runs so deep that Christians today are told they must pay homage
to same-sex unions or else lose their livelihoods. It is not only happening in the wedding industry,
as florist Baronelle Stutzman and baker Jack Phillips can attest.
It is happening in all of society’s institutions.

This hostility against the timeless understanding of marriage as the union
of one man and one woman runs so deep that it is a heresy being forced into the
churches themselves, often through evangelical defectors, such as Joshua Harris and David Gushee.
Gushee uses his title as an evangelical ethicist to warn other Christians that if
they don’t follow the LGBT agenda, they’ll be rightfully smeared as bigots.

In a 2016 op-ed, he warned: “Neutrality is not an option. Neither is polite half-acceptance.
Nor is avoiding the subject. Hide as you might, the issue will come and find you.”
(That goes for you too, Saint Valentine!)
This sounds like a recipe for forced love, which is quite the opposite of love.
Anyway, for good measure, Gushee shared a laundry list of those who have signed on to
this manufactured, sold-and-bought zeitgeist:
corporate America, academia, psychologists, etc.

That’s been the basic idea behind political correctness all along:
deny your conscience, shut up, and publicly prostrate yourself before the elitists
who operate this zeitgeist machine. Otherwise, to the stake with you.

Devout Christians know, of course, that this is the same old stuff served up to their
forerunners when they were told to bow down to pagan gods.
Yes, bowing down to the pagan gods was popular all right, since the alternative,
as always, was to be smeared and skewered. Just call it “the right side of history”
and you’re good to go.

Yet even one person who does not betray conscience in the face of
such punishment can change the world by injecting some truth into it.
Perhaps that is why the enemies of free conscience are on a constant
search-and-destroy mission to “come and find you.”
But in the end, true sacrifice—the kind that comes without deep-pocketed
lobbying—can breed real love. And, as Saint Valentine showed, real love can’t be forced.

Stella Morabito is a senior contributor to The Federalist

https://thefederalist.com/2020/02/13/would-saint-valentine-be-a-christian-martyr-for-marriage-again-today/?utm_source=The+Federalist+List&utm_campaign=f80b93b154-RSS_The_Federalist_Daily_Updates_w_Transom&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_cfcb868ceb-f80b93b154-84149832

remnant

I ask then: Did God reject his people?
By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.
God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew.
Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—-
how he appealed to God against Israel:
“Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars;
I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”?
And what was God’s answer to him?
“I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.
So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.

Romans 11:1-6


(the morning dew covers an emerging weed / Julie Cook / 2020)

I don’t know about you but I’ve felt very frustrated as of late.
I’ve expressed some of that frustration over the past several days.
And it seems that over the past oh so many months, I’ve loudly voiced frustration
in the sense of being held hostage.

Held hostage by our legislators.
Hostage by a seemingly shifting culture.
Hostage by the growing tide of secularism.
Hostage by the intolerance of the left.

I feel almost alone in a dark deep forest…all alone as the enveloping warming safety
of the day’s sun dims and the hungry predators begin to emerge..seeking someone to devour.

As a Christian, the frustration that my thoughts, feelings, and faith matter not
to our current culture is both frustrating and sad.

Christians have long been persecuted, since the dawn of our faith, so why I feel suddenly
newly threatened is perhaps odd.
It’s pretty much part and parcel of being a believer.
Yet having grown up in a Judeo/ Christian Western society that is now
trying to desperately rid itself of its own foundation, I feel cut adrift.

As a conservative American who relishes morality,
I am now scorned by the progressive left and an ever-growing secular population.

I am considered out of touch, uneducated, deplorable, laughable,
smelly (their word, not mine) and totally subservient to the most elite left along
with an angry and intolerable leftist culture.

But for the record, I do not shop at nor do I care for Walmart…
prefering to spend my time and money at Target.

And since Socialism is the new darling,
and abortion is touted as a sacred right…never mind the mystical mystery
of pregnancy and birth, I am anathema to the growing masses for feeling so
totally opposite to the rising tide.

Maybe you too are feeling suddenly, or perhaps slowly, out of place.

Mark over on hatrack4 voiced this very thought
https://hatrackley.com/

Mark commented on my post yesterday…
The Boy Scouts removed ‘square’ from their pledge,
because that wasn’t cool (Cub Scouts).
You missed ‘square’ and ‘civility’, unless I missed them.
As my wife keeps saying, “I don’t belong here anymore.”
Maybe I never did.

My response:
I kept the list simple as I could because otherwise,
I could write a post simply on
those pieces of civics that are no longer a part of our society—
I agree Mark in that I don’t feel as if we belong here anymore—
are we really hearing Americans talking as if socialism is a good path for us to take????
You spoke of a remnant yesterday—
maybe that is our reason for being here now at this crossroads of time…

He concludes,
Maybe so. We can hope, pray, and search for the remnant.

We were each commenting that we felt removed from our current time.
Out of place really.

Perhaps it’s simply our age.

Perhaps it’s the attack on our Christian faith.

Perhaps it’s the attack on the America we thought we once knew.

We have each felt the growing divide, the hostility directed toward the faithful
along with the seeming demise of Christianity in the West.

Mark noted that we need a remnant.

And that reminded me of a story David over on https://nwelford.wordpress.com
recommended to me a few years back.

It was a somewhat obscure tale…a tale that takes place between 1940 through 1953
on the island of Lewis, a part of the Scottish Outer Hebrides.

A wild and lonely place that takes much abuse from the northern Atlantic ocean.

There are several books and pamphlets out regarding the tale of which are written by
Duncan Campbell. Campbell was a Scottish evangelist, best known for being a leader in what is
now known as the Lewis Awakening or Hebrides Revival

The tale begins with two elderly women.
Two women who feel alone.
Not exactly literally alone but rather more spiritually alone.
Their faith is deep yet their community seems to have forgotten what faith is all about
and thus they are each deeply troubled.

Yet they know that God will honor a remnant that remains in the land and they
hope to be that remnant.

They begin to pray that God will bring about a revival to their community.

Below is a slight on-line snippet of the tale followed by a link to the
full article.

It is now my prayer that the remnants remaining in America will take to their knees…

Now I am sure that you will be interested to know how, in November 1940-1953,
this gracious movement began on the island of Lewis.
Two old women, one of them 84 years of age and the other 82-one of them stone blind,
were greatly burdened because of the appalling state of their own parish.
It was true that not a single young person attended public worship.
Not a single young man or young woman went to the church.
They spent their day perhaps reading or walking but the church was left out of the picture.
And those two women were greatly concerned and they made it a special matter of prayer.

A verse gripped them:
“I will pour water on him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground.”
They were so burdened that both of them decided to spend so much time in prayer twice a week.
On Tuesday they got on their knees at 10 o’clock in the evening and remained on their knees
until 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning–two old women in a very humble cottage.

One night, one of the sisters had a vision.
Now remember, in revival, God works in wonderful ways.
A vision came to one of them, and in the vision she saw the church of her fathers crowded
with young people. Packed to the doors, and a strange minister standing in the pulpit.
And she was so impressed by the vision that she sent for the parish minister.
And of course he knowing the two sisters, knowing that they were two women
who knew God in a wonderful way, he responded to their invitation and called at the cottage.

That morning, one of the sisters said to the minister,
“You must do something about it.
And I would suggest that you call your office bearers together and that you spend with
us at least two nights in prayer in the week.
Tuesday and Friday if you gather your elders together,
you can meet in a barn-a farming community, you can meet in a barn-and as you pray there,
we will pray here. Well, that was what happened,
the minister called his office bearers together and seven of them met in a barn
to pray on Tuesday and on Friday. And the two old women got on their
knees and prayed with them.

Well that continued for some weeks–indeed, I believe almost a month and a half.
Until one night; now this is what I am anxious for you to get a hold of–
one night they were kneeling there in the barn, pleading this promise,
“I will pour water on him that is thirsty, floods upon the dry ground”
when one young man, a deacon in the church, got up and read Psalm 24.
“Who shall ascend the hill of God? Who shall stand in His holy place?
He that has clean hands and a pure heart who has not lifted up his soul unto
vanity or sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing (not a blessing, but the blessing)
of the Lord.” And then that young man closed his Bible.
And looking down at the minister and the other office bearers,
he said this-maybe crude words, but perhaps not so crude in our Gaelic language-he said,
“It seems to me to be so much humbug to be praying as we are praying,
to be waiting as we are waiting, if we ourselves are not rightly related to God.”
And then he lifted his two hands-and I’m telling you just as the minister told
me it happened-he lifted his two hands and prayed, “God, are my hands clean?
Is my heart pure? ” But he got no further. That young man fell to his knees and
then fell into a trance. Now don’t ask me to explain this because I can’t.
He fell into a trance and is now lying on the floor of the barn.
And in the words of the minister, at that moment, he and his other office bearers
were gripped by the conviction that a God-sent revival must ever be related to holiness,
must ever be related to Godliness. Are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?
The man that God will trust with revival-that was the conviction.

When that happened in the barn, the power of God swept into the parish.
And an awareness of God gripped the community such as hadn’t been known
for over 100 years. An awareness of God-that’s revival, that’s revival.
And on the following day, the looms were silent, little work was done on the farms
as men and women gave themselves to thinking on eternal things gripped by eternal realities.

http://www.revival-library.org/index.php/pensketches-menu/historical-revivals/the-hebrides-revival

And I thought ‘woke’ meant something you did after sleep

In 2020, Americans are going to be forced to choose between two opposing visions:
the pro-American vision of President Abraham Lincoln
and the deeply anti-American vision of the modern left…
The modern left’s outlook is radically different from —
and deeply hostile toward — the classic definitions of
American liberty and history.

Newt Gingrich

Yep, it’s hard to keep up if you’re of a certain age.
And perhaps even harder if you make the conscious decision to abstain from
social media…
Because it appears that social media is THE place to learn all sorts of new words,
both good and bad, and oh so part of our ‘woke’ culture.

According to an article on business2community.com:
The Oxford English Dictionary has added a plethora of new words to their online database.
Those searching their dictionary can now find the definitions of words such
as “woke,” “hygge” and “post-truth,” which they named last year’s Word of the Year.

One of the most notable entries for many on social media was “woke,”
a slang entry that was met with both praise and backlash.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines “woke” as:
well-informed, up-to-date. Now chiefly: alert to racial or social discrimination
and injustice; frequently in stay woke (often used as an exhortation).

In later use perhaps popularized through its association with
African-American civil rights activism
(in recent years particularly the Black Lives Matter movement),
and by the lyrics of the 2008 song Master Teacher by American singer-songwriter Erykah Badu,
in which the words I stay woke serve as a refrain.
In addition to having an original meaning of simply “awake,” the adjectival “woke”
has been around far longer than some may think.
According to Oxford Dictionaries, the earliest use in a figurative sense was
in a 1962 New York Times article.
Titled “If You’re Woke, You Dig It,”
it “describes how white beatniks were appropriating black slang at the time.”
The term is now widely used to challenge others to be more aware of
injustices in the world.

It seems that the folks of all things dictionary, be that Merriam-Webster, Oxford or others,
have actually added 600 new words this past year.

At this rate, my communication skills will no longer be woke but more like asleep…

And I for one find such words stupid…as in dumb, useless and if the truth be told, lazy–
as they are nothing more than slang.

There already exist some pretty great civil descriptors out there–
of which mean very much the same.
Yet I wonder…is it because these existing words are more pointed and
seemingly painfully direct…Because we know this progressive culture of ours is actually
afraid of pointed, direct and painful.

And as a small aside, might I just add that I am sick and tired of hearing,
seeing, reading the ‘F’ word at every turn. We went to the movies last evening
to see the movie 1917 and in the very first preview of coming movies, Will Smith opened
the preview spouting off the F word…sigh…
And despite my having written many a post of the use of vulgar slang as being now
acceptable, I am digressing…

So all this talk of culture, words, and of being woke had me thinking when I caught
the following article by Newt Gingrich.

If anyone out there is woke (please note that my Grammarly correction wants that to read ‘is waking’),
I would think it would be Newt.
As a history professor, author, historian and former Speaker of the House,
Newt knows a thing or two when he looks back while looking forward.

Here are a few tidbits from his latest article followed by a link for the full
story.

Newt Gingrich: In 2020, Abraham Lincoln will be controversial and divisive.
(Yes, Lincoln!) Here’s why

Lincoln clearly admitted that the work of freedom was unfinished and that we owe it to those
who gave their lives to continue the work of extending and improving liberty for all people.
In fact, Lincoln said it is our duty to extend “under God, … a new birth of freedom.”

(Of course, the anti-religious left would scoff at the reference to God.
Yet, both Lincoln and Washington shared a belief that America existed because of
Divine Providence’s benevolence.)

We have moved from government of the people to government of the experts.

The gap between Lincoln’s belief in the people and the contempt elitists such
as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.,
have for those who Hillary Clinton called “deplorables” tells you a lot about the gap
between Lincoln’s values and the values of the modern American left.

One of the great challenges for the Trump administration and its allies is
to re-center government on Lincoln’s values and dismantle the elitist
“bureaucrats know best” model that now defines so much of our government.

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2020-abraham-lincoln-controversial-newt-gingrich

doves, hawks and the passage of time…

I guess my biggest failure was not getting re-elected.
And I learned two things; one is that you ought not to ever let
American hostages be held for 444 days in a foreign country without extracting them.
I did the best I could, but I failed.

Jimmy Carter


(Prime Minister Chamberlain, upon his return to England on September 30, 1938,
holding the Munich agreement bearing his own and Adolf Hitler’s signatures.)

Are we the same world we were 82 years ago?

Obviously not.

Is that a bad thing?

Not at all.

Did we learn anything from Neville Chamberlain’s pipedream of brokering peace with Hitler?
When voices, such as Winston Churchill, were those proverbial lone voices in the desert,
calling out and proclaiming the actual truth.
The world chose to ignore such truthful warnings…and the results were disastrous.

Neville Chamberlain was what some would call a dove—a person who would rather
negotiate or bargain before ever considering conflict or war.

Churchill is what some would call a hawk.
They thought him to be a rable-rouser and one to beat the drums of war.

Yet perhaps most preferred wearing the rose-colored glasses of the doves.
We wanted to ignore trouble.
We wanted to think others thought like us.
We wanted to believe that the words of other people mirrored our own.

Yet in the end, we learned the hard way.

What of 1979?

Are we the same America we were 41 years ago?

No.

But is that a bad thing you ask?

In many ways, I think that perhaps it is.

In 1976 we celebrated our bicentennial.
American pride and patriotism were both at their highest since WWII.

We had come out from under the heaviness of the Civil Rights movement as well
as the angst produced by the Vietnam war.
The Summer of Love had come and gone and people seemed to
be regaining their senses.

I was soon headed off to college.

I was a news junkie even back then, so that hasn’t changed.
My dad and his older brother were both news junkies up to the day they each died.
My memories of my grandfather, their father, is of his constantly reading the newspaper–
even when the family was gathered for weekend retreats at the family farm in North Georgia.

Current events, world happenings, foreign policy…have always been in my blood.


(political cartoon from 1979)

The above political cartoon, which is rather crass, is one I actually had in a
scrape book saved from college.
It was a current event of the times.
I also have several news articles and political photos in that scrape book…
Images of Menachem Begin, President Carter and Anwar Sadat all locking arms following
the longed awaited peace accord, as well as articles regarding the later assassination
of President Sadat.

I had deeply admired Sadat—

I had known how he had cut his teeth as a young Muslim soldier,
having been on an opposing side of the Allies during WWII.
Later he was a chief military leader bent on fighting Israel.
As the ranking Egyptian general turned President, he called for
the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

None of that should be things that would ever endear such a world leader
to the likes of someone like me but it was because of
those very things that mixed with the actions of his later life that
would indeed leave a lasting impression upon me.

He began what appeared to be odd strides to reach out to Christians—
both Evangelical and Catholic.
He had a vision and seemed to know what he had to do to make it work.

When he had come to visit the US in late 1975, he personally asked Billy Graham to come
meet with him. Later he reached out to the Vatican, inviting Pope Paul VI to visit Egypt.
He seemed to understand the importance of having Christian support when considering
making peace with Israel.

And it was that vision and desire for peace that eventually got him killed.

Back then in those late years of the ’70s, even my art produced in my classes focused on
what was happening in the Middle East.
It seems that way back then, I knew the importance of the West’s relationship
with the Middle East.

Being a history major for more than half of my college life,
I was more than aware of the importance of the Middle East dating back to the time
of the Crusades and as a Christian…well we all know about that link.

Last week, I wrote a post where I recalled the Iran Embassy Hostage Crisis.
It cost Jimmy Carter his re-election.

Iran seems to remain a thorn in our side.

Recently we’ve been witness to a rising crescendo, in oh so many months, from Iran—
They have been personally responsible for a multitude of US military deaths.
They have been very vocal in the rankling of anti-US rhetoric—
And now we have the recent attack by Iran on an embassy that was actually sitting in a
neighboring nation.
We have a precarious and deeply troubling relationship with what was once
considered the land of Persia.

And so I found it most interesting that just the other day, our friend the Wee Flea,
made an interesting prediction on his blog regarding the US and Iran…

Quantum 75 – Predictions for 2020

In the past, David’s Quantum 75 predictions have been pretty much on the money…
I somehow fear this one will also come to fruition.

In the link that David provides to the BBC article regarding US / Iranian relations,
I found the following quote telling given that it was offered days before the bomb strike
killing the Iranian general Qassem Soleimani—

President Trump has threatened Iran after blaming it for Tuesday’s attack,
in which no US personnel were injured. Mr. Trump tweeted that Iran “will pay a very big price”
for any damage or loss of life. “This is not a warning, it is a threat,” he said.
But Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded by saying the US “can’t do a damn thing”.
Anti-American sentiment was widespread in Iraq, he added.

The President later offered the following tweet after the storming of our
Embassy in Iraq by Iranian interlopers:

Replying to @realDonaldTrump
….Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost,
or damage incurred, at any of our facilities.
They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat.
Happy New Year!

It appears the President kept good on his word.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50966958

The previous President and his administration paid what was, in essence, a ransom–
millions of dollars paid in cash money–primarily under wraps and done quickly.
It was an ill attempt at brokering, or more accurately buying, what was thought
to be peace.

And so we saw, and have now lived with the aftermath, of how futile that all was.

Thus we now have a President who has repeated his warnings.

He first opted for the usual route.

He applied sanctions.
He reached out.
He stated what would be acceptable and what would not.

Then there was an Embassy attack.

It was noted that one of the individuals pictured in the crowd of attackers
had actually visited the White House as a guest of the previous president, Barak Obama.

Since there was very credible intelligence gleaned for future attacks,
President Trump acted…turning his words into actions.
No more payments, no more appeasement.

It was now known that America will no longer play games at the cost of American lives…
despite many now arguing to the contrary.
They have on the rose-colored glasses.

Be you a dove or be you a hawk, you have a president who makes good on his promises.
He puts American interests first and foremost and he also understands that appeasement
does not work.
But that doesn’t mean things will be any less precarious or any less perilous.
For there will always be nations who will hate our ideologies.
Nations who will hate who we are.
Nations who hate what it is that we stand for

And the sad thing, or rather make that the frightening thing, is
that there are now many within our own nation who now join the hatred.

As Abraham Lincoln reminds us, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

And so our prayers continue for the coming days, weeks, months and years.

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great,
so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors
you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Genesis 12:2-3

make mine a White, no make that, a Black Russian please

“All we can know is that we know nothing. And that’s the height of human wisdom.”
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace


(images of both a White and Black Russian Liquor.com)

I’m changing my original order from a White Russian to that of a Black Russian
because by the time these shenanigans are all said and done, none of us will be able to
afford cream…forget the liquor!

Maybe just make mine a glass of ice.

Back in the day…those heady days of the mid 70’s when disco, along with some
smooth jazz via Barry White, were the various kings of the airwaves while we were busy turning 18—
of which was the legal drinking age in the state of Georgia—life was feeling pretty good.

We could be seen boldly sashaying into many a bar with our very own and very real legal IDs in hand
as we no longer needed to borrow a friend’s or use the fake stuff.

It was most likely some backgammon bar or a place where a guy was playing folk music on a guitar…
as we’d plop ourselves down at a table or, if we were feeling really daring, we’d saddle up
to the highly polished mahogany bar.
The bartender had a bit of a ‘fro,’ glasses and a mustache while nonchalantly asking what we’d like.

Practically salivating in anticipation over ordering something that sounded oh so grown-up
and sophisticated, all the while making certain it was something palatable and
equally sweet and appealing to our most youthful and naive tastebuds, we’d place our order.

The favorites were the White Russian, an Amaretto Sour, a Tequila Sunrise or even a Grasshopper.
Things drunk out of coups, highballs or old fashion glasses.

Feeling our oats and checking our pockets or wallets, we might be known to order another
or equally ready to settle up our tab while making a hasty retreat to the lucky house whose
friend’s parents were out of town for that weekend’s party where the kegs were tapped and
ready…all the while finding suds comfortably more suitable to our beginner’s palates.

This small walk down memory lane comes on the heels of the most recent news coming out of DC.

If we can ever figure out how to black out the news from that small, yet massive district in our lives,
we might be better off.

Falling back to the days of the telegraph, telegrams or pony express might be a nice respite.

But I digress.

So in case, you missed it…

Surprise…..

the Russians aren’t coming nor were they ever coming in the first place.
But didn’t we really know this all along???

I digress.

Okay, so now what you ask???

I’ve made an executive decision on behalf of all tax paying Americans.

I’m going to call that “One call that’s all” sleaze-bag of a lawyer
whose commercials must be nationally syndicated.
The guy who promises help if you’ve been hurt in an accident.

Ok, so why does ambulance chaser come to mind??
But again, I digress.

Well, maybe we haven’t been hurt in an accident, but none the less, our wallets and savings
sure have been hurt—-
along with our faith in this assinine political world of ours.

I don’t care if you like Trump or hate his guts,
the one thing that we all need to share is the disdain for the egregious amount of
taxpayer dollars that have gone into this now two-year-old investigation
of rabbit holes and fairy tales.

35 million Muller bucks alone.

So yes, I think we the taxpayers of America need a ‘one call that’s all’ sort of lawyer who
is going to defend us for all of our pain and suffering.

We’re going to sue all of the Democrats… and a few Republicans for good measure.
We’ll sue the major television networks and several cable networks.
We’ll sue their reporters, pundits and opinion makers.

We’ll sue basically all of Hollywood, the entertainment industry, late night show hosts,
the music industry and anyone and everyone who jumped on the Russian bandwagon.

We’ll sue the journalism industry, those newspapers and magazines chomping at the headline bit…

Heck, we’ll sue colleges and their off-the-chain whacky professors.
We’ll sue over safe spaces for the snowflakes who want to spend all day crying.

We’ll sue everyone and anyone who thought 35 million dollars of taxpayer money was a wise decision
to use toward an endless investigation into nothingness.

So once our ‘one call that’s all’ lawyer gets us all our money back…
as his previous clients certainly boast, we’ll once again be able to afford cream
for our Black Russians, making them decadent White Russians and heck,
we’ll even use Tito’s American made vodka.

Cheers to the American people!!!!
We want our money back!!!

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth,
for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak,
and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

John 16:13

CAVU, 41

CAVU
Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited

A common military acronym used primarily by pilots
and an acronym used throughout the life of the 41st President of the
United States of America, former WWII Naval pilot,
George Herbert Walker Bush, 1924-2018


Image of President Georgh H.W. Bush’s service dog Sully who has been told that
his mission is now accomplished and well done.

One thing that we Americans do well, this mixed family of the very divided and
political adversarial…the good thing that makes us the people who we are…

Is the fact that we can actually come together in times of our collective loss and express
our gratitude to those individuals who have given so much of themselves to serve us, the people—

Those being our leaders…those being our presidents.

Yet not only do we say goodbye to our 41st president…
we also say goodbye to one more member of the Greatest Generation…
A military service member who deferred college in order to enlist.
Only to become the Nation’s youngest fighter pilot at the tender age of 19.

As a member of this greatest generation,
Bush is remembered not only as one of our Presidents but more importantly,
he is remembered as one of those who sacrificed so much of their own lives,
as some did with their very lives, in order to secure the future for our lives.

After having been hit during a bombing mission, with his plane on fire,
Bush told his crew to “abandon ship” while he stayed at the controls to complete
the bombing mission before bailing out himself.

Read the story here:
http://ww2today.com/2-september-1944-usnr-lt-george-h-w-bush-shot-down-in-dive-bomb-attack

And so during the next several days, we will gather together as a Nation along with a grieving
family in offering our gratitude to the service of our 41st President…
a man who was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, uncle, great-grandfather
as well as a Luetinent in The United States Navy…A man who would go on to
become a Congressman, an Ambassador, the Director of the CIA,
a Vice President and eventually, as most of us recall, the man who followed in the large
footsteps of Ronald Reagan in becoming the
Nation’s 41st President of the United States…George Herbert Walker Bush.

CAVU, Mr. President.

” America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle.
We as a people have such a purpose today.
It is to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world.”

George Herbert Walker Bush

chasing monsters

“We are each other’s harvest;
we are each other’s business;
we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

Gwendolyn Brooks


(the setting sun in a western Georgia sky / Julie Cook / 2017)

Like most folks I imagine, here on the east coast, I awoke yesterday to learn that a horrific tragedy had unfolded while I had slept..taking place out west.
In Las Vegas to be exact.

Shock, disbelief, raw and numb…
were just a few of the words used to describe my initial bleary eyed
reaction.

Readying for the day I gravitated between the television and my phone just
trying to glean the latest news coming in as I tried making sense of what
I was hearing, reading and seeing.

My son and I had a day of traveling on our agenda so once in the car, with me driving,
he pulled up the local Atlanta Channel 2 Action New’s live feed so we’d be able to
see and hear the President address the nation.

All I could think about was here was one more president coming before a somber Nation,
once again, to offer words of solace and comfort in the face of madness.
How many times has Trump already done this?
How many times had President Obama done this?
How many times had President Bush……

Below the streaming live feed my son kept watching and reading the scrolling comments
coming into the station from its viewers. He read some of these to me….
and I was sickeningly appalled at the words he shared.

There were no words of bereavement, no words of sorrow but rather words and feelings
from viewers expressing disdain and mockery.

From disgusting, vile and derogatory remarks about the President and his family to the
notion that this latest massacre equated to mere payback to whites….
I was quickly reminded why I shun social media.

One viewer finally expressing what I was feeling—“is there a way in which I can turn
off these terribly offensive and insensitive comments and just listen to the President?”

My son turned his phone off as the comments were simply too distracting…
too inhumane really, too monstrous…so we continued our drive mostly in silence as our minds worked to absorb the enormity of these latest events.

Later in the afternoon, as I finally made my return journey home alone,
I did something I normally don’t do while driving…I turned on the radio to the news.
I usually prefer to drive in silence, lost in my own thoughts sans any music or chatter..
but today was different… I wanted to hear and feel what the Nation, my Nation,
was experiencing.

I caught the live press briefing from the White House.

There is a big difference when listening to something verses watching it—

With the visual imagery being non existent, the words take on more of their true
intended purpose.

The White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, came to the podium and offered words of both sorrow and condolence.

She began the briefing by talking about Puerto Rico and The US Virgin Islands and of the ongoing efforts to offer the necessary aid and support to help in the recovery efforts
for these islands following the deadly assault by the hurricanes.

Next her voice began to waver and crack as she began to speak about our common bond
as Americans and the unity of our shared humanity.

She addressed the current unfolding events coming out of Las Vegas.
She shared the various stories of the heroic acts offered during the melee.
The selfless sacrifices freely offered from stranger to stranger throughout the
surreal shooting.
The stories of those who offered their own bodies as shields in an attempt to protect others.
Such acts she noted recalled the verse John 15:13….
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Once finished she turned the remaining time over to the gathered reporters fielding their questions.

I don’t know.

One would think that the heaviness felt from this emotional observation would have been enough to take the wind out of the sails of that most caustic room of reporters.
One would have thought the enormity of what had recently unfolded, just as it continued
to unfold, would have been enough to soften even the most callous and anti-Trump
reporter. One would think, that while our Nation was currently experiencing a tragedy
of epic proportion, it would be reason or should and would be reason enough to have a quieting effect…
but it didn’t.

They did wait until the second question however before falling into their typical
patterns.
The questions began immediately over gun control.

Ms Sanders quickly reminded those in the room that this was a time of National
reflection, National mourning, a time of coming together in our collective
sorrow all the while as the investigation was currently active—it was all too fresh,
too raw and it was NOT the time nor the place to begin the questioning of or for
revisiting policy decisions or for the attacking of a president….the tit for tat of typical partisan politics.

And yet question after question, reporter after reporter began the litany…
There were those who pushed Hillary Clinton to the forefront of conversation with her
less than sympathetic knee jerk tweets regarding the NRA, there were those who revisited the President’s comments from 12 years ago regarding gun control….
on and on they went.

It all reminded me of a friend of mine who just won’t ever take to hearing the word
“no” for an answer.
She’ll turn and twit her query ever so until she gets the answer she wants to hear…
and that’s what this Q & A reminded me of—-someone determined not to hear the word or words “no” or “not now” as they turned and twisted their words over and over,
again and again as they desperately worked to have their affirmative moment…

And yet time and time again, Ms Sanders stoically redirected the focus to the current moment—
to the pain we are all experiencing….not to the what ifs, not to the would haves,
nor to the should haves….

I think I would have just thrown my hands in the air and walked away.
They just didn’t get it—they didn’t get that this is not the time nor the place….

There is however a time and a place…
but today, right now, was / is not that time nor that place for bickering over policies
failed or not. It is not the day to point the fingers.
It is not the day to be accusatory.
It is not a day of politics.
Not the time nor the place for right or left or anarchist…

For today is the day we sort through the shock as we allow ourselves to grieve.
Today is the day we mourn the lives lost and the lives forever changed.
We allow the pain and yes we even allow the anger…
As we mourn another lost piece to the puzzle of our American innocence.
As we digest that life once again, will never be the same as we knew it.

Yet as a Nation, we seem to have forgotten to allow ourselves our own grief.
The press leads the way, our politicians follow suit as now an angry and hate
filled Nation begins the ugly rhetoric.

Did we better grieve or mourn more honestly before this social media of ours—

Before the distractions and the million of tiny soap boxes we each now
climb upon offering up our hateful and accusatory 2 cents as if anyone is really listening…

When was it exactly that we became this way…?

I ponder these thoughts as I hear of the gut wrenching yet heroic tales of selflessness
offered from stranger to stanger—
sheltering, protecting, offering aid to strangers in the crowd… each
caught in the middle of a nightmare.

As a Nation we must allow ourselves time as well as permission for our collective
sorrow, for the shock, for the disbelief and for our own very humanness…
rather than heeding the call by those now jaded and who have forgotten that we are
more than right, more than left, more than anarchist…eschewing their cries in the meida or on social media to gather the pitchforks in pursuit of the monster—
because in our haste, we might just be chasing after the wrong monster…

Heavenly Father, giver of life and health: Comfort
and relieve your sick servants, and give your power
of healing to those who minister to their needs,
that those for whom our prayers are offered may be
strengthened in their weakness and have confidence
in your loving care; through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.

(Book of Common Prayer)