Lessons from the Blitz and four essential human freedoms

Life is divided into three terms – that which was, which is,
and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present,
and from the present, to live better in the future.

William Wordsworth


Blitz damage in Coventry, November 1940 (© IWM)

Throughout much of the past couple of months leading up to last week’s
debacle, I mean election,
I’ve been slowly making my way through my latest read…a book by Erik Larson.

I had read other books by Larson in years past, and I expected this current read to be right
on par with his previous books…books that look back to a past of darker days…
darker than the days of our current time…
As in yes, there have been darker times…if you can imagine such.

The book is titled The Splendid and The Vile:
A Saga of Chruchill, Family, And Defiance During the Blitz

I can’t even begin to do justice here, within my small reflections, as to what it was like
for the British people to live through the nightly bombings of their cities, towns
and villages by the German Luftwaffe.

For 8 long months, every single day—hundreds of German planes filled the skies
over the United Kingdom dropping tons upon tons of explosives and incendiary deceives
indiscriminately over an innocent people–only to leave destruction and death in their wake.

When the bombings stopped, over 32,000 civilians had been killed.
Over 87,000 had been maimed, burned, and injured.
Of those, 7,736 children were killed and 7,622 were seriously injured
while many were left orphaned.

London alone endured 57 straight nights and days of bombings.

The bombings took place predominantly at night but would, at times, happen both day and night.
As in a double whammy of insult and injury.

Sirens would sound, people would run for shelter as their world, bodies
and lives were literally shattered.

In just one single night, November 14, 1940, 16,000 bombs were dropped on the
city of Coventry.
The ancient 14th-century Cathedral in Coventry was just one of many churches
which would take a direct hit


(Death from the skies: An aerial view of the wrecked cathedral / The Mirror)


Winston Churchill and the Mayor Alfred Robert Grindlay visiting the ruins of Coventry Cathedral in September 1941
Horton (Capt)-War Office official photographer-This is photograph H 14250 from the collections of the Imperial War Museum

In London, the fickleness of war was clearly evident when after
London’s worst day of bombing, St. Pauls Cathedral appeared triumphantly and
miraculously to rise up from out of the smoke and ash.


St Paul’s Cathedral survives the Blitz, December 1940 (© IWM)

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33314462

Yet, as with all wars, the human toll is unimaginable.


(Upper Norwood, London, 1944 (© IWM) )

In early 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his State of the Union address.

In his speech, the President spoke of the lend-lease act that he was
going to be presenting to Congress…
a plan intended on assisting the British people without the US technically involving
herself in a war that the United States wasn’t keen on participating in.

“The future and the safety of our country and of our democracy
are overwhelmingly involved in events far beyond our borders…”
the President noted.
According to Larson, Roosevelt described a world to come that would be founded upon
“four essential human freedoms” :
speech, worship, and freedom from want and fear

It has been 79 years since Roosevelt’s speech.
Since that time, there have been other wars, police actions, along with a myriad of
perils that have each threatened both our democracy and that of the
pillars of Western Civilization.

And yet throughout it all, those four essential freedoms have stood the test of time…

They stand in part because of the foundation found buried deep in the fortitude
of the human spirit…along with that of determined and clear-minded leadership.

Those were dark and dire days and yet Western Civilization prevailed over the
chokehold of fascism, socialism, and communism.

My hope and prayer for our world today is that none of those past perils shall
be forgotten or tossed aside as today’s leadership and her people seem to be
giddily racing to embrace that which we once fought so hard to defeat.

‘Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this
world of sin and woe.
No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise.
Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except
for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time…’

Winston S Churchill, 11 November 1947

Everyone is in favor of free speech.
Hardly a day passes without its being extolled,
but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like,
but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.”

Winston S. Churchill

The timelessness of C.S. Lewis as found in a pandemic

I read a marvelous passage by C.S. Lewis over on the blog of
‘Smoke of Satan and the Open Windows of Vatican II’—

The blog title comes from a quote by Pope Paul VI:

“We would say that, through some mysterious crack—–no, it’s not mysterious;
through some crack, the smoke of Satan has entered the Church of God.”

And so I would dare say that it would behoove all Christians, Catholic and non, to understand
that Satan has long fought to ooze into the tiny minuscule cracks found within the Church’s
earthly foundation.

Have we not seen such in the way of sexual abuse scandals, the acceptance of homosexuality,
and a myriad of schisms to name but a few of demonic attacks…

But that story of Satan’s attempt to breach the walls of the Church is but for another day…
for today—we turn to the timeless wisdom of C.S.Lewis.

The following passage is actually from an essay written by Lewis in 1948
addressing the fear of living in a frightening new atomic age.

He was addressing a real fear suffered by those of his generation.

There was the constant and real worry of “is today the day?!
The day we are incinerated??!!
The day life ends as we know it??”

And how often have we, the generations of today, asked ourselves a similar question…
Is today to be the day that is the end of life as we have known it?
Will a pandemic bring us to our knees?
Will the specter of Death now knock on our door following
a mere trip to the grocery store because we stood near another who coughed?

Lewis reminds us that we have each been sentenced to death long before
there was a bomb, or in our case, a virus.

He admonishes us to “pull ourselves together”
He practically commands his readers to stop cowering
under the pretense of what might be and to instead live as we are…

There is much wisdom to be found in the words of Lewis…offered to a previous
generation…but oh so timely and pertinent to us today as we live under the shadow
of our nation’s response to a pandemic.

Do we hide and cower while waiting for death or do we choose to live?

I pray we choose life!

In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb.
“How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply:
“Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London
almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia
might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed,
as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis,
an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents,
an age of motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation.
Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death
before the atomic bomb was invented:
and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways.
We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics;
but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing
long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death
to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all,
but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is
to pull ourselves together.
If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb,
let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying,
working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis,
chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like
frightened sheep and thinking about bombs.
They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.—

“On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays.

https://smokeofsatan.wordpress.com/2020/05/16/wisdom-from-c-s-lewis/

loving as God loves, no matter what…

We might say the whole mystery of our redemption in Christ, by his incarnation,
his death and his resurrection, consists of this marvelous exchange:
in the heart of Christ, God has loved us humanly,
so as to render our human hearts capable of loving divinely.
God became man so that man might become God—might love as only God is capable of loving,
with the purity, intensity, power, tenderness, and inexhaustible
patience that belong to the divine love.
It is an extraordinary source of hope and a great consolation to know that,
by virtue of God’s grace working in us
(if we remain open to it by persevering in faith, prayer, and the sacraments),
the Holy Spirit will transform and expand our hearts to the point of one day
making them capable of loving as God loves.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 67-8
An Excerpt From
Interior Freedom


(St Sebastian tended by St. Irene / HT Brugghen/ 1625)

Bet you didn’t see the following story.

I hadn’t heard about it or seen anything about it either…
that is until I finally sat down, at the end of a long busy Friday, and decided to scan the
various news sites I usually scour to see what’s happening in the world.

Way down toward the bottom of one news site, following all the typical stories about
impeachment, elections to be, and entertainers talking about their sex lives,
was the headline :
ISIS savages behead a dozen Nigerian Christians at Christmas

We haven’t heard much regarding Daesh lately…
I think a few months back, the President basically proclaimed that ISIS was
pretty much toast.
Meaning they had been basically defeated…
That news was then hit with an exclamation point when the latest story broke of the
tracking down of the ISIS leader Abu Bakr-al Baghdadi and his subsequent taking
of his own life vs being caught.

Triumphant we all thought.

The scourage of the West, and particularly that of the Christian West,
had been defeated.
We need not fret or fear any longer.

Or so we were told and reassured.

Since the news media does not seem to think these sorts of stories
are significant or overtly worrisome…well, that in turn, worries me.

Over the years, since first blogging nearly 8 years ago, I’ve written so many posts about
the vicious attacks on Christians around the globe at the hands the likes of
Militant Islamic groups such as ISIS, Boku Haram, the Taliban, Abu Sayyaf,
Al-Shabaab et el—so much so that it makes my head spin.

Kidnappings, brutal rapes, the burning of villages, tortures, beheadings, bombings…

And it appears that there are strongholds that remain.

Chances are that these groups that hate all things Christian, Jewish and Western,
will always dwell among us…because much like the mythological beast, the hydra,
when one head is cut off, another remains or even grows back.

So as long as Islamic militants persist in building their armies of hate and murder,
and our leadership in the West continues to pretend that there is not a strategical
focus on destroying all things Christian…well, I will continue bringing awareness
to the globally conducted atrocities targeting the Christian faith.

Just like the days of the Roman persecutions, Christian martyrs continue
dying for the faith…
And the single difference between a Christain martyr and that of an Islamic martyr
is simple…it is the single matter of love vs hate…

ISIS released a video Thursday that purportedly shows militants in black masks beheading
10 blindfolded Christian men and shooting an 11th in Nigeria,
as part of a grisly campaign to avenge the deaths of its leader
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the group’s spokesman.

The militant group’s video was produced by its own so-called news agency, Amaq,
and was released the day after Christmas.
The 56-second video has Arabic captions but does not have audio.

In the video, ISIS soldiers wearing beige uniforms and black masks are lined up behind
the Christian men.
One captive in the middle is shot while the other 10 are pushed to the ground
and beheaded.
Not a lot of details were given about the victims other than they were male,
Christian and “captured in the past weeks” in Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno State.

In an earlier video seen by Reuters, the captaives pleaded for the
Christian Association of Nigeria and President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene to save them.

“We killed them as revenge for the killing of our leaders,
including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and (ISIS spokesman) Abul-Hasan al-Muhaiir,'”
said a member of the terror group’s media unit, according to journalist Ahmad Salkida,
who was first sent the video shot in an unidentified outdoor area.

In October, Baghdadi killed himself during a U.S. raid on a compound in northwest Syria,
seven months after the so-called ISIS “caliphate” officially crumbled as the terrorist group
was defeated in its final swath of Syrian territory in March.

Raphael Gluck, the co-founder of Jihadoscope, which monitors online activity by Islamist extremists,
told Fox News that ISIS affiliates are rising across Africa – almost unchecked.

“We saw a terrible ambush of U.S. forces in Niger in 2017,
that played into ISIS propaganda for months and really put Africa in focus,
it has only grown in strength since,” he said.

Calls by Fox News to the Christian Association of Nigeria for comment were
not immediately returned.

Fox News’ Hollie McKay contributed to this report.

https://www.foxnews.com/world/isis-beheads-christians-nigeria-baghdadi

Jesus vs Mohammad and Marx

And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them;
but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them,
“Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them;
for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child
will not enter it at all.”

Mark 10:13-16


(the Mayor busy on Easter afternoon gathering eggs / Julie Cook / 2019)

Almost a week ago on Easter Sunday, my small family had gathered together in order to
celebrate the Ressurection of Jesus Christ.

We basked in the warmth of an April afternoon while hunting plastic eggs with
the smallest member of our clan.

We gathered around a table and enjoyed the bounty of the season.

We feasted and fellowshiped, celebrating our faith within the presumed safety of
our democratic afforded freedoms.

Yet around the world that “afforded freedom” is not exactly afforded to others
and if it is, it is often viewed with disdain.

While I’m on babysitting duty, I thought I’d take this busy time to share a
very important post from our across the pond friend and former Anglican Bishop,
Gavin Ashenden.

It is a heart wrenching yet very honest and truthful post…
…And tragically, it is a very sobering post.

When I read his introduction, which was actually taken from a letter penned by one of
the bombed Sri Lankan church’s Sunday School teachers,
I felt the hot tears of sorrow trickle down my face.

This is what the children of these bombed churches were doing on Easter Sunday morning.

“One of the Sunday school teachers in the Church in Sri Lanka has written about what
they were doing on Easter day.

“Today at Zion Church we asked the children,
‘how many of you would be willing to die for Christ?’
Everyone raised their hands.
Minutes later we took them into the main service.
The blast happened. Half of them died on the spot.”

In one of the two other Catholic Churches that were blown up,
the bomber waited until the children had come back into the main liturgy before he detonated.
Killing the children appeared to have been a priority to him.

The good Bishop reminds all of us, that as Christians, we are told that we are to love our
enemies, we are to offer compassion to all we meet…
with the teachings of Jesus being a far cry from that of Mohammed or Karl Marx…

And yet the world continues to defend and embrace the teachings of both violence and hate
while condemning the followers of the one resurrected Redeemer.

Please read the post here:

Islam, the media & the conspiracy of silence.