the right side of history…where will we be?

The history of the West is built on the interplay between these two pillars:
Divine meaning and reason. We receive our notions of Divine meaning from a
three-millennial-old lineage stretching back to the ancient Jews; we receive
our notions of reason from a twenty-five-hundred-year-old lineage stretching
back to the ancient Greeks.
In rejecting those lineages–in seeking a graft ourselves to rootless philosophical comments
of the moment, cutting ourselves off from our own roots—
we have damned ourselves to an existential wandering.

Ben Shapiro


(Michaelangelo’s God from The Sistine Chapel)

And we’re also remembering the guiding light of our Judeo/Christian tradition.
All of us here today are descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
sons and daughters of the same God.
I believe we are bound by faith in our God, by our love for family and neighborhood,
by our deep desire for a more peaceful world, and by our commitment to protect the freedom
which is our legacy as Americans.

Ronald Reagan, Former U.S. President (1980-1988)

I had to take my husband to the hospital yesterday for a nuclear stress test–
the glowing type of test I suppose.

So while I sat for my near four hours, I had the foresight to carry a new book with me…
The Right Side of History
How Reason and Moral Purpose Made The West Great

by Ben Shapiro

Ben Shapiro is, if you’ve never seen nor heard him, is a young sharp cookie.
Not like this cookie here in cookieland…but a much younger and much smarter cookie.
A good kosher cookie.

Ben is a 35-year-old Orthodox Jew.
He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, a married man with two young children.
He also happens to be a conservative commentator which labels him as persona non grata
or better, a pariah.
An outcast from what is considered our progressive liberal mainstream society.

Each time I’ve had the opportunity to catch an interview featuring Ben as a guest,
I have been greatly impressed with his views, data, and points.

His interviews are reminiscent of when I was teaching high school and was listening to our
debate team kids engaging in debate “presentations”.
Barely discernable facts spouted off at the speed of light.
It took a gift of keen listening in order to keep up.

Ben tends to spout off his facts in that same machinegun type of fashion.

Yet in Ben’s case, he has had built quite the resume of political journalistic prowess.

And so I sat in that lovely waiting room with its lone TV on the game show channel,
with my trusty highlighter in hand…that was until it ran dry.
I then grabbed a pen out of my purse and went to town.

At the beginning of this latest book, Ben recalled a moment when his wife once asked him
if he was happy.

Now being the smart young husband that he is…
Ben readily noted that when a spouse,
in particular one’s wife, asks if you’re happy…that can be a dangerously loaded question.

He shared that she asked this question during a rather stressful period in their lives—
their children were young and naturally required, as children do, lots of time and attention.
His wife had a career as a doctor while he was in the early stages of working with
his business partner trying to get their website and podcast venture off the ground–
all the while traveling the country, busy with speaking engagements.

Ben took the question deeper… to that of a question as to when was he was the most happiest—
and that answer was found on the Sabbath.

Ben is an Orthodox Jew who cuts off the world for 25 hours each weekend when he
and his small family take time to observe the Sabbath.

No TV
No computer
No work
No politics.

Only God, then family.

He recalls a traditional Jewish saying…
“the Jews didn’t keep the Sabbath, the Sabbath kept the Jews”

Ben makes the point that politics is not the driving force for his happiness despite
the fact that it is the pursuit of politics that is where he makes his living…
yet it is the same revelation that our founding fathers also knew.
Our faith is our root—not our politics.
A root that came to us on Mt Sinai.

However this is where we’ll stop for the time being.
Whetting your whistle.

This is a meaty book—
a book that is steeped not only in our Nation’s history but steeped in that of
Western Civilization’s root history–
the history of both our Western Civilization and that of our Judeo/ Christian roots.

A root system we have taken for granted as we are currently watching its erosion.

Like I say—more to share in the coming days…

“Lasting happiness can only be achieved through cultivation of soul and mind.
And cultivating our souls and minds requires us to live with moral purpose.”

Ben Shapiro

burdens and birth and a prayer

Christian prayer is not something you do.
Prayer is permitting the Trinitarian God to love you as you learn in childlike trust to acknowledge,
relate, receive, and respond within your heart to the Holy Spirit’s presence,
love pursuing you and desiring to communicate with you.

Fr. John Horn
from Heart Speaks to Heart

“Love is the most beautiful sentiment the Lord has put into the soul of men and women.”
St. Gianna Molla


(Francis Schaeffer)

Burden, defined by Merriam Webster is: something oppressive or worrisome

But what about a different kind of burden?
The kind that creates a deeply-felt heaviness and furrows our brow?
One that pulls at our thoughts and leaves us with the feeling that there’s
something that needs doing but as to what that is…we are uncertain.

Uncertain until the burden and the revelation collide

It is called a burden of the Spirit…
And according to Watchman Nee:

There is a difference between the burden of the spirit and the weight of the spirit.
The weight of the spirit is from Satan, and its purpose is to cause believers to suffer;
Satan uses the weight to suppress them.
The burden of the spirit, however, is from God.
Its purpose is to make known His will and secure the believers’ cooperation.
The weight of the spirit has no other purpose except to suppress.
As such, it is useless and fruitless.
The burden of the spirit is a burden from God, and its goal is to cause men to work,
intercede, and preach for God.
Such a burden is purposeful, reasonable, and profitable.
Believers must differentiate between the burden in their spirit and the weight in their spirit.

Genuine spiritual work is an assault on Satan and a travail in birth for the believers.

There is indeed no joy to this!
This requires one to die to the self in the deepest way.
For this reason, no soulish believer can truly participate in spiritual work.
Having a happy feeling all day long is not a proof of a believer’s spirituality.
The right kind of believers advance with God without caring for their own feelings.
Many times when believers are burdened in their spirit to fight with the enemy,
they prefer to be alone and cut off all fellowship with the world,
so that they can concentrate in their warfare with the enemy.
At the end of this warfare, it is difficult to find any trace of a smile on their face.
Hence, all spiritual believers should welcome the burdens from the Lord.

(full excerpt here:
https://www.ministrysamples.org/excerpts/THE-BURDEN-OF-THE-SPIRIT-1.HTML)

Ever since I first put the post out there about a unified and collective prayer, I’ve
felt a burden.
Well, if the truth be told, I felt the burden long before putting the post out there.

We’ve had some good thoughts, suggestions, and ideas…
but I’ve still felt something gnawing and nagging at me.

I pondered, offered more posts while seeking more ideas…
I even solicited others not here in blogland as to their thoughts.

But I still felt conflicted.

So there it was again last night, more news about the third term abortions…
Abortions, where a full term baby is not aborted but accidentally delivered,
as in something went wrong with the abortion…
only to be followed by an ensuing debate over “to let live or let die…”

Allowed to die, well that, in my world, is considered murder, plain and simple.

And yet we are watching this “practice” being embraced by the Democratic party.
As this is not the same Democratic party I knew growing up.

And so the gnawing sense inside of me began rising upward, again.

Following the news, I read Oneta’s post concerning abortion…

THE MAN WHO LOOKS ON AND DOES NOTHING

More gnawing.

I sent her this comment:
this is a topic in tomorrow’s post…
the more I think and ponder and seek direction…
I just feel this is the issue of our prayer…a prayer for those whose voices are being silenced.
sigh…

Her response:
I think, Julie, that every Christian has their own “means/ways” of entering into prayer
that often includes acknowledging God’s goodness, repentance, forgiving others.
I think that is not so much what you are looking for as specific needs such as abortion,
addictions, materialism, election results, sexual sins, gender issues, etc.
I agree that now is a time when Christians should join their voices against the sin of abortion.
The country will just move more into extreme such as infanticide, euthanasia, etc
if it is not stopped by the cry of God’s people.
If we were together tonight I would like to pray for the Trump/North Korea issue.
Too late for that, but these kinds of issues could be called as you see them approach.
The Venezuela situation also needs our attention in prayer.
I kept on too long even raising more questions, didn’t I?
Just throw a topic out and we will pray until you feel another topic is called for.
Trust Jesus who is placing the concern in your hands.
Love your concern.

I now felt tears welling up in my eyes.

The words…”cry of God’s people” and “Trust Jesus who is placing the
concern in your hands”

In my mind, that ‘concern’ is a burden which is being placed in my spirit by The Spirit…of which
is what prompted my initial question about a prayer in the first place.

I went to bed feeling very weighted down about what we are now witnessing in
this nation of ours…not only a push to kill babies in the womb, that which we call abortion,
but to what we are now seeing as the plain outright murder of live births.

Then the next morning there was Citizen Tom’s post…
Another tale about this same issue…

ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL

More gnawing…growing into a cresendo…

And then finally our friend Vincent reblogged a post from the Logos folks—
it was a letter written by Francis Schaeffer in 1954 to a friend.

I’ve actually read Shaeffer’s books since high school.

In that letter, I found more clarification for my “burden of proof” in one particular paragraph

“Events since we have seen each other make me more sure than ever that the Lord
is calling some of us indeed to learn all that the blood of Christ and the indwelling
Holy Spirit should mean to us in this present life.
Increasingly, I believe that the Devil fears this above all else.
Doctrinal rightness and rightness of ecclesiastical position are important,
but only as a starting point to go on into a living relationship—and not as
ends in themselves.”

“that the Lord is calling some of us indeed to learn all that the blood of Christ
and indwelling Holy Spirit should mean to us in this present life.

I believe that the pain you have felt, and I have felt, is not the pain of death,
but the pain of birth in a day of blessing,
as the whole body is made more ready for the Bridegroom’s coming.
Surely the birth pains mean little if such a result is born through our dear Lord’s grace.

Not a pain found in death, but a pain found in birth…birth in that ‘of our dear Lord’s grace’

And yet it is an odd juxtaposition of thought in that where there is pain in childbirth
that pain pales when we consider the pain experienced by those babies whose lives are being ended
in very real and literally horrific ways…through abortion.

And so it was in Mr. Schaeffer’s letter that I fianlly decided God has spoken…

The answer to the burden…I am to pray over and for the lives of those who cannot speak
for themselves…
Praying for the lives of those who are being litterally taken before they
even have the opportunity to live.

And it is for the children of not only abortion that I will pray for
but it will be for the children born, following a botched abortion.

You may join me if you like.

Below is Mr. Shaeffer’s letter—- however, before you read his letter, I’d like
to offer one more reminder about a book I read a few years back that is
actually the tale of an abortion gone awry…and in turn, the life of that now grown woman…

You Carried Me
A daughter’s memoir

by Melissa Ohden

The book came my way from our friends at Plough Publishing House.
It is a very powerful read…
Here’s the post regarding the book

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/adoption/

And now for Mr. Shaeffer’s letter…

Francis Schaeffer: Will Today’s Pain Lead to Death or Birth?

Faithlife Staff | Wed, February 27, 2019

Francis Schaeffer (1912–1984) was an evangelical missionary, theologian, and writer,
best known for founding L’Abri with his wife, Edith.

After studying at Hampden-Sydney College, Westminster Theological Seminary
(where he studied under Cornelius Van Til), and Faith Theological Seminary,
Schaeffer pastored churches in Pennsylvania and Missouri.

In 1948, Schaeffer moved to Switzerland and founded L’Abri,
a community where people discuss philosophy and religion.
Thousands of people have passed through L’Abri,
and it has expanded into several other countries.

In the following excerpt from Letters of Francis Schaeffer—included in one of
several Schaeffer collections currently in Pre-Pub—we find Schaeffer reflecting on a
challenging season of his life and the earthly cost of entering into deeper
communion with God.

***

The Pain of Death or the Pain of Birth

[Written shortly after the Schaeffers arrived back in Champéry, Switzerland.
The person to whom the letter was written is not known,
though evidently he or she was close to the Schaeffers,
as is suggested by the last paragraph and the tone of the letter as a whole.]

October 11, 1954

Chalet Bijou

Champéry, Switzerland

Dear Friend:

Thank you for your note of September 20. It encouraged my heart.
How lovely is the Lord, and how wonderfully He is always waiting for us to come to Him
and know His peace and joy.

Yes, the time has been difficult, and yet the peace we have known through it makes
it exceedingly precious.
Since writing to you from the boat, our son, two years of age, has had polio.
He began it on the boat, but we did not know what it was.
His left leg is affected, but the doctor now gives us good hope that he may return to normal.

Events since we have seen each other make me more sure than ever that the Lord is calling
some of us indeed to learn all that the blood of Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit
should mean to us in this present life.
Increasingly, I believe that the Devil fears this above all else.
Doctrinal rightness and rightness of ecclesiastical position are important,
but only as a starting point to go on into a living relationship—and not as
ends in themselves.

When you looked over my article in London for the Reformation Review I remember you said,
“They will not like this.” I replied that I knew,
but I did not realize how deep a wound I touched.
I find I am being pursued into my work here, and that a determined and successful effort
was made in Philadelphia to turn some of the Europeans away from these spiritual matters,
and to make them fasten their eyes on loyalty to the external machinery and human leadership.
I am sorry.
The personal may rest, but I grieve for the work of God.
Yet the Lord has given me many wonderful encouragements also;
and I do feel that He is calling many of His own into the place of deeper communion.

Would there ever be a time when you could come to Switzerland to meet with others of
like mind—to fellowship in the quietness of the Alps with a small number as we did
together that night in your home? We would like to entertain you in our home.
I believe that the pain you have felt, and I have felt, is not the pain of death,
but the pain of birth in a day of blessing,
as the whole body is made more ready for the Bridegroom’s coming.
Surely the birth pains mean little if such a result is born through our dear Lord’s grace.

With warm greetings in the slain and risen Lamb,

Francis A. Schaeffer

https://blog.logos.com/2019/02/francis-schaeffer-will-todays-pain-lead-to-death-or-birth/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+LogosBibleSoftwareBlog+%28Logos+Bible+Software+Blog%29

Thank you Oneta.

No, No, No

I am reminded of the saying that “those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it.”
We need to learn.

David Roberston regarding the book The Great Deception: Can the European Union Survive

There is a particular book that our friend the Wee Flea has painstakingly and slowly
been offering tiny tantalizing morsels, chapter synopsizes if you will, to the readers
of his blog ever since the first of the new year.
It is a book that I have not read myself but will most likely add into the queue of my
ever-growing and now burgeoning ‘must reads but haven’t the time” pile.

The Great Deception: Can the European Union Survive by Christopher Booker and Richard North

According to David,
This is one of those books that is culture changing.
Written by Christopher Booker and Richard North, it is a detailed,
well-researched and brilliantly argued book about the history of the European Union.
It was first published in 2003 but this updated edition was released in 2016.

“A superb history of the EU and of Britain’s relationship with it…every MP, every senior civil servant,
every journalist with any claim to understanding the current state of the country,
should read it” Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday I would wholeheartedly endorse Hitchens view.
I spend far too much time arguing with politicians and others who have bought into the EU’s myth about itself.
My challenge is very simple. Every one of our lawmakers and opinion formers should read this.
If they can prove it wrong, so be it. I would probably change my mind.
But if it is right in its main thesis then it is a devastating expose of the EU,
and should make every rational person, glad that we voted to get it and should add to
our determination to get out.

So why might I, an American you wonder, be interested in a book that addresses issues
concerning the EU?

Why would I, or should I, ever be interested in not only the EU but that of Brexit?
That whole ‘should she go or should she stay’ fiasco plaguing our friends across the pond?
Do we not have enough troubles here in the States without my having to borrow
any more worries from our neighbors?

Well, I believe that The US and our cousins across the Pond, The UK,
are mirror images of one another… albeit images who literally spell our words a bit
differently, yet mirror images none the less.

We’re cut from, more or less, the same cloth.
So the saying may hold true for each of us…” so goes the UK, so goes the US” and
then “so goes the US, so goes the UK”

Like it or not, agree with me or not, but the two of us have always been the lynchpins
of Western Civilization.
Joined at the proverbial hip for better or for worse or for both.

So I think it behooves all of us to keep a wary eye on Brexit.
Albeit now morphing into some sort of hybrid water-downed version of
it’s original self.

I have been a pro-Brexit person from early on…but that matters neither here nor there as I
have no vote, no say and really no dog in the fight…but yet…I do…we all do.

We have a dog in that fight because what happens to the UK will impact the US tremendously.
That how it is with families—one might be ailing while the other in turn renders comfort and aid.

So why would I favor to go rather than to stay?
Because the EU is not what it was ever intended to be nor will it ever be.
I believe the UK would be a stronger sovereign nation by herself rather than tethered to
a leech.

And maybe I’ve grown jaded over the decades, but I am no longer really keen on the UN either…
but we’ll save that thought for another day.

So if you ask me, we’re both going to hell in a handbasket.
We’ve lost our way.
We’ve lost our moral compass.
We’ve lost our respect, let alone belief, in our God.
We’ve lost our humility.
We’ve lost our identities.
And we’ve lost those in leadership who were never afraid of leading…

President Trump, I believe has been trying, but our Nation appears to no longer want
strong definitive leadership…

Margaret Thatcher has always been one of my “heroes”–albeit a hero for one who never
lived under her leadership…so I understand that some may question my choice…
but you need to understand that I did live under the leadership of her counterpart…that being Reagan.
And as a team, they were an unformidable team.

Thatcher knew how to lead.
She knew her facts.
She knew her history.
She knew her agenda.
She set her sights.

She kept a level head and she would not back down from a fight that
was fought for the sake of Western Civilization.

And whereas she had many detractors in the UK…
those who did not like or even resented her leadership and or policies…
personally, I have always thought the tandem forces of Thatcher / Reagan was the last great
world leadership team that we have ever seen since that of Churchill and Roosevelt.

So I was keenly interested in David’s take on Thatcher as revealed in the Great Deception.
The link to his full post follows at the end…

The Great Deception Ch. 13 – No! No! No! – 1988-1990

This is a fascinating chapter which gave me a lot of information I did not know –
not least that the EU planned Thatcher’s fall –
and the Tory ‘men in grey suits’ were quite happy to do their bidding.

“I wanted to change the policies, not the leader.
But if that meant the leader had to go, then so it had to be.” Geoffrey Howe.

After her Bruges speech, Prime Minister Thatcher had become the great obstacle to the European
project and so she came under sustained attack – not least from the Euphiles in her own party.

Delors was desperate to get the Euro set up and a European bank.
For that to happen he had to get the Germans on board and especially the Bundesbank.
Much to most people’s surprise they did not block monetary union but merely insisted on certain conditions.
This was because Delors had rigged the committee and skillfully \ flattery and persuasion.
He made them this incredible promise – which is directly relevant to today’s situation.

“There will be a new, Super- Bundesbank at European level,
totally independent of governments and consequently able to exercise a degree of power beyond
the wildest dreams of many heads of government.”
This week as Big Business and the Big Banks are stepping up the pressure on Brexit
(and gleefully being cited as support by so called left-wingers, liberals and greens),
remember that the current EU was set up by them and for them.

Nigel Lawson, the British Chancellor,
tried to promote the ERM and ERU as an agreement between sovereign nations.
He failed to realise (until too late) that the EU’s central purpose was not co-operation but subordination.
This is a failing that most pro-EU UK politicians today refuse to acknowledge.

British Conservative politicians argued that we should go along with the first stage because
we did not ‘want to miss the bus’ and we could ‘change from within’.
Sound familiar?! Thatcher was the only one who really saw the danger and she stood firm. Even when Lawson and Howe threatened to resign she stood firm.
And yet in Madrid she said that the UK would join the ERM
(Exchange Rate Mechanism) but did not specify a date.

Meanwhile Lawson decided to shadow the Deutschmark, so interests rates in Britain soared to 16%.
He resigned. The French Prime Minister Rocard warned “Britain is like a slow ship in a naval convoy.
Sometimes, for the good of all, the last vessel must be abandoned to its tragic destiny”

Meanwhile in November 1989, the Berlin wall fell.
Delors saw this as a great opportunity to promote a federal Europe –
rather than a Europe of independent nation states.
A single currency, a single economic policy, and a single government.

In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait.
And in October of the same year, Thatcher reluctantly announced that Britain would, after all, join the ERM.
Delors by then did not want the UK to join – he just wanted rid of Thatcher.
Britain however joined (much to the delight of Labour, the Lib Dems, the trade Unions, and the CBI) –
only to be forced to a humiliating exit in 1992.

The two main protagonists
Delors saw an opportunity at the GATT talks (world trade) with 125 countries.
Britain which was still the worlds second largest trader at that point,
did not have a seat at these talks.
We were represented by the EU.
The USA wanted a cut in agricultural subsidies.
The EU was totally against.
The EU Council then set a trap for Thatcher.
It refused to discuss GATT and instead focused on monetary union.
“Mrs. Thatcher would be forced into the open; either she would agree, conceding game, set and match…
or, more likely, she would have to refuse, leaving the door open for a strike by her British opponents”

Thatcher then made this famous remark:

“The president of the Commission, Mr. Delors, said at a press conference the other day that he wanted
the European Parliament to be the democratic body of the Community.
He wanted the Commission to be the executive and he wanted the Council of Ministers to be the Senate.
No. No. No.”

Whilst there were many things about Mrs. Thatcher which I disliked and disagreed with when I watch this clip,
I realise that she was streets ahead in terms of leadership and courage than any of today’s leaders.
There is not a chance that Mrs.T would have been pushed around as much as Mrs. May or the ‘we must surrender all’
politicians have been.

Thatcher recognised – too late – that the EU was not about an open market and free trade –
but was and is, in fact, a protectionist bloc.

The Sun summed up the whole situation with their “Up Yours Delors” headline.
And Howe resigned.
Heseltine stood against Thatcher in the leadership election and although he lost it was only by 204 votes to 185.
Thatcher resigned.
Heath rang his office shouting “rejoice, rejoice’ and bought his staff champagne.
But Heseltine did not become leader.
Thatcher was replaced by John Major who wanted the UK to be at the heart of Europe.
Given that the EU was about to move towards political and monetary union
it was a forlorn hope.

This whole chapter serves to show the stark contrast with today’s politicians and the leadership
of Mrs Thatcher.
She was prepared to say ‘No, No, No’ to the EU and act upon it.
Our leaders would never say no the EU and instead are prepared to say No, No, No
to the British people and to once again hand over sovereignty to the EU.

https://theweeflea.com/2019/02/14/the-great-deception-14-no-no-no-the-fall-of-thatcher/

(statements in bold case are mine for emphasis)

The 21– Muhammad’s answer to the people of the cross…

“Life itself, without faith, would have been worthless to them. It would be mere existence–
an existence more lowly than that of the animals, for animals are perfect in and of themselves, but humans are imperfect;
their aim for perfection requires divine assistance.”

Martin Mosebach author of the book The 21: A Journey into the Land of Coptic Martyrs


(book cover)

My friends at Plough Publishing have gifted me with another tantalizing morsel
book for perusal and review.
Well, my publishing friend actually was offering several books for sharing but I requested the hard copy of
but one book—
The 21.

It is the story of those murdered and martyred Egyptian Copts on a Libyan seaside in 2015,
at the hands of ISIS—a story that continues to haunt me.

And it seems that I am not alone in feeling haunted by the memory of this heinous act.
The German author, Martin Mosebach is haunted as well.

Obviously, in order to delve into the story, Mr. Mosebach watched the full video of the beheadings
that was still floating around out there somewhere in cyberspace…that odd juxtaposition of
both space and time where nothing seems to die despite any and all humans involved either eventually
or having long since died.

At the time, as well as now, I did not nor do I care to watch such.

There have been many highly publicized videoed beheadings…
all carried out in the name of Allah by ISIS over past 5 or 6 years, but I have not watched them.

And yet oddly millions have been drawn to watching as if having bought a ticket to some macabre
Hollywood blockbuster…mesmerized by the unthinkable…
The unthinkable of one human being ending the life of another human being–
A life that is literally being held in the hands of an executioner…
or better put, a life’s head pulled up by the hair, all in order to sever the neck and eventually
the head more readily from its body.

Mosebach notes in his book how the original ISIS video actually cut away from what became an extended
as well as messy time the executioners were having in literally cutting the heads from the bodies…
not neat and quick as say the swift effortless job of a guillotine.
And it was very apparent that for the sake of the video’s shock value and propaganda,
the executioners desperately needed, as well as wanted, to look as professional, in control
and as efficient as possible.

A messy beheading can give the impression of being amateurish and ISIS wants nothing
to do with appearing amateurish or not being in complete control—as that feeds into their
desire to always appear large and in charge.

After watching the video and studying the odd camera image of the captors marching their
prisoners to the shoreline while appearing as black-clad giants
next to their captives who were wearing the unmistakable orange jumpsuits reminiscent of the Islamic
prisoners at Gitanomao, as each captive appeared small and less than–

Mosebach was moved by the posturing of the captors mirrored by the near emotionless
and oddly resigned yet the serene sense of their captives.
Prayers could be seen and heard flowing from the lips of the captives as well as the offered
praise for Jesus Christ despite knowing their fate was soon to be grisly.
There were no cries for mercy or of fear …but only controlled prayers to Jesus.

Early in the book Mosebach wonders aloud whether or not martyrdom and Christianity must
always go hand in hand…as he inquisitively muses
“as long as there are Christians there will also be martyrs?”

Mosebach knew that he must make his way to Egypt to visit the
homes and families of these martyred men.
And that he desperately needed to know more about the Copts and the Coptic faith.

The Copts are as old as Christianity itself–for they are some of the earliest known followers
of the Christian faith. Coptic actually means Egyptian—so these are Egyptian Christians.
They originated in the city of Alexandria and claim the author of the book of Mark,
that being John Mark, as their founder and first ‘bishop.’

Long before there was a Latin West or Eastern faith, long before there was
an East and West spilt in the faith, there were the Copts.

According to gotquestions.com,
Prior to the “Great” East/West Schism of A.D. 1054,
the Coptics were separated from the rest by the Council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451.
The council met to discuss the Incarnation of Christ and declared that Christ was
“one hypostasis in two natures” (i.e., one person who shares two distinct natures).
This became standard orthodoxy for Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic,
and Protestant churches from then on Coptic understanding is that Christ is one nature from two natures:
“the Logos Incarnate.”
In this understanding, Christ is from, not in, two natures: full humanity and full divinity.
Some in the Coptic Orthodox Church believe that their position was misunderstood at
the Council of Chalcedon and take great pains to ensure that they are not seen as Monophysitic
(denying the two natures of Christ), but rather “Miaphysitic”
(believing in one composite/conjoined nature from two).
Some believe that perhaps the council understood the church correctly,
but wanted to exile the church for its refusal to take part in politics or due to the rivalry
between the bishops of Alexandria and Rome.
To this day, 95 percent of Christians in Alexandria are members of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

It is interesting to note that when the Coptics were under the rule of the Roman Empire,
they suffered severe persecution and death for their steadfast faith and beliefs in Christ while
refusing to worship emperors. However, by A.D. 641,
yet another tribulation began when the Arab conquest took place,
overthrowing the Romans’ rule in Egypt and, at first, relieving the Coptic Church from persecution.
What appeared to be their liberty and freedom became yet again bondage.
The societal strength and control of the Arabs caused the Coptics to endure a major language and
culture change as well as confront the Islamic faith. Unfortunately,
over the centuries, Christianity lost foothold and most Coptics converted to Islam.

I am only to page 26 in the story and Mosebach has not yet traveled to Egypt—
so I am hopeful to read a story rich in history, Faith, resilience, forgiveness and above all Hope—
Hope despite the choking backdrop of Evil.

Some of his words prick the skin.
I find it difficult reading the words written by those who are not Americans…
those who write about America and our politics…
words about our leaders, our actions, our lack of action,
our complications in world affairs…
because like most Americans, I like to think our hearts are in the right place but I also know that
our National actions and reactions are deeply complicated by our politics.
Actions and reactions that fail not only our hearts and our people but fail those of our world.

I think as Americans we tend to feel a responsibility, albeit it a false responsibility, to
make the world a better place and to be the quintessential Superman for those in need.
We sometimes fail…we fail others and we fail ourselves.
So it does hurt reading the words of those who keenly notice.
But as they say, the truth can often hurt.

Throughout his quest, while seeking truth and information, Mosebach is moved by what he
actually does find…
that being a deeply sincere forgiveness found in the hearts of the Copts.
A century’s long-oppressed people who can find the capacity to truly forgive those
who have brutally killed their own families.

Unlike those of the Islamic State who seek misguided bloody, torturous and grisly revenge…
the Copts literally embrace the words of Christ…to forgive one’s enemies, no matter what.
For it is in forgiveness that we find our true liberation and hope.

Their faith goes beyond what we think of Christianity in the West.
That of an ever-growing, feel good wannabe that is polarizing and lukewarm at best.

The Copts seem to understand that our Faith transcends this earth.
Life on this earth is a blink of an eye that matters not…what matters is Christ and Christ alone.
Nothing more, nothing less.

I’ll offer more as I progress as time allows but for now, I will leave us with the
words of Mr. Mosebach…

Much as the brutal nature of their deaths and the firmness,
even stubbornness with which they confessed their faith seem to match one another in context,
we find their fate equally eerie.
Hasn’t the Western world, with its openness toward discussion and dialogue,
long since overcome such life-threatening opposites?
We live in an era of strict religious privatization and want to see it
subjected to secular law.
Society seems to have reached a consensus to reject proselytizing and religious zeal.
Hadn’t all that put an end to the merciless, all-or-nothings alternatives or believe or leave,
renounce your faith or die?

Here is a link to Christianity Today and a story about the Copts and forgiveness.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2017/april/forgiveness-muslims-moved-coptic-christians-egypt-isis.html

Knight of the Holy Ghost

If there were no God, there would be no Atheists.
G.K. Chesterton

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him,
but because he loves what is behind him.”

G.K. Chesterton

Here we go again…another story in the form of another book has just appeared on the scene…
as if out of the blue, vying for my full attention…enticing me, luring me, practically
begging me to add it to the ever-growing pile of books.

The title is what caught my eye first.

“Knight of the Holy Ghost”
by Dale Ahlquist

I like the sound of that.
As in…I want to join!
I want to be a part of such an Order.

The book is about a familiar figure–well, familiar to me that is…

G. K. Chesterton.

Here is the into by the publisher for the book:

Who was Gilbert Keith Chesterton?
A rotund man in a cape brandishing a walking stick? Certainly.
A twentieth-century writer? Prolifically.
A great champion and defender of the Christian Faith? Gallantly.
He is known too as the “prince of paradox” and an “apostle of common sense.”
Chesterton has lately been enjoying a resurgence in popularity.
His name appears on blog posts and news articles alike.
His name is spoken more often on college campuses,
and schools around the United States are being named after him.

Who was this engaging, witty, prophetic man?
Allow Dale Ahlquist, the president of the American Chesterton Society, to introduce you to him.
In a rollicking adventure quite Chestertonian in flavor,
Ahlquist captains an expedition of discovery into who this GKC fellow is.
He deftly and cleverly explores Chesterton as a man, as a writer, and as a potential saint.

Those curious about Chesterton will have their initial questions answered.
Those who might be dubious about Chesterton’s reputation will be challenged to reconsider.
Those who consider Chesterton an old friend will be delighted.
All will be engaged by amusing anecdotes, plentiful quotations,
and a thoughtful study of the life of G. K. Chesterton.

And for those of you who don’t really know this larger than life individual and would like
a little more background other than an introduction to a new book…
I actually offered a taste of background a couple of months back in a previous post…

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2018/08/18/sanity-remains-despite-insanitys-fight-for-dominance/

“For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mr. Chesterton…Gilbert Keith to be exact,
Mr. Chesterton came into this world in 1874 in London and died in 1936 at his home
in Buckinghamshire, England.

He was a prolific writer, being considered by many, the greatest writer of the 20th century.
He never attended college however but rather opted to attend art school,
earning a degree in illustration.
Yet it was after being asked to contribute an essay on art criticism to a magazine that
his lifelong passion for writing and his career as a writer, would not stop until
his death at age of 62…
and yet it never really has stopped as his words live on most enthusiastically
to this day.

And it is due to his prolific writing that Mr. Chesterton remains as current and
as relevant as he did at the turn of the century…that being the turn of the 19th
to the 20th century.

It was actually from the writings of Chesterton that lead a young atheist by the name
of C.S. Lewis to conversion to Christianity…
but Chesterton first would have to come to conversion himself.

Born of Unitarian parents, as a young man Chesterton and his brother veered toward a
fascination with the occult and that of Qujia Boards…as this was a time of cultural
interest in such…a time when seances were all the rage and much in vogue with most of
cultured society.

Intellectualism and science were both coming into their own as Christianity was
being seen as the stuff of fables and fairy tales as well as too stringent for
those seeking to dabble in all things ‘other than’…
for this was an age of enlightenment.

Chesterton credits his wife Frances, who he married in 1901, with actually leading
him back to the fold of believers.
They became members of the Anglican Church…yet Chesterton would refer to
Anglicanism as a “pale imitation” and eventually joined the Catholic Church in 1922.

It was at this point that Chesterton became what many consider to be one of the
staunchest of all times apologists for the Christian Faith.

Chesterton was equally blessed with the gift of gab and debated the likes of
H.G. Wells, Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell, and Clarence Darrow and not only
lived to tell about it but was considered to be the victor of each debate leading
George Bernard Shaw to proclaim that “the world is not thankful enough for Chesterton.”

And so as I read today’s quote, I found it amazingly instep and even quite timely.

In fact, reading the quote and not knowing it was from Chesterton,
I would have thought any ardent
Christian living today might have said such.”

That quote was:
“For at present we all tend to one mistake; we tend to make politics too important.
We tend to forget how huge a part of a man’s life is the same under a Sultan and a Senate,
under Nero or St. Louis.
Daybreak is a never-ending glory,
getting out of bed is a never-ending nuisance;
food and friends will be welcomed;
work and strangers must be accepted and endured;
birds will go bedwards and children won’t,
to the end of the last evening.”

—G.K. Chesterton
from the essay What’s Right with the World

It was when I read the Chesterton quote that I recalled having recently
come across the verse from Lamentations…

My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

Lamentations 3:20-24

I closed out that post with the following words…words that were only written back
in August…yet words still applicable today given the on-going political tit for tat…

So given Mr. Chesterton’s words regarding our tendency to take politics
(and our current state of events) way too seriously,
of which is oh so easy to do with one click of a button, it is a deep comfort
to see those long-standing words still there, still consistent, still constant…
a reminder that despite our dire current state of affairs,
the Lord remains my portion as my hope rests only in Him…

So yes, I think a Knight of the Holy Ghost is truly in order—someone we certainly need
…one who will fight for the Truth of the One True God while
rallying the troops to rise above this worldly madness.

One more book to add to the pile….

There is never coincidence, not even in the dark of night

“And I saw that truly nothing happens by accident or luck,
but everything by God’s wise providence …
for matters that have been in God’s foreseeing wisdom,
since before time began, befall us suddenly,
all unawares; and so in our blindness and ignorance we say that this is accident or luck,
but to our Lord God it is not so.”

St. Julian of Norwich


(Pieta in The Cathedral of Notre Dame / Paris, France /Julie Cook / 20118)

“Many of the saints tell us that these times of God-ordained ‘desolation’ or dryness
are very important times of growth if we persevere through them by exercising a deeper
faith, hope, and love.
It is particularly important, they tell us,
not to give up our spiritual practices but to remain faithful.
God in His wisdom knows how long and how deeply we must be tried in order to come closer to Him,
and we should patiently trust Him during the trial while persevering in our practices.”

Ralph Martin, p.174
An Except From
Fulfillment of all Desire

With God, there are no accidents.
Never.

Even when, in our thinking, a near-irreparable tragedy, of which is a true accident and is
nonetheless horrific and simply unbearable…leaves both our lives and bodies shattered…

We are reminded that God is still very much present.

Yet such a reminder, to those who are living in and with the aftermath,
rings often empty and even bitterly insulting.

Our pain and our anger are both agonizingly palpable.

Yet such moments, more often than not, send even the most staunch religious
and spiritual among us into the depths of deep darkness.
A wasteland of sorrow, loneliness, bitterness and yes, a gnawing and seething anger…

The wasteland can last, for what can seem, an eternity.

Or…on the other hand…perhaps there was no accident…no tragedy…

There was no particular impetus for a sudden wandering into the wasteland of an empty soul…

We simply find ourselves, our souls, suddenly and oddly empty and cold.

At best, our faith remains shallow…
At worst, our faith seems lost forever…

However, we are reminded to hold fast.

To hold on.

Words, which to the hurting, the lost, the lonely, more often than not,
echo of emptiness and even the trite.

It will take a conscious act of totally emptying oneself to all that is.
It will take a complete letting go of all that we know and hold dear.
It will take a blind leap of faith.
It will take a willingness to trust in that which we cannot see while we cling to
a promise given to each of us long ago.

We have a choice…
we can choose to remain lost, bitter or angry.
Or we can cling to the one promise we have…

Be not afraid…

The tragedy, the accident, the sorrow which could not, cannot be prevented…
nor that of the painful results, while one seems to remain caught in the vicious cycle
of pain both physical and spiritual, that results from such situations…
is ours to either keep and hold on to or to let go of while we figure out how to find our way back…home

That is our choice, our conscious decision.

There are no accidents with God, no coincidence.
And when in the desert, He remains steadfast despite a perceived silence.

I say all of this as I am in the midst of reading a book that is a tale
of the horrific, the unthinkable, the unimaginable and yet a tale
of the hope, the healing, and the Saving Grace…
of which far outweighs that of the Evil.

More on this story as time allows.

It does indeed seem empty to say to those who suffer the unimaginable that they must simply
hold on and hold tight…
but that is exactly what we all must be willing to do…
and to “will” ourselves takes a conscious act…

Something Beautiful Happened
A Story of Survival and Courage in the Face of Evil
by Yvette Manessis Corporon

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
“All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish.
Though you search for your enemies,
you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
will be as nothing at all.
For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.

Isaiah 41:10-13

wisdom found in the obscure

“My mission, to make God loved—will begin after my death.
I will spend my heaven doing good on earth.
I will let fall a shower of roses.”

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux


(the cover of an 1881 edition of a book by Fr. Charles Arminjon)

I’ve written in recent weeks about Saint Thérèse of Lisieux–known as the Little Flower.
She possessed a great depth of Spiritual knowledge and vision despite dying at the tender
age of 24.

A sickly, quiet, servant of God who, despite her frailty and age, became a giant for
the Christian Faith.
Her devotion to loving and serving Jesus was undeniable.

Yet I am always curious as to the backstory behind such “gentle giants”

Knowing that the work of the Holy Spirit is a mystery beyond our comprehension,
I marvel over the factors that are at work…mysteries which direct an obscure young
French girl to devote her life to God…entering a convent,
living a short life of service yet such a life that it influenced the path of another
tiny giant…Mother Teresa

31 years following the death of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, an equally young Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu
(Agnes), left home in Albania, at the age of 18, taking herself to an Irish convent…
eventually choosing the Little Flower’s name as her own as she professed her vows as a nun…
a nun who also chose service and charity…
eventually becoming known as Mother Teresa…

A domino effect of Spiritual guidance and grace.

So my curiosity was pricked when I read about an obscure book written in 1881 by an
elderly French priest, Father Charles Arminjon…

It was a book which became the impetus for a young Thérèse…
a book prompting her to seek more…

It was a long forgotten book, hiding in obscurity yet was recently sought out,
rediscovered and translated into English.

The following excerpt from the book comes blowing in across the winds of time,
speaking equally as clearly to us today…

“Although Christ chose to leave us ignorant of
the exact time of the end of the world, He deemed
it fitting to give us detailed information on the
matter and circumstances of this great event…”

“…The end of the world, Christ says, will come at
a time when the human race, sunk in the outermost
depths of indifference, will be far from thinking about
punishment and justice. It will be as in the days of Noah,
when men lived without a care, built luxurious houses,
and mocked Noah as he built his ark.
‘Madman!
Dreamer!’
they cried.
Then the flood came and engulfed the whole earth.”

“So,” writes Fr. Arminjon,
“Christ warns us that the final catastrophe will take place when the
world is at its most secure:
civilization will be at its zenith, markets will be overflowing with money,
and government stocks will never have been higher.

“Mankind, wallowing in an unprecedented
material prosperity, will have ceased to hope
for heaven.
Crudely attached to the pleasures
of life, man, like the miser in the gospel, will
say ‘My soul, you possess goods to last for
many years.
Eat, drink and be merry.'”

Fr. Arminjon reminds us that “the present world,
precisely because it was created, necessarily
tends toward its conclusion and end.”

Perhaps we should be as mindful, just as a young Thérèse became mindful
when she first read the words of Fr Arminjon,
that the world will eventually cease and we will either perish
with the world or we will have chosen to be bound up in the Saving Grace of
Jesus Christ.

A timely choice indeed.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today,
that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.
Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,

Deuteronomy 30:19