favorable conditions…

“We are always falling in love or quarreling,
looking for jobs or fearing to lose them, getting ill and recovering,
following public affairs.
If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other
to end before we can really get down to our work.
The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly
that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable.
Favorable conditions never come.”

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory


(a local acorobate dangles upside down on a birdfeeder munching on my blueberries/ Julie Cook / 2020)

I love this quote by C.S.Lewis don’t you?
Isn’t it just so us, so now, so today?

Favorable conditions never come…do they?—
Especially when one is out to find the facts and the truth.

These days, both facts and truth, are collateral damage…
Not many folks are interested in such.
They prefer a fluid sort of something that is quite far from fact or truth.

So those of us who really want to seek out such, that being the knowledge of actual
facts and truth…
well, we simply can’t wait around for the perfect conditions or for the planets
and the heavens to align.
Not now, not today.

So before we tackle such topics…let’s take another day for just ourselves…
let’s take a small reprieve from the heaviness of our times
and let’s peek at what’s going on in God’s realm


(our wee beastie gives us a wee peek / Julie Cook / 2020)


(female hummingbird resting inbetween darting and dashing from feeder to feeder / Julie Cook / 2020)


(a hawk hummingbird moth …who knew of such / Julie Cook / 2020)


(black swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)


(a gulf fritillary / Julie Cook / 2020)


(a gulf fritillary / Julie Cook / 2020)


(a gulf fritillary / Julie Cook / 2020)


(even a moth gets in on the act / Julie Cook / 2020)


(a gulf fritillary that is on his last wing…/ Julie Cook / 2020)

But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.

Job 12:7-10

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/

We joke, we laugh, we speculate…but…

“Will you come with me to the mountains?
It will hurt at first, until your feet are hardened.
Reality is harsh to the feet of shadows.
But will you come?”

C.S. Lewis


(the blooming quince / Julie Cook / 2020)

I can’t say how this will all play out…how it will all end.

I think, however, I can speak for all of us in saying that we beg that it end.

We laugh at those online videos, those memes shared…
because we know that misery loves company.

We try so desperately to make light while trying so hard to laugh in our
seemingly unified endless misery.

Yet throughout all of this we must remember…
there are those who have suffered.

Those who have…
Suffered the loss of income.
Suffered the loss of livelihood.
Suffered the loss of stability.
Suffered the loss of wellbeing.
Suffered the loss of health.
Suffered the loss of life.

Let us keep in our prayers and hearts those who have lost…

Now when Jesus saw the crowds,
he went up on a mountainside and sat down.
His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes
He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you,
persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,
for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:1-12

Bats, civets, pangolins oh my…

“And since we cannot deceive the whole human race all the time,
it is most important thus to cut every generation off from all others;
for where learning makes a free commerce between the ages there is always
the danger that the characteristic errors of one may be corrected by the
characteristic truths of another.”

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters


(PHYSorg)

Faces only a mother could love…right?!

Or maybe a zoologist or a chiropterologist, or a butcher in a wet market in Wuhan…
or perhaps a people with some serious tastebud issues who frequent said “wet” markets…

Wet markets are just that, wet.

Think fishmongers, chicken farmers, duck farmers, eel farmers, scorpion gatherers, exotic
animal farmers…all buying, selling, butchering, gutting, scaling, bloodletting, preparing
right there together on top of one another while waters, bloods, entrails, feathers, scales, guts
skin all slosh and run together underfoot.
Oh, did I mention all the animal excrement mixing in as well?

Ahhh, the aroma… but do watch your footing lest you slip in the toxic slime.

Some of these tasty morsels are actually illegal to buy, sell or trade…
even by Chinese standards…let alone eat.
And yet…this melange of illness and destruction is allowed to continue.

Such markets are a toxic and deadly cocktail just waiting to happen.

Next, let’s throw in a virology lab also located in Wuhan, China

So tell me, do these animals look appetizing to you?


(The Guardian)


(zoo chat)

I didn’t think so.

These critters may be somewhat cute in their own distinct way and yet for some, they
ring of tasty delicacies.
But this affinity for forbidden foods coupled with a worldwide pandemic
have an odd connection—of which is simply not as cut and dry as it may seem.

The simple excuse is that someone ate a bat, or a civet, or a pangolin and in turn got coronavirus and
so now the world has coronavirus…well that cause and effect just doesn’t seem to hold water.

It’s not a simple case of Colonel Mustard in the study with a candlestick sort of cut and dry.

According to an article from The Guardian,
Prof Stanley Perlman, a leading immunologist at the University of Iowa
and an expert on previous coronavirus outbreaks that have stemmed from animals,
says the idea the link to the Wuhan market is coincidental “cannot be ruled out”
but that possibility “seems less likely” because the genetic material of the
virus had been found in the market environment.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/15/how-did-the-coronavirus-start-where-did-it-come-from-how-did-it-spread-humans-was-it-really-bats-pangolins-wuhan-animal-market

Yet an even more telling tale of breadcrumbs leading to the root of the current evil that is
circumnavigating the globe is found in an article offered by the National Review

It seems that there is a certain Dr. Shi, aka China’s ‘bat woman’,
who has been studying bats and their diseases…
diseases such as SARS and Coronavirus for over a decade.

It seems that this particular lab earned one of the highest world standards
for the study of immunology and viruses—all but for the section of the lab where
Dr. Shi works.
A high rating is a notch in the belt for China– showing the world that China
is a world stage contender when it comes to the study
of immunology and viruses.

Yet Dr. Shi’s portion of the lab received a far lower safety standard rating.
Meaning it is not as stringently regulated as other parts of the lab.
Think a bit more loosey goosey.

According to a very interesting article from The National Review,
“Some scientists aren’t convinced that the virus jumped straight from bats to human beings,
but there are a few problems with the theory that some other animal was an intermediate transmitter
of COVID-19 from bats to humans:

Analyses of the SARS-CoV-2 genome indicate a single spillover event,
meaning the virus jumped only once from an animal to a person,
which makes it likely that the virus was circulating among people before December.
Unless more information about the animals at the Wuhan market is released,
the transmission chain may never be clear.
There are, however, numerous possibilities.
A bat hunter or a wildlife trafficker might have brought the virus to the market.
Pangolins happen to carry a coronavirus, which they might have picked up from bats years ago,
and which is, in one crucial part of its genome, virtually identical to SARS-CoV-2.
But no one has yet found evidence that pangolins were at the Wuhan market,
or even that venders there trafficked pangolins.”

https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/04/coronavirus-china-trail-leading-back-to-wuhan-labs/

Now one thing we all know, or those of us with any sort of historic sense, is that Communist
nations, and yes even former Communist nations, have never been on the up and up with pertinent
worldwide implication information…

Think Chernobyl…but I digress.

In the mind of China’s Communist Government, it might not be prudent to its world standing interest to
admit a major mea culpa, as in a “my bad” that we kind of let something get out of a lab of ours
that was not exactly of the highest standards.
Rather, let’s blame a nasty farmer’s market and call it a day.

So it might behoove all of us who are now locked down, sick or disrupted to demand China
take responsibility–as well as question why both the US and Canada have provided funding
to such a lab.

More questions than answers if you ask me.
Both articles are very telling and worth your reading.

What separates Christians from the rest of the pack…

From April 12, 2018
(yes, life is that manic…
but I want to wish each of you joy this Easter morn….
Hail thee festival day!! (one of my favorite hymns)

(this is an oldie but a goody)

“Life [had] replaced logic.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky


(a soon to bloom peony / Julie Cook /2018)

The image of the bloom used in today’s post is that of a peony.
I call this peony my resurrection plant because I bought it two summers ago, in July.
It was a very expensive plant.
Yet anyone living in the deep South knows you don’t sink a lot of money into a
plant, dig a hole in the hot dry ground, plop in said expensive plant and expect it to live…
especially in July and especially in a summer experiencing a full-blown drought.

I wrote about this plant last spring and the reason as to why I call it a resurrection plant—
of which you can read from the following link…
but that is not the true gist of today’s post

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/resurrections/

Today’s post is a reminder of what the Resurrection is all about…
and if you are a Chrisitan, it’s a reminder of what that exactly means to you.

The reminder rests in the fact that we’ve just celebrated Easter…

Easter being the holiest celebration, besides the birth of Christ, within the Christian Chruch…
Some would argue that it is the sole holiest celebration…but I suppose we can’t have a
resurrection of our Savior without his immaculate conception and birth…
all of which supersedes the ability of man’s small mind to grasp and process…
hence so much of the consternation in mankind since that very first miraculous morning.

After watching the latest edition of Anglican Unscripted featuring our favorite
rouge Anglican Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Gavin Ashenden, I’ve come to realize that
there are many in our fold who really don’t know what they think about
the Ressurection…
And what is even more startling, many members of the clergy don’t quite
know what to make of it either…

In a nutshell, it is the what which separates Christianity from every other religion.

How in the world can you offer anyone, let alone speak of such things as
Hope, Salvation, Grace, if you can’t find the words to say that you believe, without
a doubt, in the Ressurection of Jesus?

You can’t.

Because the Resurrection is the defining key to our faith.
It is the impetus to faith…the belief in that which is a mystery, undefinable,
and greater than oneself.

Without the Resurrection,
Christianity is nothing… nor is it any different from a myriad of other belief systems.

C.S. Lewis explained this very point in 1950

I heard a man say,
“The importance of the Resurrection is that it gives evidence of survival,
evidence that the human personality survives death.”
On that view what happened to Christ would be what had always happened to all men,
the difference being that in Christ’s ease we were privileged to see it happening.
This is certainly not what the earliest Christian writers thought.
Something perfectly new in the history of the Universe had happened.
Christ had defeated death.
The door which had always been locked had for the very first time been forced open.
This is something quite distinct from mere ghost-survival.
I don’t mean that they disbelieved in ghost-survival.
On the contrary, they believed in it so firmly that, on more than one occasion,
Christ had had to assure them that He was not a ghost.
The point is that while believing in survival they yet regarded the Resurrection
as something totally different and new.
The Resurrection narratives are not a picture of survival after death;
they record how a totally new mode of being has arisen in the universe.
Something new had appeared in the universe:
as new as the first coming of organic life.
This Man, after death, does not get divided into “ghost” and “corpse”.
A new mode of being has arisen.
That is the story.
What are we going to make of it?
The question is, I suppose,
whether any hypothesis covers the facts so well as the Christian hypothesis.
That hypothesis is that God has come down into the created universe,
down to manhood—and come up again, pulling it up with Him.
The alternative hypothesis is not legend, nor exaggeration, nor the apparitions of a ghost.
It is either lunacy or lies.
Unless one can take the second alternative (and I can’t) one turns to the Christian theory.

C.S. Lewis,
“What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?” (1950)

So if you claim to be a Chrisitan and yet find yourself unable to acknowledge the mystery
and the might behind the resurrection of Jesus Christ, you need to rethink your allegiance.
And if you are a member of the clergy and find the words and concept uncomfortable,
you need a new profession because the calling, was not for you….

Overwhlelmed

“Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you.
All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.
Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.”

St. Teresa of Avila


(the Sheriff giving in to his being overwhelmed by the day / Julie Cook / 2020)

Trying times overwhelm us.
There are no ifs, ands, or buts to it…

So during such times, we must be ever mindful that it is precisely how we respond
to such overwhelming trying times that will, in the end, define us—

Will we be the better for it or the worse for it?

Will the difference be life or will it be death?

And will it be either life eternal or death damnation?

Because you see, if we cry out for God’s intervention, will we be prepared for what
such an intervention will entail?

Some of us will and some of us will not.

C.S. Lewis reminds what such a cry entails…

“God will invade.
But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our
world quite realise what it will be like when He does.
When that happens, it is the end of the world.
When the author walks on to the stage the play is over.
God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then,
when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else –
something it never entered your head to conceive –
comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others
that none of us will have any choice left?
For this time it will God without disguise;
something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror
into every creature.
It will be too late then to choose your side.
There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up.
That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side
we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not.
Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side.
God is holding back to give us that chance.
It will not last for ever.
We must take it or leave it.”

C.S. Lewis

Captian’s Log– Week 2: defaced along with claimed and counter claimed…what shall you be?

There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch,
every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.

C.S. Lewis


(a defaced statue of Christopher Columbus in southern California / AP)

“Who is Lucifer?
He is a pure spirit, and was the most enlightened of all pure spirits,
but is now at war with God and with His rule.
The mystery of sin is merely the result of this conflict,
which manifests itself in every possible way.
Lucifer, as much as in him lies, will leave no stone unturned to destroy what
God has made and ordered.
Wherever he enters, there is the work of God defaced.”

Jean-Pierre de Caussade, p. 114
An Excerpt From
Abandonment to Divine Providence

rousing a deaf world… do you hear Him?

“Pain insists upon being attended to.
God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences,
but shouts in our pains.
It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

C.S. Lewis


(a prematurely warm February has lead to early blooms…ornamental quince / Julie Cook/ 2020)

Life is hard.

The world around us only helps to make it even harder.
Our current political turmoil, with Socialists actually becoming viable presidential candidates,
hangs like a suffocating wet blanket over our heads.

There are days we all feel beaten, defeated and even worse—
days when we feel as if we have sorely lost our way.

Depression weighs heavy like a thick fog, making it difficult to feel our way
through the murky mist.

Yet oddly, on various recent days…days which really felt heavy, burdensome and nearly unbearable,
a voice spoke through the fog…
Words were spoken that were far more than coincidence.
Words that pierced through the thick heavy shadows with shining clarity…

I wanted to share these words with you and hope that they
might perhaps lighten your spirits just as they lifted mine…
at the very moment I needed to hear them…

Reminders that yes, there is still a great and loving God the Father…
God the Redeemer, God the Savior—
The Great I AM

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

Psalm 13

Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you,
LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

1 Kings 18:37

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
and clever in their own sight.
Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine
and champions at mixing drinks,
who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
but deny justice to the innocent.
Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw
and as dry grass sinks down in the flames,
so their roots will decay
and their flowers blow away like dust;
for they have rejected the law of the Lord Almighty
and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 5:20-24

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

humility as viewed through the lens of football

“As long as you are proud you cannot know God.
A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course,
as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”

C.S. Lewis

What is humility?
And why does it matter?

Here are several definitions I found online:

A modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.

A disposition to be humble; a lack of false pride

Freedom from pride or arrogance: the quality or state of being humble

I really like the last definition…

The first definition has a bit of a ring of self-martyrdom to it.
The second one seems to be left to one’s birth personality leanings…
meaning you’re either born with it or not.

But that last one…
that last one speaks of ‘a freedom from’…

There is a great sense of release in that notion for sure.

For there’s almost a sense of ‘a lifting’ or ‘a removing of’
along with a ‘healing from’.

For to be free of something is liberating…it means you are no longer bound,
as in nothing is binding.
And there is certainly tremendous gratitude found in that!

So it seems that no matter how one slices it, humility is a lacking of arrogance
and false pride….it is also very low key.
All of which is both freeing and liberating…

Humble people tend to be low key and quiet.
They tend to shy away from the limelight…as in they have no use for such.
They prefer to stay quiet in the background.

They don’t tout themselves as this or that but rather yield to the others around them.
They eschew the spotlight…or really any sort of attention for that matter.

This notion of humility has come to the front of my thoughts recently
in part because Atlanta’s news has been all abuzz all weekend over the former
NFL football player Colin Kaepernick’s very much publicized staged workout in town…

From all outward appearances, this seems to be a staged last-ditch effort by a
young man and “his people” to draw the attention of the League’s teams,
owners and coaches to the fact that he is still very much ready to play…
playing for anyone who might ask.
He wants everyone to know he’s still viable and marketable.

But is he really?
And is this the true impetus behind this latest media-driven public spectacle?
Is he sincere?

I can’t remember a single player ever going to such extreme efforts
to get teams to reconsider him as a potential player.

And if this media spectacle wasn’t surreal enough, at the last minute,
Kaepernick changed the location just prior to the scheduled event leading
to confusion rather than the simplicity of simply showcasing his physical talents.

Was it just another issue of who is and who is not in control?

There are plenty of disappointed players out there who have been cut,
let go or who have gone undrafted for a myriad of reasons…

Professional sports are a fickled business.
As cutthroat comes to mind.

There are tons of players who continue working out, attending open practices, etc,
all in hopes of getting just one more shot.

Even big-name players such as Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel obviously come to mind—
Two very different players who were let go and yet did not want to be let go.

Tebow never seemed to get a fair shake…of which I suspect his
very open Christian faith might have had a lot to do with that…
And Manziel, well he simply burned his bridges with his continued drug use and
bad-boy behavior.

Bad-boy behavior becomes a liability in a business dominated by fans.
As in the fans are the ultimate bosses.
When fans pay to come and support a team…money flows.
When fans don’t pay to come and opt not to support a team, the money stops.
Ratings drop, players, opt to leave, as a team then becomes toxic.

No money, no revenue…
No revenue, no pay for salaries.
Maybe if salaries weren’t in the millions, this might not be such a problem.
Liabilities don’t generate revenue.
Arrogant players tend to become liabilities.

Former Steelers and Raiders player Antonio Brown comes to mind.

I just can’t seem to recall any player who has ever created their own media circus
in an attempt to force the hand of the League with the ‘hire me or else’ tactic other
than Colin Kaepernick.

I never cared for Johnny Manziel, even when he was a college player,
all because of his blatant self-destructive arrogance.

He quickly found out that the League didn’t care for it either.
The Canadian League gave him a chance but he still wants back in the NFL.

Tebow, well, he remains a bit of an anomaly regarding his playing.
Once he figured out his football days were seemingly over, as no one really wanted
to give him a real chance, he opted for baseball…
but he didn’t seem to fare any better there.

So yes, there are tons of former players, well known as well as unknown,
who would love to be able to afford their own personal very public media-hyped workouts
in an attempt to strong-arm a League,
but either they can’t or more importantly, won’t.

And maybe humility has something to do with some of that.

Some might argue that tooting one’s own horn is a must in professional sports.

Yet when you’re a sports figure who uses your job (because that’s just what it is, a job)
as a platform for your own personal political views and personal agendas…well then
that is a case of exploitation…
exploiting your work platform for your own personal desires…
Forcing a captive audience, the fans, to endure your selfish antics.

You are no longer a team player but rather a self-centered individual
allowing your on-field antics rather than performance to become an extension to a soapbox
for something so much other than what you are there for…
for athleticism and finesse on a playing field.

A humbled person might see such and reconsider how best to promote a personal agenda…
An arrogant person, on the other hand, is so self-absorbed that they have quickly lost touch.

We see this constantly with our politicians as well as with our entertainers…
just as we now see such in our professional athletes.
No area of our lives seems free of hubris.

It would be so nice to have some places in our lives that remain a-political.
Places of quiet that remain low key.
Places where we can just enjoy a game for the game’s sake… or a concert or even a simple
trip to the mall without being victimized by those who push their envelopes in our faces.

Our souls are so thirsty for the humble.

We hunger for places where there are no spotlights, no news media,
no glaring social media blitzes.
No one screaming “look at me”–

Arrogance and self-absorption dominate our lives.
Yet we readily feed into this very trend every time we feel the need to post our latest images
of ourselves doing whatever it is we do, thinking the world needs to see what we do.
The question however is, does the world really care or is it rather ourselves who are
the ones who care?

It would behoove us to seek the humble, the quiet and the lowly.
Our souls are in dire need of such.
For our souls are parched and need refreshing…

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles
himself will be exalted.”

Luke 14:11 ESV

consequences…the decisions we make

“Good and evil both increase at compound interest.
That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance.
The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which,
a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of.
An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge
or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity


(a willet makes off with a crab for breakfast /Julie Cook / 2019)

Scanning a local Atlanta’s news feed Sunday, I noted the storyline about a local Army Master Sgt.
passing away ten years after he was initially wounded in Afghanistan.

I stopped to read the story.

It seems that this soldier’s tale is a bit more complicated than that of a soldier being wounded
in the line of duty.

This particular soldier, Master Sargent Mark Allen of Georgia, was shot in the head 10 years ago
after he went out on a search mission for a fellow soldier who had deserted the unit.

The AWOL soldier was Sgt Bowe Bergdahl.

Bergdahl deserted his unit and was eventually captured by the Taliban.
He was in captivity from 2009 until 2014, when then-President Barak Obama
traded 5 Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl.

Master Sargent Mark Allen’s now recent widow Shannon,
did not know that her husband was actually shot while searching for Bergdahl,
not until several years later when President Obama ordered the prisoner exchange.
All she had known was that her husband had been shot in the line of duty and had
suffered a debilitating traumatic brain injury.

Allen was to spend the next 10 years of his life in a wheelchair and unable to
communicate, requiring constant around the clock care.

The full news story is below…followed by a bit of personal reflection…

Georgia soldier injured while searching for Bowe Bergdahl dies 10 years later
By: Chelsea Prince, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A retired Army National Guard officer from metro Atlanta died Saturday,
10 years after he was shot in the head while searching for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
in Afghanistan.

Master Sgt. Mark Allen was injured in a June 2009 search mission for Bergdahl,
who walked off a U.S. military outpost and was captured by the Taliban.
Military prosecutors said Allen was shot during a firefight that erupted when U.S. forces
and about 50 members of the Afghan National Army were attacked by enemy fighters.

Allen suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him in a wheelchair and
unable to communicate.
His wife, Shannon Allen, told WSB Radio that she did not learn about the circumstances surrounding
her husband’s injuries until 2014, after former President Barack Obama negotiated Bergdahl’s release
in a swap for five Taliban members detained at Guantanamo Bay.
Shannon Allen typically declined interviews,
but she was in the courtroom in October 2017 when Bergdahl pleaded guilty to charges of desertion
and misbehavior before the enemy, The Associated Press reported.
He was later sentenced to a dishonorable discharge from the Army but avoided prison time.

When Allen returned home, after being treated for three years at a military hospital in Florida,
he was honored as a hero.
The father of two was a frequent recipient of local accolades in his Walton County hometown.

According to an obituary printed in the Walton Tribune,
Allen spent 21 years in the Army and the Army National Guard.
He retired in 2013 upon receiving a Purple Heart.
He is survived by his wife, his son, Cody, and a daughter, Journey.

Services are planned for this week.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Tim Stewart Funeral Home in Loganville.
A funeral is set for 11 a.m. Friday at the First Baptist Church of Snellville with a burial to follow.

This story was written by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Stories such as these are hard for all sorts of reasons.
Lives are shattered and forever changed all because of one person’s choice,
action or decision.

Two children lost their dad this past weekend… and if the truth be told,
they actually lost the dad they had known as small children, ten years ago
when he was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban.
There are conflicting reports that upwards of 8 other soldiers were shot and killed
as a direct result of that particular search mission.

The story behind Bergdahl is cloudy.

When President Obama exchanged 5 military prisoners for Bergdahl’s release,
some of the truth behind Bergdahl’s story began to emerge.
Details causing some in our Government’s leadership to question the legality of
President Obama’s prisoner exchange.

Bergdahl was eventually tried in a Military court and pled guilty to desertion.

He was given a dishonorable discharge, demoted in rank and was fined $1000 from his
monthly pay.
He did not face any prison time.

Since then, some have wondered aloud whether or not Bergdahl was actually
an enemy sympathizer.
A disillusioned soldier who decided to take his chances by deserting the Army
and country he served, opting to seek asylum with the enemy…or did he merely desert,
hoping to elude capture and simply “run away” to whatever it is was that he thought
might be a better life.

Bergdahl, however, does not deny deserting.

In a letter to his parents just prior to his desertion, Bergdahl paints
the picture of a young man who was very much disillusioned.
He was angry and had decided that he must wash his hands of any part of the mission and war.
He spoke of “being ashamed to be an American”
He noted that “the US Army is the biggest joke the world has to laugh at”
He points to the fact that America and her military are arrogant and even cruel in their actions
against the Taliban and the local people.

His father’s response was for his son to follow his conscience.

Yet one thing history has taught us is that war is not pretty nor is it ever fair.
Wars are bad and bad things happen during such.
Rules of engagement, the Geneva Convention, the UN, all have
been put in place to aid man in fighting his wars fairly…
yet what of any war is ever fair?

But those who are the committed members of our military understand
the mission and in turn work to that end.

And yet in all of this, I am reminded about the matter of consequence.

A man who was once proclaimed as ‘The Great Agnostic, Robert Ingersoll, once noted that
“There are in nature neither rewards nor punishments — there are consequences.”

Ingersoll was not a Christian man however both Christian and nonbeliever can each agree
that from all actions comes consequence.

No matter Bergdahl’s claims as to what took place following his departure from his Unit,
the fact of the matter was, and remains, that the consequences from his decision
and actions that fateful day in 2009 has forever changed a myriad of lives.

Bergdahl made a conscious decision, that many say to this day, was purely selfish.
I happen to be one of those who find Bergdahl’s actions self-absorbed…
and according to Military protocol, even criminal.

His choice to walk away, for whatever reason, set in motion a chain reaction of
life-altering events…perhaps none so great as experienced by the Allen family.

The Bergdahl case remains somewhat fluid as his legal team continues to push that he
be awarded various medals from that of POW survivor to a Purpleheart…
as well that his “Court Martial” be overturned.

Despite whichever side of this case you find yourself, the fact of the matter is
that decisions, actions, and choices all hold weight.

And often that weight is a balance between life and death.
As they directly affect other people…whether we see or not the effect.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption,
but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

Galatians 6:7-8