change is often sudden

“Grief does not change you, Hazel.
It reveals you.”

John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

For the past couple of days I’ve been ruminating of the notion of both change and tradition.

Today, or actually yesterday if you are reading this on Tuesday, the world of change hit me
in both the head and heart.

On Monday morning I had gotten a push notification from one of the Atlanta news channels.
There had been an early morning chase between a speeding car going 111 mph on I-20,
just outside of Carroll County…our former county home.
The Georgia State Patrol responded.

It was in the wee hours, around 3 AM—the car first complied by stopping for the State Patrolman,
but as soon as the officer exited his patrol car, the suspects suddenly opted to speed off.
Upon fleeing, the occupants of the car began firing from the car at the State Trooper.
The chase moved from the interstate into Carroll county proper…again, our former county.
Both local sheriffs and local police all responded.

The car fired upon a Carrollton Police Officer’s vehicle and two Carroll County
patrol cars.
Three law enforcement officers were shot.
The Carrollton Police Sergeant who responded to the call was shot and in turn
lost control of his vehicle, crashing into a power pole.
The suspects kept firing on each responding law enforcement vehicle.

Eventually, one of the suspects was killed while the other, a 22 year old male,
was apprehended and taken into custody.

I was doing my regular Monday morning grocery run when I got a text from a friend
back home.
She asked if I’d seen the news…the news about the chase and the three officers shot.

It turns out that the Carrollton sergeant who was shot, and in turn crashed,
is the husband to one of our friends and colleagues from school.

Suddenly the news becomes personal…
Time stops in the grocery store.

Lives change.
Poor and bad choices turn into a series of vicious cause and effects for
a myriad of people.

Sergeant Holloway, the Carrollton policeman, underwent surgery on Monday
but it was not as successful as hoped for…or rather it was just simply as successful
as it could be.
The next 72 hours will be the most critical for Rob’s recovery.

I ask that you will join me in prayers for these officers, their families as well
as prayers for the boys who opted to make devastating choices.

The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan,
who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

Revelation 12:9

king for a day or king for life—it’s a choice

“It is better to be a child of God than king of the whole world!”
St. Aloysius Gonzaga

“It is necessary to have an absolutely sure intention in all our actions,
so that the generous fulfillment of our daily duties may be directed
toward the highest supernatural ideal. Thus, our life, apart from moments of prayer,
will be a prayerful life. It is clear that the habit of giving an upward glance
to God at the moment of action is a great assistance in aiding us to
behave always with a pure intention and in freeing us from our natural impulses
and fancies, so, that, retaining our self-mastery, or rather,
God becoming the sole Master, all our movements become dependent upon the Holy Spirit.
We see in the Gospel that whenever our Lord was about to undertake some important step,
He always paused for a moment to raise His eyes to Heaven,
and only after this moment of recollection did He take up the work He had to do.
‘He lifted up His eyes to Heaven’ is a phrase that recurs with significant frequency.
And doubtless, when there was no outward sign of this prayer,
there was the inward offering. The ideal is the same for us.
The constant subjection of self to the guidance of the Holy Spirit
is made easier from the fact of His presence in the soul,
where He is asked explicitly to preside over all our doings…
We shall not submit wholeheartedly to the invisible Guest unless
He is kept in close proximity to us.”

Raoul Plus, S.J., p. 37-8
An Excerpt From
How to Pray Always

the strange times in which we live

If someone had said 20 years ago that Christians in this country,
which prides itself on its religious freedoms,
would soon have to gather in secret
for fear of being arrested or charged with ruinous fines,
they would not have been believed.

Dr. Gavin Ashenden


(areil shot of a Christmas pyramid / Julie Cook / 2013)

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found,
call ye upon him while he is near:

Isaiah 55:6

Reading this line from Isaiah yesterday I was struck by some of the wording…
as in ‘hit on the head’ sort of struck.

It was the use of the words ‘may be found’ and ‘while he is near’…
meaning, there is no guarantee that He will always be able to be found
nor that He will always be near.

Whoa.

So in turn, this must mean that there will be a time when what we take for granted will
no longer be around…
As in no longer available.
No longer an option.

I read this particular verse after I had read Dr. Gavin Ashenden’s
latest post.
A post that any Christian reading would find unsettling.
A post entitled “the turning of Christians into criminals.

The turning of Christians into criminals…

Dr. Ashenden was writing about a problem that he is currently witnessing taking place in the UK…
He writes about a current problem that is taking place in an area we’d normally take for granted.
The problem is the conducting of church worship and religious services.
Activities that normally would never be an issue but then again this year happens to be
anything but a normal year—and so everything and anything seems to be an issue.

And since there is a pandemic, there is thus a glitch.

Activities we take for granted such as exercising our religious freedoms, are
now a problem during a pandemic.
Or might the pandemic be a rouse; more of an excuse for those enemies of the
Faith to flex an intolerant muscle?

Dr. Ashenden’s lamentations might as well have been written about our lives
as worshipers here in the States.

The signs are very troubling on both sides of the pond in that there is very
little that seems to be separating us and that of our leadership’s approach to this pandemic.
In a word…shut them down…but by all means, keep Walmart up and running.

The good doctor notes:
“In an increasingly fluid situation,
where the church is coming under more and more destructive pressure,
every Christian ought to say to the Lord,
‘What would you like me to do in this situation?’,
and I want to recognise that some Christians will find that their role is
quiet and passive and prayerful and anonymous.
Other Christians on the other end of the scale may find themselves called to martyrdom.

“One of the things that has become clearer to me is that whilst this virus
is obviously a morally neutral biological phenomenon,
it has become the instrument for evil, if evil is expressed in terms of
attacks on the worship of Christ and the integrity and the
conscience of Christians as disciples of Christ.
And that’s certainly the situation we are facing now.”

If someone had said 20 years ago that Christians in this country,
which prides itself on its religious freedoms, would soon have to gather in secret
for fear of being arrested or charged with ruinous fines, they would not have been believed.
In deciding on this legal action, the courts have the opportunity
to avert this crisis, shun the path taken by the Marxist tyrannies of the past,
and bring this country back in step with hard-won, centuries-old traditions of liberty.

After reading Dr. Ashenden’s post, I next turned to read Mel Wild’s latest offering
over on his site, In My Father’s House

https://melwild.wordpress.com/2020/11/30/subterfuge-conspiracy-theories-and-myths-that-may-be-true/

Now whereas Mel’s post is more or less examining the madness known as “this election”,
he actually has some very similar feelings akin to Dr. Ashenden’s regarding this pandemic…
a pandemic that seems to be very much “an instrument for evil”
Evil on a multitude of levels.

“We may even be led to believe that this pandemic was an accident,
that it has nothing to do with other things we’ve endured in 2020—-
the George Floyd protests-turned-endless-riots,
Marxist BLM demands to defund the police, BLM and Antifa thugs terrorizing citizens,
looting and burning down some of our cities,
the economic lockdowns which severely damaged small businesses but greatly benefited
the corporate and big tech oligarchs,

and even the election chaos that’s still being uncovered right now.”

“Is this all just a coincidence?
Are these events unrelated?
Maybe so, but some experts say, no.
They say all it’s all very much connected.”

Mel does conclude however on a positive note of hope…
“Now, the good news! While it can be very discouraging when we see the
overwhelming evil that’s been perpetrated against our country,
I want to encourage you not to lose heart.
Not only has Christ already won the ultimate epic battle,
but we’re not done with the ideological and political battles either.
We must stay strong and put our hope in God, not political outcomes.

The script over this year has not been fully written, and many things are still in play.
This election is far from over. There are still many legal battles and surprises yet to come.
This all could just be a prelude to something unexpected and wonderful!”

And so I am brought back to where I began this little observational post, back to Isaiah.

I believe it would behoove all of us, no more importantly so than now,
in these odd times in which we find ourselves living,
to know that we must seek God—as in seeking Him now while He can still be found and
call upon Him by all means while He is still near to hear…
because sooner rather than later, He will have moved on…taking many with Him,
but sadly leaving many behind.

For you see it’s a choice on our part.
We follow Him or we don’t.
There is no time for capitulation and no time to kneel before the State.

Seek and call…now, while the time remains…

when the death of an earthly saint wages war against God’s earthly warriors

“The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort.
You were made for greatness.”

Pope Benedict XVI

“The devil fears hearts on fire with love of God.”
St. Catherine of Siena


(the beach before the storm / Julie Cook / 2020)

I must confess that I never quite got the whole obsession with RBG,
aka Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

There are books out with quotes and snippets of her wisdom.
There are bobblehead dolls.
There are T’ shirts…
She had quite the massive cultural cult following.

And I never got it.
Heck, I still don’t get it.

I feel very badly for her family that she has passed away.
Just as I am always sad whenever I hear that a soul has lost their earthly battle…
however, I am absolutely bumfuzzled by the near mystic-like response her death is having
on so many in our society.

And it is not simply her death that is reverberating throughout this nation of ours
but it is the void now left in her professional life that is the beginning of
a massive storm.

Justice Ginsburg was a very vocal proponent of women’s rights–
particularly that of abortion.
Not that I think that is so much of a right as it is a fault.

So there is a storm now brewing over her replacement.

The word is that President Trump has narrowed his list down to two women…
both of whom are Catholic.

And so it seems everyone is now up in arms…

In a recent article on The Federalist, John Daniel Davidson, pens a piece about
the Democrats embracing an anti-Catholic bigotry regarding any SCOTUS nomination

Davidson notes that “President Trump is expected to pick a Supreme Court nominee
to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
as early as the end of this week.
Two of the people on Trump’s short list of possible nominees are Catholic women:
Amy Coney Barrett, a federal appellate court judge in Chicago,
and Barbara Lagoa, a federal appellate court judge in Atlanta.

Davidson continues…
The media has wasted no time casting aspersions on Barrett for her Catholic faith.
On Monday, the Washington Post ran a kind of explainer on Barrett,
which included an out-of-context quote from a talk she apparently gave years ago,
that a “legal career is but a means to an end… and that end is building the Kingdom of God.”

The statement itself, even without context,
is an altogether ordinary expression of sincere religious belief that any devout person,
whether Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or Muslim, would readily affirm.
Yet the Post’s Ron Charles highlighted it in a tweet Monday,
as if to warn us that Barrett might try to usher in a Catholic theocracy
if she gets onto the Supreme Court.

Also Monday, Newsweek published a somewhat hysterical piece about how Barrett
is affiliated with a Christian religious group, People of Praise, that served as the inspiration
for “The Handmaid’s Tale”—as if Barrett, a woman on the president’s short list for the Supreme Court,
somehow exemplifies the oppression of women by a religious patriarchy.
(Update: Newsweek posted a correction to this piece Tuesday, saying Margaret Atwood
never mentioned People of Praise as an inspiration for “The Handmaid’s Tale,”
which calls into question the entire point of the article.
The social media headline, however, remains unchanged.)

Elected Democrats have been even more frank about their antipathy towards Catholics,
even to the point of appearing to support an anti-Catholic religious test for nominees
to the federal bench. It was during Barrett’s 2017 confirmation to the federal
appellate court that Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein admitted openly that the judge’s
Catholic faith was a problem for her, infamously telling Barrett,
“the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.”

“During those same confirmation hearings, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin grilled Barrett
on her faith, suggesting there’s something nefarious about being an “orthodox Catholic”
and asking her, “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?”
She replied, “I am a Catholic, Senator Durbin.”

It’s hard to imagine the religious beliefs of any Democratic nominee to the federal
judiciary being questioned with this much open disdain,
and with the strong implication that these kind of Catholics—the kind
that take the teachings of the church seriously on issues like abortion and gay marriage—
aren’t fit for positions of public trust.

Some Democrats don’t even bother to imply this,
they just come out and say it.
No one stands out more in this regard than Democrats’
own vice presidential candidate, Sen. Kamala Harris.

It was Harris who last year accused federal judicial nominee Brian Buescher of having
“extreme positions” simply because he’s a member of the Knights of Columbus,
a Catholic benevolent society that also adheres to church teaching on things
like abortion and gay marriage.
(Full disclosure, I’m a member of the Knights of Columbus.
Lucky for me, I’ll never have to go through a Senate confirmation.)

“Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to
choose when you joined the organization?” asked Harris, implying that the Knights
are just a bit too Catholic for someone like Buescher to be trusted as a federal judge.

Harris was joined in this calumny by Sen. Mazie Hirono,
who asked Buescher if he would end his membership in the organization
“to avoid any appearance of bias.”
The exchange prompted Sen. Ben Sasse to introduce a resolution declaring it
unconstitutional to reject nominees because of their membership in the Knights of Columbus,
which was approved by unanimous consent.

The article continues with a bit of history as to how America has always had a mistrust
of Catholics.

But what I found so ironic in all of this disdain for a possible Catholic SCOTUS nominee
is that both Madame Speaker, Mrs. Pelosi and presidential candidate Joe Biden are
both Catholic.

And yet both are very vocal about their stance on women’s rights and pro-abortion.
Being pro-abortion is a glaring contrast to the Catholic faith…not to
mention to the Christian faith.

Obviously, their faith is not their focus in life.

https://thefederalist.com/2020/09/22/in-scotus-confirmation-fight-expect-democrats-to-embrace-anti-catholic-bigotry/

And so that is the single area of contention…it is the key issue that seems
to be at the heart of the deeply drawn line in the sand.
The intentional killing of babies–those in utero and those who are actually live births.

Our Democratic leaders seem hell-bent on finding a replacement for RBG who will
maintain the frantic race to abortions.

I’ve written so much about this issue that my heart grows heavy with each passing day.

I was moved by Oneta’s comment yesterday to what I posted on Monday:
“Leviticus 20 says the man looking on and doing nothing is open to the same punishment
as the man who sacrifices the child. Chilling thoughts if we do not cry out
for forgiveness AND do something to make it stop.”

I later read a post by our friend Sue over on awriterscorner.blog
regarding a new book by Jonathan Cahn.
Cahn wrote The Harbinger and has penned a part two–The Harbinger II, The Return.

Sue also commented like Oneta to my post:
“I just finished reading Jonathon Cahn’s HARBINGER 2 and it blew my mind!
The murder of our babies in the womb is exactly why we are under God’s judgment
and the silence from Christians is reprehensible.
This prophecy confirms all that Rabi Cahn said also.”

Jonathan Cahn Does it Again!

Later in the day, I read an article concerning the actress Patrica Heaton and her
foreboding warning to fellow Christians.
She was warning against an ensuing onslaught against Christianity…Christians,
be they Catholic or Protestant, whether they like it or not, will find themselves caught
up in the middle of the filling of RGB’s post on the Supreme Court.

Christianity is about to be drug through the mud and the Progressive Left
will be very happy to bury us all right there in that mud.

https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/patricia-heaton-onslaught-ignorance-religion-supreme-court

And so I say to you, I say it to us all—to any of us who call themselves Chrisitan…
be we Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant or non-Denominational….
A line is now drawn.
And God has spoken.
What side of that line will you stand?
And when God asks of your stance, what will you be able to say to Him.

The Lord said to Moses,
“Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing in Israel who sacrifices
any of his children to Molek is to be put to death.
The members of the community are to stone him.
I myself will set my face against him and will cut him off from his people;
for by sacrificing his children to Molek, he has defiled my sanctuary
and profaned my holy name.
If the members of the community close their eyes when that man sacrifices one
of his children to Molek and if they fail to put him to death,
I myself will set my face against him and his family and will cut them off from their
people together with all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molek

Leviticus 20:1-5

when did respect die???

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself.
The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he
cannot distinguish the truth within him,
or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others.
And having no respect he ceases to love.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

“It may be important to great thinkers to examine the world,
to explain and despise it.
But I think it is only important to love the world, not to despise it,
not for us to hate each other, but to be able to regard the world and ourselves
and all beings with love, admiration and respect.”

Hermann Hesse

“He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him In!”

Edwin Markham

This quote by Edwin Markham…it was one of my favorite quotes… or better yet,
it actually became a sort of life rule that I kept close to my heart when I was in high school…
way back in the mid 70’s when I first found it.

It is a quote by Edwin Markham (April 23, 1852 – March 7, 1940)
He was a poet, as well as an American poet laureate, hailing from Oregan.
He was a prolific writer with most of his work coming from the years between 1923-1931.

This quote came racing back to my thoughts yesterday after a little incident I witnessed
at my local grocery store.

Let’s think of where I live.

I live in what is considered to be a small town.
We are about an hour west of Atlanta, give or take the traffic.
Yet we are a college town.
And we are what some might consider to be a sleeper community of Atlanta.
Meaning, folks drive back and forth to the big city in order to work.

We have big businesses but we still have a cattle sale barn that operates every Monday.
It’s where the local farmers bring their animals each week to show and sell…
So yes, we have pastures, cows, goats, sheep, bulls and yet we also have
global industry, a major hospital, a Division II college, and two nationally
recognized school systems…

Our town is a good town.
A small town with rural charm along with a comfortable modern feel.

So yesterday afternoon, I ran to the grocery store, our local Publix.
As I made my way to the door, pulling my mask over my face, I saw an older woman,
in her 80’s pushing her cart out of the store.
She was sporting a Trump 2020 t-shirt along with a black Trump 2020 face mask…
smartly accenting her jean skirt and sneakers.

I noticed out of the corner of my eye an elderly gentleman approaching us pushing another
grocery cart…he was bent over with age and I surmised he was her husband.

She told me she wanted to tell me something.

As she was an older woman and I have a deep respect for older folks,
I knew I needed to pay attention to what she wanted to tell me.

I don’t care what race, creed, or religion an older person might be,
they will always have my respect.
That’s how I was raised.

I might be almost 61 myself but I will always respect those who are older than I am.

No matter who they may be or where they may come from…be they humble
beings or more well do to…our elderly population are our treasures.
They have lived through so much, be it good or bad, and they have so much to
teach each one of us.

So when one of that generation tells me they have something to tell me,
I’m all ears.

This very southern gentile woman begins to tell me that a young man…
she told me his race, but to be honest I couldn’t make out exactly what she said
given the muffled voice coming from under her mask,
I could have easily assumed she was referring to a black male, but I’m just sticking with
young male…

This young male saw her shirt and mask and told her to her face that she was a
“fucking racist.”

Suddenly I felt a sick feeling hitting my stomach like a brick.

That could have once been my grandmother.
For some punk to call my own grandmother a “fucking” anything would have
sent me reeling.
For all I know, my grandmother probably never had heard of such a word!
She was that much a southern lady…much like this woman

By this time, her hunched-over husband chimed in telling me that had he heard
this young man say that to his wife, he would have hit him but he was
not nearby as he was just trying to get a cart to help him walk.

Here was a feeble elderly man feeling that his wife has been terribly insulted
and he wasn’t there to defend her—and that tore my heart to pieces.

I apologized to this couple that such should have happened to them on this humid September
Thursday afternoon at their local grocery store in small-town USA.

I felt so hurt.
So much so that tears came to my eyes.

I could have just as easily seen an elderly black man or woman wearing a BLM shirt
at the store and I would never have ever considered saying a word.
I might have disagreed, but I would respect their choice, their right,
to wear such because that is indeed their, our, right as Americans.
I don’t have to agree, but I do have to have respect.

Why?

Because that is how I was raised.

And so that one little word, that one little issue, is, in a nutshell,
the answer to all of this idiocy taking place across this Nation of ours…
respect has died.

May she rest in peace.
And may God have mercy.

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them,
for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12

thin black line, 6th Ave Heartache

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

An odd thing happened two nights ago.

Now you need to remember that I was taken off my HRT (hormone replacement therapy)
about 7 weeks ago.
Hormones, I’d been on nearly 30 years.

Sleep has never been great, but take away the hormones and things immediately went
from bad to really really bad in literally a single night’s time.

However two nights ago, despite battling the need to breathe while living
with a sinus infection along with poison ivy, I was actually asleep.

How do I know?
I was flat on my back.

I’m usually a side to stomach sleeper yet at some point or other,
when I’m really asleep, asleep—
I’m always mysteriously flat on my back.

At 1:30 in the morning, I became aware that I was itching.
Groggily I started scratching at my poison ivy now spreading across my torso.
Suddenly in my head, I was hearing a song that I know I had not heard playing that day
as some sort of background music in a store.

Clear as day, playing lyrically in my head.

It was a song I’ve always liked..a 90’s sort of song…Why I’ve always liked it,
I don’t know, but it has always made me feel a bit heavy-hearted and melancholy.
Again, I’m not sure as to why.
Although it’s an older song, it seems to still be quite relevant.

Rousing my brain to full awake mode, I opted to get up and head into the bathroom
in order to slather on some more anti-itch medicine— all the
while that song kept ringing in my head…

“And the same black line that was drawn on you
Was drawn on me
And now it’s drawn me in…”

I crawled back into bed now restless as my thoughts were racing.
All the while still itching and listening to non-existent music playing.

Why was this song stuck in my head—especially when I was good and asleep??

The following morning, after grabbing my coffee, I googled the song.

According to Wikipedia , The lyrics are based on Dylan’s (Jakob Dylan)
own experiences while living in New York City, in particular, the story of a homeless man
who would sit outside Dylan’s window and play the same songs every day.
One day, the man was gone, but his things were still there,
until gradually people started taking them.

Well, that seemed to make it all feel even worse…doubly more sad than before.

So I kept digging a bit further.

What did the Bible have to say about a black line??

As I kept looking, I was constantly being redirected to the mark of Cain.

Hummmm.

Remember, being raised a poor illiterate Episcoplain kid, the breadth and depth
of Bible study was never my forte.
But I was now intrigued.

I knew Cain and Abel…really the very first tale of humankind’s lowest moments.
Or actually, that might have been their parents…but either way, we humans weren’t off
to the best of starts.

Choice…we never seem to have mastered choice…but I digress.

Why would God want me to think about all of this at 1:30 in the morning?
I know, I know…time to God is irrelevant but to a woman who hardly ever has deep
sleep, as in REM, I was just a tad frustrated.

There were (are) a lot of articles on the web about the mark of Cain
and many of them have some sort of racist connotation.
Naturally…it always goes back to race.

It seems race has been with us since the beginning of time and we still don’t know how to
deal with it—- gees…!
But again, I digress.

So after reading, I managed to find an interesting article on Bibleodyssey.com
written by Eva Mroxzek, an assistant professor of Jewish studies at Indiana University.

She hit on the whole good mark, bad mark thinking…
Cain killed his brother and God marked him for life.
The question…was or is…. was or is the mark a mark of shame or a mark of protection?

Was it leprosy?
A ‘keep your distance’ sort of mark?
Did God turn his skin a darker color?
Did God have a horn grow out of Cain’s head?
Did it have to do with circumcision?
Did God give Cain a dog?
Huh???

Did God have mercy on Cain and forgive him for having killed his brother…the first
recorded murder in human history only to followed by the greatest act of forgiveness??

But wait…was that the greatest act of forgiveness or was that actually
during Good Friday…
digressing again…

So, was the mark a mark of forgiveness…

On and on the so-called wise ones have debated this issue for eons.

And yet oddly here it comes visiting me at 1:30 in the morning by way of a 1996 song.

Ms, Mroczek notes at the end of her article…
“But the most striking interpretations rely on a later meaning of the Hebrew word oth:
a letter of the alphabet.
A midrashic text suggests that God inscribed a letter on Cain’s arm as a mark of protection
(Pirqe Rabbi Eliezer 21).
Thus, the mark of Cain becomes a sacred sign.
In another midrash (Tanhuma Genesis 10),
it is the word Sabbath that is inscribed on Cain’s face—after the personified Sabbath day
itself begged God to forgive Cain’s sin.
And a targum—an Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Scriptures—
identifies the mark as the holiest sign of all: God inscribes on Cain
“the great and honorable name of the LORD,” namely the tetragrammaton,
the four-letter name of God (YHWH).

https://www.bibleodyssey.org/people/related-articles/mark-of-cain

So the jury is still out.

Why the song?
Why the direction toward Cain?
And is this a message of foreboding or passage of forgiveness.

I’ll let you know what happens when the next hot flash rouses me from
what little precious sleep there is…I’m sure God will have His say…
I just wish I was wise enough to figure out where He was taking me.
But if I knew that…there’d be so many answers to so many questions…

Heartbreak does seem to be happeing on all sorts of 6th Avenues across this Nation…

Sirens ring, the shots ring out
A stranger cries, screams out loud
I had my world strapped against my back
I held my hands, never knew how to act
And the same black line that was drawn on you
Was drawn on me
And now it’s drawn me in
6th Avenue heartache
Below me was a homeless man
I’m singin’ songs I knew complete
On the steps alone, his guitar in hand
It’s fifty years, stood where he stands
Now walkin’ home on those streets
The river winds move my feet
Subway steam, like silhouettes in dreams
They stood by me, just like moonbeams
Look out the window, down upon that street
And gone like a midnight was that man
But I see his six strings laid against that wall
And all his things, they all look so small
I got my fingers crossed on a shooting star
Just like me just moved on

Portland, Seattle, Chicago, D.C. or a safari park in the UK….you be the judge

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent.
It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”

E.F. Schumacher

“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Baboons armed with chainsaws, knives, and screwdrivers vs humans armed with Molotov cocktails
bricks and hammers…

I think I might take my chances with the baboons and chainsaws.


(Photo: GRANT HINDSLEY, SEATTLEPI.COM)


(Portland, OR / ABC News)


(Chicago Today)


(Washington D.C. / The Guardian)


(Baboons ‘armed with knives and chainsaws’ spotted in the Knowsley Safari Park in Merseyside)

https://www.yahoo.com/news/safari-park-baboons-knives-chainsaw-160316231.html

Violence shall no more be heard in your land,
devastation or destruction within your borders;
you shall call your walls Salvation,
and your gates Praise.

Isaiah 60:18

Shepherds—please, lead your flocks

I am like the sick sheep that strays from the rest of the flock. Unless
the Good Shepherd takes me on His shoulders and carries me back to His fold,
my steps will falter, and in the very effort of rising, my feet will give way.

St. Jerome


(sheep farm, Killarny Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Firstly—- I read the following July 4th post written by our freind and
most knowledgeable Christian sister IB.

As I read it, I felt warm tears falling down my cheeks.

I too have most recently deeply felt her words.
A sense of pleading that our Chruch leadership does what they are entrusted to do…
that being to lead their flocks—come hell or high water.
Not cower in the corner of current ideologies…

A day later, I read a post by our dear friend and former Anglican Bishop, Gavin Ashenden..
A post that mirrored IB’s thoughts and words but simply written from across the pond.

I’ve cut and copied both posts here.
I hope their words will touch your spirit.

We Aren’t going to “Get Our Freedom Back…”

So listen, I don’t want to sound uncharacteristically somber and serious,
nor do I want people to think I’m a total conspiratress.
I am you know, I do love a good conspiracy theory.
The problem being this isn’t a “theory,” it’s simply common sense.
So, I just want to say, those who are waiting patiently for things to “get back to normal,”
it ain’t happening. It ain’t going to happen.

Those who seem to believe if we just comply enough, just cooperate enough,
just do everything they say, (wear your mask you idiot,
so we can all open back up again) it ain’t going to happen.

If you’re waiting for covid 19 to go away, it ain’t going to happen either.
We could get down to no cases anywhere and there’s another “pandemic” right around
the corner waiting for us.
The media is already on it.

Government and public health officials are already trying to say we’re going to have
to wear masks for years, certainly until we get a mandatory vaccine.
Besides, flu season is coming this fall…

Never in the history of ever has anyone in government voluntarily relinquished
power over others that they have managed to attain.
The only way to get our freedom back is to stop playing the game,
stop the charades, and stop buying into the fear.
We have to say “no,” and we have to say it somewhat collectively.
None of this can continue without our consent.

I’m pleading with Christians who are just sitting there quietly accepting
a ban on singing in church. C’mon on people, some part of you knows this is not okay.
The power of life and death is in our tongues, it says that in the Bible.
If we believe those words, if the singing we do actually means something,
then we have to realize that shutting down churches, mandating we all wear masks,
and telling us it’s too dangerous to sing our praises, are all huge red flags.

I’m pleading with everyone who has ever felt the “benevolent” hand of government,
anyone who still carries trauma from those experiences.
C’mon people, we all know what this is.
It smells just like history trying to repeat itself.
It’s a power play.

We flattened the curve!
Heck, we shut down unused field hospitals and laid people off from our hospitals.
We did not get our freedom back.
We shut our businesses down, we bought the hand sanitizer,
we put on the masks, and we stayed home and we still did not get our freedom back.
It ain’t going to happen. Freedom once taken is not something you just “get” back.
There will be no passively sitting around and waiting for our freedom to be politely
returned to us once we’ve met all the requirements.

We met the requirements. So they just moved the goalposts.
They will continue to do so.

We aren’t going to “get” our freedom back, like it will just be passively
and nicely returned to us based on our compliance. That is a big lie, a total deception,
and has never happened anywhere, in the history of ever. Frankly,
I’m a bit embarrassed people still believe that. Not even God Himself,
and He is Holy, just, and perfect, just “gives” us freedom.
He may open the door to our prison, tear down the walls, and coax us out,
but even then we have to walk out under our own steam.
Or crawl.
Whatever works.
The point being, it is extremely rare we ever get anything without first opening
our hand and reaching out for it.

Jan 22, 2020, is when all of this began in my state.
We are going on seven months now! 7 months. A quarantine is for the sick,
not the healthy, and it should last about two weeks.
To quarantine the healthy is simply tyranny.

Such notions often put me at odds with friends, family,
even some churches. The problem being, I know I’m right,
I know that everything I see points in the direction I am observing.
We get our freedom back when we stop voluntarily consenting to hand it over.
That easy, that simple.

Happy Independence Day!
https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2020/07/04/we-arent-going-to-get-our-freedom-back/

The State, freedom of conscience, and civil disobedience.

The state and the Church have a history in our country.
The relationship status might read “it’s complicated”.
It ranges from the conversion and Christianization of the state to the deepest antipathy
of the State and its persecution of the Church.

Even when Christian, the Church has had to challenge the state.
Becket took on Henry 2nd and won. It cost him his life, but he won.

Thomas More took on Henry 8th. It cost him his life.
While he won the moral argument he lost the legal and political one.

The narrative in this country is of course set in the far wider and more
complex contest for a system of values fought in a variety of states
with a variety of aspects of the Church.

Glancing from the dynamics of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar,
through the Maccabees up to Bonhoeffer and Hitler, Solzhenitsyn and Stalin,
the contest for setting the values by which human beings live,
across states and cultures, defines one of the most powerful narratives in human history.

The pendulum swings from benign to malign.

In our day we are moving with some speed towards the malign.
Any reading of 20C history demonstrates a three-cornered fight between
two totalitarian ambitions, Marxism and Fascism, and Christianity.
All three make absolutist claims on humanity that are irreconcilable.
The anaemic relativism of our decaying culture in the West disguises
the sharp and brutal quality of the contest.

Christians are rightly wary that the in 21st C there is no reason for thinking
that the contest has been suspended. Fascism’s toll of Christians (and Jews)
in Germany and Spain was horrendous but dwarfed by the toll wreaked
by the Soviet Union and Marxist China.

In each period of attrition, the sign that the struggle to the death
had begun was the control of Churches and worship by the authorities.

The beginning of this century has exposed the oncoming depth and intensity
of a cultural revolution of values that are inimical to the faith in the west
and suddenly out of nowhere, for medical rather than political reasons,
the state suddenly closes the churches and prohibits worship.

There are three patterns of Christian response.
The first is the highly secularized and spiritually incompetent one, which says,
“places don’t matter; your private thoughts are everything,
corporate worship is overrated.
We are not worrying about the implications for a weakened church losing financial
and philosophical traction becoming ever more bankrupt in both.
There is nothing to see here, move on, don’t fuss.”

The second response, more literate historically but still
underdeveloped spiritually says “yes it’s a terrible sign that that the churches
have been down unilaterally. Yes, it looks authoritarian and apocalyptic,
but check out the facts. It was a pandemic.
It was medicine and science, not politics.
Calm down.
Nothing to worry about.”

The third group is more inclined to the view,
“if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck,
it may well be a duck”.
There is no value free science; everything has a political dimension;
more importantly, everything has a spiritual temperature,
character and metaphysical flavour or dynamic.
Whether there was intentionality or not, the state took upon itself the right
to close churches, prohibit worship, and deny the autonomy of personal
choice and informed conscience. And although this was a temporary measure (it seems)
it set a precedent which should have been exposed, challenged and repudiated.”

This is not the place to argue that the science on singing, water droplets
and infection is contested, as is the nature of the virus itself.
But it is the place to make common cause with Lord Sumtion and vociferously claim
that civil liberties require us to make a distinction between those who want to withdraw
from public life in order to protect themselves in a situation that is scientifically
and medically ambiguous, and those who chose to take certain risks congruent with a
personal value system and the dictates of their conscience.

It is the place to say that Christians do not recognise the power or authority of
the state to prohibit gathering for worship in ways that are not
medically or scientifically lethal or antisocial.

It is the place for insisting that the bar that state has to cross to
outlaw worship, close churches and outrage Christian conscience is considerably
perhaps impossibly higher than the secular state recognises.

It is, therefore, a legal and moral duty for the Church to challenge
the jurisprudential and ethical authority of the state to have set a precedent
in the authoritarian closing of churches and prohibition of worship.

It is for this reason that Christian Concern and a number of Church leaders
(amongst whom I am the least) have issued a challenge to the government by means
of judicial review to test the legality of this programme of church closure.

Further, if the legal challenge should be lost, many of us believe that Christians
could argue that we had a moral and ethical duty to refuse to acknowledge
the legitimacy of unjust law that not only acted as a threat to civil rights
and liberties that our forebears fought so hard to defend, but also struck
at the heart of our religious, spiritual and moral allegiance and identity.
https://ashenden.org/2020/07/06/the-state-closure-of-churches-and-civil-disobedience/

choose life over fear

“Nothing in life is to be feared,
it is only to be understood.
Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

Marie Curie


(Two grandparents overun / Brenton Cook / 2020)

After nearly three months of going nowhere but to the grocery store,
the curbside pickup liquor store, occasionally to Target and most recently to a
Chick-fil-A drive-through…

After three months of being cooped up…caring for wee ones while others work from home…
Living life shrouded daily within a veil of trepidation, questions
and fear…today we opted for living life a bit more boldly and actually ventured
forth on Mother’s Day.

We took our small show on the road.

We drove southeast to a small quaint town, about 45 minutes away, in order to enjoy
a lovely alfresco Mother’s Day lunch.

Actually sitting outside, basking in the lovely May sunshine along with a
slight cool breeze, we couldn’t have been happier.
.
When we arrived, we were greeted by several gracious masked waitresses and waiters,
along with hand sanitizer at the ready…a familiar staff despite the covered faces.
Their twinkling eyes said it all…”Welcome back!”

It was finally a real sit-down meal away from our own kitchen of chaos.
A truly treasured moment.

Eating out has always been a treat and a diversion from the rut of the every day…
but today…today was different!
Everything seemed brighter, lighter.

This little restaurant is one we have enjoyed visiting over the years.
One we don’t mind driving to.

The husband and wife team who own the restaurant, where she is the chef,
have made the most of a farm to table restaurant with a relaxed french flair.

The host and husband of the duo, who I know, asked me, before we left if we had enjoyed ourselves…
my response was one of a long exhaled sigh of relief.

I told him that after almost 3 months of going nowhere…today was absolutely grand!
I could tell he smiled in satisfaction despite having a mask cover his face.
His eyes said it all.

They have provided curbside pick-up throughout the state’s lockdown but
today was their trial run for a “soft opening.”

After a delightful afternoon, when we were headed back home, satiated and content with
having enjoyed both a peace-filled afternoon and good food,
a small sign outside of a little country church caught my eye…
Choose life over fear.

Today on this Mother’s Day 2020…we chose to live life just a little bit freer
pushing aside the nagging fear of the past three months…

Here was to a Mother’s Day not to be forgotten but absolutely cherished
for all sorts of reasons…


(“mom” and The Mayor / Gregory Cook / 2020)


(Dada with his brood/ Abby Cook / 2020)


(mama with The Sheriff /Gregory Cook / 2020)


(Da with “Je” / Julie Cook / 2020)

“Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine.”

Isaiah 43:1

Disciples of hope!

“Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.”
St. Catherine of Siena


(a pre pandemic January sunrise at Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2020)

There is an excuse for some anxiety today, but no one has a right to be without hope.
Yet the prophets of gloom abound, and the disciples of hope are few.

Ven. Fulton J. Sheen
From The World’s First Love

Yep, I’ll be the first to admit that these have been some trying times.

And yes, much like everyone else throughout this global ordeal, I have found myself fretful,
fearful and even angry.

We, humans, strive to control our destinies no matter what.
We like to believe that we are the captains of our own ship.
And we want to steer those ships upon the seas of life while
sailing into only calm waters.

But life, much like a wild horse, will not yield to being tamed.
The seas will pitch and roll at will.

We find ourselves tossed about in a maelstrom,
growing anxious as both frustration and depression set in.

If we throw in an already deeply divided and often hate-filled nation, we have the makings of
a most toxic mishmash of fear, bitterness, and resentment all sprinkled with a heavy dose
of a pandemic…it doesn’t get much worse.

The prophets have been touted and proclaimed… the prophets of falsehoods, ill-will,
and doom.
Prophets with a little p, prophets who profess conspiracy, animosity, divisiveness
and even hate.

But that need not be our fate.

We can make a conscious decision.
We can choose to set ourselves a part.
We can step aside from the small prophets
opting to be a disciple, a follower of Hope…

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand,
and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:2-5