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

What does the face of panic look like? It isn’t pretty…but…

“[Pope] Clement waved his hands in irritation as if to dismiss the very idea.
“The world is crumbling into ruin. Armies are marching.
Men and women are dying everywhere, in huge numbers.
Fields are abandoned and towns deserted.
The wrath of the Lord is upon us and He may be intending to destroy the whole of creation.
People are without leaders and direction.
They want to be given a reason for this, so they can be reassured,
so they will return to their prayers and their obediences.
All this is going on, and you are concerned about the safety of two Jews?”

Iain Pears, The Dream of Scipio


(a photo of empty shelves at a Publix in Fla. courtesy Twitter)

The photo up above is not my own, but it very much could have been because the same image greeted
me at my own Publix this morning—barren emptiness.

I had gone to the grocery store on Monday…I had even posted a little tongue in cheek post
regarding the extent of my “survival” supplies consisting of Oreo cookies and a bottle of Clorox.

My grocery store’s shelves were fully stocked and there was the average number of folks
milling about doing their regular Monday morning grocery shopping.
No big deal.

That all changed over the course of three days.

Thursday night, my daughter-in-law called in a bit of a panic.

They live in Atlanta and their store’s shelves were now all barren.
She wanted to know if I could find any disinfectant wipes, some Lysol spray and some of the
Halo/ cuties for the Mayor as their stores had none.

No problem I proclaimed.
I was on it.
I’d head out in the morning.

“Oh and by the way”, she said, “I looked on Amazon for some Lysol spray…
one can was going for $114 but was currently out of stock.”

Hummmm, I inwardly mused as I felt my brow furrow just a bit.

I flipped on the 10 o’clock news.
On and on went the stories about viruses, pandemics, events being canceled…
all the while my phone kept beeping with the latest alerts and breaking news warnings,
I felt my nerves increasing with each word and alert.

Later, as I readied for bed, I considered actually going on the grocery store
but it was past closing time at my regular store and I really didn’t see any need to
head out to 24-hour stores such as Kroger or Walmart.
I’d just wait until morning before making my run…

Yet I still felt an odd sense of unease.
I knew the schools were going to closed and that meant more
folks heading to the stores.

I spent a fitful night of waking and dreaming.
Restless while dreaming crazy dreams.

By morning, I blamed it all on an underlying sense of heaviness.
Heaviness in part due to the new’s Henny penny nature along
with the real truths playing out before us.

When I got up, I grabbed my phone.
I had to reach over in the night, putting it on silence
when the alerts kept coming in practically non-stop.
I dressed and headed out the door.

When I finally made my way to the major intersection leading into the shopping center, I could already see
that the parking lot was reminiscent of something like an impending storm or
perhaps Christmas.
Cars were everywhere.

I grabbed a cart left out near where I parked–I actually had some sanitizer wipes
in my purse so I wiped that puppy down as there were no carts in the store.
Plus they were smack dab out of their wipes for the carts.

The store was bustling with folks dashing around as if they were on some
grocery dash game show.
A few folks, mostly the men shoppers, looked like deer in headlights.
Some shoppers scoured over lists, others simply grabbed.

Gone were those idyllic days of studying which was the freshest piece of fruit
or vegetable. It was now a matter of grabbing before there was nothing left to grab.

Some women pushed bulging carts as some of their things actually spilled
out over the top onto the floor.

There were no baking potatoes nor bags of red or white potatoes.

There were very few fresh bread loaves remaining.

There were several folks deep at the chicken counter while others hovered
nearby waiting to reach in and grab one of the few remaining packs.
The pork chops and cutlets were almost all gone.
Gone was the frozen cod and salmon from Alaska.
Yet no one stood waiting at the fresh seafood counter.

As I made my way further into the depths of the store, while attempting
to navigate my away around those folks who were more like salmon swimming
upstream, I was met with more and more shelves with less than rather than more.

The water aisle was cleaned out.
The eggs and milk shelves were sparse and growing more and more empty
with each passing cart.

Forget Lysol spray.
But I did find some antibacterial hand soap and canisters of Lysol wipes.

I asked one of the managers,
who was taking stock of what remained on the shelves,
about whether or not they’d be getting in any cans of Lysol spray
as I told him about the $114 can on Amazon.

He said he wasn’t certain as they were having to redistribute some
items to their larger stores in other cities around the state.

I did manage however to grab the Mayor’s clementine oranges.
I grabbed some more Oreos of course, as well as some more cans of cat food.
The cat litter shelves were oddly sparse, so I got one of the remaining boxes.

At this point, I cut down the ice cream aisle in order to reach the butter section and
it dawned on me that there was not a single person or cart on this aisle.
Plus the ice cream shelves were all stocked to the hilt.

Granted winter is not the most robust time of year for the purchase of ice cream or
frozen treats…
and in turn, it would now appear that during times of crisis…
ice cream is not high on the list of the more robust selling items…
items like potatoes and toilet paper.

So let’s think sustainability in the face of necessity vs treats and goodies.

Finally, with now a bulging cart of my own, I maneuvered over to the checkout lines…
as each lane was brimming with 6 or 7 carts deep of folks just waiting to check out.

An older lady came up behind me with only a handheld basket of a few items.
The express lanes were no longer for 10 or fewer items as they were now fully busting buggy lanes.
I told the woman to please go ahead of me.
She told me, no, but I insisted, telling her I was hunkered down for the long haul
as we both laughed.

She told me that it was just her and her husband and that they didn’t need much.
I explained that I was getting some things to carry to our son’s family in Atlanta
as their stores were practically empty.

We each marveled at the surrealness of all of this.

I’ve since seen the clips, both on-line and from the news,
of folks around the country getting into all-out, knockdown drag outs
in various stores over things such as water and toilet paper.
There are stories of one person’s cart accidentally bumping into another’s cart,
of which caused already raw nerves to spew into a full-blown fury.

So it seems that both panic, along with the unseen and unknown, each tend to bring out some
of the uglier aspects of human beings.

We hoard.
We mistrust.
We obsess.
We become selfish and self-centered.
All the while we move into survival mode.

But history teaches us that such times can also bring out our goodness.

We’ll take a look back tomorrow at one of the darkest days of our Nation…
A time when the Nation’s economy had all but collapsed.
A time when the Nation’s workforce was suddenly without work as factories closed from coast to coast
A time when the Nation’s heartland was decimated by soil erosion and a devastating Dust Bowl.

No economy, little to no fresh or readily available foods, a workforce with little to no work,
all the while, the drumbeat of war was growing closer…
and then the unthinkable…an unmitigated and unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor.

Those were frightening dark days.
There was paranoia.
There was fear.
There was hunger.
There was rationing.

And yet, there was hope, there was unity and there was neighbor helping neighbor.
And there remained a deep and abiding faith in something far greater than one’s self.

The past has a great deal to teach us about our future.
It teaches how we can best respond to a crisis…
and how we respond will be key to how we recover…or not—
and in the end, that will be our choice.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

piggy backing on grace

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because
it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life,
and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.
It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner.
Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son:
“ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.
Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price
to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.
Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship


(image courtesy Spanish Bowl)

Why things like this are newsworthy I’m not certain, but did you catch the story yesterday about
Aaron Rodgers and his recent public comments on religion of which have left his family “dismayed”?

I admit I have been a Packers fan for much of my adult life,
but not so much a fan of their current QB.
Not that I have anything against Aaron Rodgers, I just find him to be a bit of a primadonna,
but such is the case with many a quarterback.

I saw the Rodges’ storyline yesterday and decided to read what he was having to say
regarding religion…and not just any religion mind you but rather the
religion of his youth, Christianity.

It seems that Rodgers was a recent guest on a podcast that just so happened to be hosted by
his current girlfriend, former racecar driver Danica Patrick.
The podcast is titled “Pretty Intense” and no, I’ve never listened in.

However, at some point during the interview, Danica asked Rodgers about his view on religion.

Here are a couple of quotes from the article:

The Green Bay Packers quarterback admitted he has struggled to believe in a higher power
on Patrick’s “Pretty Intense” podcast last month. Now, a source told People Rodgers’
family is offended by his religious comments.

“During the Pretty Intense podcast, Rodgers told Patrick that he has gone down a path
to a “different type of spirituality” that is more meaningful to him than
what he experienced as a child.

“I don’t know how you can believe in a God who wants to condemn most of the
planet to a fiery hell,” he said.
“What type of loving, sensitive, omnipresent, omnipotent being wants to condemn his
beautiful creation to a fiery hell at the end of all this?”

Rodgers did not specifically refer to himself as an atheist,
but he said that religion can divide people.

“Religion can be a crutch, it can be something that people have to have to make
themselves feel better,” Rodgers continued.
“Because it’s set up binary, it’s us and them, saved and unsaved, heaven and hell,
it’s enlightened and heathen, it’s holy and righteous …
that makes a lot of people feel better about themselves.”

It is said that Rodgers’ comments have deeply hurt his family who
consider themselves to be a deeply devout Christian family.
They say that their faith was always important throughout Rodgers growing up but if you
read anything about Rodgers, you most likely know that he and his family have been estranged
for several years.

Rodgers is a pretty private guy and doesn’t really talk about his family but it has been said
that his celebrity status seems to have helped to separate the family—
this despite Rodgers’ younger brother who also has a bit of a celebrity status.

But it has been reported that Rodgers’ most recent comments “felt like a slap in the face”
to his family and to that of their raising of their son.

https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/aaron-rodgers-family-dismayed-religious-comments-danica-patrick-podcast-report

So Rodgers’ comments regarding religion aren’t anything new.
What with that one sentiment of ‘how could a loving God be so full of condemnation’ acting
as the lynchpin for many non-believers—Rodgers is far from the first person to utter such
an observation.

So this story about Rodgers and his comments carried my thoughts back to my adventure yesterday
with radioactive eggs and the reading and subsequent sharing of a post regarding
Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writings on cheap vs costly grace.

I had intended to elaborate on Bonhoeffer’s words as they struck a chord…a chord his words
often strike when I read them…however I think my radioactive eggs had my thinking
a tad scattered.

“As Bonhoeffer explains, Protestants have turned orthodox Christianity into Christianity
without discipleship or obedience or sacrifice. In short, this is what he calls
“cheap grace.”

“You can be forgiven by God without being transformed by God.”

Rodgers joins a host of both believers and non-believers that have long bemoaned
the same bipolar idea of a loving God versus a wrathful God of condemning judgment–

But what all these folks fail to grasp is the single notion of Grace…
be it cheap or costly.

Sadly, there is a wealth of Christians who have a difficult time wrapping their
heads around the idea of God being a loving father but also a strict disciplinarian.

Many of our culture’s current “feel good” Chrisitan believers have painstakingly
written sin, repercussions, and hell totally out of ‘their’ Christian tenants.
Wanting just the feel-good without the responsibility of what it means to live a
life of costly Grace.

Picking and choosing to believe in a little god of their making
rather than believing in the Great I AM who was, is and will always be.

A re-writing of the foundation of the Christian faith simply because it is
uncomfortable to think about the serious consequences of sin or the cost of
living under Grace.

Yet perhaps it’s simply human nature to think that a loving father would never ever actually
turn his back on his children…we want the happy ending, always.
We want our cake and we want to relish eating it.
But God has made it clear that that is not possible

But costly Grace requires choice.
The choice to keep the comfort of self or to let it all go.
There is no in-between.

“Bonhoeffer’s main point in all this is that God’s grace cost the life of God’s son.
Although God’s grace is freely given to all who are willing to receive,
it still costs something from the one who receives.
What does it cost? Simply put, it costs a man his life.”

Costly Grace is what our faith is all about.
It is not easy.
It requires the death of self.
Aaron Rodgers and many many other folks don’t like the idea of the death of self.

I would dare to imagine that God was gravely pained over the death of his son,
but He also knew the cost of Grace and was willing to extend that Grace to
a fallen world.

And yet it remains a choice… your choice, Aaron Rodgers’ choice, my choice.

Costly Grace is saving Grace.
But you can choose.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
Ephesians 2:8

to appear before man or God, that is our choice

“He took what is mine in order that He might impart to me what is His.
He took it not to overturn it but to fill it.”

St. Ambrose


( a quiet January morning / Rosemary Beach / Fl / Julie Cook / 2020)

“A hidden and obscure life affords great security to those who sincerely desire to love God.
Our Divine Master Himself deigned to teach us this by His own example,
for He spent thirty years in the obscurity of Nazareth and the workshop of a humble carpenter.
In imitation of their Divine Model, many saints withdrew into the desert and lived
in remote caves to escape the esteem of men.
The desire to put ourselves forward and merit the plaudits of men,
to be regarded as very successful in our undertakings, is, according to St. Vincent de Paul,
an evil that causes us to forget our God;
it vitiates our holiest actions and more than anything else impedes our progress in the
spiritual life. To be pleasing and acceptable in the sight of God,
we must therefore banish from our hearts the desire to appear before men to win their
approval and applause and especially the desire to rule over others.”

St. Alphonsus Liguiori,
p. 128-9
An Excerpt From
12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation

crisis of faith or living faith…a choice

In a speech to the Roman Curia on December 22, 2011, Benedict XVI
reflected that
“The essence of the crisis of the Chruch in Europe is the crisis of faith.
If we find no answer to this…then all other reforms will remain ineffective.”

The Day is Far Spent / Cardinal Sarah


(a lone turkey feather lost in the woods / Julie Cook / 2019)

When Joseph Ratzinger speaks about a “crisis of faith”,
we should understand that he is not talking in the first place about an
intellectual or theological problem in the academic sense of the word.
He means a “living faith”, a faith that imbues and transforms life.
“If faith does not take on new life, deep conviction and real strength
from the encounter with Jesus Christ,” Benedict XVI added that day,
“then all other reforms will remain ineffective.”

This loss of the sense of faith is the deep root of the crisis of civilization
that we are experiencing.

As in the first centuries of Christianity, when the Roman Empire
was collapsing, all human institutions today sem to be on the
path of decadence.
Reflections between people, whether political, social, economic, or cultural,
are becoming difficult.
In losing the sense of God, we have undermined the foundation of all
human civilization and opened the door to totalitarian barbarity.

Human beings, separated from God, are reduced to a single dimension—
the horizontal—
and this reduction itself is one of the fundamental causes of the various forms
of totalitarianism that have had tragic consequences in the past century,
as well as the crisis of values that we see in the current situation.

By obscuring the reference to God the ethical horizon has also been obscured,
to leave room for relativism and for an ambiguous conception of
freedom which, instead of being liberating, ends by blinding
human beings to idols.

The temptation that Jesus faced in the wilderness before his public ministry
vividly symbolize which “idols” entice human beings when they do not
go beyond themselves.
Were God to lose his centrality man would lose his rightful place,
he would no longer fit into creation, into relations with others

Pope Benedict XVI
Nov 14, 2012