finding equality in our atrocities

The way we respond to ideas has morphed.
They work differently now.
We experience them more like a virus spreading a plague than they do building blocks
one can take and reshape and build concepts and patterns out of.

Gavin Ashenden


(a chilly January night in Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2019)

I must admit my head has been a bit in the sand as of late—not due to hiding, but just due to life.
Be it the pollen or the crud I’ve been battling on and off for the past several weeks, or
a few personal diversions, or simply be it from the clanging din from all things media
of “The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming….”

All of whom were never coming…
So we can all pull the vodka back out because I think we’re safe…

And so I say all of this because I have had precious little time to
read…. much…of anything…

Needless to say anything from our favorite across the ponds clerics.

It’s been months, sadly I must confess, that I’ve had the chance to watch an episode of
Anglican Unscripted…and rarely can I take in a full post by the Wee Flea, David Roberston.

And that’s really how Satan likes it—divert their eyes lest they see what’s truth
and what is actually coming…

So when you’re running at full tilt like I have been, you try to stop long enough just to
snag a bit of news….just to see if the planet is still spinning or whether we’ve simply
gone off tilt and are wildly spinning out of control…
of which it so often seems.

Yet I am reminded that…
today, trust in the media is at an all-time low,
and it is easy to understand why so many Americans are absolutely sick and tired of being
lied to by the big media companies.

Tyler Durden

And so like so many others who want to know the truth,
I work hard to sift out the truth from the spoils…

It is such a difficult task to find that truth…so much so that that is why I seek out those
who use Christian filters in order to sift through those spoils —
hence why I find the offerings of David Robertson and Gavin Ashenden
so keenly important…

They sift through the muck and find God’s light.

So I did stop long enough this morning to squeeze in the latest posting by our favorite rouge Anglican,
Bishop Gavin Ashenden.

Is it just me or did you hear, see or read anything about the mass murders of the Nigeran Christians???
Because I know I didn’t.

I did hear a great deal about the Christchurch mosque murders in
New Zealand which came by the hands of a madman.

But what of the madmen who massacred the Nigerian Christians??
I didn’t hear about that at all.

In fact, I’m really upset I didn’t read, see or hear about it.

I may not get to always catch a lot of television but I do get breaking news alerts on
my phone, I read the headlines from local and national news sites and I do even
receive alerts from the BBC…

But nothing about 140 murdered Nigerian Christians.

Is it because it was in Nigeria?
Is it because they were Christians?

Bishop Ashenden wonders the same…

The Media lamented profoundly with the victims (those of the Christchurch mosque killing); rightly.
But so deep did its sympathies run, that it told only one side of a wider story.
49 people were killed by a callous white secular Australian murderer in the Christchurch Mosque.
But in the same week, 140 Nigerian Christians were butchered by their Muslim neighbours;
and the media were silent. Sometimes what you don’t say is as powerful
a way of distorting the truth as telling a lie.

https://ashenden.org/2019/03/28/we-need-new-universities-to-help-people-love-ideas-without-hating-people-jordan-peterson-islam-and-freedom-of-speech/

And so it is in the same vein of thinking that my cousin sent me a link to a story
that she recently read regarding the Nigerian massacres.

Knowing that I often write about those under the radar reported stories regarding the global attacks
on Christians, she thought I would find the article interesting if not actually telling.

And I did…

Now I don’t read Breitbart nor am I familiar with the Zero Hedge site of which she shares,
but I still found the reported story very telling.

Why didn’t I hear about this on a mainstream news site?
Have we been so consumed with all things “collusion” that we fail to hear or see the atrocities
that continue happening to the faithful worldwide?

I wonder if we have not become so utterly divided that we are now mindlessly
defining our collective human atrocities separately.

In Nigeria, more than 120 Christians have been gunned down or killed with machetes over the past
three weeks, but Breitbart was the only big media outlet to report on it…

As Breitbart News alone reported among major news outlets,
Fulani jihadists racked up a death toll of over 120 Christians over the past three weeks
in central Nigeria, employing machetes and gunfire to slaughter men, women, and children,
burning down over 140 houses, destroying property, and spreading terror.

The New York Times did not place this story on the front page;
in fact, they did not cover it at all.
Apparently, when assessing “all the news that’s fit to print,”
the massacre of African Christians did not measure up.
The same can be said for the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune,
the Detroit Free Press, the LA Times, and every other major paper in the United States.

And of course, Breitbart is not exactly “mainstream” media.

So why won’t anyone else report on this?

And this isn’t the first time this has happened. Last June,
twelve entire Christian villages in central Nigeria were completely wiped out…

In only days, a dozen villages in Nigeria’s Plateau state were wiped out.
The affected communities surround the city of Jos—known as the epicenter
of Christianity in northern Nigeria’s Middle Belt.

As many as 200 Christians had been killed, however,
some residents fear the death toll may be even higher, as more bodies are yet to be recovered,
while others were burned beyond recognition. On Sunday,
75 of the victims were buried in a mass grave.

I’ll bet that most of you had not heard about that until now.

On the other side of the world, 20 innocent people were slaughtered
when Muslim radicals bombed a Roman Catholic cathedral in January…

On January 27, Muslim extremists bombed a Roman Catholic cathedral on the
Philippine island of Jolo, killing some 20 people and injuring dozens of others.

Once again, this is yet another mass killing that was almost
entirely ignored by the mainstream media.

Is the anti-Christian bias among the mainstream media so strong that
they can’t even bring themselves to report the basic facts to us?

People deserve to know what is happening.
Christian persecution is rising in almost every nation on the planet,
and this huge ongoing crisis should be on our front pages on a continual basis.

But instead, we never get to hear any of these stories unless
we seek out alternative sources of information.

Over in China, the persecution of Christians has reached a frightening crescendo.
Recently, officials have been going house to house and replacing pictures
of Jesus Christ “with pictures of dictator Mao Zedong and/or
China’s current authoritarian president, Xi Jinping”…

If you were to replace “Christians” with some other favored group in any of the examples
that I have just shared, you would instantly have front page news all over the planet.

The mainstream media is definitely not “independent”,
and they are not looking out for you.

They have their own agenda and anything that does not fit that
agenda does not get to be part of “the news”.

So far in 2019, there have been 453 Islamic terror attacks in which 1,956 people have been murdered.
But you will never hear those numbers from the mainstream media.

Instead, when the mainstream media talks about Bible-believing
Christians it is almost always an attack story.
As a recent Breitbart article aptly observed,
having “an anti-Christian bias” has become “the last acceptable prejudice”…

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-03-18/why-does-mainstream-media-purposely-ignore-mass-killings-christians-across-globe

Our news, our politicians, our very nation is so utterly divided and skewed that sifting
through the spoils has now become vastly important…
because if not—the truth will be hidden from plain sight.

Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation; for you, I wait all the day long.

Psalm 25:5

the right side of history…where will we be?

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

Ben Shapiro


(Michaelangelo’s God from The Sistine Chapel)

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

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

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

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

by Ben Shapiro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No TV
No computer
No work
No politics.

Only God, then family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ben Shapiro

irrational ideology vs logos

“Meanwhile I will continue to use your platform to undermine your hateful
and irrational ideology.
And I will do it by using logic and love – the love of the Logos.
We don’t need Twitter (or Facebook, or government or the media) to be able to speak of Christ.
And you will never silence us.
Though you kill us the very rocks would cry out!

David Roberston


(detail of Christ from Michaelangelo’s Final Judgement / The Sistine Chapel)

λόγος
Logos

According to Writingexplained.org, the Greek word Logos is a rhetorical device that includes
any content in an argument that is meant to appeal to logic.

In other words, Logos equates to a logical discourse when opposing sides engage in conversation
regarding the difference of opinions.

The explanation goes on…
Logos is one of the three Aristotelian appeals.
A writer utilizes the three appeals in order to convince his audience of his argument.
The other two appeals are ethos (ethics) and pathos (emotion).

Appeals to logos are those that involve or influence the logical reasons an audience
should believe an argument.

Logos often shows up in an argument in the form of facts and statistics.
However, any logical statement could be an appeal to logos.

According to Wikipedia…

Ancient Greek philosophers used the term in different ways.
The sophists used the term to mean discourse;
Aristotle applied the term to refer to “reasoned discourse “or “the argument”
in the field of rhetoric,
and considered it one of the three modes of persuasion alongside ethos and pathos.
Stoic philosophers identified the term with the divine animating principle pervading
the Universe. Within Hellenistic Judaism, Philo of Alexandria (c. 20 BC – c. 50 AD)
adopted the term into Jewish philosophy.
The Gospel of John identifies the Logos,
through which all things are made, as divine (theos),
and further identifies Jesus Christ as the incarnate Logos.
The term is also used in Sufism, and the analytical psychology of Carl Jung.

There was a time in the educating of children when the classics were the common line
of curriculum.

According to ARISTOI Classical Academy, a classical education consisted of the following:

Truth –
Classical education values knowledge for its own sake,
which is to say that the body of knowledge under study itself helps students to
discern that which is true and good and beautiful,
rather than having an external definition of these things imposed upon it.

Guidance for Modern Life –
Classical education holds that the study of the liberal arts should yield the
perspectives that ought to inform and provide direction to the sciences and to
social constructs, not vice versa.

Western Civilization –
Recognizing that “American Civilization” is the product of the
millennia-long project known as Western Civilization,
classical education teaches the standards of moral virtue and character that
created Western culture, and which allow students to assess and understand other cultures.

Civic-Minded –
Classical education upholds the value of responsible contribution
toward family, community, and governments.
Students are able to connect the civic life and political experiences of historical
societies to present-day cultures.

Eloquence –
Classical education teaches standards of excellence in communication
that are embodied in the great literary works of the Western canon.
For generations, these works have exemplified greatness in that they present important
events and persons, and interpret these events and persons through abiding values and concepts
in language marked by precision, beauty, and power.

Unity of Knowledge –
Classical education trains students to recognize the relationships between the various fields
of inquiry and knowledge (such as history, science, and literature)
and to organize these varied fields into an integrated,
logical and systematic framework.

And as a former Art teacher, it should be noted that the Arts…be that music,
the visual arts, drama, as well as classical languages such as Latin and Greek
which were also included in a well rounded “classical” education.

Then at some point during the educational course of children, something happened…
we dumbed down the curriculum while we convinced ourselves it was greater, broader
and grander.

Yet in this fallacy, which we sold ourselves, over the expansion and re-do of education,
we actually dumbed down our curriculum which in turn lessened the learning and in turn
shortchanged our kids.

And in so doing we now have a culture that has no idea how to converse regarding their
thoughts or ideas…nor do they even have the whereto all to have original thoughts let
alone the knowledge of how to defend them with logic versus their go to brute force of
bullying and intimidation.

I say all of this after having read the latest offering by our friend the Wee Flea,
the Scottish pastor David Robertson and of his being recently banned by Twitter.

My other favorite across the pond, tell it like it is cleric, the former Church of England
Bishop Gavin Ashenden has also been banned from Twitter…
each for their Christian hate-speak.
Did you read that…Chrisitan hate speak…
If ever there was an oxymoron that is it…Christian + Hate + Speak…

Oh those Christians…they’ll get you every time.

As I am not one to tweet nor foray out into social media other than this little blog,
I say be glad and don’t look back…
brush the dust from your feet as you press forward fighting the good fight.

As David reminds us in his open letter to Twitter…
he will go forward…forward in both love and logic—and the love of Logos…

Dear Twitter – Why Have You Banned Me?

losing my mind…

There is no antithesis between hope for heaven and loyalty to the earth,
since this hope is also hope for the earth.
While we hope for something greater and definitive,
we Christians may and must bring hope into that which is transitory,
into the world of our states
.
Joseph Ratzinger


(detail from Sainte Chapelle / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2018)

I mentioned the other day the irony that as we…we being anyone,
work toward pushing our way toward a Godly life, a Godly
mindset, a Godly perspective as to how we live our lives…
the harder we work toward such, Satan, in turn,
goes into overdrive trying desperately to thwart any and all efforts.

I know this.

Hence why I’m opting to just walk around with an umbrella over my head 24/7.

But more about all of that later.

One thing that I have noticed that isn’t helping…isn’t helping my mindset, my demeanor,
my outlook, is this country’s quagmire of division and hatred and the constant news
feeds… be they from a liberal progressive henny penny the sky is falling slant or from
the more conservative slant of ‘oh woe is us’ (of which I tend to be more of the ‘oh
woe is us’ camp) it is enough to be driving me absolutely nuts…
so much so that I dare turn on a television or click on news…
and Heaven’s help us, when I get the world breaking news alerts on my phone.

And so it was a bit serendipitous to stumble upon the following quote by
Joseph Ratzinger…aka Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Joseph Ratzinger, as Cardinal Ratzinger who worked under Pope John Paul II as the
Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
was known as God’s Rotweiller.

He headed a Vatican department responsible for enforcing doctrinal orthodoxy, and was
the successor to the Inquisition.
A tough-minded man who once said that “rock music was “the expression of basic passions”
And he described homosexuality as a “more or less strong tendency ordered toward
an intrinsic moral evil”.

He did not mince the words of Biblical truths.

The former Pope, who now lives a reclusive, prayerful and scholarly life in a small
apartment on the grounds of the Vatican, is German by birth.
Hence the Rottweiler reference as well as being known as the Panzer Cardinal.

However it was as a youthful boy, Ratzinger’s heart was set on being a priest.
But Hitler and his Nazi monster reign put that dream on hold.

The family was very anti-Nazi, anti-Hitler.
The Nazi regime’s politics ran counter to the Ratzinger’s Catholic Christian faith.
So much so that the senior Ratzinger moved his family multiple times in hopes of living a life
somewhat free from the growing madness.

However time eventually ran out and as required of all young German boys during this dark time
in mankind’s history, this future Pope was mandated to serve time as a member of Hitler’s
Youth Group. Should he opt not to participate, the family would face financial penalties
and most likely worse.

During the dark, chaotic days of Nazi Germany, Ratzinger witnessed first hand the
horrors of what life was like under Hitler’s spell.
Ratzinger had a younger cousin who had Down’s Syndrome—
Such individuals were considered to be defective….imperfect and impure.
It was the likes of Josef Mengele, the physician who performed countless “experiments” of such individuals-who viewed people like Ratzinger’s cousin as living guinea pigs, had those like
Ratzinger’s cousin rounded up and taken away.

And so his cousin was indeed “taken away” from the family by the local authorities.
A short time afterward the family was given word that the boy had been killed for being one of the “undesirables”—an individual considered to be a flaw…
a weak and unpure part of the Aryan gene pool.

During his time as a Hitler Youth, Ratzinger was miserable.

In Ratzinger’s book Salt of the Earth, Ratzinger says the following “…
Thank goodness, there was a very understanding mathematics teacher.
He himself was a Nazi but an honest man, who said to me,
‘Just go once and get the document so that we have it’ …
When he saw that I simply didn’t want to, he said, ‘I understand, I’ll take care of it’,
and so I was able to stay free of it.
(Wikipedia)

Later when he was of age, Ratzinger was drafted.
Three separate times his service was terminated, only to be reinstated and serving in various capacities
but never seeing active fighting on the front.

Eventually, he made the harrowing decision to desert.

Ratzinger has often stated that Heavenly angels watched over him and his family during those
frantic final days of Nazi Germany as there were multiple times when the authorities
discovered a young man of draft age who was oddly not enlisted—
and yet, his desertion was oddly never pursued.

As soon as the war was over, Ratzinger and his brother both entered seminary.

So if there is one who understands the attacks by Satan on those who attempt to pursue a
Godly life and of the role a political ethos plays in the lives of Christians
it would be Ratzinger…as well as Karol Woytjla, aka Pope John Paul II who
lived a life of labor, pain, and suffering in a Nazi-occupied Poland…

So may the following words of wisdom offered by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
speak to all of us today…those of us who are finding ourselves living
in these very uncertain and surreal political times…

True human objectivity involves humanity, and humanity involves God.

True human reason involves morality, which lives on God’s commandments.

This morality is not a private matter; it has public significance.

Without the good of being good and of good action, there can be no good politics.

What the persecuted Church prescribed for Christians as the core of their political
ethos must also be the core of an active Christian politics:
only where good is done and is recognized as good can people live together
well in a thriving community.

Demonstrating the practical importance of the moral dimension,
the dimension of God’s commandments—publicly as well—must be the center of responsible
political action.

Joseph Ratzinger

a house divided and the repeating of history

“History, like love, is so apt to surround her heroes with an atmosphere
of imaginary brightness.”

James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans


( a view of the Collesium not often seen by the general public / Julie Cook / 2018

Having always had a keen interest in history, as well as having to delve deeply into
European Art History throughout college, it only seemed natural that I should then spend
a lifetime of teaching such…
Of which I did.

And so it should then come as no surprise that I am all too familiar with the old adage
that history will always repeat itself.

Words that always haunt me whenever I visit Rome.

Yet if the truth be told, those words could apply to anyone who visits anywhere
throughout most, if not all, of Europe—
all the way from Northern Africa as well as westward into Asia…
Be it from the highlands of Scotland to the arid desert of Egypt,
Rome’s influence remains visible to this day.

Engineering marvels such as massive marble and granite aqueducts can still be
seen crisscrossing an extensive continent…
having once readily delivered fresh and free-flowing water all the way from the Alps
down to the heel of Itlay…it gives pause to our own current day Army Corps of Engineers.

Hadrian’s wall which “ran from the banks of the River Tyne near the North Sea to the
Solway Firth on the Irish Sea was the northern limit of the Roman Empire…”

remains visible to this day…as in the original “Border Wall.”

The borders of the Roman Empire, which fluctuated throughout the empire’s history,
were a combination of natural frontiers (most notably the Rhine and Danube rivers) and man-made fortifications which separated the lands of the empire from the countries beyond.

(Map and excerpt courtesy Wikipedia)

However, most of what we see today as mere tourists or passerbys are mere shadows
of various ruins and rubble of what was once a massively impressive Empire.
Yet Rome’s influence remains…it remains even within our own republic
as it is based on similar practices and principles.

It truly boggles the modern mind when looking at such a classic yet trendy city as the
likes of Rome…
A city rife with darting Vespas, begging gypsies, high-end fashion houses…all the while as
black suited priests and colorful nuns scurry about mingling with some of the best-dressed
businessmen and women in the world.

A city whose past is clearly visible to the naked eye as her ruins run far and wide.
No new building project goes without ancient discoveries just below the current surface…
for Rome is a multi-layered treasure trove of humankind.

We know from detailed documentation that this is what Rome’s Collesium once looked like…

A sports arena that could be filled with water allowing for the reenactment of
famous naval battles or outfitted with a sandy field for blood sports that would
make way for wild animals ripping apart the current enemies of the state…
most often Christians who would be wrapped in canvases soaked in blood and
meat by-products as wild animals, that had been unfed for upwards of a week
or more, would then be loosed upon the hopeless in order to devour the helplessly
bound human victims…
a macabre spectacle played out before the deafening crescendo of bloodthirsty
cheering crowds.

The Collesium could hold 50,000 “sports fans.”
And much like the new Atlanta Mercedes Benz Arena that has a giant sculpted bronze
falcon which harkens to the city’s football team,
Rome’s Collesium once had a 100-foot tall bronze statue of Nero
depicted as a sun god.

So it seems not much has changed with sports fans in 2000 some odd years.
Big, bold, violent with lots of sensory overload.

It was said that the caesars and emperors knew the best way to keep the people happy
while avoiding rebellion…
that was to provide cheap food and free entertainment.

And so when I think of such great empires as that of Rome and her Roman Empire…
it is difficult for me to wrap my head around the realization that such a massive,
feared and impressive society…
one that was far beyond its time in engineering and force could
simply crumble into the annals of time…left now as mere tourist attractions and
archeological mysteries.

Thus would it not behoove us to recall the verse from Matthew about what happens to a
house divided…
for history teaches us that the Roman Empire was indeed divided…
crumpling in upon herself…
just as it seems that we Americans are also equally and bitterly divided amongst
ourselves today.
I wonder what our fate will be if we continue on this current path of self-destruction?

But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them:
“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation,
and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.
If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself.
How then will his kingdom stand?
And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out?
Therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God,
surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Matthew 12:25-28

when your child is not your child

It is more than tragic that a dying child should be used as an ideological
football in a court presided over by a gay activist judge whose impartiality
was not publicly evident;
and that the critical issues of the rights of parents v the state should be lost,
in what appears to be a residual antipathy to Christian teaching and values.

But there will be more of this.
Bishop Gavin Ashenden


(the chives are a bloom / Julie Cook / 2018)

I’ve tried not jumping into this mess.
I’ve even tried not to read much about it.
I didn’t want to hear one more, read one more, feel one more sorrow.
For you see this is a story that breaks my heart in a million different ways.

Maybe it’s because I am a mother, an educator, a new grandmother.
Kids have been my business most of my life.

Maybe it’s because I believe that the bond between a parent and child is
the greatest bond–apart from our bond with the Father.

Or maybe it’s because I believe all life to be sacred…
Aged, new, healthy, infirmed, joyful, dying or ailing.

Life is precious and sacred…all life, everyone’s life…end of sentence.

His name was Alfie.
He was 23 months old.
I say was because Alfie lost his fight against an illness this past week.

His story is a mess.

He became sick over a year ago…

In a nutshell:

A baby boy named Alfie Evans died early this morning at the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital
in Liverpool, England, in the pediatric intensive care unit that had been his home
for the last 18 months. The life he lived for close to 24 months was mercilessly short,
yet full of meaning. He didn’t know it, but he was at the center of a heart-wrenching debate
about who should have final authority over children’s medical care: Parents, or the state?

Evans was born on May 9, 2016,
the healthy child of two young parents, Tom Evans and Kate James.
But as early as July 2016, Alfie’s health began to deteriorate.
He was brought into the pediatric unit at Alder Hey in December 2016,
where, over the course of a year, he suffered seizures,
bi-lateral pneumonia, and cardiac complications that put him in a coma by January 2018.

Alfie’s doctors decided that continuing to keep the boy on ventilatory support was
not in his best interest, concluding that he had an untreatable,
progressive neuro-degenerative disease of unknown origin.
Typically, in the UK, doctors in a similar position use private mediation (pdf)
to agree upon a course of action with family members.
But Alfie’s parents did not accept the doctors’ conclusion, arguing that the hospital had
rushed to judgment.
In later court hearings, they said they felt the hospital had “given up” on Alfie.
And so the hospital turned to the family division of the UK’s High Court for a ruling.

Justice Anthony Hayden ruled in favor of the hospital in February 2018,
saying that while it was
“entirely right that every reasonable option should be explored for Alfie,”
continuing to keep him on life support “compromises Alfie’s future dignity and fails to
respect his autonomy.”
The family then filed an appeal request before the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom,
which was denied in March 2018. After having exhausted all legal options in the UK,
the Evans took their case to the European Court of Human Rights, where their appeal was ruled inadmissible.

…The case of Alfie Evans has resonated with Catholic and Christian communities
around the world.
They see in his case a fundamental conflict between the actions of the British legal
system and their religious belief in both the right to life and the right of parents to
determine a child’s medical care.

Some religious activists have banded together in support of the Evans family,
calling themselves “Alfie’s Army,” and regularly protest outside the hospital where Alfie
is being treated.
In response to the outcry from the Catholic community,
the Italian government offered young Alfie citizenship,
arranging for him to travel to the Bambino Gesu hospital in Italy.
Even Pope Francis, who met with Tom Evans in Rome earlier this month,
has weighed in on the case.

Quartz

The Pope, who took a personal interest in the case, tweeted:
“I am deeply moved by the death of little Alfie.”
He added: “Today I pray especially for his parents,
as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace.”

(BBC)

Alfie Evans is not the first baby whose medical condition sparked similar debates.
Last year, Charlie Gard, a terminally ill British baby,
died in July 2017 a day after the British High Court ruled that his life support
could be withdrawn. Charlie’s case had attracted the attention of world leaders from
Pope Francis to US president Donald Trump.

Quartz

Even our favorite former prelate to the Queen, Gavin Ashenden, has had a few choice
words of his own regarding the case of Alfie.

Not only was baby Alfie kept as a prisoner of the state, and the rights of the parents
set aside in favour of the state, but this was accompanied by personal vitriol directed
at the parents’ Christian advisors.
And further, this morning,
the Times placed its weight behind the learned gay judicial campaigner’s
personal disgust with Christian orthodoxy.

Bishop Ashenden is speaking of the magistrate, Anthony Hayden, who ruled in this case against the
wishes and rights of the parents of this child as well as against the child himself.
Going so far as to offer snarkiness toward those Christian groups rallying around the defense of parents and child.

The danger of the judiciary, the malice of the media, the perniciousness of progressive policies – and how Alfie paid the price.

Progressive secularism…
The wedge that will continue to divide and divide and divide.
How far will you allow it to divide your own decisions and your own life and
your own family and the life of your own child?

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through
him and for him.
And he is before all things,
and in him, all things hold together.

Colossians 1:16-17

our confliction…

“Two souls, alas, are housed within my breast,
And each will wrestle for the mastery there.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust

“History is much more the product of chaos than of conspiracy.”
Zbigniew Brezezinski

As people of faith we learn to be bi-focal.
We look through the eyes of secular newsflashes,
and we look through the eyes of spiritual and theological discernment.”

Bishop Gavin Ashenden

Anytime a Western coalition is mounted against “the bad guys”…whomever
those bad guys may currently be…more and more questions abound…
more questions than there may be answers.

Maybe it’s because I grew up during the Vietnam war.
A horrific conflict and war where thousands were killed, maimed, scarred and lost…
leaving no clear win or victor.

The bad guys were still bad and we were left limping back home…
home to a Nation now divided…and still dividing as we speak.

For Christians, the notion of war is a tough call.

The Koran makes no bones about the allowance for war and killing.

Our faith, on the other hand, admonishes those who opt not to turn the other cheek
or refuse to offer the shirt when the tunic is first taken.

For the Believer there is an inner turmoil…a conflict of both faith and righteous indignation.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the pacifist German theologian, lived this turmoil.
It also lead him to the gallows.
A walk he took decidedly confident because he knew his faith secure.
He looked to the words and teachings of St Thomas Aquinas when he agreed to be a part of
an assassination attempt against Adolph Hitler.

The moral issue here is that of tyrannicide…
the killing of a tyrant, and specifically, the killing of a tyrant by a private
person for the common good.
Technically, there are two classes of tyrants: a tyrant by usurpation
(tyrannus in titulo), a ruler who has illegitimately seized power;
and a tyrant by oppression (tyrannus in regimine),
a ruler who wields power unjustly, oppressively, and arbitrarily.

The key conditions for a justifiable act of tyrannicide in this case include
that the killing be necessary to end the usurpation and restore legitimate authority;
that there is no higher authority available that is able and willing to depose the usurper;
and that there is no probability that the tyrannicide will result in even greater evil
than allowing the usurper to remain in power.

However, if the tyrant by oppression attacks the citizen,
jeopardizes the welfare of the community with the intent leading
it to destruction or killing the citizens, or commits other evils,
then a private citizen can morally commit an act
of justifiable tyrannicide.
Moreover, if because of the tyrant’s rule, a nation cannot defend itself,
is on the course of destruction, and has no lawful means to depose or to condemn the tyrant,
then a citizen may commit an act of justifiable tyrannicide.
Interestingly, many modern political philosophers would posit that a leader who abuses
power and has become tyrannical ipso facto loses legitimacy and becomes a usurper.

(Catholic Resource Education Center / Fr William Saunders)

(see the previous post:
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2016/07/16/the-seeds-have-been-planted/)

And so it is with interest that I’ve read a couple of the most recent posts by our friend
Bishop Gavin Ashenden regarding his feelings and thoughts about the coalition attack
on Syria.

The necessity, the truth, the need, the deception, the compassion, the empathy,
the indignation is each woven into the fabric of our confliction as human beings.

The conflict between right and wrong, defending the undefended, the truth versus
the deception…
that which is right versus that which is wrong,
the need for freedom versus the oppression of tyranny…

What are our roles, our responsibilities, our culpability…

The good Bishop offers one more perspective, one more layer to the fabric we
Christians continue to weave…

Do I agree with his doubts, his concerns, his pointed questions?

I think his questions lead us all to a place of asking even more questions.

Yet the real question found in the Bishop’s concern is simply leading us back to wondering
where the real true answers rest…

So Syria has been much in the news.
But to the community of faith, Syria is not just a place.
It is both a birthplace, and an end-place.
Theologically, for Christians it is the birth place of the Church.
It is the place where in Antioch, we first became known as Christians (Acts 11.26);
for Muslims the place at the end of time, the apocalypse.
This dual identity lies at the heart of the present secular conflict and how we unders
tand it.

And yet, it is clear in geo-political terms that what is taking place in Syria
is a proxy war fought over future energy sources and types of Islamic hegemony
between Iran on one side and Saudi Arabia on the other.
The opposition to Assad was not a plea for regime change by democratic Syrians,
but an attempt to remove a non-Muslim ruler and replace him with a Muslim regime by
Saudi backed terrorist groups.
Twice now chemical attacks have been attributed to the Assad regime with the
immediate effect of inducing in the West a moral indignation that led to a call
for bombing the Assad regime.
But though the video footage was provocatively emotive, the hard evidence that laid a trail
back to Assad was always just missing.

Syria and the Western Christian conscience.