the root of the trouble…

Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.
Victor Hugo


(a memorial in Savannah, GA commemorating the relationship between the founder of
the Georgia colony, James Ogelthrope and the first Jewish settlers of Georgia / Julie Cook / 2018)

Roots.
Dictionary.com defines such as a part of the body of a plant that develops, typically,
from the radicle and grows downward into the soil, anchoring the plant and absorbing nutriment
and moisture.

The root system to any plant or tree is essential to its survival.
It aids in nourishing the plant as well as acting as the anchor…
that which holds the plant in place.

A deep and strong root system ensures a plants survival during strong winds, torrential rains
and even deadly droughts.

Anti-semitism.

According to Merriam Webster, the word Anti-Semitism is defined by:
hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group…

Anti-semitism tears at the very root system of a people.

Just this past week, we’ve heard a great deal about anti-Semitism.
Its reared its ugly little head in one of the least likely of places…

It was heard not during some Neo-Nazi rally.
It was not heard uttered from Hezbollah.
It was not seen on some ISIS video.
It was not found in the pages of a dusty copy of Mein Kampf.

It was actually the words heard, read and shared multiple times by one of the freshmen members of
The United States Congress, Rep Ilhan Omar.

Ms. Omar is a Democratic Representative from Minnesota who also happens to be
a Somalin Muslim.

Ms. Omar has made a name for herself as of late, but not for what one would think coming
from an excited new member of the US House of Representative.

Ms. Omar has made her disdain for Isreal and our Jewish brethren very clear.

The thing is that the United States and Israel, along with those Americans of
the Jewish faith has a long, very deep and strong relationship…
it is a relationship that is the core root system
of our Nation…
It is the whole Judaeo Christian base that this nation has built it’s governing upon.

Now it would be one thing if Ms. Omar had what we call a simple ‘slip of the lip’–
a spoken misstep…something we are all guilty of uttering…most often without thinking.

We call it a mea culpa…a “my bad”

The more mature among us humbly acknowledge our errors, the hurt we’ve caused,
the inconvenience, the shame, and pain to our fellow man …
We apologize, we make amends while working to go forward.

However in the case of Ms. Omar, rather than expressing umbrage or remorse,
Ms. Omar has doubled down on her rhetoric and continued with her caustic stance.

Her words and defiance are now sending her own upper Democratic “management” into something
fresh out of the Keystone Cops.
The leadership is fumbling over itself struggling over how to handle this new
firebrand member.
And unfortunately, they have tragically failed over how to reprimand this new young member.

How do our more youthful citizens learn if the wizened “adults” in the room fail to act
or lead…preferring to basically bury their heads in the sand?

The answer is they don’t—not unitl it’s too late.

Ms Omar’s words are gravely anti-Semitic…
they are insulting, hurtful and rooted in a deep arrogance.

They are the types of words that this Nation has actually shed blood over while helping to
defend others who have fought the scourge of anti-Semitism that was rife
under the likes of Adolph Hitler.

And yet we hear of a more modern day hate-filled individual,
the Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan,
praise Omar for her hate-filled words–commending the young Congresswoman
while encouraging her to never recant or apologize.

It seems that Mr. Farrakhan has a long history of anti-Semitism.

According to a 1984 Washington Post article the now 84-year-old leader of the Nation of Islam,
Louis Farrakhan likened Hitler to being that of a great man.

“Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan, whose threats against a Washington Post reporter have
become an issue in Jesse L. Jackson’s political campaign,
yesterday defended himself here in a second controversy,
having called Adolf Hitler a “great man.”

He said he thinks Hitler was also “wicked. Wickedly great.”

To say that my head is now spinning over all of this while the likes of Nancy Pelosi and
Chuck Schummer can’t seem to bring themselves to explain to this young member of their party
as to why all of her words and behavior are unfitting for a member of the US Congress,
as well as, simply wrong from one human being directed to another is simply irresponsible
and gravely dangerous.

Add to this the fact that Bernie Sanders is now standing by Ms. Omar while throwing her
his support.
Mr. Sanders who is Jewish but has been branded as more atheist than a
practicing Jew seems to have forgotten his own roots.

Yesterday I read an interview given by Megan McCain regarding Ms. Omar.

Now I’m not always a fan of Ms. McCain.
Whereas I did greatly respect her father, I did not always see eye to eye with the
various stances he took during his time in the US Senate…
I still respect, however, the contributions that he and now
his daughter each have made and continues to make on behalf of a Nation that
I believe they both deeply cherish.

I applaud Ms. McCain for her outspoken words regarding the lack of Democratic
leadership regarding this recent avalanche of anti-Semitism and Ms. Omar’s words.

“I take the hate crimes rising in this country incredibly seriously and I think what’s
happening in Europe is really scary,” McCain said.
“On both sides it should be called out.
And just because I don’t technically have Jewish family that are blood-related to me doesn’t
mean that I don’t take this seriously and it is very dangerous, very dangerous…
what Ilhan Omar is saying is very scary to me.”

Last night former Senator Joe Liberman offered a very thought-filled response to his once own party’s
lack of leadership with regards to Ms. Omar and the lack of the House’s Democratic leadership
in a sit-down interview with Martha McCallum.

https://video.foxnews.com/v/6011384683001/?playlist_id=5410209611001#sp=show-clips

American and Israeli / Jewish ties run very deep.
Jews were members of the earliest settlers within our 13 colonies.

And yet we are now standing idly by pretending that anti-semitism is
not really happening here before our very eyes by members of our own governing body.

Our troubles, it now seems, runs very deep but our root system, a system that make this Nation
who and what it is, runs much deeper.
Our Judaeo / Christian heritage is a foundation—if we allow our foundation
to be chipped away, then our root system suffers…possibly even being
damaged beyond repair.

“We are confronted with another theme.
It is not a new theme;
it leaps out upon us from the Dark Ages–
racial persecution, religious intolerance, deprivation of free speech,
the conception of the citizen as a mere soulless fraction of the State.
To this has been added the cult of war.
Children are to be taught in their earliest schooling the delights and profits of conquest
and aggression.
A whole mighty community has been drawn painfully, by severe privations,
into a warlike frame.”

(Winston Churchill in an excerpt of a speech broadcast to Britain
and the United States October 16, 1938)

Once was blind….

But…and this is a vital truth of the Christian Gospel –
Jesus does not invite and accept ANY of us just as we are.
He came to save us.
He came to make us a new creation.
He came to give us new life.
It makes a mockery of Christ to regard him as some kind of affirming angel
who wants to tell us how good we really are.
Christ did not die on the cross to keep us in our sin,
he died to save us from them!

David Robertson


(blooming loropetalum / Julie Cook / 2018)

It is a hymn written in 1779 that I’d lay money that both Believer and non-beliver alike
could easily and readily recite…

“Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.”

I actually prefer the bagpipe rendition myself.

It’s such a familiar tune that we might just find ourselves humming it subconsciously…
unaware that we were even humming…

Yet the back story, as I have discovered with most things that seem larger than life,
is usually far more amazing than the actual “thing”—
and in this case, that thing is a beloved hymn.

Perhaps it is the story that simply adds to the majesty and beauty behind those
haunting words.

In 2006 a wonderful movie come out showcasing the tale behind the famous hymn—
And as with most movies…liberties were undoubtedly taken to “enhance” the emotional
impact upon the viewer.

But the story behind the hymn—involves a man haunted by 20,000 ghosts and another man
who makes his sole mission in life to bring everlasting freedom to countless men,
woman and children.
Colliding tales that need no outside enhancements.

The story, as most already know, focused on William Wilberforce, a young idealist member
of the British Parliment, ardently campaigning to end the British slave trade industry.

The British Empire had been involved in the abducting, buying, selling and trading of
African slaves since the mid 1500’s.
Obviously, this was long before the colonies of a new Nation followed suit.
And yes it was tragically a longstanding yet prolific form of enterprise for the
British Realm…

Slave labor was an integral component in the production of the sugar from the
sugarcane plantations scattered about on the various British owned Caribbean Islands…
Sugarcane equates to sugar which equates to the making of rum.
So the use of slave labor, which was key in the running of the sugarcane plantations,
eventually became an important asset to the early British colonies in
what became the new American settlements in their production of cotton.

And so it was a former English slave ship captain turned Anglican cleric named John Newton
who actually penned the lyrics to what would become the most beloved Christian hymn.
For it was Newton who was the haunted man of the sins of not only his past but of the
past sins of those he had known as well as his own Nation.

Newton and Wilberforce had a long lasting relationship, a relationship that acted as a
catalyst in spurring on the young idealist politician’s lifetime quest as an abolitionist…
A quest which finally in 1807 lead to the eventual end of the British Realm’s
trading in slaves.

Our friend the Wee flea, the Scottish pastor David Robertson, offers a wonderful
observation about a small essay that was written by John Newton concerning his
thoughts and lessons learned about his participation in the slave trading of human beings…
reflections that David believes are just as important for our 21st-century lives and
the current #metoo movement….just as they were almost 200 years ago as an Empire and her people
wrestled with the sins of its past.

#MeToo: 7 lessons for the movement from slave trader John Newton

David follows that post with another equally insightful post concerning the Chruch in Scotland
and it’s reaction to the growing phenomena known as self-identifying along with the transgender
movement which is now invading the lives of the UK’s grammar school children.

Two Churches Struggling with (Gender) Identity

humble past

“You may delay, but time will not.”
Benjamin Franklin


(a bible sits open on an old pulpit in the Shoal Primative Baptist Church /
Talladega National Forest / Julie Cook / 2017)

A long time ago, before cotton was ever king…


(a rural cotton field, Rabbit Town, Alabama / Julie Cook / 2017)

Or 13 colonies fought to form a new and perfect union…
the Nation of the Creek Indians called the lands of what is now Georgia and
Alabama home.

It is estimated that these native Americans had lived and thrived in this region
before the year 800 AD, as they were descendants of an even earlier people, from
what is known as of the Mississippian period.

In 1733 Captain James Oglethorpe landed in the what is known today as
Savannah, Georgia.
He claimed the land south of the Carolinas and north of Spanish Florida,
in the name of King George…as the New Georgia.

In 1752 Georgia became officially the 13th colony.
However despite the British crown’s claim to this new land,
the Creek indians continued to be the majority inhabitants and land owners
of this young colony.


(James Ogelthorpe /Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2016

However that all began to change in 1760 with the continued exploration
and expansion westward by the British, Spanish and French.
Native Americans were quickly being squeezed from their ancestral lands
by a deluge of European exploration and subsequent settlers.

By 1800 the Creek Nation ceded all of their lands to the state of Georgia
and were forced to move westward…

This time they moved deep into the lands of what is known today as
the state of Alabama.
But in 1819, with Alabama being recognized as the 22nd state
in the Union, once again the Creeks were forced to relocate.

In 1830, following the orders by President Andrew Jackson,
the once proud Nations of the Cherokee, Creek and Choctaw
tribes were forced from their traditional lands,
and were relocated to reservations west of the Mississippi,
as Scotch/ Irish settlers made their way
south and west, down from the Carolinas, claiming these once tribal lands as
their new homesteads.

Around 1835 to 1840, deep in the back woods of the Alabama foothills of the
Appalachian Mountains, a small community of European settlers found a home
in a rugged area of Alabama.

These settlers were farmers, hunters, loggers and even moonshiners.

At the heart of their community these hardy settlers erected a log hewn church
to serve as an anchor for their community.
It was a building that would serve their community needs, their spiritual needs
as well as the educational needs of their children.


(Shoal Primitive Baptist Church, originally built in 1845 / Julie Cook / 2017)

Today both time and Mother Nature have each reclaimed this once small community.
Long forgotten are the voices of those first Native American inhabitants…
as well as the voices of those early European settlers.

Yet hidden deep within a mix of virgin forest and replanted pines,
resting at the end of a long forgotten rutted, single dirt lane road,
a lone wooden church remains ever vigilant…
standing the test of time.

She is a far cry from the great Cathedrals and Churches of big cities or
of far away lands.
She possess neither stained glass, gleaming silver or brass nor
ornately carved wooden fixtures.

For hers is a humble yet strong and determined example of faith.

Her small cemetery of unmarked graves whispers tales of those hardy souls
who once called these lands home…those individuals who worked the land
living and dying in the shadow of this church.


(the unmarked graves of Shoal Creek / Julie Cook / 2017)

The Shoal Primitive Baptist Church originally erected in 1845,
with the building we see today being rebuilt in 1895, is listed and recognized
as an important historic building on the National Registry.

It remains a lone sentinel of the early American pioneering spirit in an area
that is now known as the Talladega National Forrest.
This area was bought by the Federal Government and made a national park
by President Franklin Roosevelt in the early 1930’s.

The church is one of 6 remaining log hewn churches scattered throughout the state
of Alabama and still hosts special events such as Sacred Harp singings.

Inside this lovely and lonely darkened church, resting atop the single black pulpit,
sits a worn and tattered bible.

It is open to the book of Psalms….

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121