isms

“For in spite of itself any movement that thinks and acts in terms of an
‘ism becomes so involved in reaction against other ‘isms that it
is unwittingly controlled by them. For it then forms its
principles by reaction against them instead of by a comprehensive,
constructive survey of actual needs, problems, and possibilities.”

John Dewey


(a dragonfly readies for take off / Julie Cook / 2017)

In the mid 1930’s there was a very loud and very vocal cry being sounded within the United States..
the voice was sounding the alarm to a rising tide of Communism…
as this rising tide had become a growing cancer on the world’s global stage.

This was at a time just prior to the outright assault of WWII, as war had not
yet been declared…
but Hitler was indeed on the move.

Both Fascism and National Socialism (Nazism in a nutshell) was viewed by most
of Europe, as well as the United States,
as the most serious and fastest growing threat to Western Civilization and
her beloved democracies…

In part because both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy were within the confines of “Europe”
while Communist Soviet Russia was seen to be more of an eastern threat.
Poland had long served as the lone suffering stalwart blocker in histories past
to invaders, always being the stopgap to regimes set on menacing Europe…
so why should now be any different….

Yet this time Hitler had different plans for Poland and he needed Stalin’s help.

There was however a grim opinion held by a handful of visionary souls that it was
actually Communism which was to be considered the far more sinister sleeping beast.
These hardy and farsighted souls began to formulate a battle cry.

Joseph Stalin had come to power in the Soviet Union in 1929.
Cold, calculating and menacing…a terror the world would not soon forget.
Promoting and spreading the Communist ideal was a top priority.
A totalitarianism manifesto which would eventually dominate the world…if he and others
were to have their way.
Seeds were planted deeply into the various “western” democracies where the grounds were
ripe and fertile as the State would be seen as the
both the new god and guardian of the people…

It would be just a short ten years following his rise to power that in 1939
a toxic union would form between Hitler and Stalin.
A union that barley lasted 2 short years…that was…
once Hitler had decided his need of Stalin was no longer beneficial…
as he merely beat Stalin to the divorce.

And yet we must back up a few years.

Around 1934 Pope Pius XI, along with his top aide Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli
(later Pope Pius XII),
had a meeting with a certain American Catholic Bishop.
His name was Fulton Sheen and his was a bigger than life persona.
He was a dynamic and charismatic personality who was known as both a top
notch educator as well as notable orator.
Sheen was widely popular in the United States with both Catholic and non Catholics alike.
The Pope knew a catalyst when he saw one.

Calling Sheen to Rome, the Pope told the Bishop that he wanted him to study the works
of Karl Marx in order that he could better understand the terrible threat Communism
was to be against not only Christianity but to the betterment of mankind.
The Pope trusted this young vibrant servant of Christ with defending the faith
as well as guarding the dignity of all human life against the growing scourge
of Communism.

Shortly after returning to the States, Sheen addressed the faithful.

“They have thrown down the gauntlet to the world.
The voice is either brotherhood in Christ or comradeship in anti-Christ.
There is no alternative.
If the one does not regin the other will.
They will have chosen the comradeship in anti-Christ —
they can devour anything that is not brotherhood in Christ.
Communism was inspired not by the sprit of Christ but by the spirit of the serpent…
The Mystical Body of the Anti-Christ”

He predicted that neither ‘New Deals [n]or fascism’ would stop communism because they
could not ‘summon’ forth sufficent zeal and fervor.’
They lacked communists’ absolute devotion to their religion”

(excerpt from A Pope and A President / Paul Kengor)

So as we now stand on the landscape of this 21st century…
far removed from the horrors of WWII and it’s battle between the good and evil,
freedom or enslavement…and even decades from that most famous command heard
round the world…
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”
we must ask ourselves…how different are our times?

Are we not living in what many now call a post Christian society where secularism
and political activism have both risen to the forefront as the new religions?
Have we not merely traded one form of ism for another..that of progressivism, liberalism,
socialism, and even the counter nationalism…

May we each recall the wisdom offered during those previous dark days….

“The anti-God regime is always the anti-human regime”
Bishop Fulton Sheen

when man becomes God

“Communism begins where atheism begins.”
“Communism abolishes eternal truths,
it abolishes all religion all morality”

Karl Marx


(a thistle blooming in a meadow / Julie Cook / 2017)

Since his expulsion from his once beautiful and safe garden home,
man has vied to become his own creator, his own director, his own God….
Thinking, no actually more like proclaiming,
that he knows best and simply… that he IS the best…

In yesterday’s post, we read a quote by Sister Lucia—the Carmelite nun who as a child in
1917 along with her two cousins, experienced several Divine encounters with the Virgin Mary.

Over the course of several months, Mary actually shared several prophecies with the children.
With one such prophecy being about the final confrontation between Good and Evil—
or more precisely between Christ and Satan…

“The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and
the family.
Don’t be afraid, because anyone who operates for the sanctity of marriage and the family will
always be contended and opposed in every way,
because this is the decisive issue.
However, Our Lady has already crushed its head.”

(the quote is taken from a letter written by Sister Lucia to Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna)

The holy sanctity of both marriage and family, it appears,
is to be a lynchpin in that dramatic collision…

And are we not seeing that same “lynchpin” proving to be a divisive issue in our own current times?

I’ve recently started reading a new book, I was more than a little intrigued when
first, from out of the blue, I found that quote by Sister Lucia then later, when reading,
I was broadsided by what appears to be another piece of the puzzle
presented earlier by Sister Lucia….
two vastly different encounters yet now oddly apparently connected.

And as I’ve said before, I don’t believe in happenstance or coincidence.

The book, I initially concluded, was going to be a typically political and historical
book based on two leading world figures..

A Pope and A President
by Paul Kenogor

The book is based on the relationship between Ronald Reagan and John Paull II and
“the extraordinary untold story of the 20th century”

A story I pretty much assumed would center on the work and contribution of both men
in the dismantling of the Soviet Union—the toppling of communism as it were.

I’ve read several previous books showcasing the relationships between Reagan, Thatcher,
Gorbachev and John Paul…each of whom were instrumental in the tearing down of
that infamous wall….

But this book has an unusual beginning, not what I expected…
It begins in Fatima, Portugal 1917…
and intermixes with the death of the Romanov family and the Russian Revolution.

There’s much I feel I already want to share but I’m not even to page 50….
For to digest the book properly, it is a bit of a slow go as I read and re-read certain
passages.

While reading last night I was struck by an incident that had taken place involving the
newly formed Communist Congress spearheaded by Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and others,
involving the Russian Orthodox Church.

“The Russian Orthodox Church’s long-standing prohibition against divorce was lifted,
leading to an explosion in divorce rates and havoc upon the Russian family.
Lenin made good on his June 1913 promise to secure and “unconditional annulment of all
laws against abortions.
By 1920, abortion was legal and free of charge to Russian women.
The number of abortions skyrocketed to levels still unmatched in human history.”

I no longer find it coincidental that with man attempting to become God, the first thing
he wants to dismantle is marriage…that sacred union as mandated by God.
Because if you are now you’re own god, then why listen to the One claiming to be the same?

And so too the man god, it appears, finds it most natural to throw caution to the wind
while tossing the proverbial baby right out with the bath water…
….cause that’ll work, right?!?

And so we see that man has decided that he has a better idea of how living should work.

Of which has a direct impact on the family unit—
that bond that God deemed to be a Holy unit…
and naturally the man god decided that that too is also utter rubbish….

Thus with the dissolving of what God originally intended marriage to be,
we instead have the erosion of that very sacred union between man and woman…
with a direct resulting decay of, in turn, the essence of humanity….

But obviously that whole notion of a decreed sacred union along with the subsequent family unit
is no longer of importance to the now ruling man god….

Throughout the course of mankind, when man has attempted to usurp control from the
Divine Creator, the consequences have proven to be disastrous…
so why should today’s time be any different.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,
and they will become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24

it’s baaaaaaaackkkkkk….

“Yea, I shall return with the tide.”
Kahlil Gibran

dscn4408
(a flock of gulls, Santa Rosa Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2016)

Today I thought we’d take a break, venturing far from the tales of woes of my
on-going trials and tribulations…
preferring rather to take a gander at the behavior of seagulls and the similarity they seem
to have with repetitions in history….

Have you ever walked along the shore and approached a
flock of gulls milling about the sands?
They congregate en masse, especially near where any humans congregate…
all in hopes of snagging forgotten scrapes of food…

If you don’t believe me…offer said mass a piece of bread and suddenly…
you’re Tippi Hedren in a scene right out Hitchcock’s The Birds….

Anywhoo, back to our train of thought….

While out casually strolling the beach, all one must do is to
venture too closely to a group of gulls and the birds immediately scatter…
either scurrying out of a perceived harm’s way or quickly taking to flight.

dscn4406

Once you, the perceived danger passes, they return right back to
said spot of just hanging out and waiting…
It’s what gulls do…

This gull image came to mind yesterday when I came across the following news story
regarding Vladimir Putin’s desire to “resurrect” the KGB…The former Soviet Union’s
dreaded and oh so mysterious Secret Police…

An odd correlation perhaps…
but actually really rather appropriate.

We must remember that Putin is a former KGB man who rose through the ranks to where he is today…
One of the most powerful men on the planet.
Whereas you younger ones may think that lofty position belongs only to any US president,
perhaps it’s time for a small history lesson…

Old school USSR days were nothing like this new Mother Russia business
of a happy Federation today…
It was the old school dark days of a Cold War…
as the cloyingly murderous scent of Joseph Stalin still lingered heavy in the air.

It was the days of suspicion, mysterious deaths, poisonings, spies, counter spies, double spies,
mysterious disappearances, iron fists, gulags, suppression, oppression, lies,
total power control… and lots and lots of secrets…

So just when you thought it was safe to be Russia’s friend again….
Here comes the following story…

http://abcnews.go.com/International/russian-president-vladimir-putin-reportedly-planning-reforms-effectively/story?id=42190514

It’s as if the world went out one day walking, much as we do at the beach…
but for our story here, the world was out walking and demandeding an end to Soviet Communism…

Those die hard Soviets, feeling the surmounting world pressures, quickly scattered.
However the die hard and dyed in the wool Soviets, never disappeared…
much as the world had thought and hoped.
They merely flew away and waited…waiting until the perceived threat passed…

They simply waited until the world passed by and forgot…

Because that’s what happens with us human beings…
we tend to adhere to that whole ‘out of sight out of mind’ school of thought…

So just when you thought Putin’s Russia was now more like us, you might want to think again…

There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

Proverbs 6:16-19

Morality

“Compassion is the basis of morality.”
Arthur Schopenhauer

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who,
in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.”

Dante Alighieri

DSCN0271
(an empty sarcophagi deep within the bowels of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“But evil does not die, just as history does not end. Like a weed, evil can be cut back but never entirely uprooted. It waits for its chance to spread through the cracks in our vigilance. It can take root in the fertile soil of our complacency, or even the rocky rubble of the fallen Berlin Wall”

In his book, Winter is Coming
(Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped)
Garry Kasparov makes a compelling argument as to why it is dire that those of us in the West should be on our guard…as he truly believes the harsh reality of a very cold unbearable winter is soon to be falling upon our fragile democracy.

The single raised rampart of defense is to be morality.

“We need new, morality-based frameworks to confront the dictatorships in Russia and China now that they have so thoroughly become a part of our globalized world…
These frameworks and alliances must be based on moral principles, the only weapon the enemies of democracy cannot match.”

Yet, as I look around our western societies, I look very hard for what remains of a morale society.

Secularism has taken root and spread like a deadly poison weed…reaching deep within the fabric of society. Both Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa each observed that western societies now live, as well as embrace, a culture of death.
Even mainstream media reports on the self-centeredness and perpetual quest of all things materialistic and self gratifying within our millennials.

Morality has never been trendy, convenient nor chic.

Excuses are made as to way morality is so passé and out of step with a modern society.
Abortions, Gay unions, declining traditional marriages, rising divorce rates… all work at whittling away at the traditional family unit…the once true anchor and underpinning of a society’s morale fiber.
As today’s society is just too busy with its focus and quest of self fulfillment to be bothered by something as cliche and outdated as morale fiber.

With the current trend of FaceBook, social media, smart phones and all things technological vying for top god position, the quest for this hoped for champion of democracy is growing ever more difficult and elusive. Self satisfaction is raising the victory flag of satiation instead.

Warnings have been issued before to a slumbering world more interested in appeasement and the total denial of Truth….ending every time with deadly and grave consequences…
Things such as Truth, Morality and even God have each become victims in the endless quest of self…

Time is of the essence to heed these current warnings, once again, before we all begin to feel the icy reach of winter….

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
I Corinthians 6:9-11

How a David met a Goliath and made a tiny difference

“But so much of what is beautiful and valuable in the world comes from the shepherd, who has more strength and purpose than we ever imagine.”
― Malcolm Gladwell

_87805831_img_5755
(a wooden cross made from the wood taken form one the many wrecked ships attempting to ferry refugees from Northern Africa to Lampedusa, Italy. It stands as a solitary reminder in the British Museum that ours is a living history of struggle and hope, death and life…Image courtesy of the BBC)

What would you do if you lived in the crosshairs of one of the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II?
What if you found yourself sitting at the epicenter, the starting point of a massively overwhelming crisis and never ending tragedy…standing as David facing a Goliath?

What if you were a curator to one of England’s largest and most important museums… you had found yourself reading and watching the news, like everyone else, feeling overwhelmed and helpless watching the thousands of refugees desperately trying to reach the shores of Italy’s Lampedusa eventually making their why to the safety of asylum scattered throughout the European Union?
You were nothing but a mere David staring at a distant Goliath….

Lampedusa is the largest of the Italian Pelegia Islands.
It sits closer to Africa than it does Sicily.
Think Key West, in proximity to Cuba verses the US, and you get picture.

And very much like the Cuban refugees who once flooded onto makeshift rafts and dinghies in order to flee the oppressive poverty as a result of Castro’s iron fisted communism, hoping almost beyond hope to make the precarious journey to US controlled waters, refugees by the thousands have left Africa’s northern shores hoping against hope to make their harrowing journey to the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa…and eventually to freedom throughout Europe.

The problem is finding and funding passage from the coast of Northern Africa to the almost 8 square mile Island of Lampedusa and eventually to the continental shores of Europe.
The ferryman are scrupulous.
The ships painfully overcrowded, dangerous and there are not enough life jackets.
The ocean is treacherous and very unforgiving.

Many ships do not make it.
Many “passengers” drown.
Many are small children and infants.

What do you do if you are one of the Italian residents of this overtly tiny island who has made a simple living as a carpenter, yet you see almost daily the sadness of the bodies washing ashore.
You see the survivors who anguish over their drowned loved ones…the children who did not survive.
You see the beaches littered by the wood from the ships which broke apart mid journey…

You find yourself one Sunday at Mass, attended by many of the same refugees who seem lost, alone, afraid—as you each pray to the same God…you search the static image of the Crucified Christ hanging before you for answers….

You decide to quit your furniture business and you head off to the beach.
You gather as much of the broken bits of wood from the shipwrecked refugee boats that you can and you set out to carve and fashion together crosses.
Crosses which are a symbol of both sacrifice and death as well as salvation and hope.

You fashion a large altar cross for your parish church.
Your priest proudly places it on the altar as a reminder to all who worship that there is a massive crises in a very fluid state just outside the church’s door.
Soon word spreads and more church’s want the crosses.
Pope Francis receives a cross.

The BBC runs the story about the crosses and soon a curator to the British Museum sees your story and she too wants a cross…not for herself but for the museum…as a solemn reminder of the current overwhelming moment of human history currently taking place in the world.
The greatest mass exodus of human beings since World War II with the numbers even eclipsing that time.
How better could a museum, visited by thousands from across the world, share in the story of our currently hurting world.

Just how a small David could meet a giant Goliath and could manage to make a meaningful difference.

Here’s the link to the full story…

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35360682

No matter how we feel about the refugees—as I now wonder how can Europe ever absorb so many individuals,
wondering how can we keep ourselves safe as we offer safe haven.
I worry about the terrorists who use this crisis to their own advantage as a means of mixing and blending and disappearing until later, much later.
I worry about how so many people can be housed, fed, cared for—60 million people and growing daily….
I worry about this world.
I don’t know any answers…
but I do know we need to try to do something