in the year 2525…or is that 2020??

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought,
but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Albert Einstein

“Life can only be understood backwards;
but it must be lived forwards.”

Søren Kierkegaard


(popular science)

Are you old enough to remember the 1968 number 1 billboard hit song
“In the year 2525”?

I am…
I hated it then and I think I hate it even more now.

It was a futuristic sort of song…dismal and depressing.
A song that told the tale of the world as we know it growing more and more separate
from that of mankind…to the point that mankind is basically eliminated.
As in no longer necessary.

It was a song that became a number one hit on both sides of the pond but it was
a one-hit-wonder for its artists.

It was a song written by a pop-rock duo of Denny Zager and Rick Evans.

According to Wikipedia the basic gist of the song is:
“In the Year 2525” opens with an introductory verse explaining that if mankind
has survived to that point, he would witness the subsequent events in the song.

Subsequent verses pick up the story at 1,010-year intervals from 3535 to 6565.
In each succeeding millennium, life becomes increasingly sedentary and automated:
thoughts are pre-programmed into pills for people to consume,
machines take over all work, resulting in eyes, teeth, and limbs losing their purposes,
and marriage becomes obsolete since children are conceived in test tubes.
Then the pattern as well as the music changes, going up a half step in the key of the song
(chromatic modulation), after two stanzas, first from A-flat minor, to A minor.

For the final three millennia, now in B flat minor, the tone of the song turns apocalyptic:
the year 7510 marks the date by which the Second Coming will have happened,
and the Last Judgment occurs one millennium later.
By 9595, with the song now in B minor, the Earth becomes completely depleted of resources,
potentially resulting in the death of all life.

The song ends in the year 10,000.
By that time, man has become extinct.
But the song notes that in another solar system (or universe),
the scenarios told in the song may still be playing out,
as the beginning of the song repeats and the recording fades out.

The overriding theme, of a world doomed by its passive acquiescence to and overdependence
on its own overdone technologies, struck a resonant chord in millions of people around
the world in the late 1960s.
The song was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart during the Apollo 11 moon landing.

As a near 10-year-old in 1968, the song, although playing on all the radios,
had an ominous and monotone feel that actually frightened me.

How such a depressing song could rise to the top of the music charts was beyond my
comprehension…but then again, it was 1968 and 1969 and life in the US, as well as
most of the world, was quite precarious.

We had the Vietnam War, a civil rights movement, a summer of love, hippies,
an angry women’s lib movement, free love, free sex, the pill, burning bras,
a moon landing along with all sorts of protests left and right.

So wouldn’t you know it…out of the blue, those stupid lyrics popped into my head
this afternoon.

I suppose it’s because I’m feeling some hidden residual 1968 angst stemming from
a futuristic song titled ‘in the year 2525’ all coming into focus in the year 2020.

Maybe it’s some odd form of PTSD percolating to the surface from being a preteen
during the tumultuous late ’60s.

2020 seems to be pulling upon those hidden memories
and thus far, it certainly isn’t proving to be the greatest of years.

I have made a mental note of how many conversations I’ve had over the past month–
be it with friends, folks at the grocery store, the post office, the dry cleaners,
family members, the doctor’s office, blog friends, etc—conversations that have each
concluded with folks lamenting aloud that we are living in our final days.
As in…this must be the end of time and are we currently in the thick of it…

Yet I know what Scripture tells us…we will not know the day nor time..
like a thief in the night…He will come…unannounced.

In 2015, I went to Ireland–it was to be the last adventure with my aunt—a sad
truth that at the time, neither of us could have seen or known.

The trip which was just another in a list of adventures actually became more
of a pilgrimage.

God spoke very clearly to me during that tirp.
I’ve written about that before.

It just so happened that during that trip,
I became aware of an obscure 12th-century Irish archbishop and later saint,
Saint Malachy.

I love a good historical mystery—don’t you?

It seems that St. Malachy was a bit of a prophet regarding the seat of Peter.

According to Irish Central, In 1139, then Archbishop Malachy went to Rome from Ireland
to give an account of his affairs.
While there he received a strange vision about the future that included the name of every pope,
112 in all from his time, who would rule until the end of time.
We are now at the last prophecy.

The prediction in full is: “In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there
will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations,
after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will
judge the people.
The End.”

The father of the current pope [Pope Francis] was Peter, or Pietro,
and was from Italy even though the family moved to Argentina.

https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/st-malachy-prophecy-pope-francis

During the trip, while in County Donegal, the original home to my aunt’s grandparents,
I had wandered into a small shop where an obscure little book caught my attention.
Prophecies of St Malachy & Columbkille

I already knew a great deal about St Columba (Columbkille) who hailed from
County Donegal and spent his life evangelizing the pagan Celtic lands of both
Ireland and Scotland, but Malachy was new to me.

Intrigued, I bought the book.

And so I ask you…
Is the global Church not under dire persecution?
Has the seat of Peter not been hated through the ages by
both Believer and nonbeliever?

Are Malachy’s words mere coincidence?
I don’t know.
Maybe.

Only time will tell.

So recently, at a low moment following the fresh riots in Atlanta and months of pandemic lockdown,
I sent an almost desperate email to a dear friend in Ireland.

This friend is a fierce Believer who I know hears very clearly the spoken word of God–
something I myself often struggle to hear.

I asked him what might God be telling us during these such trying times.

He waited quite some time before sending a response as he wanted
to hear clearly a true answer to my question.

His response was a balm to my soul…
I don’t think he’ll mind me sharing a portion of his reply…

“God is in control.
We are down to the bare bones.
Your faith is being tested.
God says I AM THAT I AM—this has been known since before time–
since before you were born.
While God did not create the situation, He is control of it.
I know that’s hard to believe when you are in the thick of it but you need to think back
on all the times you personally have known [that] God has moved in your life.
This is it Julie it is your maker and He wants you to tune out of this world
and focus on Him.
Not an easy thing to do but He is there amid all the chaos and lies and anger
and pain.
God sent his only son for you and me and all who would believe.
His love knows no bounds.
He is in control for you and your family– for me and my family– He will not let you down.
I know He has not failed me, even though I fail constantly.’
Keep the faith.
Know that God, Jesus the Holy Spirit are always with you and your family…”

So yes, these are depressing and frightening times…much like that stupid song.
And yes, the Chruch is in turmoil…as well as conveniently shuttered when
her flock needs her most…
Are we truly in the end times…?
I can’t say.
It feels like it but then again, previous generations have felt much the same
as we feel now.

But in the end, one truth remains…God is still God and I am not.

revolution, murder or just a sad day when men forgot God?

“Over half a century ago, while I was still a child,
I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the
great disasters that had befallen Russia:
“Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”
Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution;
in the process, I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies,
and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away
the rubble left by that upheaval.
But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous
revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people,
I could not put it more accurately than to repeat:
“Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


((a sheep gazes out over the Atlantic among the cliffs of County Donegal / Julie Cook / 2015)

When I think of what makes a revolution just that, a revolution,
I often think in terms of those heady days of yon when people were drunk with the
notion of upheaval and change.

Heads often literally rolled, blood was certainly shed as revolutionaries and “the people”
held up clenched fists in solidarity.

Revolution was the upsetting of the proverbial apple cart to the status quo and the deliberate
culling of the old guard.

“Power to the people” was boldly shouted over the din of clashing swords and
the volley of gunfire.

And so when I read the following quote by the Irish prime minister regarding the recent
vote to lift the ban on abortion in Ireland,
I was left wondering who were to be the ultimate victims of this particular “revolution”…

Because if anyone knows their history, there are always victims of a revolution…
many of whom are merely the innocent caught in the crossfire of man’s folly while the
revolutionaries disregard such losses as expendable,
the mere price to be paid for the revolution.

“The Irish prime minister has hailed his country’s “quiet revolution”
as early results point to a “resounding” vote for overturning the abortion ban.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-44265492

I think we all know who the victims of this revolution will be…

Those who yet have a voice to speak…

“. . . we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life,
the “culture of death” and the “culture of life”.
We find ourselves not only faced with but necessarily in the midst of this conflict:
we are all involved and we all share in it,
with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life.”

Pope John Paul II
(Evangelium Vitae)

lambs to rams

“There’s nothing so fearsome as the revolt of a sheep,”
said de Marsay.”

Honoré de Balzac


(Sheep along the cliffs of Slieve League, Co. Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I have a very wise blogging friend.

Well actually, I have many wise blogging friends….
all of whom I have been fortunate enough to sit at their knees while learning
a thing or two.
For you see, I don’t think we’re ever too old or too knowledgable to learn.

One friend in particular is what I like to call a ‘kindly sort of warrior.’

Not warrior like some sort of Viking princess or radical progressive feminist—
quite the contrary.

She is older than I am, so she’s been around the block a couple of more times
than I have.
She also knows her stuff when it comes to both life and faith.

When you look at her, you get that sweet dear old aunt or grandmother vibe….
the one who always has the plate of fresh cookies waiting on you when you come visit.

Her point of origin however denotes a southern mid-west no nonsense sort of lens.
She therefore shoots straight from the hip and makes no apologies….

The other day after one of the most recent current event brouhahas, which was running
amuck across the nation, blew up in the media…this kindly wise soul actually bristled some feathers.
And naturally…. I liked it…. and told her as much.

Her response—“lamb to ram.”

Meaning that sometimes the sweet little lambs of the fold have been known to step up,
speak up, speak out—all the while they let it be known that whereas the lambs may
be known for their peaceful love…they are certainly no pushovers.
They will defend and even fight for what is right when it is necessary….
as in a Godly sort of righteousness.

Think Joan of Arc—as in a holy warrior.

And that’s the thing.

I often think those of the world view much of fold of Christianity as being pushovers, mambie pambie do gooders who are naive and often times ignorant souls who, bless their hearts, believe in make-believe and fairy tales.

As in who can or would take them seriously…??!!

They are to be the doormats of progressive liberals, the media, atheists and yes,
even radical Muslims…
As in annihilate the Christians because they are the annoying little flies in the room,
the troublemakers caught in a tragic time warp whose past is all but checkered.

But in actuality what I see is that Christianity represents the conscience
of man.
For Christians know all about sin, its destructiveness, its lies,
its corruption, its snare and its trap.

Christians are those who can actually see and know Truth, while living all around them
is a raging lie.
And no one likes being told their living or lives boil down to that of a lie…
hence part and parcel for all that animosity.

Yet Christians are no more exempt from sin, temptation, egregious acts than the next
person…it’s just that Christians recognize the source of the misery… they call it
by name, admit the errors… be they small or egregiously grand, seek the forgiveness
and the righteous salvation freely offered by the Resurrected Son and then in turn
share that blessed knowledge.

It’s that whole go and sin no more notion.

And yet, often times, they, we, do sin again.

And that’s when the naysayers jump.

But here’s another thing.

Christians continually seek the saving Grace of Jesus Christ…
as they are the penultimate sacrificial lambs to the ultimate Lamb…
that having been Jesus Christ.

We seek Grace, Mercy, Forgiveness…and the rub…?
The fold is then instructed to go out and do the same to and for those still
caught in the lies of the cultural wars.

Yet the culture war gods would prefer the Christians keep silent or better yet,
be silenced.

Because the collective fold consciously reminds these culture gods as to why
their push for the latest and greatest dehumanizing choices are wrong.

Why homosexuality is wrong.
Why gay marriage is wrong.
Why radical feminism is wrong.
Why abortion is wrong.
Why addiction is wrong.
Why sin is wrong.
Why secularism is wrong.
Why humanism is wrong.

They speak to what is dangerous and to why that is so.

Progressivism, liberalism, communism, secularism, totalitarianism, hedonism, socialism
materialism, idolatry, sorcery….as each one falls under the rule of the Law…..
as the lambs of the fold remind the nations as to why there are the laws of Commandments and to the consequence of not following God’s word…

So yeah, sometimes the lamb has to be a ram…


(a sheep somewhere along the road in Co Galway, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise
its authority for forty-two months.
It opened its mouth to blaspheme God,
and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.
It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them.
And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.
All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—-
all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life,
the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

Revelation 13:5-8

behold the Lamb….

“He, the Life of all, our Lord and Saviour, did not arrange the manner of his own death lest He should seem to be afraid of some other kind. No. He accepted and bore upon the cross a death inflicted by others, and those other His special enemies, a death which to them was supremely terrible and by no means to be faced; and He did this in order that, by destroying even this death, He might Himself be believed to be the Life, and the power of death be recognised as finally annulled. A marvellous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonour and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death’s defeat.”
― Athanasius of Alexandria, On the Incarnation


(a lamb on the cliffs of Slieve League / County Donegal / Julie Cook / 2015)

In death there exists a mind crushing silence.

For we long, nay need, to be in the presence of the living…
of those who breathe, who have movement and who are warm to one’s touch
That is the reality of our moment in present time.

It is our comfort…it is what we know and what we take for granted.

Yet to be in the presence of that same once living life which in an instant no longer breathes,
is now rigid and stiff and frighteningly cold to the touch,
is to be in the presence of overwhelming nothingness…

There is a suffocating moment of panic as the primeval reflex of run and flight wrestles
to take hold. We are choked by the need to escape.
The innate sense of racing from the black void of nothingness, desperate
to find the sensory fulness of the living…
because it is in that single moment of reality of loss that complete isolation is frighteningly found…as well as  utter
aloneness– all of which crushes and squeezes the senses of our present living…

Death is an endless void.
For in death we see what was and is now no more.
There is no light, no breeze, no warming sun,
no thoughts of tomorrow.
For tomorrow’s thoughts are of a life without.

In Death we are without and it is in that “without” that our brains labor to process…
for the very processing of the concept of loss and death is more than our reasoning can contain.
Death and its finality is a reality that we can only process slowly, even if then…as time, emotion
and physical wellbeing swirl into the forefront of survival.
Because it is Life of which we know and we hold on tightly to the knowing of the presence of that thing thus named Life.

Yet Infinte Wisdom, in compassion for man and his utter isolation found in  Death, offered a lifeline…as the concept of Hope was now to be returned.
The now endless rope of Salvation anchored permanently to Forever.

The stillness and darkened cold, along with the endless emptiness were vanquished by a thunderous ray of Light…as Life walked free leaving Death discarded in a tomb….

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning,
the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
While they were wondering about this,
suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.
In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground,
but the men said to them,
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?
He is not here; he has risen!
Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:
‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”
Then they remembered his words. 9 When they came back from the tomb,
they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.
It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James,
and the others with them who told this to the apostles.
But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to
them like nonsense.
Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb.
Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves,
and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Luke 24:1-12

Sacrifice and Silence

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

Isaiah 53:7

DSCN1767
(a contented sheep / The Cliffs of Slieve League / County Donegal / Julie Cook / 2015)

It is finished…
The deed is done.
The trade off is complete.

It couldn’t have been swift nor easy…
No, it had to be drawn out and wrenching…
There had to appeasement, propitiation, satisfaction…

A slow sadistic lingering…
Torment was the only demand…
The satiation for the hunger of death

With each and every misdeed, slight, wrong and heinous sin…
Those that were and those that continue on…
Each grievous act was marched before him…
As each piece of flesh was torn away for payment…

The nails were driven.
The body convulsed.
The pain seared.
The blood flowed.

Gone now are the crowds.
Gone now are the faithful.
Gone now are the skeptics.
Gone now are the hopes….

As only silence permeates the earth.

And so now, we wait…

O God, you sent Christ Jesus to be my shepherd and the lamb of sacrifice. Help me to embrace the mystery of salvation, the promise of life rising out of death. Help me to hear the call of Christ and give me the courage to follow it readily that I, too, may lead other to you.
This I ask through Jesus, my shepherd and guide.

People’s Companion to the Breviary, Vol. II

old man

The first suffering we must experience is the call surrendering our ties to this world.
This is the death of the old human being in the encounter with Jesus Christ.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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(the remains of bones from those who live in the sea / Glencolmcille Folk Museum, Co Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook 2015)

Old man take a look at my life
I’m a lot like you
I need someone to love me
the whole day through

Lyrics by Neil Young

The old man, that which is of flesh and bones…
having been born of woman…
must be cast aside.

For that which is old, composed of the world, ego, sin, self, deprivation,
and hidden lusts and agendas
must be surrendered…unto death…

As the encounter, the collision of the old crashing into the person of Jesus Christ,
shatters all assumptions and all that was.

For we know that our old self was crucified with him
so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,
that we should no longer be slaves to sin

Romans 6:6

Out of ….

“I was out of sorts.
They are deep, my sorts, a deep ditch, and I am not often out of them.”

― Samuel Beckett

DSCN1829
(a lonely sheep wandering the hills of Slieve League, Co Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Out of tune
Out of step
Out of sync
Out of line
Out of rhythm
Out of sorts
Out of place
Out of control
Out of it…

me….without You

But as for me, I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
you are my God, do not delay.

Psalm 40:17

forty days and forty nights

“No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.”
― John Chrysostom

“Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy.”
Pope Francis

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(lone sheep along the cliffs near Teileannn, County Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Forty days and forty nights
Thou wast fasting in the wild;
Forty days and forty nights
Tempted, and yet undefiled.

Sunbeams scorching all the day;
Chilly dew-drops nightly shed;
Prowling beasts about Thy way;
Stones Thy pillow; earth Thy bed.

Should not we Thy sorrow share
And from worldly joys abstain,
Fasting with unceasing prayer,
Strong with Thee to suffer pain?

Then if Satan on us press,
Jesus, Savior, hear our call!
Victor in the wilderness,
Grant we may not faint nor fall!

So shall we have peace divine:
Holier gladness ours shall be;
Round us, too, shall angels shine,
Such as ministered to Thee.

Keep, O keep us, Savior dear,
Ever constant by Thy side;
That with Thee we may appear
At the eternal Eastertide.

Lyrics: George Hunt Smyttan (1856) (later revisions by Francis Potts)

Proclaim

“Our concern is not to explain but to proclaim”
A.W. Tozer

DSCN1753
(the cliffs of Slieve League, Co Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

How much energy is lost in the never ending battle of explaining, defending, defining?
As most words of defense and explanations fall upon deaf ears and closed hearts.
Make a point today to proclaim, leaving the explaining to another day…

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,”
and “every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him”;
and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.”
So shall it be! Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God,
“who is, and who was, and who is to come,
the Almighty.”

Revelation 1:7-8

Knit

“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth,
Knit my heart to you that I may fear your Name…”

Psalm 86:11

DSCN1789
(spinning wheel located at the Glencolmcille Folk Museum, Glencolmcille, Co Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Kint—to bind and join together… by use of a single thread…
The weaving and the woven…
Of two separate pieces,
bound to one another…
the binding and joining together of two by use of a single spun thread…
in order to make two, one…

If the seamstress is really talented, the casual observer will not even notice a seam —
Two separate entities embraced, seamless and whole.
Unaware that there was ever anything but one….
To become inseparable…

How close do you believe you are to the One who has claimed you…
long before you ever came into being?
He who knit you, fashioned you, formed you in your mother’s womb?
Whose breath is your very own…

He who has marked you as His own.

For you have been never separate…
Never a lost single piece of cloth…
Never alone nor forgotten…
Contrary to what the world would have you believe…
or you believe of yourself

Yet rather…
You are…

bound
joined
woven
knit…

to Another…
Forever…

Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
Romans 7:4

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(Glencolmcille Folk Museum / Glencolmcille, Co Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)