Please do not turn away from us

“If JESUS cannot control you, HE cannot save you.
And if HE cannot control ALL of you HE cannot control any of you.”

A.W. Tozer

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”

Fyodor Dostoevsky


(lone starling waits / Rosemary Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2019)

My heart was so grieved last night when I finally crawled into the bed—
I had thought I’d read a bit but then thought better of such a notion and opted
to just turn out the lights.

Sorrowfully, I blankly stared out into the darkness until finally squeezing my eyes shut.

The words, ‘Third Term Abortions’, swirled in my brain.

Abortion is horrific.

And yet we now have those who wish to make it even more horrific…if such was possible.

We have been greeted with the news this week of those who now callously think that a live birth,
a living, brand new baby should be allowed to simply be left to die—
that that child may not be allowed to live, to thrive, to grow, to love, and to be loved…
it was, it is, more than my heart could or can bear.

What world do I live in?
What nation is this?
What century is this?

Educated we brag.
Highly evolved we boast.
Egotistical we are.
Humble we are not.

I found my mind imploring…
Please God, do not turn your back to us.
Please do not leave us..
Do not leave us to this…

But this is what I know…God will leave man to his own devices.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people,
who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them,
because God has made it plain to them.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have
been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him,
but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God
for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading
of their bodies with one another.
They exchanged the truth about God for a lie,
and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.
Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.
Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.
In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.
Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God,
so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.
They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.
They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful;
they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;
they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.
Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death,
they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Romans 1:18-32

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)

Dear future mom….

Yesterday as I was reading over a few of my favorite blogs, I came across a video clip under the title of “Slouching toward tyranny” on the blog Dover Beach.

My curiosity was piqued as I wondered what slouching, as in drooping, toward tyranny
and a smiling young lady with Down Syndrome had in common with one another.

It was soon very evident what brought these two seemingly polar opposite entities
catastrophically crashing into one another.

I’ll let you click on the brief French Television advert that never was…
before I continue our conversation….

“Slouching toward tyranny.
25 NOVEMBER 2016

“This is how a free people slouch toward tyranny. Here is an excerpt from a Catholic News Agency article. The short commercial mentioned in the article is below.

“On Nov. 10, the French Council of State, a body of the French government, ruled that the short video was inappropriate for broadcast on French television as a commercial.

In a decision upholding the French Broadcasting Council’s earlier ban of the video, the Council of State said it failed to meet the criteria for a public service announcement. In its reasoning, it pointed out that the happiness of the children shown in the video was “likely to disturb the conscience of women who had lawfully made different personal life choices.””

If you are like me, after watching this clip, there are probably tears flowing down your cheeks.
Tears of joy and tenderness and hope…
always hope…

I taught high school art for 31 years before retiring 4 years ago.
During the course of three decades, I had the pleasure of working with all kinds of kids.
I taught in a public city school system for my entire tenure.
I worked with every color of kid you can imagine and a myriad of nationalities–
and yes, even illegal immigrants…
I taught kids with all levels of intellect…
those who were considered and tested gifted as well as those kids with both
physical and cognitive disabilities and deficiencies.
All mixed in within one class…
no separation, no division, no segregating, no distinction.
Simply kids…

This is not the first encounter I’ve had in recent weeks with an article or
video clip highlighting Down Syndrome children and the alarmingly and rapidly
growing cultural clamoring over the rising questions of should such pregnancies,
where by various testings an at risk child in utero has been identified,
should that pregnancy be allowed to come to term or should such a pregnancy be terminated,
as in aborted…

Sally Phillips is a British actress and a woman of deep Christian Faith.
She is featured in a documentary on the BBC raising the question about a world without Down Syndrome.

If you do not already know, I am the product of adoption.
I was adopted during a time when abortions, all though preformed were done so very clandestinely.
It was a very taboo back ally sort of affair…so adoption was much more prevalent,
as homes for unwed mothers were numerous.

There are those who would then take that notion and use it as a rallying cry for the legality of such, keeping it from being back ally clandestine.
But I would disagree.
There is no justification for itemized death.

I have very strong feelings about pregnancies and the bigger picture that far transcends
that initial act of sex–
For you see I don’t look at sex as merely sex,
as an act of satisfaction…
but rather always as, depending upon age and health,
the potential act of procreation.

And how our culture has disregarded such an intimate union of two individuals as something as trite,
the fulfilling of the physical, something causal or even wanton is beyond my soul.

And now we enter a new arena—where man enters the realm of God—
deeming who may live and who may not…

I have problems with that.

Shame on the French for deciding not run that advert letting both women and men
know that it’s ok to see the pregnancy of a child with Down Syndrome to completion.
The fact that they felt the showing of such an ad would trouble the conscious of those
women who had opted to “lawfully” abort their babies,
is one more reminder that we have ferried ourselves across the river Styx as we have
left the realm of the living opting to cross the river while embracing the realm of death…

“Choices once unanimously considered criminal and rejected by the common moral sense are gradually becoming socially acceptable,”
Pope John Paul II

“Many people are concerned with children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is the greatest destroyer of peace today- abortion which brings people to such blindness.”
Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta

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

RESPECT

Whoa, babe (just a little bit)
A little respect (just a little bit)
I get tired (just a little bit)
Keep on tryin’ (just a little bit)
You’re runnin’ out of foolin’ (just a little bit)
And I ain’t lyin’ (just a little bit)
(re, re, re, re) ‘spect

RESPECT Lyrics, Aretha Franklin

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be.”
Leo Tolstoy

DSCN1771
(a sheep enjoying the sun, Slieve League, County Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Respect.
It seems as if it was Aretha Franklin, the grand dame of RB music, who almost single handedly made the word respect famous as she belted out her famous 1967 chart topping hit…leaving the indelible mark of not only how to spell the word, but how to shout it out with great soulful authority…
“All I’m askin’ is for a little respect…”

To give and to get respect seems to be an age old issue of man’s…
Throughout our history on this planet, we’ve painstakingly and even joyously divided ourselves into the the hierarchy of social casts and levels. We’ve attempted to afford but only a few the esteemed pleasure of immeasurable respect, leaving countless others left out and run over in its wake….
Creating the haves and the have nots…and somehow mistakenly bestowing the have nots with little to no level of respect.

Both the late Pope John Paul II and the Blessed Mother Teresa each worked tirelessly to bring the concept of respect as well as the respect for life for each and every individual to the forefront of their earthly ministries as each one aptly noted that we currently live in a “culture of death”…

“Today this proclamation is especially pressing because of the extraordinary increase and gravity of threats to the life of individuals and peoples, especially where life is weak and defenceless. In addition to the ancient scourges of poverty, hunger, endemic diseases, violence and war, new threats are emerging on an alarmingly vast scale.”

“God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living. For he has created all things that they might exist … God created man for incorruption, and made him in the image of his own eternity, but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his party experience it” (Wis 1:13-14; 2:23-24).
Pope John Paul II
Evangelium Vitae

Nakedness is not only for a piece of clothing; nakedness is lack of human dignity, and also that beautiful virtue of purity, and lack of that respect for each other.
Mother Teresa

We have placed prestige and wealth, occupations and education, materialism and gain on the side of the respected.
Allowing intellect, knowledge, popularity and talents to stand as the signal markers,
marking the where and the with whom the markers of respect should be placed.

And yet all we have to do these days is listen to any sort of altercation and one will immediately hear the defensive cry of “I had to hit him, shoot him, kill him, beat him, curse him….because he disrespected me”

“because he disrespected me”…..

This coming from a society that uses the F word as casually as they use the word “hello”
This coming from a society that tolerates music boasting the using of women as mere objects of sexual satisfaction then discarding them as a waded up piece of trash.
This coming from a society that will casually take a life in an act of rage over the disagreement as to who got to a parking space first.
This coming from a society that is rife with hate groups, mistrust and a glaring and abject wealth of, dare I say it, blatant disrespect…

Disrespect for authority, for life, for color, for worship, for age, for having, for not having…
A society and culture that screams tolerance, yet is anything but and is full to the brim with a selfish disrespect.

It has become almost laughable that our society bends over backwards to be so uttlerly neutered on the issue of political correctness yet won’t tolerate, let alone respect, a single individual who dares to hold a counter opinion.

And yet this all runs counter to God’s command and His exhortation of how we are to live.
We have even disrespected the Omnipotent God of all creation
We’ve removed His sovereignty, His place above us..
We’ve removed the capital G replacing it with a small little g, tossing Him into a box along with all our other little demigods.

We’ve lost our respect for one another, for ourselves and for our Creator—
lowering our place on this earth to perhaps that which is lower than most animals.

And yet we continue to tolerate the disrespect….all because we don’t want to “call anyone out” preferring to appear overtly full of respect by saying and doing absolutely nothing…because we’ve basically neutered ourselves.

How odd then is it that God, the Creator of all that was, all that is and all that will be would come to us in the form of something so small, helpless and unassuming as a mere baby and even as one who is depicted as a defenseless and hapless lamb…
The Greater taking the form of the lesser…
the very least of the less…

A baby and a lamb…each being something we more or less disregard, something that isn’t afforded much thought, much respect…things not looked at twice as far as power, might and bravado are concerned yet still He, the Great I AM, comes to us in these less than states…
Maybe, just maybe there’s a lesson or two buried in there someplace about respecting and looking toward and finding the greater in the lesser turning our whole thought process about respecting and admiring upside down….

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Micah 6:8

A son honors his father, and servants their master. If then I am a father, where is the honor due me? And if I am a master, where is the respect due me? says the Lord of hosts to you…
Malachi 1:6

Twisted

And finally I twist my heart round again, so that the bad is on the outside and the good is on the inside, and keep on trying to find a way of becoming what I would so like to be, and could be, if there weren’t any other people living in the world.
Anne Frank

DSCN2186
(one of cookie’s pumpkins / Julie Cook / 2013)

When I was still in the classroom and it was time for me to introduce our ceramic, better known as clay, unit, I’d first demonstrate how best to “wedge” the clay. Simply put, that’s the process of working out the tiny air pockets that get caught in a ball of clay. If the air bubbles are allowed to stay in the clay, as it’s being formed, there is a very good chance that the final piece being fired in the kiln would either severely crack, or worse, explode. When trapped air is heated it expands, and in the case of the clay, the expansion is obviously outward… causing catastrophic results for a pot being fired.

Wedging the clay is very similar to the kneading of bread. While I was in college, my ceramics instructor was a visiting professor from the University of Tennessee. This particular professor had been trained in the traditionally rich Asian ceramic school of study and he in turn taught us similar based techniques. One of those techniques was a particular way to wedge the clay— the Japanese Spiral Technique.

This particular technique allowed one to work the clay from the inside out… manipulating the clay and hands, twisting and rolling, working the clay into a spiraled ball. Pretty much guaranteeing that the air pockets were worked out of the clay. One piece of clay full of the air pockets, being fired in a loaded kiln, put everyone’s piece in jeopardy. If one piece “blew up” —it could possibly damage any piece sitting in close proximity—resulting in very unhappy students. Wedging was stressed to the utmost.

So when I read today’s quote by Anne Frank, about twisting her heart round, so that the bad is on the outside and the good on the inside, I couldn’t help but think of wedging and of the Japanese Spiral Technique. How nice it would be if it were so easy to twist our bad out from deep down, twisting it outward pulling the good inward toward our soul. Simply sloughing off the bad and being full of the good.

She speaks of trying to become the person who she would like to be, the person she could be–whether anyone else existed or not. Anne was between 13 to 15 years old when she wrote those words. She was suppose to have had a lifetime ahead of the her to work on becoming that very special person she sought to be.

I am almost 54 years old—I have been privileged to have that lifetime that was stolen from Anne. I am still not that person that I wish to be. There has always been a part of me that yearned to be like one of the Desert Fathers, or in my case, Mothers—being one who sought solitude away from society allowing myself to focus solely on my relationship to and with God. No worldly distraction.

How I so often push my time with God to the wayside as something else just seems so much more pressing….trivial things. I sadly allow the here and now to overshadow the Divine….
“I’ll get to it in a minute. I’ll read the day’s Divine Office in a minute, after I put the wash in the dryer, after I feed the cats, after I make the bed, after I take my shower, after I post the day’s blog, after I answer the phone, when I get back from the store, when I get back from Dad’s, after I start supper, after I do the dishes…once I put my head to my pillow…..tomorrow, I will do it tomorrow….”

Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws (Psalm 119:164 NIV) But I don’t do that. Why don’t I do that? We are told we should do that. Seven times a day…

To learn the perfection of prayer and worship. To go deep within to that inner sanctum where there is that piece of the Divine–so deep in my very core that I am not even aware that it is there. It is in this deep core sanctuary where the Holy Spirit resides waiting for me to go within to commune with the Divine.

And yet there is the desire to serve….service to others. To demonstrate the Divine by offering kindness, compassion, help, comfort, nourishment, shelter…a ministry of aid and compassion, of doing…

Have I done enough? No. I don’t think so. I know not. There is still so much to do. Just turn on the news—there is so much that needs to be done for this humanity of ours.

Prayers for the school’s this week who witnessed the senseless loss of life in the throws of, once again, needless violence.
Prayers for Sparks Middle School in Nevada and prayers for Danvers High School in Massachusetts.
Prayers for the teachers, the students and the families who now ask those painful questions of why.
Prayers for our Nation as our allies today now question our “friendship” and find that our trust has been broken.
Prayers for the skewed beliefs and of our extreme obsession with materialism, or our obsession over Hollywood and sensationalism media, for those who we look to as role models who cannot even lead themselves, for and what both Blessed Mother Teresa and John Paul II called our culture of Death……

No, I am not done—much twisting, wedging and woking remains of the moving out the bad to move in the good. Just like the potter, I need to work the clay of my heart. Wedging a little more until it is right.