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

sanity remains despite insanity’s fight for dominance

For at present we all tend to one mistake; we tend to make politics too important.
We tend to forget how huge a part of a man’s life is the same under a Sultan and a Senate,
under Nero or St. Louis.
Daybreak is a never-ending glory,
getting out of bed is a never-ending nuisance;
food and friends will be welcomed;
work and strangers must be accepted and endured;
birds will go bedwards and children won’t,
to the end of the last evening.

—G.K. Chesterton
from the essay What’s Right with the World,
found in In Defense of Sanity

Two things…well maybe even more but two things first.

First…I saw this shelf fungus, or full blown mushroom, growing directly out of the side
of a tree…and at first glance, I asked my husband…
“is that thing real???”
with his woodsy savvy response, “of course it’s real”

“Huh….who knew?!” is all I could muster in reply.


(a fungus among us / The Great Smokey Mts National Park / Julie Cook / 2018

Secondly…what about G.K.???

Is Mr. Chesterton not hitting the proverbial nail on the head with his very current
words???

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mr. Chesterton…Gilbert Keith to be exact,
Mr. Chesterton came into this world in 1874 in London and died in 1936 at his home
in Buckinghamshire, England.

He was a prolific writer, being considered by many, the greatest writer of the 20th century.
He never attended college however but rather opted to attend art school,
earning a degree in illustration.
Yet it was after being asked to contribute an essay on art criticism to a magazine that
his lifelong passion for writing and his career as a writer, would not stop until
his death at age of 62…
and yet it never really has stopped as his words live on most enthusiastically
to this day.

And it is due to his prolific writing that Mr. Chesterton remains as current and
as relevant as he did at the turn of the century…that being the turn of the 19th
to the 20th century.

It was actually from the writings of Chesterton that lead a young atheist by the name
of C.S. Lewis to conversion to Christianity…
but Chesterton first would have to come to conversion himself.

Born of Unitarian parents, as a young man Chesterton and his brother veered toward a
fascination with the occult and that of Qujia Boards…as this was a time of a cultural
interest in such…a time when seances were all the rage and much in vogue with most of
cultured society.

Intellectualism and science were both coming into their own as Christianity was
being seen as the stuff of fables and fairy tales as well as too stringent for
those seeking to dabble in all things ‘other than’…
for this was an age of enlightenment.

Chesterton credits his wife Frances, who he married in 1901, with actually leading
him back to the fold of believers.
They became members of the Anglican Church…yet Chesterton would refer to
Anglicanism as a “pale imitation” and eventually joined the Catholic Church in 1922.

It was at this point that Chesterton became what many consider to be one of the
staunchest of all times apologists for the Christian Faith.

Chesterton was equally blessed with the gift of gab and debated the likes of
H.G. Wells, Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell and Clarence Darrow and not only
lived to tell about it but was considered to be the victor of each debate leading
George Bernard Shaw to proclaim that “the world is not thankful enough for Chesterton.”

And so as I read today’s quote, I found it amazingly instep and even quite timely.

In fact, reading the quote and not knowing it was from Chesterton,
I would have thought any ardent
Christian living today might have said such.

And so it was on our recent trip to the mountains–Cades Cove to be exact, that we
found ourselves wandering into an old creaking white clappered church…
This small mountain Methodist church’s original log hewn structure, built in 1820,
is long gone …leaving in its place the current surviving structure which dates to 1902.


(a pic of the church I took several years back during the fall of the year / Cades Cove /
Julie Cook)

I find that there is something not only peaceful about this long empty church but
actually inviting…

The setting which surrounds this bastion of faith beckons to my soul.


(a view looking back to the right of the Chruch / Julie Cook / 2018)

As we walked inside this glimpse of days gone by, breathing in the stale dusty old air,
feeling the ancient wooden planks gently give and squeak underfoot,
I immediately saw the same simple altar with the same simple wooden cross
hung on the wall…of which was still standing after 25 years when I first took a picture
of our son standing at that very same altar as he once thought seminary was in his future,
I felt an immediate sense of coming home.

Yet on this particular visit, splayed open in reverent fashion on the ancient plain
wooden altar, sat a Bible.
A worn open Bible…
And whenever I find a lonely open Bible,
I am always intrigued as to where might this bible be opened…
what passage did a previous visitor find important to leave for
those who followed after…

The Bible was opened to the Book of Lamentations…
with one section of verse shining like a blinding light…
Lamentations 3:20-24

My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

So given Mr. Chesterton’s words regarding our tendency to take politics
(and our current state of events) way too seriously,
of which is oh so easy to do with one click of a button, it is a deep comfort
to see those long-standing words still there, still consistant, still constant…
a reminder that despite our dire current state of affairs,
the Lord remains my portion as my hope rests only in Him…

truth found in the silence

He who does not understand your silence will probably not
understand your words.

Elbert Hubbard


(more images from last week’s snow / Julie Cook / 2017)

When I was still teaching, our school’s debate team was known statewide for always finishing in the top list of schools as they brought home trophy after trophy.

I taught many a debtor and my son even took a semester class but found the high pitched dithering none to his liking.

If you’ve ever observed, monitored or overseen a segment of one of these tournaments,
then you know that these kids talk faster then one’s ears and mind can process what is being said. As in how does one even comprehend what’s being said as the goal is to say
as much as possible within a short amount of time.

It reminded me more of some sort of rapid fire chanting rather than, well, debating…
and much less some sort of civilized conversation…

So this business of rapid fire gibberish came flooding back to the forefront of
consciousness Friday evening and much of Saturday morning when I found myself visiting
the blog of a Christian who was currently under fire from a barrage of atheists…
and to say that they were a bit rabid and foaming at the mouth was a vast
understatement.

I detest nothing more than those who “troll” about looking to cause trouble.
A sort of pack of wild animal mentality.
En masse they are ferocious, but separate them one from another and they tend to
dissipate rather quickly.

And I really don’t know why it has to be that way…that they want to gang up
and proceed to spout off without stoping long enough to listen—to themselves as well as to anything offered by in response.

Its’ all about civil discourse and I for one don’t know where it has gone.
Lord knows we’ve seen nothing akin to civility taking place, in these past many months,
on either a national or global stage.
As sadly both civility and decorum have gone by the wayside.

I know a wealth of grandmothers who are turning over in their graves, like whirling
Dervishes, utterly distressed as to how society has lost her way.

The whole business last evening and this morning of the rolling comments
boiled down to the atheists proclaiming that Hitler was indeed a Christian.

Huh???…really?
As if this sort of commentary was serving the betterment of mankind in any sort
of form or fashion.

Why does everyone now a days kick around the notion of Hitler representing this or that
without truly comprehending what it is they’re attempting to glue him to—?
I’ve addressed such before, so we won’t rehash all of that….

And well naturally this history loving teacher had to jump into the fray by pointing
out the facts to the contrary.
And as I said, I’d go into it here but it’s not worth reiterating the facts
behind their continued arguments of myth…like the skipping of a needle on a
scratched vinyl record….making the same stuck sound over and over and over.

However Mr. Atheist, much like the debate kids, jumped on some sort of
frothy diatribe of merely cutting and pasting rapid fire gibberish…
much like the arguing for auguring’s sake.
I noted that it would be more beneficial if he, Mr Atheist, spent more time reading and digesting rather than spewing verbiage simply for the sake of spewing..

Oh he jabbered on with more of his lengthy cutting and pasting of this and that
mumbo jumbo…loud and ramling on and on he went.
as I was simply marveling over the fact that despite his time and excessive wordage,
he really wasn’t saying anything worth while….all the while as he refused to listen…
listening to anyone offering anything logical in response.

So it dawned on me that God, the Masterful and Almighty Creator of all that ever was
is, or will be has never been one to scream or rant, or debate….

Imagine that.

God the Omnipotent Master comes to us not in might and force, not in fierce winds
or fires, or earthquakes or storms….but He comes to us in the silence

So it would behoove us all to be silent…..and simply listen….

Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.
The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.
The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.
But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.
Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;
for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the Lord upholds the righteous.
The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care,
and their inheritance will endure forever.

Psalm 37:7-18

Yes is yes and no is no….and the wisdom of an apologist

“[T]he mystery of the Trinity is the mystery of Holiness:
the Glory and the Power of the Trinity is the Glory and Power of God who makes us holy.
There is God dwelling in light inaccessibly, a consuming fire of Holy Love,
destroying all that resists, glorifying into its own purity all that yields.
There is the Son, casting Himself into that consuming fire,
whether in its eternal blessedness in heaven,
or its angry wrath on earth, a willing sacrifice, to be its food and its satisfaction,
as well as the revelation of its power to destroy and to save.
And there is the Spirit of Holiness, the flames of that mighty fire spreading on every side,
convicting and judging as the Spirit of Burning,
and then transforming into its own brightness and holiness all that it can reach.
All the relations of the Three Persons to each other and
to us have their root and their meaning in the revelation of God as the Holy One.
As we know and partake of Him, we shall know and partake of Holiness.”

Andrew Murray

rscn4564
(a cluster of acorns / Julie Cook / 2016)

Bear always in mind that this is the rule of faith which I profess;
by it I testify that the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit are inseparable from each other,
and so will you know in what sense this is said. Now, observe,
my assertion is that the Father is one, and the Son one, and the Spirit one,
and that They are distinct from Each Other.
This statement is taken in a wrong sense by every uneducated
as well as every perversely disposed person,
as if it predicated a diversity, in such a sense as to imply a separation among the Father,
and the Son, and the Spirit.

I am, moreover, obliged to say this, when (extolling the Monarchy at the expense of the Economy)
they contend for the identity of the Father and Son and Spirit,
that it is not by way of diversity that the Son differs from the Father,
but by distribution: it is not by division that He is different, but by distinction;
because the Father is not the same as the Son,
since they differ one from the other in the mode of their being.
For the Father is the entire substance, but the Son is a derivation and portion of the whole,
as He Himself acknowledges: “My Father is greater than I.”
In the Psalm His inferiority is described as being “a little lower than the angels.”
Thus the Father is distinct from the Son, being greater than the Son,
inasmuch as He who begets is one, and He who is begotten is another;
He, too, who sends is one, and He who is sent is another; and He, again,
who makes is one, and He through whom the thing is made is another.

Happily the Lord Himself employs this expression of the person of the Paraclete (Holy Spirit),
so as to signify not a division or severance, but a disposition (of mutual relations in the Godhead);
for He says, “I will pray the Father, and He shall send you another Comforter…
even the Spirit of truth,” thus making the Paraclete distinct from Himself,
even as we say that the Son is also distinct from the Father;
so that He showed a third degree in the Paraclete,
as we believe the second degree is in the Son, by reason of the order observed in the Economy.
Besides, does not the very fact that they have the distinct names of Father and Son amount to a declaration that they are distinct in personality?
For, of course, all things will be what their names represent them to be;
and what they are and ever will be, that will they be called;
and the distinction indicated by the names does not at all admit of any confusion,
because there is none in the things which they designate. “Yes is yes, and no is no;
for what is more than these, cometh of evil.”

Tertullian
(c.155-c.240 AD)

Please find this brief youtube clip of Dr. Nabeel Qureshi’s closing remarks during a debate on whether God is Tawhid (oneness) or Trinity… a discussion offered at Wayne State in Detroit, Michigan April 8, 2015 during a discussion between Dr. Qureshi and Dr Shabir Ally
https://www.youtube.com/shared?ci=g0U7T6pv2Gc

(prayers for Dr Nabeel Qureshi as he is currently being treated for an aggressive
form of stomach cancer)

harmony

“I tried to discover, in the rumor of forests and waves,
words that other men could not hear,
and I pricked up my ears to listen to the revelation of their harmony.”

Gustave Flaubert

DSCN3458
(evening Georgia sky / Julie Cook / 2016)

The debate will rage on no doubt until the end of time…
that Science and Religion cannot and will not ever mix…
particularly with the religion of the Christian faith.

As there are indeed many entrenched and ardent supporters in both camps, on both sides of the fence, who cautiously eye their enemy—that enemy being one another.

There are those who say that there is neither room nor space for one another.
As some have gone so far as to attempt to disprove and discount each opposing team.
Calling one another names and simply dismissing the other as being less than.

Pity that…
for was it not God who gave both the heavens and the earth to His created…
As well as the stars and the sea?
Did He not provide for man the beasts of the field, the fowl of the sky and the fish in the vast oceans deep?

Yet sadly man, in his exuberance and quest for all things knowledgable, has deemed that he and he alone is to have the final word and it is he who can now, and most certainly should, erase the very presence of the Creator.

We cannot say for certain what happened that fateful day that both Adam and Eve were cast forth from the Garden, as the gate to Eden was slammed shut behind them, sealing it from sight to this very day.

We cannot say what God’s concept of time was nor what it should be…for God is beyond space,
time as well as dimension.

God cannot be placed neatly under a microscope not contemplated by an equation.
For there is no litmus test for God’s being, His nature nor His presence…

for His being is without beginning or end.

Epistemology is the study of how we know what we know.
During the period when the principles of modern science were under development–revelation and reason were linked. Sir Isaac Newton grasped this connection and “explicitly stated that he was investigating God’s creation, which was a religious duty because nature reflects the creativity of its maker.”
Newton was reaching back into the Middle Ages, a time that has pilloried as anti-science but that actually represents a more highly integrated approach to philosophy, theology, and the study of the workings of nature. In fact it was the “natural philosophers” of the Middle Ages (the term scientist wasn’t coined until 1833) who made modern science possible. Without “their central belief that nature was created by God and so worthy of their attention,” writes James Hannam, “modern science would simply not have happened.”

Excerpt from God & Churchill
Jonathan Sandys and Wallace Henley
with footnotes from James Hannam, God’s Philosophers

May we as Christians never shut the door on the sciences for they allow us to explore the creation God has put before us….and may those of Science always remain open to that which is beyond their comprehension…not simply dismissing what cannot be seen or fully grasped…and therefore deciding that if it cannot be seen nor measured, it cannot nor does not exist….

Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.
Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:16-18

Solemn entry

Because of its tremendous solemnity death is the light in which great passions,
both good and bad, become transparent, no longer limited by outward appearances.

Soren Kierkegaard

DSCN0371
(a doorway, St Kevin’s Monastery / Glendalough National Park, County Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

It’s time…
The day has finally arrived.
It’s been what… a year?

For others, it’s been a life time…

Standing at the door…
There’s a bit of trepidation,
Apprehension,
Concern….

You’ve stood here before…

The internal debate…to enter, or not…
enter as one person
pass though, becoming another

It seems to be an obvious choice

He’s already entered
Everyone was excited
As He was openly welcomed

However, that’s all about to change

Everything is about to change
But only if you open the door
Only if you enter

Amazing how quickly things can change

The jubilation is now eerily silent
The welcome is long forgotten
The solemnity of the moment is now palpable

As the internal debate rages on…