Really now? You don’t say??? I think we need a history lesson!

The First Amendment was not written to protect the people of this country
from religious values;
it was written to protect religious values from government tyranny.

Ronald Reagan

As time allows, while I find myself sitting and waiting for this appointment
or that appointment, I have tried desperately to steal those precious moments of self
and empty time to read a bit further into David Fiorazo’s book The Cost of our Silence.

The following excerpt is truly an amazing tasty tidbit of what is, for all intent purposes,
a lynchpin of lost history.

The excerpt explores the long ago written words that shed a long-ignored light onto a
dark assumption…an assumption we have allowed to become the sole driving wedge
piercing deeply into the heart of Christianity in America.

It was never meant to be what it has become as it was in actuality a mere excerpt from a letter…

And yet our justice system, Government, legal eagles and every atheist in the county
have each had a hand in finagling this small section of a letter into becoming something so much
more than what it was ever intended to be.

Mr. Fiorazo explains…
There are citizens today who still don’t realize the phrase “separation of church and state”
does not exist anywhere in the United States Constitution.

Earlier drafts of what became the Frist Amendment are valuable in understanding our founders’
intent.

Emphasizing the fact that denomination was one of the words proposed
when drafting the meaning of the Establishment Clause is vital to comprehending their objective.

They wanted complete and unhindered freedom of religion, which to them meant Christianity.
But they did not want a specific denomination to
hold more power, control, or influence than any other denomination.”

The majority of colonial settlers were Christians…all of one denomination or another
with eventually a handful of Jews making their way to settle in Savannah Georgia.
As Savannah boasts the oldest Temple in the United States.

As the 1787 Constitutional Convention got underway, it was Benjamin Franklin’s
suggestion that participants kneel in prayer.
Franklin stated:
“I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live,
the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—
that God Governs in the affairs of men.
And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice,
is it possible that an empire can rise with his aid?”

Mr. Fiorazo notes that “Fifty-two of the fifty-six signers of our
Declaration of Independence were deeply committed,
orthodox Christians as well as all thirty-nine signers of the Constitution.
The others agreed the Bible was God’s divine truth and that He personally intervenes
in the lives of people.”

And despite what many folks will tell us today about our founding fathers and their faith,
or lack thereof, they were all either quoted or wrote at one point or another, as referring
to God as Creator…and yes even the deist Thomas Jefferson.

Yet the worry was that the majority of these men were members of the Episcopal Chruch,
and just as in England with the Anglican Chruch, they feared that
the Episcopal church could become a similar state church.

Thomas Jefferson seems to be the person that the Left cites as responsible for
putting up that so-called “wall of separation” between church and state.
Jefferson was not even one of the framers of the First Amendment;
and yet, court cases have been built on this idea,
and laws have been changed because of a false premise.
He used those infamous words just one time–in an 1802 letter to Baptists in Connecticut
who wrote him. they were concerned about their ability to express their faith publicly.
Jefferson wrote back to ensure them that government could not lawfully get in their way.
He also explained the state ould not enforce or favor a single religion.

In the Declaration of Independence, God is mentioned or referred to four times:
as Creator who gives us “certain unalienable rights,” as a sovereign legislator
(Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God), the ultimate authority as
“the Supreme Judge of the world,”
and having faith (a firm reliance on)
in the guardian and protector of mankind (Divine Providence).
Keep this in mind when Jefferson mentions natural rights referring to religious
expression in his reply to the Danbury Baptists.

Isn’t it interesting with all the historical diaries, documents,
and writings available to us, not one of the ninety framers of the Constitution
ever mentioned the phrase “separation of Chruch and state?”
It should amaze us that the very amendment they intended as a restraint upon
government to keep out of religious matters is used today by activists
to hinder the expression of Christianity.

Known as the Establishment Clause,
this amendment was to prevent an official state religion,
but this is most critical to see:
It also prohibits the federal government from favoring non-religion over religion.
Clearly, atheists are winning more court cases today as a result of
judicial irresponsibility.”

[Think Episcopal Chruch as a state-run church]

And so we now see the importance of actually looking back while we continue looking
forward as we learn that what we’ve simply taken for granted is not so simple after all.

Jesus answered,
“My kingdom is not of this world.
If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting,
that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

John 18:36 ES

Moral obligations

“Proclaim the truth and do not be silent through fear.”
― Catherine of Siena

“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.”
Sigmund Freud

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(ornaments / Julie Cook / 2014)

Does the ability to be creative and expressive give license and free rein to the one being creative or expressive to work without limits, boundaries or parameters?

Does the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of United States of America state that freedom of speech, as well as what some equate to be the right of creative self expression, equate to the ability to say everything and anything about anyone and anything regardless of what may be said and as to how it may be said?

Does the “right” to free speech and what is interpreted as the freedom of creative expression, as is often considered to be a subcategory to the continuum of the concept of freedom of speech, bare any responsibility to what is therefore spoken or “created”?

Just because someone may believe that it is an inherent right to say and create what is believed to be funny and / or a parody and / or that which is offensive to others–does that “right” and freedom therefore make it ok to do so? —Even if it is making fun of or mocking another or what another finds important or sacred?
Does it make it ok if the one being mocked and made fun of is considered to be a bad person or not a nice person?

Such questions now swirl throughout this country following the hacking onslaught of Sony Pictures.

“Oh but sure, this is America (you now can heard saying)–we can say and do whatever we want about anybody we want whenever we want and we can do it in any fashion we so choose. We want to laugh so therefore we can make fun of whatever and whomever we so choose and pay good money doing so–because we can. Hey it’s ok, they’re the bad guys, so we can say whatever we want, right? And who cares if someone “over there” gets mad. This is American, we can and will do as we please.”

This of which now seems to be the sad battle cry of those who feel as if the gauntlet has been thrown down over Hollywood’s freedom of expression.

Perhaps there is more to this “right” and freedom business then just the sake of the “right”. . .
Might the idea of responsibility come attached to our rights and freedoms?
Might a moral responsibility to others not play a role?

Just because we can do and or say something, does that necessarily make it right?
Just because they’re “bad” does that make us better and therefore affording us the “freedom to say whatever we want when and how we want?

Yes, I agree. . .I’m mad. How dare they, whoever they are, or anyone for that matter, “hack” us (as in Sony, and all things Hollywood, now seem to represent everything we stand for as according to the news) with an insidious attempt to intimidate, threaten and cripple.
How dare they threaten us, or any other nation for that matter.
Of course we keep telling ourselves that we are America, therefore we are better than them, whoever “them” is, and we, as Americans, always take the high road on the world stage, right?
We are the good guys.
So how dare they do this to us.

Yet if we are supposedly the good guys and they, whoever they are, are the bad guys, does that not mean there should be some sort of moral approach associated with taking the proverbial high road and of being the good and better of the two?
So perhaps the making of movies that depict, albeit a tongue and cheek, assassination of a world leader, is not exactly taking the high road.
The movie is a parody yes.
Something made to poke fun of.
Not making any attempt to use any bit of “make believe” or masking of the true identity of the real country when creating the story line, allowing viewers to come to their own conclusions as to who was the intended subject, the script writers rather took the bold approach of straight up writing a farce about sending a couple of idiots to kill a real world leader, albeit a bad guy world leader.
Somehow I don’t see the humor in that.

The North Korean Government is indeed part of the bad guys on the world stage–there is no doubt about that, however making fun of them or any other evil leader and / or country in our movies, doesn’t seem to lessen their menacing regime and the very real threat they pose on a global scale—try getting South Korea to laugh as they live under the North’s bullying threats on a daily basis.

I fear Hollywood may have forgotten that there was never an ending to the Korean War, which was actually known as a police action, as there was merely a “cease fire”— which means, in the odd twisted mind of North Korea, they are still at war. . .and perhaps, like a hornets nest, it is not wise to take a stick to the nest, banging on it, antagonizing said hornets. Yet sadly we allow our bravado and ego to give courage to our taunting of the hornets.

A moral conscious obligation.

When we Americans learned of the harsh and perceived inhumane tactics conducted by our National Security and Intelligent communities towards our enemies, we were heard to shout “that is not us, we are better than that! This is America, we are the good guys!”

It seems as if we want to task our Government and Governmental Agencies with the responsibility of doing the “right” thing by others. . .yet. . .
should we also not also demand and task other aspects of our society with the same responsibility of a moral high ground? Such as our entertainment industry?
Humor is one thing but when it is cruel, invokes murder plots, underhandedness, lies. . .it seems to somehow lose the humor—especially when we think of the very real human lives which have been lost to this and other “evil” nations throughout the history of wars, tortures and captivity.

Are we not a nation tasked with setting the ultimate example of what it is to live in a nation steeped in democracy and the freedoms and liberties that come with that democracy? Should we not take such responsibility seriously and understand that being “free” comes with a moral obligation and deep responsibility not only to ourselves but to others around the globe? We are the standard bearer of democracy and what it is to live in a free nation— therefore we are expected to do the right thing by ourselves and others, respecting the mantle that has been placed upon our humbled shoulders.

Perhaps we need to reconsider what it means to lead and what it means to be a global example of freedom, remembering that with such gifts and “rights” come grave responsibility—not to do and say whatever we please rather sophomorically out of our arrogance or based upon ego but rather we are to be the example of living out an entrusted responsibility–one entrusted to us for over 200 years.

I rather think any Korean War veteran who fought, was wounded, or to those countless soldiers who lost their lives fighting, would ask that we remember what it is to be a part of this very nation, the country of freedom and democracy, the very things they fought and scarified everything for by setting an example to the rest of the world.

Sadly I know there are those who will argue that our ability to make such idiotic movies and to then see said idiotic movies is all a part of our rights and freedoms, of which I agree, saying that yes it is—but I also then say that just because we can doesn’t make it wise or right. May we be the examples who rise above petty humor and parody, who rise above ego and arrogance, as we take the high road being the example of responsibility to and with our freedoms and liberties.

Rights to entertainment or moral obligation, that’s the real question.

What to do with all those acorns…

Many people are struggling because they have not used what God has given them. God gives you an acorn; you invest it and it will become a tree! Stop praying for trees while acorns are lying all over the ground. God answered your prayer for the tree when He sent you the acorn. Your creative ideas are acorns from which mighty trees emerge. Your talent is given to you to be multiplied.
TD Jakes

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There are three oak trees in our yard–two of great prominence to our house–as we built the house so that the trees would be able to grow and thrive without being impeded by the building of and eventual existing of the house. They in turn showcase our home beautifully.

We almost lost one, a couple of years back, to a tornado. It now has a bit of a distinct lean—not a deadly lean nor a lean noticeable to the causal observer—just enough for us to know things are slightly skewed. The other one, we fear has a leaf blight that will eventually take the tree. Sadly it appears as if the one in the back of the house may also have the blight. I am so sad as I love these trees. I feel as if they are reflections of our home and our lives. I can’t imagine having them removed.

I continue hoping and praying that they, particularly the large one out front, will make it. We have a picture of our then 11 year old son by the tree when we had first bought the property. He’s standing out in what was a pasture spotted with a couple of young oak trees. He and the oak trees are but young saplings. Our son will turn 25 in December. The tree, I could’t say, I just hope that, as our son, who is soon to marry and will eventually start a family of his own, the tree will be here for future grandchildren to pose beneath….

We tend to mark the important events of our own lives by the trees privy enough to be around us. My husband and I visited Portsmouth, New Hampshire a few summers back. We went on a lovely walking tour of this quaint historic seaport colonial city. Upon stopping outside of the Moffat-Ladd home we noted a huge towering tree.

The story is that William Whipple, then resident of the home and New Hampshire’s signer of the Declaration of Independence, had brought back from his trip to Philadelphia a young Horse Chestnut sapling. He planted the young tree in the yard of the home as a reminder of his participation in such a historic event. He wanted Portsmouth to have a tangible link and a constant reminder of the role the city once played in the quest for freedom. The tree, which now towers over the house and is thriving to this day, is a long lasting snapshot of a once very young nation.

Yes trees are such important sentinels to our very lives. I think of the giant redwoods on the West coast of this country who were but young strong growing trees at the same time a young man, who on a different continent, walked the barren lands of Galilee calling out for followers.

I think of what these trees witness, what they protect, what they provide for us, what they mean to us—and yet, sadly, we have not always been kind to their existence or very good stewards to their survival. I’d like to think we live in a symbiotic relationship with trees–unfortunately however,I think it is only to our benefit that this relationship exists—the trees would do fine without us—perhaps that makes us a bit parasitic….

So on this beautiful Saturday morning of a beautiful Autumn weekend, I hope you will have an opportunity to wander outside under and beneath the trees of your life—be they in your yard, in you community or out in this great big country of ours—be thankful and grateful for their existence as they provide so much more for you than you can ever provide for them…..

“A drop of ink may make a million think.”

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(photograph: Julie’s desk 2013)

The title of today’s post by Lord Byron, albeit a bit poetic, certainly prompted me to think–as was the point I suppose. Just mere ink on paper…forming letters then words has, down through the ages, changed lives, changed governments, changed nations….From the Talmud on ancient scrolls, to the Magna Carta to our own Declaration of Independence, ink and paper possess tremendous power.

Men and woman die defending ink and paper. We fight one another over ink and paper. Ink and paper has caused people to take their own lives. It’s all a rather overwhelming combination when you actually think about the simplicity of the two as single entities and yet when combined together how staggeringly strong and powerful the two become.

Nathaniel Hawthorn, the early 19th century American novelist, reminded those of his day that “words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” This statement coming from a man who wrote the Scarlet Letter—-the powerful tale we all read in High School of the single red letter A literally forced upon a young woman, to wear for all to see, as a visible sign of a private indiscretion made very public. A single written letter, worn, changing lives forever.

And when I think of a small, rather pitiful, man who took pen and paper to write about his “struggles”, Mein Kampf, and how that combination of letters, forming words, became a psychotic manifesto of a single disturbed individual who worked a nation up into a frenzy of death and murder….or of another angst ridden man who put ink to paper, forming a doctrine of living which in turn sent another nation to revolt against it’s ruling czar, changing the course of history and our own lives forever—it becomes so overwhelming to me….it all simply starts first with ink, then paper, then letters, then words…………….

Today so many of us causally throw words around never taking time to ponder the consequence or outcome of those words which are now so easily clicked off a computer or phone. From toxic viral e-mails to emotional ranting tweets—words and their piercing effects are almost unemotionally thrown out at individuals, with intentions to hurt, to mock, to belittle–allowing the offender to hide behind them—-

No longer is it really ink on paper. Did we think more, do we think more, when we are actually having to take a pen or pencil in hand to a sheet of paper rather than the rapid fire texting we seem to have reduced ourselves to today….? Did we consider our words more carefully when we were actually writing, slowly, letter per letter, word built upon word….were we kinder, more thoughtful, more determined, more committed? Perhaps not—but what if we were more thoughtful of our words and of the choice of those words…..what then???

On this Monday morning, a new day to a new week, consider the words you write—-type—during the course of the week—how powerful are they? What is their true intent? Do you wish to harm or help?
Do your words represent who you truly think you are—kind and benevolent–or caustic and trite….my hope is that we may be more mindful when combining letters into forming words—
What shall your words be….