The world is flat…is that really a good thing?

“This sort of thing reduces my mind to a pulp.
I can faintly resist when a man says that if the earth were a globe, cats would not have four legs;
but when he says that if the earth were a globe, cats would not have five legs I am crushed.”

G.K. Chesterton


(Live Science / Image: © Shutterstock)

Not sure where Chesterton was going with the 4 legged vs 5 legged cat thing but
no, this isn’t a post about flat earthers vs round sphere folks.

As far as I’m concerned, the earth is a lovely white and blue-green orb diligently orbiting
around its sun.
Orbiting happily along with it’s fellow 7 or 8 planets,
depending on where you are regarding camp Pluto.
Throw in several moons along with the occasional asteroid…
and it’s a pretty merry little solar system.

So 4 and 5 legged cats aside, what I’m talking about today is something
rather odd..it’s from a conversation I once endured…
and yes, it is odder than the notion 4 vs 5 legged cats.

It was a comment that came from a man who considered himself some sort
of a global authority.
He was a doctor at Emory University and was a most arrogant individual who
I had the distinct displeasure of dining with.

There I sat in a small restaurant, in a small north Georgia town,
back in 2007 for more than over an hour munching on a poor excuse for pasta.
I was listening to a loud pompous man extolling the virtues of how our children
(our two sons who were supposed to be college roommates at the time) who were, in his mind
at the time, a part of the generation who were to be living in this brave new flat world.

If he said flat earth once, he said it a thousand times.

At the time, I had to jiggle my head in order to get my eyes from sticking
to the top of my head.

It was that same sense of brain irritation experienced when our school system jumped
on the paradigm shift thinking bandwagon…the word paradigm was the “it” word
for about two years…I felt as if we shifted so much that we actually tied ourselves in knots.
New thinking knots, but knots none the less.

So during this ‘get to know one another’ dinner, this doctor expert went on and on
as he extolled how exciting it was that our sons were to now be a part of this great exciting
global flatness.

It was, however, the underlining of what his grandiose grandstanding actually meant…
it meant that the world was now a place of quick and readily available communication and travel.
Instant communication, instant availability, instant information…
all readily available at the touch of a button or from the hoping on a plane.

Skyping, video conferencing, texting, red-eye flights whisking us from one side of the
world to the next.
In the blink of an eye, we could all be readily and rapidly connected.
We could live in one city while working in another while connecting with a partner
on a global scale all within a matter of moments.

We were now moving about our very round world as easily as we could within our own home.
How grand.
How exciting.
How empowering.

And that revelation, which was issued 13 years ago, came racing back to my thoughts today
as I pondered this latest illness that is making the global rounds.

Coronavirus.

I am currently nursing my “jamesitis” —my current 31 flavors of illnesses named for my grandson…
all because I kept him last week while he was sick and in turn, I am now sick with what he had.

A small microcosm of the matter of how what one person has is readily passed to another person.

Our flat world makes it all so quick and easy to pass and to share…
sharing a great deal more than simple information.

We readily share our germs just as we readily share our thoughts, words, hopes, and dreams.

So why do we act so surprised?
Why do we seem so aghast over the fact that this virus is jumping from nation to nation,
all within the blink of an eye, when we readily hopscotch from nation to nation.

Germs spread just as quickly as our fastest speedily mode of transportation.

Our foods, our products, our wants, our desires all crisscross our globe
in the blink of an eye.
FedEx, UPS, the Postal service, DHL…we click, we ship and in turn we receive
within hours.

So why do we act as if this latest illness is a plague sent by Moses to shake
Pharaoh’s resolve?

We have allowed a cousin of the common cold to take our economy to its knees.
Our news media has cast the death knell.
We must don masks, bath in hand sanitizer and put bells around the necks of the infected.

It is certainly not my intention to make light of the seriousness of an illness…
When one is sick, there is nothing worse and it as if nothing exists outside of
that illness.

However, I do worry about the hype, the misconceptions and the malicious use of an illness
by those who do not have the best interest of the ill at heart.

It would not be the first time that an illness or misfortune was used by some
of the more insidious among us in order to produce some sort of twisted gain
or step up.

A flat world means a more traversed world.
And with a greater means to traverse…we must, therefore, take both the good
and the bad with such desired traversing.

There should be no surprise.
No mystery.

The germs come along, hand in hand with the business deals, the travel dreams
and the long-sought goods of commerce.

Now it’s up to us to cull the panic and equip our moving world with the
means to keep moving.

We must be smart.
We must execute educated caution but we must not give in to the
news lead mania of demise.

Could demise be political gain or ruin?
Could demise be economic gain or ruin?
Could demise be humankind’s gain or ruin?

Despite our desire for flatness, we are still round.
We have our vulnerabilities…for we are just human you know, not gods as we so
wish within our excitement for flatness.

This is not the plague…
But yet is it not exposing an Achilles heel?
Does it not expose our weaknesses or perhaps our strengths?
Does it not reinforce our wants versus our needs?

We are round yet our desire is for flatness…

We must always understand the costs that come with our wants.
We never worry about such until it is nearly too late.
How many more chances will be afforded before we either get it right…or not?

The Spirit and the Bride say,
“Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.”
And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them,
God will add to him the plagues described in this book,
and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy,
God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city,
which are described in this book. He who testifies to these things says,
“Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Revelation 22:17-20

disappointment found in the bending of the cow’s knees

You get tragedy where the tree, instead of bending, breaks.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

******Since writing this post, Lynn Abbott, whose husband owns and operates a
Chick-fil-A has reached out to me to set the record straight—
that the recent news regarding Chick-fil-A
is not the full truth…
Chick-fil-A is not cutting ties with The Fellowship of Christian Athletes and
The Salvation Army
Please read Lynn’s comment in the comment section and please see my following post
that includes Lynn’s informative clarification!

I’ve written many a post over the years in support of Atlanta’s local homegrown and crowd
favorite, bovine inspired, chicken sandwich shop–Chick-fil-A.

Those amusing and much beloved illiterate cows, who constantly
encourage folks to “eat mor chikin”, have helped to turn a once lone little restaurant,
on the outskirts of Atlanta, into a national institution.

The creation of the ‘original chicken sandwich, a restaurant,
lovingly dubbed the Drawf House, along with a sound Christian foundation were each
contributing factors that helped to turn one man’s small dream into a booming business.

The late Truett Cathy and his desire for feeding bodies, as well as spirits,
helped turn a dream into a business that is now ranked as one of the nation’s top
fast-food chains.

Mr. Cathy, a devout Christian, build his food empire on Biblical principles.
Even stating that the Bible was his “playbook” for operating.
With the foremost operating decision being that his restaurants close on Sundays,
the sabbath day for the Christian church.

With the Sabbath being that proverbial 7th day of Creation, of which is to be a day of
rest and worship, Cathy fought the mounting demands of an ever-growing
secular population to let go of an archaic notion and open his restaurants
7 days a week…
Just think of all the business, and in turn revenue, you’re missing out on’
folks would say…
But we know, just as Cathy knew,
that God will bless and honor those who bless and honor Him.

Cathy always refused the demanding pushback to his decision to close on Sundays
as it would allow his employees the opportunity of attending church with
their families should they so choose…
Just as it afforded Cathy the ability to honor God by marking the Sabbath as “holy.”

Since his death in 2014, his sons, who now own and oversee this mega food corporation,
have remained faithful to their father’s original guiding principals…
that is until…this week.

Those original guiding principles, those principles of traditional Christian values,
have been sorely tested over the past couple of years by an ever-increasingly rabid,
post-Christian, liberal society.

With the most recent example being the closing of Chick-fil-A’s first
franchised restaurant in the UK due to mounting protests from the LGBTQ_ _ _
(add in any other letters that you chose that I’ve forgotten)
community and its supporters over the fact that the Christian based foodchain
does not support same-sex marriage while it offers donations to various charitable
organizations that share their same Christian values and beliefs—
organizations such as The Salvation Army.

Really??!!

The Salvation Army???!!

The very organization founded on Methodist Christian principles in 1865
that has grown to be one of the largest global organizations to rush in to offer
aid and comfort to those ravaged by natural disasters or simply by hard times.
As taken from Wikipedia, the Salvation Army was formed as it
“sought to bring salvation to the poor, destitute, and hungry by meeting both
their “physical and spiritual needs.”

And so now Chick-fil-A is painfully discovering that it is no longer acceptable,
or better yet not tolerated, to disagree with something that the “left” readily endorses.
Just as it is no longer acceptable to support any charitable Christian organization that
shares the belief that marriage is a sacred union between one man and one woman,
or the desire to honor God’s words…let alone honoring any other Christian value.

Because if you do, you will be marginalized and maligned until you bend.

And so this week, the house that Cathy built, built on the foundation, words,
and promises proclaimed by the God of all Creation, caved in to the pressures
of a maniacal society.

And thus, the cows have been brought to their knees, bending.
Bending the very core ideals once instilled by their founder all in order to appease
an ever-increasingly intolerant society.

Genuflecting to the secular god of sexual perversion as such is now seen as the new normal.

And yet we’ve all known of this bending for quite some time have we not?

We’ve known, as we’ve painfully watched, that if anyone disagrees with a
radicalized society, any and all will be forced to agree or will either be
shut down or better yet, destroyed.

For when one decides to bend in hopes of forging a compromise…
hoping that that bend, that compromise,
will be enough to ward off the ideological demagogues…
it will become deadly and readily apparent that the rabid masses will not be appeased…
not until everyone in opposition not only bends but are more aptly broken.

Shame on Chick-fil-A.
They don’t even realize that their willingness to distance themselves from their
once strong allied charities, that being The Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes—
their willingness to bend away from their once deeply rooted Christian principles will eventually
and most sadly lead to their demise…
becoming but a mere shadow of Truett Cathy’s original desire to honor God.

This is what the Lord has commanded.
If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge,
he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.

Numbers 30:2

Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.
Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you;
for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you,
and he will destroy you from the face of the land.
Do not put the LORD your God to the test as you did at Massah.
Be sure to keep the commands of the LORD your God and the stipulations and
decrees he has given you. 18 Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight,
so that it may go well with you and you may go in and take over the good land
the LORD promised on oath to your ancestors, thrusting out all your enemies before you,
as the LORD said.
In the future, when your son asks you,
“What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the LORD our God has commanded you?”
tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt,
but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.
Before our eyes the LORD sent signs and wonders—great and terrible—on Egypt and Pharaoh
and his whole household.
But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the
land he promised on oath to our ancestors.

Deuteronomy 6:13-23

immovable and unswerving

Be one of the small numbers who finds the way to life, and enter by the narrow gate into Heaven.
Take care not to follow the majority and the common herd, so many of whom are lost.
Do not be deceived; there are only two roads: one that leads to life and is narrow;
the other that leads to death and is wide. There is no middle way.”

St. Louis de Montfort


(a late season flitery visits what blooms remain /Julie Cook / 2019)

I admit that I was unfamiliar with both of our guest speakers this morning.

But it was the Dominican monk, the Venerable Louis of Grenada, that drew in my attention,
in part because of his book.
I was rather intrigued by the title of his book written in 1555, The Sinner’s Guide.

While doing a little background research into this centuries-old book, it appears this “guide
has quite the staying power as it has been compared to Thomas à Kempis’ “The Imitation of Christ”

It caught my eye because my name was right there in the title…The “Sinners” Guide.

Because are not all of our names in that title?

Both of our guests today, who offer us their words of wisdom and faith, remind us that
there are no middle paths but rather only two…
a wide path and a very narrow path…and our’s must be the narrow…
the more difficult but the only way.

We are reminded not to follow the majority of the herd as they are actually lost.
Much like the proverbial lemmings racing precariously toward the cliff of demise.

We are told not to put our trust nor hope in this world for it is rife with vanity,
malice, falsehood, and arrogance.

Be wary of false doctrine but rather remain steadfast…immovable with our goodness
unswerving in our faith…

“What is this brightness—with which God fills the soul of the just—but that clear knowledge
of all that is necessary for salvation?
He shows them the beauty of virtue and the deformity of vice.
He reveals to them the vanity of the world, the treasures of grace,
the greatness of eternal glory, and the sweetness of the consolations of the Holy Spirit.
He teaches them to apprehend the goodness of God, the malice of the evil one, the shortness of life,
and the fatal error of those whose hopes are centered in this world alone.
Hence the equanimity of the just.
They are neither puffed up by prosperity nor cast down by adversity.
‘A holy man’, says Solomon, ‘continueth in wisdom as the sun,
but a fool is changed as the moon.’ (Ecclus. 27:12).
Unmoved by the winds of false doctrine, the just man continues steadfast in Christ,
immoveable in charity, unswerving in faith.”

Venerable Louis Of Grenada, p. 135
An Excerpt From
The Sinner’s Guide

mincing no words

“At the root of the collapse of the West, there is a cultural identity crisis.
The West no longer knows and does not want to know who made it,
who established it, as it was and as it is.
Many countries today ignore their own history.
This is self-suffocation naturally leads to a decadence that opens the
path to new, barbaric civilizations.”

Robert Cardinal Sarah


(Cardinal Sarah)

Many of you may or may not be familiar with Cardinal Sarah.

I’ve quoted and even mentioned Cardinal Sarah before.

I am not Catholic, but having been raised in the Episcopal Chruch,
I have always been considered Catholic lite… or so they say…
of which I take as a compliment.

But I want you to know that despite my not being a Catholic, I have always felt
encouraged when ever reading Cardinal Sarah’s words.

He does not mince his words.
He does not apologize for those words.
And he always takes God at His word while never looking back.

That is such a refreshing stand in a time of endless apologies, backtracking, politicizing,
and the current persecution of Christians in, of all places, Western Civilization.

Robert Sarah was born in 1945 in Ourous, a village in then rural French Guinea.
His parents were both Christian converts.
Sarah began his religious studies at the age of 12.

With ongoing conflicts within Guinea, Sarah eventually completed his schooling in both
France and Senegal with his final ordination studies in both Rome and Jerusalem.
He was ordained in 1969, serving as a priest and eventual bishop in Guinea.
Both pope’s Benedict and Francis elevated Sarah to first cardinal deacon then
eventually Cardinal in 2013.

What we know about Africa, Cardinal Sarah’s home nation, is that it is the fastest-growing
Christian nation on the planet.
And it is a bastion of a conservative perspective on God’s word and of Christianity.
Meaning, the global Christian Chruch in Africa does not mince God’s word.
If God said it, then it is so…end of sentence.

There is no deciphering, interpreting, or rewriting to suit the whims of the times.

In a time in which Christianity is under tremendous attack and Christians are facing
all sorts of persecutions, Africa offers Christianity hope.

Cardinal Sarah makes no excuses for his Christian faith, his African Christianity,
his Catholicism and no excuses for what many claim to be politically incorrect
stances on Christianity.

Cardinal Sarah has been very vocal, as well as pointed with his words, regarding ISIS,
Radical Isalm, gender identity, LGBTQ lifestyles, mass immigration, abortion,
the current demise of the traditional family, and the current seemingly
demise of Western Civilization.

The good Cardinal says that he “considers that the decadence of our time has
all the faces of mortal peril.”
He has also stated that ‘Gender Ideology is a Luciferean Refusal’
of the Sexual Nature Given to Us by God.

There are no apologies for such wording as he speaks with only the
word of God as his guide.

Cardinal Sarah has a new book to be released in September…
The Day Is Now Far Spent.

The publisher’s review is telling…

In this powerful book by the acclaimed spiritual leader and best-selling writer,
one he calls his “most important”, he analyzes the profound spiritual,
moral and political crisis in the contemporary world.
He says that he “considers that the decadence of our time has all the faces of mortal peril.”

“At the root of the collapse of the West, there is a cultural identity crisis.
The West no longer knows who it is, because it no longer knows and does not
want to know who made it, who established it, as it was and as it is.
Many countries today ignore their own history.
This self-suffocation naturally leads to a decadence that opens the path to new,
barbaric civilizations.”

In these words, Cardinal Sarah summarizes the theme of his book.
His finding is simple: our world is on the brink of the abyss.
Crisis of faith and of the Church, decline of the West, betrayal by its elites,
moral relativism, endless globalism, unbridled capitalism, new ideologies,
political exhaustion, movements inspired by Islamist totalitarianism…
The time has come for an unflinching diagnosis.

While making clear the gravity of the crisis through which the West has gone,
the Cardinal demonstrates that it is possible to avoid the hell of a world without God,
a world without man, a world without hope.

After the great international success of his first two books,
God or Nothing and The Power of Silence,
Cardinal Sarah offers a wide-ranging reflection on the crisis of the contemporary
world while teaching many important spiritual lessons.

I look forward to reading this latest book by this ardent soldier of the Faith,
and I am thankful that there are prelates, clergy, and
men of the cloth who will not apologize nor back down in the face of mounting backlash,
criticism or persecution—

In the word of God, there are no mistakes…there is no mincing of His word…

So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth:
it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless],
but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose,
and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:11

is the devil is in the details…

“Till I go mad and my heart is utterly changed,
See this sword?
The prince of darkness sold it to me.”

Karl Marx “The Fiddler”

“If Marx, Bruno Bauer and Feuerbach associate to found a
theological-political review,
God would do well to surround himself with all his angels
and indulge in self-pity, for these three will certainly drive him out of heaven…”

quoted from D. McLellan, Marx before Marxism, MacMillian)

Yesterday I wrote a post about salvaging a few books left over from college and the rather
prophetic connection associated with one of those books.
It was during the purge of the attic that I found and opted
to recuse a few of these old reads.

You may have noticed one of the books in yesterday’s photo and found yourself wondering
about it.

It is a small book with a very unsettling title that seems to be more accusation than title.
It was written in 1976 and is a book I’ve actually had since high school.

“Was Karl Marx a Satanist?”
by Richard Wurmbrand.

I’d imagine that most folks seeing such a book, given our current state of political affairs,
would most likely roll their eyes as if to say,
“it figures you conservative religious types would think such.”

But if anyone should know whether Marx was a Satanist or not would be Richard Wurmbrand.

The Philadelphia Herald once stated that “He (Wurmbrand) stood in the midst of lions,
but they could not devour him.”

His biography reads like the script of some sort of beyond reality novel…

Richard Wurmbrand was born the youngest of four boys in a Jewish family on March 24, 1909,
in Bucharest, Romania.
Gifted intellectually and fluent in nine languages,
Richard was active in leftist politics and worked as a stockbroker.
On Oct. 26, 1936, Richard married Sabina Oster, who was also Jewish.
They placed their faith in Jesus Christ in 1938 as a result of the influence of a
German carpenter named Christian Wölfkes.
Richard was ordained as an Anglican, and later Lutheran, minister.

During World War II, Richard and Sabina saw opportunities for evangelism among
the occupying German forces.
They preached in bomb shelters and rescued Jewish children out of the ghettos.
Richard and Sabina were repeatedly arrested and beaten and, at least once,
nearly executed.

Sabina lost her Jewish family in Nazi concentration camps.
In 1945, Romanian Communists seized power and a million Russian troops poured into
the country. Pastor Wurmbrand ministered to his oppressed countrymen while engaging
in bold evangelism to the Russian soldiers.

That same year, Richard and Sabina attended the Congress of Cults,
organized by the Romanian Communist government. Many religious leaders
came forward to praise Communism and to swear loyalty to the new regime.

Richard walked up to the podium and declared to the delegates, whose speeches were
broadcast to the whole nation, that their duty was to glorify God and Christ alone.
Between 1945 and 1947, Richard distributed 1 million Gospels to Russian troops,
often disguising the books as Communist propaganda.
Richard also helped arrange the smuggling of Gospels into Russia.

On Feb. 29, 1948, the secret police kidnapped Richard as he traveled to church and took
him to their headquarters.
He was locked in a solitary cell and labeled “Prisoner Number 1.”

In 1950, his wife, Sabina, was also imprisoned.
She was forced to serve as a laborer on the Danube Canal project,
leaving their 9-year-old son, Mihai, alone and homeless.

He was then taken in by Christian friends, who risked imprisonment to care for the
child of a political prisoner.
Sabina was released after three years, and Richard was also later released,
only to be re-arrested and then released in an amnesty in 1964.

In December 1965, two organizations paid a $10,000 ransom to allow the
Wurmbrand family to leave Romania.
Reluctant to leave his homeland, Richard was convinced by other underground church
leaders to leave and become a “voice” to the world for the underground church.
Richard, Sabina and their son, Mihai, left Romania for Norway and then traveled on to England.

Richard began his ministry of being a voice for persecuted Christians in the West,
where he also wrote his testimony of persecution, Tortured for Christ.
Later, Richard moved to the United States, and in 1967 the Wurmbrands officially began
a ministry committed to serving our persecuted Christian family called Jesus to the
Communist World (later renamed The Voice of the Martyrs).
This work continues today in more than 60 countries where Christians are persecuted.

TorturedforChrist.com

During his imprisonment, according to The Telegraph,“Wurmbrand was beaten on his body
and on the soles of his feet, given mind-altering drugs and forced to watch the humiliation
of fellow prisoners.

Through everything, he refused to recant.

For three years he was held in solitary confinement in a cell some 35 ft underground;
he kept sane by preaching himself a sermon every night,
fixing more than 300 of them in his brain with mnemonics and rhymes.
After his release, he published 22 as a book, Sermons in Solitary Confinement (1969).

Only once did he have anyone else to speak to – a prisoner in the next cell to whom he
communicated in Morse by tapping on his cell wall and whom he converted to Christianity.
Sabina Wurmbrand meanwhile was forced to work as a slave labourer;
at one stage, while building a canal, she was reduced to living on grass.
After her release in 1954, she was denied work for refusing to divorce her husband.
When later informed that he had died in prison,
she refused to believe it even when strangers called on her claiming to be former prisoners
who had attended his funeral.

In May 1966 when Wurmbrand testified in Washington before the Senate's Internal
Security Subcommittee, he stripped to the waist to show 18 deep torture wounds
covering his body.

Wurmbrand was a fiery, almost explosive man who never fought shy of controversy.
Although he always spoke about his oppressors with understanding,
he was passionate in his belief that "Communism is the greatest crime in humanity"
and was highly critical of those who sought dialogue with Communist regimes.
In 1967, on a visit to Britain, he roundly condemned British churches for their lack of
interest in the plight of Christians under Communism:
"What is happening in China?" he demanded.
"All the churches have been desecrated and closed, but nobody protests."

The British churches, he believed,
had been compromised by their membership of the World Council of Churches which included
members of the officially-approved Russian and Romanian churches.

(why do I now see Bishop Gavin Ashenden in my mind's eye nodding in agreement?)
He recalled how, during his incarceration,
he had been asked whether he would like to become a bishop -
so that he could help to influence the World Council of Churches in "our" favour.

So if anyone knows Communism, The Soviets, as well as Socialism, on an intimate level...
it would be Richard Wurmbrand.

In his book "Was Karl Marx a Satanist", Wurmbrand does not merely make a case for such
a notion but rather states, after meticulous research,
that which is not conjecture but is rather a definitive fact.

And so the answer is yes.
And in turn, we now know that the father of communism and socialism was a practicing Satanist.
(Read the book in order to glimpse the known and little-known documentation which
details Marx's practicing involvement)

Ironically Marx was once an ardent Christian during his youth, but it at some point
during his time in college, there is a grave transformation.
One from a heartfelt warmth to a bitter unfeeling cold.

For time's sake, I will leave the reading and study to you for the details of the whys,
whens, and wheres---just know that Wurmbrand offers copious documentation.

Wurmbrand notes that "All active Satanists have ravaged personal lives.
This was the case with Marx, too."

Arnold Kunzli, in his book K. Marx--A Psychogram (1966), tells of this life,
which led to the suicide of two daughters and a son-n-law.
Three children died of malnutrition.
His daughter Laura, married to the socialist Laforgue, also buried three of her children.
Then she and her husband committed suicide together.
Another daughter Eleanor, decided with her husband to do the same.
She died.
He backed out in the last minute.
The families of Satanists are under a curse.

I find it interesting that in western civilization we are witnessing a resurgence, along
with a keen interest and desire, of and for all things 'ism' within our culture,
chief among them being that of Socialism

Socialism is the growing darling of the Democratic party...
a tantalizing trinket from Pandora's box no longer found in the outer fringes of the party
but rather a dangerous siren singing her alluring song while making headway deep
into the rooted elect.

And this rooted elect has little to no need for the tenents of a Judeo Christian society.

"exactly as Satanists do; unlike atheists, they do not deny the existence of God, except to deceive others;
they know of His existence but describe Him as wicked"

Am I saying that Socialists are Satanists?
No.
But what I am saying is that the birth of socialism, and that of her first cousin communism, has
their roots in the heart and mind of one man who embraced the darkness.

I would utter caution in this race to embrace the latest resurgence of isms in Western Civilization.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12

She died stringing beans

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Hamlet / William Shakespeare


(tomb in Santa Maria sopra Minerva / Rome, Italy / Julie Cook / 2018)

“After William Shakespeare’s Horatio sees the ghost of Hamlet’s father and
scarcely believes his own eyes, Hamlet tells him that there is more to reality
than he can know or imagine including ghosts.”

So reads a small excerpt I recently came across when flipping through a new book catalog
I’d just received in the mail.
The catalog is from Ignatius Press and the excerpt was part of a brief overview
for a new book release by both college professor and Christian philosopher Peter Kreeft.

I found the Shakespeare piece, the quote from Hamlet, quite telling.

That there is indeed more to this reality of ours…with death being a bit of a doorway…
not so much the ghost thing…as I do believe in a spiritual warfare…but this is
not about that…not today anyway…

But I should confess that every once in a while I do find my thoughts turning to my
own mortality.
Perhaps that’s a bit morbid, but hey, it happens.

I suppose such thoughts increase as one’s age increases.

Since I hit another birthday last week, I suppose such thoughts concerning both
life and death are just typical brain fodder.

You know when you’re actually closer to that magic number that those supposed experts
keep telling us is a typical life expectancy age for a relatively healthy US woman…
well, the reality becomes a bit hard to ignore.

I’ve mentioned before that if you have ever lived through losing, utterly prematurely, a
loved one or perhaps a dear friend due to a catastrophic illness or tragic accident…
you naturally find yourself wondering, more often than others,
‘when might my your own number get called up??’

So yesterday while I found myself standing at the kitchen sink…a sink full of green beans
that needed snapping and stringing before being cooked…my thoughts wandered off course.

And by the way, I don’t know why but I can never find fresh pole beans this time of year…
just those generic string beans now sold in pre-packaged plastic bags all imported from
south Florida or worse…California….anywhooo, I digress.

So there I was mindlessly stringing and snapping a sink full of imported beans as my mind
started wandering.

My thoughts actually got around to the notion of what if I did just suddenly fall out
here at the sink…
what if I dropped dead while stringing these beans…???!!
I suppose they could sadly write my epitaph “She died stringing beans”

But there are certainly worse ways to go.

And in typical fashion for my life, that’s how it will be you know.
It won’t be like something out of the movies but rather it will be
nothing I will have expected or planned on.
Death doesn’t work that way.

With a healthy melding of both humility and hubris, I’ve always thought it will never
be in some sort of glorious heroic sort of finale.
It’ll be more like something stupid or either something plain awful.

Funny how the brain and ego work in tandem when imagining one’s own ending.

Death waits for no man, and if he does, he usually doesn’t wait long…
That quote comes from Markus Zusak, author of The Book Theif (I didn’t care for the book)

So yes, Mr. Zusak is correct, Death doesn’t wait.

And I think we’d all agree that Death, here in our realm, is mostly perceived as
something most tragic and dreaded…
It’s a permanent-seeming sort of separation and, for far too many, it can be
a painfully slow and lingering happening.
And the odd thing is…that when it is long and painful, we then view Death as a blessed
release.
We even note that the one suffering suffers no more.

Yet death is a thought that leaves all of us unsettled…
particularly when we think about our own demise.

Chances are all of us, at one point or another has mused over when, where, how and why…

Yet what we must remember is that in the mind of God, death is more or less liberating.
It’s the cutting of an earthbound tether… as we humans suffer from
a gravitational pull that keeps us grounded… and Heaven knows, we certainly like
our earthly grounding.
But the cutting of the earthly tether allows for a reunion.
A reunion between Creator and created…
it’s just that we don’t always think of it those sorts of terms.
Instead, we dread it or simply see it more as an ending rather than a beginning.

It’s hard to imagine that death is actually an act of ‘freeing’ us.
Yet for me, it tends to be more of a scary thought than not.

For those of us who lay our hearts, our lives, our sins, our hopes at the foot
of the cross…
those of us who die on the Cross with Christ and are in turn risen from the tomb with
Christ Resurrected…death should not be seen as the ending but rather the beginning…
but yet I’ll be the first to admit, it’s a bit scary walking out into that unknown.

So as I was stringing my beans, I quickly realized that our idea of death is not God’s
idea of death…and that in itself alone is a very good thing.

When I recently visited the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome, I
was taken aback a bit when I saw two separate tombs that actually had the real skulls
of the deceased embedded into the tombs as part of the elaborate construction.

A somewhat creepy reminder of our own mortality.

Just like those catacombs in France and other places scattered around the world…
catacombs with thousands of human bones..those of deceased monks,
elaborately displayed in a macabre reminder that from dust we come and to dust,
we will return.

And so as we prepare to enter into this season of Advent, that season of waiting and
watching…
A time of anticipation, birth and the newness of life…we must be mindful that the
shadow of the Death remains…
it remains not to frighten us but rather to offer us hope.
The Hope of Life which comes through the Ressurection of a life that overcame Death.

A hard concept to wrap our earth bound heads around, but wrap we must because it is in
our dying that we truly have our life…

It remains not as a harbinger but rather as a reminder…harbinger being man’s idea as
Hope is God’s idea…

And thus the reminder being….that Jesus, through His own death, overcame our death,
allowing us to live…to truly live with Him.

Therefore in Christ, we gloriously find birth, life, death and then finally life eternal…
all intertwined.
A gift as it were…with it being the best gift our Heavenly Father could give…
that being a reunited life free of sin or earthly strife…

So tomorrow when I find myself making a pumpkin pie, who knows where my thoughts will
lead me…at least my epitaph won’t read she died stringing beans…
dying while making a pumpkin
pie certainly sounds so much more festive…complete with whipped cream…


(images from The Bascilica of Santa Maria sopa Minerva / Julie Cook / 2018)

won’t back down

“You can stand me up at the gates of Hell,
but I won’t back down!”

Tom Petty


(rod iron fence to Colonial Cemetery / Savannah, Ga / Julie Cook / 2016)

The first official Christian martyr, or protomartyr,
was Stephen, who was killed in 36 AD.

What we know about Stephen comes to us from the Book of Acts.

A Greek speaking foreign born Jew, Stephen was elected to serve as a deacon to his community. Stephen, along with others, had appealed to the apostles that the
elderly widows within their community were being passed over and forgotten.
So Stephen, along with 6 others, were elected as official deacons who would in turn
attend to these elderly widows.

Yet Stephen was also known for being quite the evangelist.
He was an ardent speaker and witness of a new faith based on the teachings
of Jesus of Nazareth.
Stephen was known to lead many Jews to conversion.

Now we must remember that Stephen was both a Jew, born and raised,
as well as a follower of the Resurrected Christ.
A conundrum in dry and dusty Palestine.
As a Jew, he was still expected to answer to the Jewish governing body.

It was however his gift of speech and witness, along with the numerous conversions
of Jews, that would lead to Stephen’s swift demise.

Stephen was brought before the ruling Sanhedrin on charges of blaspheming.
The council believed Stephen to be nothing more than a heretic.

Eloquently, standing before the tribunal, Stephen presented his case as he spoke
of a natural and holy thread of events spiraling down through the ages as he linked
Abraham, Moses, Solomon, the Temple, David and finally culminating with Jesus Christ–
the inevitable final link in the chain.

Stephen continued explaining that the true Son of God who will come again to
judge both the living and the dead….
As he told those gathered that God’s kingdom was not to be found here on earth and
was not to be found in manmade buildings such as the Temple or in earthly accumulated treasures but rather was to be found only in the the risen Son.

Stephen closed his testimony by turning his gaze upward while announcing to those
gathered that
“I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right side of God!”
(Acts 7:58)
At which point the members of the council descended into chaos as they shouted and
covered their ears against hearing such seditious and heretical talk.

Shadows of Caiaphas tearing his clothes over the words of Jesus…
“You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you:
From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the
Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Matthew 26:64

Stephen was immediately sentenced death…being stoned to death.

Remember this was the time of pre Christian Paul–rather this was the dangerous
time of Saul, Paul’s ‘old man’ of persecution and hate…
For it was Saul who was the agent who took keen personal interest in crushing
any and all ‘heretics’ who were promoting the teaching of the crucified Nazarene.

It was Saul who paved the way for Stephen’s death and it was Saul who approved it.

Now imagine if you will what would have happened if Stephen had recanted
his teachings?
What would have happened had Stephen been frightened by the knowledge that he would
be sentenced to death.
What if the thought of having people throwing rocks at him until he died…
a death brought about slowly and painfully from rocks beating against his body,
what if the thought of such a horrific death made him change his mind?
What would have happened had he thought it would best, be easier, if he just opted
to cooperate and renounce his preachings?

What example would be set?
What presedent would then be set as a witness to other followers.
What if other followers had been too afraid?
Afraid for their own physical wellbeing and the wellbeing of their families?
How would those decisions of so long impact today?

But Stephen had seen Christ in all His glory—
there was no backing down.
There was no turning back.
He would stand against the gates of Hell and he would not back down.

…..and it was this tale of Stephen and the sacrifice of faith that came
flooding front and center to my thoughts when I read the follwing
words offered by the Scottish Pastor David Robertson regarding the latest
news coming out of both England and Scotland regarding the Anglican Church.

“The Anglican Church is officially distancing itself from biblical and historic Christianity.”
David Robertson

Whoa!

The Church, the very bride of the Christ the groom, is actually distancing herself
from Jesus Christ???!!
As she is currently turning away from the Word of the God and the tenants of Biblical teaching… choosing rather instead to go the way of the current culture gods….

We are at present witnessing the Church of Western Civilization turning herself
away from her very foundation and yet thankfully, at the same time, we are witnessing
the Church of Africa rising powerfully to the defense and forefront of that same faith…
steeped in the Truth of God’s word….

The Bishop of Uganda has addressed this very issue….

“Archbishop “The British sent missionaries to Africa in the 19th Century telling us to trust the Bible as the Word of God, now they are telling us not to”
Archbishop of Uganda

“It is one way, Henry Orombi says,
of keeping faith with those long-ago Englishmen in muttonchop whiskers who brought
the church to Africa.
“A hundred or so years ago, the fire was in the Western world,” Orombi says.
“And many of their great people went over to the countries in the Southern Hemisphere,
and reached out there, and planted seeds there.
And then things changed in the Northern Hemisphere. . . .
It now looks like the Western world is tired and old.
But, praise God, the Southern Hemisphere,
which is a product of the missionary outreach,
is young and vital and exuberant.
So, in a way, I think that what God has done is he took seeds and he planted them
in the Southern Hemisphere, and now they’re going to come back,
right to the Northern Hemisphere.
It is happening.
It is happening.”
(excerpt from an article in The New Yorker / A Church Asunder April 2017)

As I pray that Bishop Orombi is correct…

May those of us of the Faith, as we find ourselves now standing against the
very gates of Hell, may we hold fast to God’s word, being not afraid of what the world
may do to us as we continue to proclaim His Glory…

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church,
and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:18