Asking forgiveness, it’s never too late nor futile…Poland is such an example

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has
forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

C.S. Lewis

“Freedom is the capacity to assert one’s will against the willfulness of others.”
William of Ockham


Over the past weekend, I caught a lovely news story.

In between the nerve-racking updates about Hurricane Dorian here on the east coast—
the hurricane that just doesn’t want to go away—
to the sorrowful story coming out from the west coast about the tragic boat fire in the
Pacific claiming nearly 40 lives, to another sorrowful mass shooting…
finding a news story that read of hope, if not simply civility, was greatly welcomed.

Below, I’ve simply cut and paste the AT&T news story.
My take on it all follows…

Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has asked for Poland’s forgiveness
80 years after the start of World War II.

“I stand before you, those who have survived, before the descendants of the victims,
the old and the young residents of Wielun, I am humbled and grateful,”
Steinmeier said during a ceremony in the Polish city of Wielun,
the site of one of the first Nazi bombings in the country on September 1, 1939.

“I bow to the victims of the attack in Wielun,
I pay tribute to the Polish victims of German tyranny and I ask for forgiveness,” he said.

Nearly 6 million Poles died during World War II,
which remains the bloodiest conflict in history.

More than 50 million people were killed in the conflict overall,
including some 6 million Jews, half of whom were Polish.

At a ceremony in Warsaw, Polish President Andrzej Duda spoke of the atrocious history
suffered by Polish people during WWII and the “trauma” that they still carry today.

The Polish President remembered the fallen and thanked the soldiers
“who fought and sacrificed their lives for freedom.”

In an address on Sunday morning in Westerplatte, Gdansk,
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki spoke of the huge material, spiritual, economic
and financial losses Poland suffered in the war.

“We have to talk, we have to remember about the losses we suffered,
we have to demand the truth, we have to demand compensation,” Morawiecki said.

War reparations remain a contentious issue in Poland —
since coming to power in 2015, the Law and Justice (PiS)
party has revived calls for compensation, Reuters reported.
Germany made the last payment on reparations in 2010.

US Vice President Mike Pence spoke in Warsaw on Sunday at the commemoration ceremony
to mark the 80th anniversary of Germany’s invasion of Poland.
Two days later, on September 3, Britain and France declared war on Germany.

“During the five decades of untold suffering and death that followed the outbreak of World War II,
the Polish people never lost hope, they never gave in to despair,
and they never let go of their thousand-year history,” Pence said.

“In the years that followed this day 80 years ago,
their light shone in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it,” he added.

https://start.att.net/news/read/article/cnn-german_president_asks_for_forgiveness_80_years_aft-cnn2/category/news

The nation of Poland has a great deal to teach the rest of the world about perseverance
as well as the ability to forgive…just as it seems a German leader has a few things to teach
all of us about the never-ending ability to ask one who has been tragically wronged, to forgive.

But you’d need to understand a bit of history first to truly appreciate this story.

I’ve touched on Poland and her history before in a few previous posts,
but it seems the importance of revisiting has resurfaced.

Poland sits in a pivotal location geographically.

According to the renowned author and biographer, George Weigel, in his international bestseller
Witness to Hope / The biography of Pope John Paul II,
Poland’s location at the crossroads of Latin and Byzantine Europe, it’s geography,
and its repeated experience of invasion, occupation, resistance and
resurrection gave rise to a distinctive Polish way of looking at history.

Poland sits in the middle of Europe—in between the majority of Europe to the west
and Russia along with her broken minions to the east.
Poland has, down through the centuries, proven to be a historical bulwark.

She has literally been the defending line between tyranny and democracy for centuries.
And she has never complained about her pivotal lot.

I am reminded of the verse from the book of Luke:
“From everyone who has been given much,
much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much,
much more will be asked.

Luke 12:48

“Polish history is generally taken to begin with the baptism
of the Piast prince Mieszko I in 966. Mieszko’s choice for Latin Christianity
over Eastern Christianity, which had been formed in the orbit of Constantinople,
decisively shaped Poland’s history for more than a millennium.”

By Mieszko’s choice, a Slavic land and people would be oriented toward the Latin West.

These Roman Slavs were a bridge between Europe’s two cultural halves;
they could “speak the language of two spiritual worlds.”
Poland’s Catholicity and its geographic location led to a certain catholicity
of cultural temperament.

Tartars and Swedes had laid waste [to] the country; the Austrians had stripped the
Old Town of its fortifications and walls (Kraków); occupying powers of varying degrees of
ferocity had displaced the kings and queens of Poland from the royal castle,
atop the “Polish Zion.”
Now, on September 1, 1939, Wawel Cathedral was about to experience something beyond the
imagining of those who had worshiped beneath its gothic vault for centuries.

Poland, as a nation, has been erased numerous times from the known geographical
maps of human history.
Meaning, she was eliminated as a nation…
absorbed by her greedy neighbors on more than one occasion…
actually being erased for over 100 years from any historical map.
Yet the Polish people and their spirit as a unified people, has always remained.

Weigel notes “Poland is not always appreciated this way.
Indeed, the suspicion seems widespread that the Poles
must, for some reason or other, deserve their bad luck.
Yet Poland’s curse is neither in the stars nor in the Polish people.
It’s the neighborhood.”

“For more than a thousand years, the Polish people and their state have inhabited an enormous
flat plain bounded by large, aggressive, materially superior neighbors.
…The Germans were always to the west, and almost always aggressive.
German-Polish enmity followed and peaked in World War II,
when the Nazis sought to eradicate the Polish nation from history.

World War II, which the Poles sometimes describe as the war they lost twice,
was an unmitigated disaster for Poland.
Six million of its citizens our of a prewar population of 35 million,
were killed in combat or murdered– a mortality rate of eighteen percent.
The nation was physically decimated.
Poland became the site of the greatest slaughters of the Holocaust.
And, at the end, another totalitarian power seized control of Poland’s political future.

Karol Wojtyla, the future pope, would live under and eventually be formed by
these two occupying and oppressive regimes–two regimes that would each lend an
unknown hand to the building of a formidable world leader and in turn their own
nemesis and foe.

According to Wikipedia:
On 16 October 1978, Poland experienced what many Poles literally believed to
be a miracle.
Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, the archbishop of Kraków, was elected pope at the Vatican,
taking the name John Paul II. The election of a Polish Pope had an electrifying
effect on what was at that time one of the last idiosyncratically
Catholic countries in Europe.
When John Paul toured Poland in June 1979, half a million people came to welcome
him in Warsaw; in the next eight days, about ten million Poles attended the
many outdoor masses he celebrated.
John Paul clearly became the most important person in Poland, leaving the regime
not so much opposed as ignored. Rather than calling for rebellion,
John Paul encouraged the creation of an “alternative Poland” of social
institutions independent of the government, so that when the next crisis came,
the nation would present a united front.

On 27 October 1991, the first (since the 1920s) entirely free Polish parliamentary
election took place.
This completed Poland’s transition from a communist party rule to a Western-style liberal
democratic political system.

And so despite the centuries of war, siege, occupation, death, murder, and even obliteration…
Poland has remained…just as she continues to remain.

And so we are fortunate in that we, as a world, may watch as a one-time warring
and occupying nation sincerely offers a very humble and visceral apology.
Words that cannot erase the pain, suffering, loss or unfathomable human tragedy…
but words offered by a nation who can admit to the sins of her past…
which in turn now offer hope to a renewed future for us all.

Forgiveness, Hope and Healing—all offered to a very troubled and very needing world…

We continue to hold on to Hope…

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander,
along with every form of malice.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other,
just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:31-32

Rebels and rebellions…tennis shoes, flags and slavery…. a brief history lesson

“Resolved: that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white;
that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

UShistory.org

Do you remember back in late June, just before our Nation’s celebration of the 4th of July?

If you’re anything like me, remembering last week can be challenging enough.

But let’s try it.
Let’s try to recall a current event that took place during that time.
It made all the news rounds.

The current event in question is how athletic apparel wear giant Nike had come out with
a commemorative shoe featuring what is known as “the Besty Ross” flag–
just in time for the 4th of July celebration.

And how then former football player and flag protester Colin Kaepernick told the
athletic giant not to sell the shoes because he believed the shoe’s flag
image was steeped in racism?

Remember all of that??

And do you remember that the athletic giant caved to his demands?

First of all, that story alone is enough to make me shake my head.

That a youthful former NFL player could tell a mega-money power company that they shouldn’t do
something and they actually listen to him and don’t do as he says is beyond my
small mind’s thinking.

Oh to be so powerful that the powerful quake.

But here’s the thing.

As an educator and one who had majored in history the majority of her time in college,
I could never allow the uneducated to perpetuate a lie.

I could not allow Betsy Ross, who is obviously not here to defend herself—
I could not allow her name to be forever sullied or associated with racism,
slavery or anything other than freedom.

And the funny thing is…we’re so all about #metoo and women’s rights and girl power,
yet we’ve actually allowed a woman to be painted into the ugly narrative of racism,
falsehoods and lies.

Is that what is known as hypocritical?

Let’s back up a couple of hundred years and let’s look at what that flag is all about.
However, let’s first back up even further and take a look at the woman in question.

Elizabeth Griscom, also known as Betsy, was the 8th of 17 children born to
Samuel Griscom and Rebecca James.
She was born in the colony of Pennsylvania, in the city of Philidelphia in 1752.

The Griscoms were a Quaker family and a family that ran an upholstery business.

Quakers were a religious group founded in 1652 in England by George Fox.
They were a split from the Chruch of England and were devoted to peaceful principals.
And most notably, they were pacifists.

(It might be of interest to know that President Richard Nixon was born to
Quaker parents…but that’s another story for another day)

Quakers, more often than not, married other Quakers.
If one opted to marry outside of the religious denomination then they would be “read out”
or cut off both emotionally and financially from one’s family and religious community.

Upon the completion of her formal Quaker schooling, Betsy’s father apprenticed
her to another upholsterer.
This is when she met John Ross, another apprentice, and member of the Episcopal Chruch.

The two fell in love and actually eloped.
They crossed the Delaware River over into New Jersey where they were married at a
near-by Tavern.

Obviously, the union led to Betsy being cut off from the Quaker community that
she had known since childhood.

She and John were happy and now worshiped at the Episcopal church, Christ Chruch.
The same church that George Washington attended.
There is church documentation that the Ross’ and the Washingtons occupied pews
across the aisle from one another.

This was also during the time that tensions had come to a head between the
Colonists and the British.

The Ross’ were busy with their upholstery business but as the tensions grew,
fabric supplies became scarce and the business all but dried up due to a lack of
demand and materials.

It was at this time that John Ross joined the Continental Army as a volunteer.

He was in charge of guarding a munitions cache.
At some point, the cache exploded, killing John— leaving
Betsy a young widow.

History tells us that at this point, Betsy went back to being a practicing Quaker.

However, this was also the time that there was a rift within the Quaker community itself.

Many of the members believed in the cause for freedom and actually split from the
Quaker body, forming the Fighting Quakers who joined the Continental Army.
Betsy and her new husband, sea captain, Joseph Ashburn, joined the side of the
Fighting Quakers.

Capt. Ashburn was in charge of bringing supplies back to the fighting colonists.
His ship, however, was eventually captured by British forces and he was taken, prisoner.

Joseph actually died in prison…a fact that Betsy would not discover until quite
sometime later.
It was a mutual friend of the family, a fellow sea captain named John Claypoole, who
came to Betsy with the grim news.

Betsy was a widow once again.

Betsy had had no children with her first husband John but had two with Joseph.
Sadly only one survived past infancy.
However, this would not be the end of Betsy’s married life nor that of motherhood.

Betsy married one final time.

This time it was to Joseph’s friend, John Claypoole.
A man, who to no surprise, Betsy convinced to retire from sailing.

The Claypoole’s went on to have 5 children of their own, four of whom survived to adulthood…
So 5 of Betsy’s children actually outlived her and were the ones who would
go on to leave a written testament to their mother’s contribution to
the Colonial fight for freedom.

In a signed affidavit, one of Betsy’s daughter’s recounted her mother’s
involvement with the creating of the unifying 13-star colonial flag.

Bety’s daughter tells of three men from the Continental Congress who came to call
upon her mother.

Robert Morris, the wealthiest man in Pennsylvania and the largest landowner,
Col. George Ross, the uncle to her late husband, as well as General George Washington.

Betsy knew the General quite well as she had not only worshiped alongside him and his
family at Christ Chruch, she had also done some embroidery and sewing work for the General.

Her daughter recounts:
That when the committee (with General Washington) came into her store she showed
them into her parlor, back of her store;
and one of them asked her if she could make a flag and that she replied that she did not know
but she could try.

That they then showed her a drawing roughly executed, of the flag as it was proposed to be
made by the committee, and that she saw in it some defects in its proportions and the
arrangement and shape of the stars.
That she said it was square and a flag should be one third longer than its width,
that the stars were scattered promiscuously over the field,
and she said they should be either in lines or in some adopted form as a circle,
or a star, and that the stars were six-pointed in the drawing,
and she said they should be five pointed.

That the gentlemen of the committee and General Washington very respectfully
considered the suggestions and acted upon them,
General Washington seating himself at a table with a pencil and paper,
altered the drawing and then made a new one according to the suggestions of my mother.
That General Washington seemed to her to be the active one in making the design,
the others having little or nothing to do with it.

That mother went diligently to work upon her flag and soon finished it,
and returned it, the first star-spangled banner that ever was made,
to her employers, that it was run up to the peak of one of the vessels belonging to one of
the committee then lying at the wharf, and was received with shouts of applause by the
few bystanders who happened to be looking on.
That the committee on the same day carried the flag into the Congress sitting in the State House,
and made a report presenting the flag and the drawing and that Congress unanimously approved
and accepted the report.
That the next day Col. Ross called upon my mother and informed her that her work had been approved
and her flag adopted, and he gave orders for the purchase of all the materials and the manufacture
of as many flags as she could make.
And that from that time forward, for over fifty years she continued
to make flags for the United States Government.

The affidavit is signed, notarized and still held as a historical document.

I believe the facts stated in the foregoing Article entitled
“The First American Flag and Who Made It,” are all strictly true.
This affidavit having been signed by Rachel Fletcher with violet ink,
the signature has faded, but is at this time, Seventh Month 24th, 1908,
still plainly legible.

Rachel Fletcher
I, Mary Fletcher Wigert, daughter of the said Rachel Fletcher,
recognize the signature in the rectangular space outlined in black above,
as the signature of my mother Rachel Fletcher.

Mary Fletcher Wigert

Signed in the presence of Mary W. Miller Philadelphia Seventh Mo. 24th, 1908

State of New York

City of New York SS

On the 31st day of July A.D. 1871.
Before me the subscriber a Notary Public in and for the Commonwealth of New York,
duly commissioned, residing in the said City of New York,
personally appeared the above named Rachel Fletcher,
who being duly affirmed did depose and say that the statements above certified
to by her are all strictly true according to the best of her knowledge and belief,
and that she is a daughter of Elizabeth Claypoole.
Affirmed and subscribed before me the day and year aforesaid.
Witness my hand and Notarial Seal.

Th. J. McEvily
Notary Public City & Co. New York

So what we know is that ‘the Betsy Ross’ flag is not a symbol of racism nor slavery.
But rather a symbol of freedom, democracy as it symbolized the birth of a Nation.

Yes the new Nation did have slave labor…as had the colonies prior,
as had the new land when the Spanish, the Dutch and the British had brought with
them slaves who had been in the Carribean and South America working the sugar plantations.

Slavery was not a new problem to a new Nation.
Nor was it a problem created by the new Nation.

It had been a form of “free labor” used by other Nations long before there were 13 colonies
and even before there had been a new land.

And the Quakers were actually one of the first religious groups to denounce the ownership of slaves
and vocally oppose the practice of slavery.

Betsy Ross, the Continental Congress, and the new flag had nothing to do with racism
or slavery…end of sentence.

It would take many more years of growing pains, struggle and eventually a
near-catastrophic internal conflict for this united Nation to come to terms
with what had long been part and parcel of the more negative part of her history.

But to look through the lenses of the 21st century back to a nation’s inception in the 18th century
and to cast condescending judgment is not only lacking in prudence and wisdom,
it is absolutely wrong.

Hindsight does that, doesn’t it?
It grants us the holier than thou ability to tell the past of its grievous mistakes.
But isn’t that how we learn??…from the mistakes of the past???

One day a future will look back on us and tell of our mistakes…
And one of those glaring mistakes will be that we do not know, nor care to
know the truth of our own history.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
George Santayana

Perhaps we might then say that a nation that does not know its past,
is doomed to repeat it…

It would, therefore, behoove our up and coming progressive-leaning millennial angst-ridden
generation to do a bit of studying before they continue their attempt at rewriting
our own history.

May God have mercy on us.

http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/flagaffs.html

and then came Boris

“It is the Soviet Union that runs against the tide of history….
[It is] the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism
on the ash heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom
and muzzle the self-expression of the people.”

1982 (in a speech to Britain’s Parliament)

I know that you know that it appears as if I’m always comparing life here in the
US to life in the UK…
And there is a reason for that…and no it’s not simply the fact that I appear to an Anglophile…
I’ve not been to England in over 25 years, so rest assured, there’s no obsession there…
not exactly.

Despite the fact that my DNA doesn’t lie and I just happen to be more ‘British’
then the Queen…my constant comparison’s reach much further than mere DNA.

I think it’s because A. I love our Nation’s history of conception.
From our founding to even much further back…all the way back to the inception of
the Anglo Saxon people.

And B. I feel very strongly about our two nations being kindred spirits…
still joined at the hip despite that whole tea party incident and revolution.

Maybe its because I see us both as mirrored bastions of democracy…
of which probably comes from what I know about our relationship during World War II,
A working tandem of the two chief chess-masters of FDR and Churchill—
all the way to the dismantling of an iron curtain with the power duo of
Reagan and Thatcher.

And so when I read the latest post from our other favorite across the pond cleric,
the Scottish pastor David Roberston, I couldn’t help but see a near-identical situation.

If you’ve kept up with any recent snippet of world news as of late,
then you obviously know that British Prime Minister Teresa May is out and
Boris Johnson is now in.

Brexit is the UK elephant in the room.

It has caused angst and upheaval across the nation,
leaving both friends and family members standing on opposite sides of the fence.
Much like our own support or hatred for our own President.
Throw in immigration and we are eaten up with angst.

And yes, Boris Johnson appears to be the UK’s version of our President Donald Trump.
There even seems to be a bit of a look a like comparison but I think its the hair.

Each man is a little flamboyant, unapologetic and not the most chaste of individuals.
Boris is hated by many and obviously wanted by many more.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

And as many of us here were left wondering, or fretting, over Trump’s election,
wondering if he was to be the man for the job at hand…the man God allowed to fill the bill,
many of our British kith and kin are left wondering the same about Boris Johnson.

Boris Johnson is no Winston Churchill and Teresa May was no Margaret Thatcher.
And of course, Trump is no Ronald Reagan.
But Johnson is the man, just as Trump is the man, who God has allowed to fill a void.
For reasons that currently elude our understanding.

US Christians have wrestled with their feelings for Trump now for over two years…
just as UK Christian are now left to wrestle with their own feelings regarding Johnson–
throw in Brexit and they are most likely mentally and emotionally exhausted.

We can certainly emphasize.

David lays out his thoughts about how a Christian is to go about their life
under Boris Johnson in a nice succinct plan.
Something I think Christians here in the US could utilize when considering life
with our own President.

I personally believe Trump is the man in place for a reason.
As perhaps Johnson is for the UK.

I also support our President because I have respect for the office.
Most of our progressive liberals have long forgotten the notion of respect.

And so David offers a post regarding a UK Christian’s response to their
new Prime Minister with the notion of respect being one of the key factors…

I think it would behoove us here in the US to consider the same outline when considering
our feeling for own President…and perhaps we should begin with respect…

Respect – He is God’s servant sent to do us good.
We are to respect and to submit to those in authority over us.
Not because of their character or their godliness – but because of their office.
At the end of the day Boris has a tremendous responsibility for which he will one day
have to give account to God.
Ultimately he is God’s servant – not the peoples.
We must respect him as such.
Respect does not mean that we agree with him, or that we like him,
or that we will do all that he says – especially when he goes against the law of God.
But it does mean that we honour him and seek to help.

Here is the link for the full post and list:

Boris – What should the Christian Response Be?

And remember, David has retired from St Peter’s in Dundee and is now going to our
favorite down under cleric 😉

freedom of speech or cultural marxism part II…hummm

“The shape of sadness is universal:
Christ represents it in his affliction and shouldering of the world’s sin and pain…
Each of your pains, however seemingly inconsequential to others, is part of a
fractal pattern with Christ’s pain; you suffer in him, he suffers in you and with you.
In prayer, your pains are raised from your shoulders.
They rise to God and say: The world needs to be closer to you.”

Sally Read
from Annunciation


(blossoming St John’s Wort / Julie Cook / 2019)

Time has certainly been getting away from me as of late…
for a million and one crazy reasons…

All good reasons mind you, of which I will share at a later date…
But blessedly I actually found a few spare moments, day before yesterday,
in order to read that day’s latest from one of our two favorites…
those two across the pond clerics.
The latest post–
“In Defence of Freedom of Speech”

Freedom of speech seems to be so much the talk these days does it not…

However, I fear that the current notion of freedom of speech is a far cry from, dare we say,
from what was meant in our Constitution or by our founding fathers.
(ode to those white men of old…)

Yet sadly, or perhaps blessedly, we know that misery loves company…
And so it should come as no surprise to those of us here in the US that we are not the
only ones who are contending with the idea of freedom of speech…

As freedom of speech is pretty much at the cornerstone foundation for all democracies.

And therefore are we surprised that the United Kingdom is also wrestling with
the new cultural definition of ‘freedom of speech?’

So much so that it has warranted a direct response from our favorite
rouge Anglican Bishop.

Our dear bishop begins his post by recounting that two individuals who he has often
greatly enjoyed listening to over the years, whether he agreed with their views or not,
have recently been banned from speaking on college campuses in the UK.

One being the renowned feminist Germaine Greer.

Banned not because she is a feminist mind you, but banned because she has differing views
regarding transsexuality then what our culture’s current universities and colleges now hold
as gospel.

And because Ms. Greer does not condone this particular lifestyle, she is now persona non grata
on the progressive liberal campuses of higher learning.
It seems that many of the ardent founders of ‘feminism’ argue that such lifestyle choices
are actually detrimental to the feminist movement, yet try telling the new culture police
that such thinking is actually truthful.

So, I suppose we shouldn’t be shocked that the 21st-century culture police are speaking from
both sides of their mouths…
They chant ‘freedom of speech’ as long as your speech or mine matches their speech.
If not…menaing if our speech is indeed different from their own,
then our “freedom” is revoked.

Because you see, to them, these culture gods of the 21st centruy, there is but one freedom of speech
and that is their speech and their speech alone.

The good bishop asks “so what is happening in our society that free speech
is being closed down.
We need to know who the enemy of free speech is.”

Well, what they are trying to do is to create a society that is a far cry from what our nation,
or any democracy for that matter was founded upon.

Bishop Ashenden notes “I hate the fact that Charlie Hebdo published ghastly cartoons of
the Virgin Mary on their cover. But no Christian threatened to murder them to silence them.

Because Christians are dedicated to an idea of ‘God’ that is rooted in the quest for truth.

If you believe that ultimate reality grows out of Truth
(it grows out of Love as well, of course) you can never afford to stifle speech.

Instead you have to weigh and sift it and let it tell you what its true character is.
It’s a great regret that there have been times when Christians, having gained power,
lost their confidence in the truth and shut others up.
But it usually happened when the Church got muddled up with the state.”

And so the good bishop asks again,
“so who are the enemies today of free speech, and what are they trying to do?”

And we only have to look back to Karl Marx to begin to understand our answers…

“It is no longer about the haves and the have-nots;
it’s about the oppressors and the oppressed.
It’s about making them ‘equal’.
It’s all about the redistribution of power.
So to do that you have to take power away from those who have it.
Generally this is mainly white men.

Whenever you hear someone railing against white men, you know the cultural
Marxist has broken cover.

But the oppressor can change in the blink of an eye –
because power relations are all relative.”

Please find the good bishop’s full post, his most insightful observation about a dear commodity
that we now find in jeopardy, here:

In defence of Freedom of Speech.                                           Gavin Ashenden 

‘let the chips fall where they may, I’m at peace with my decision”

“If we do not risk anything for God we will never do anything great for Him.”
St. Louis De Montfort


(Susan Collins, Senator from Maine, during the Senate vote on Brett Kavanaugh
for Supreme Court Justice 2018)

I must confess that by the time Senator Susan Collins spoke on the Senate floor
regarding her vote for Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court Justice nominee,
I wasn’t watching.

I was blessedly out of the country.

My cousin had even text me, “I’m sorry you are not here…missing all of this!!
She was being totally serious as she takes the things that happen in our Nation
very seriously.

My response was simple, “I am glad I am out of the country”

I also told her that despite not being physically present in the US, I was nonetheless
seeing and hearing plenty in the way of the fiasco back home.

If you’ve ever traveled outside of the country, your English speaking channels are
limited to CNN International and the BBC International.
Two news outlets not known for their conservative take on world happenings.

I also confess I was not up to speed on Senator Susan Collins.
I just knew she was a senator from Maine and that I like Maine.

I’ve about had my bate of politics and politicians in our country.
I’ve had my bate of swamps.
I’ve had my bate of elections.
I’ve had my bate of the caustic rhetoric, of angry hate-filled demonstrations,
my bate of the endless sea of obstructionists, liberals, progressives, feminists, atheists,
Satanists, Communists, Socialists, Antifa folks, Left-wingers, Right-wingers,
Klan members,Supremacists, Militants, and anyone else causing trouble while rattling my chains.

However, I did very much want to hear the latest interview with Susan Collins.
She was to do a sit-down interview with journalist Martha Maccallum as she would recall
the lead-up, as well as the aftermath, of her vote and her address to the Senate…
an address that has been hailed as one of the greatest speeches on the Senate floor.

She cast the pivotal vote following the circus-like hearings that lead up to the vote
which would be sending Brett Kavanaugh to the highest bench in the land or would either
send him back home to private life.

And following the vile display of our lowest lows, I’m not
so certain I wouldn’t have simply wanted to just go find an island someplace far away from
the madness and spend my remaining days mindlessly fishing…

Susan Collins was viciously and verbally threatened prior to the vote as well as after
the vote.
Her family was viciously threatened.
Her very life was threatened.

I’m sorry, but where did we say we lived?

Is this America???
Home of the Brave, land of the free and thriving with the lovers of all things Democracy?

Or are we living in some remote tribal area of the globe rife with ambushes
and battles to the death?

It’s just that after all of this latest assinine behavior by our Nation regarding
the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, I couldn’t quite tell…again, I’m just saying.

Susan Collins shared with Martha MacCallum that an envelope containing white powder
was mailed to her home in Maine with a note that said “Anthrax, HA HA”
Another arrived supposedly containing ricin.

Her husband and dog had to be immediately quarantined while the folks in the bio-hazmat
suits invaded her home.

Martha then ran a few of the voicemails and emails that flooded Senator Collins
office and home.
Crude, vile and foul sums them up rather succinctly.

Again, where are we actually living?
Is this America or rather some alterego Scifi surreal land of all things Orwellian?

She recalled an evening just prior to the vote that she had been working late.
She drove herself home but there was nowhere to park near her DC home so she had
to park about a block away.
It was late and dark.
She stepped out of her car to find a lone man standing on the sidewalk as if he had been
waiting on her.
She began walking and he began following her.

As she approached her house this man quickly moved between her and her door,
getting right up in her face, brandishing a flashlight and
waving it wildly at her face as he verbally attacked and berated her.

She said the only humorous moment of an otherwise frighteningly life or death situation
was when she yelled at him, demanding that he leave her alone…
as she just as quickly thought to ask, “and by the way, what is your name?”
Of which he actually gave to her.
Needless to say, the authorities quickly found him and detained him.

She told Martha that despite these “scary” moments,
these threats and attempts to sway her vote away from the favorable, she was
not going to be intimidated.

I admire her for digging in and for holding her own.
And yet at the same time, I found myself,
as I listened and watched this woman explaining why she voted the way she did and why she did,
feeling very sad listening as her interview continued.

I no longer recognize this place I’ve known and called home for near 60 years.
Who are these people who live now to persecute those who they disagree with?
I just don’t get it…it is absolutely tragically surreal.

Senator Collins explained that she had listened to the days of hearings, the witnesses,
the recounting of events 40 years prior…
she, in turn, weighed the words, the reactions, the records, and the lives now lived as adults…
and concluded she could and would vote in favor of sending Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

The funny thing in all of this is that Susan Collins is, well, obviously a woman.

She is a smart woman.
A woman who didn’t marry until late in life.
An independent woman.
She is neither naive nor gullible.

Her former college, St Lawrence University, a school that she loved attending and a school
she has carried a deep affinity for throughout her adult life has recently rescinded two
honorary degrees it bestowed on her in the wake of her being that same very independent
woman that they once loved and embraced—
so since they no longer find her independence something they care for, as she is independently
voting with a mindset they helped to instill in her, yet now runs counter to their own thinking
…sadly so….they find that they can no longer claim her as a former student.

Toward the end of the interview, Martha asked Senator Collins if she could live with the
idea that in 2020 she could actually lose her seat due to this single vote.
In essence ending her long political career, of which could come to a screeching halt
all because of a single vote…

Without batting an eye, Senator Collins said “yes, let the chips fall where they may,
I’m at peace with my decision.”

Now here is a woman who knows her mind.
Isn’t that what our society keeps clamoring about??
Empowered women?
And yet we seem to have a woman who is taking her stand and still, there is no
pleasing of the masses…

Here is a link to the full interview…

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/susan-collins-reveals-critics-personal-attacks-over-kavanaugh-vote

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers,
intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—–
for kings and all those in authority,
that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

1 Timothy 2:1-2

Utopia???

“A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even
glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing.
And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail.
Progress is the realisation of Utopias.”

Oscar Wilde


(a view of a portion of “the cove” Cades Cove, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park /
Julie Cook/ 2018—a little piece of utopia)

Many many years ago when I was but a wee lass in high school, our cheerleaders
would lead the crowds gathered in the stadium, ready for those fall Friday night
gridiron showdowns, with a rousing rendition of
“We’ve got spirit, yes we do, we’ve got spirit, how ’bout you!?”

Back and forth we’d chant…the cheerleaders and the fans…

So now tell me…
why after all these many years later do I hear that same chant resonating in my head,
albeit with a slightly different variation of wording??!!

…”we’ve got trouble, yes we do, we’ve got trouble, how ’bout you?”

I think it’s because this same story keeps popping up over and over again leaving me
nothing but unsettled.

It’s the story about the 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasi-Cortez Socialist Democrat who is
pretty much set to win the New York Congressional seat she’s chomping at the bit over,
come November.

Being 28 years old, she is two years younger than my son…and she is the same age as many
of my former students.
Those who are more idealistic while remaining totally unrealistic.

And I have no problems stating the fact that she, along with most of her millennial cohorts,
all have some unreal and lofty sorts of Utopian notions as to how life should be…
and yet they have no idea of how a Utopian society is to manage itself.

Because in part…there is no such thing nor will there ever be such.

This lack of reality is due in part because they have no real clue as to how many
past societies have attempted such…with each one failing miserably.

Many with tragic results.

Think Hitler, think Lenin, think any sort of cult leader…

All in part due to the fact that this unrealistic desired ideal has no true concept of
management nor of how history will, not if but will, repeat itself.

Physics teaches that any void left open will be filled.
It matters not how it is filled, but the fact is that it will be filled none the less.

Saying all of those wonderful pie in the sky happy words…words spoken because the one
speaking believes folks want to hear such…

Yet has anyone informed these kids that if it sounds too good to be true…
99.9% it is not and will not be true.

People are people and each person, like it or not, has free will—
they…meaning you, me, them and us all have the will to do such and to play along…
or…
we have the choice not to do such and not to play along…
the will to actually opt out of this whole cooperation notion of kumbaya living.

Reading a recent article by the freelance writer Lauren DeBellis Appell, I was alarmingly
reminded of how this democracy of ours is really teetering on a precipice.

Ms. Appell writes:
“The 28-year-old candidate acts like she’s the millennial version of Oprah,
except there’s one major distinction.
All the “free” stuff she’s giving away has to be paid for by someone–
and in this case it’s not her.
It’s you–the American taxpayer.”

And that’s the thing…so many young up and coming politicians, along with, sadly,
some of their senior mentor members, are touting some really grandiose ideas.
It’s a marvelously bright new sort of futuristic day waiting for you, me and everyone…
yet the problem is that money does not grow on trees, there is no fairy godmother,
and there are no magic hocus pocus words to zap all of these dreamy thoughts into a living,
functioning reality.

Pretty happy words remain empty when there remains no meat on the bone.
There must be the necessary finances and concrete plans to back up these futuristic
Utopian visions.

Burdens such that cannot be borne on the shoulders of the working middle class.

Hopefulness will always be a must, but reality is always the bottom line of necessity…

It is the requirement needed in order for any society to function successfully…
Idealistic dreamy sorts of ramblings offered by those seeking leadership roles will remain
merely dreamy notions for as long as these hoped-for leaders have no concept as to how
things work, how things are paid for, how monies are raised and secured and how people
are governed.
People will not remain mindless lemmings for long.

History teachers us such.
Thus it is mandatory that these young hopefull wannabes study the history of past nations,
governments and leaderships…

For a pig wearing lipstick is still just a pig.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/08/25/ocasio-cortezs-socialist-fairytale-could-destroy-american-dream.html

Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances
contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.

Romans 16:17

there is a crudeness about us…while the devolution is busy at work

The ladder of success in Hollywood is usually a press agent,
actor, director, producer, leading man;
and you are a star if you sleep with each of them in that order.
Crude, but true.

Hedy Lamarr


(Hedy Lamar staring in Tortila Flats 1942)

1930’s film star actress Hedy Lamarr seems to state the obvious in today’s quote…
yet most of Hollywood has opted to hide this dirty little, yet widely and openly known,
secret for decades.
However, suddenly as if out of nowhere, Hollywood is now in an uproar and aghast
over such open knowledge…think Harvey Weinstein.

Everyone knew.
Everyone played along.
Most everyone either participated or turned a blind eye…
Until one day…not everyone wanted to keep playing.

Ms Lamarr was born in Austria in 1914 to Jewish parents.
At the youthful age of 18, she stared in an Austrian film that became famous for its controversy.
The film, Ecstacy, was way before its time as it was complete with nudity and
and for an added bonus provided an up close orgasm for good effect.

Lamarr became famous for this staring role although the film was rejected by
Feminist groups here in the United States while being hailed as extremely artistic
throughout Europe.

My how times have changed.

During that same time, the young Hedy married a much older and wealthy Austrian
ammunition manufacturer.
He was very controlling of his young wife, treating her more like a treasured doll.
He despised the racy film and actually forbade her from ever acting again.
Lamarr’s life now mirrored the very plot of that film.

Life imitating art, or so it seemed.

No longer able to feel as if she could breathe, Hedy eventually fled to Paris and
later London where she met Louis B. Mayer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer fame,
who hired her for the American film industry.

Married 6 times, Ms. Lamar was more than just a 1930’s / 1940’s bombshell actress.
It seems that Ms. Lamar had a brain.
A rather highly functioning brain yet one that lacked formal training.

Although Lamarr had no formal training and was primarily self-taught,
she worked in her spare time on various hobbies and inventions,
which included an improved traffic stoplight and a tablet that would dissolve in water
to create a carbonated drink. The beverage was unsuccessful;
Lamarr herself said it tasted like Alka-Seltzer.
An unrelated effort resulted in Fizzies, which became a cultural icon of the 1950s-60s.

Among the few who knew of Lamarr’s inventiveness was aviation tycoon Howard Hughes.
Lamarr discussed her relationship with Hughes during an interview,
saying that while they dated, he actively supported her “tinkering” hobbies.
He put his team of science engineers at her disposal,
saying they would do or make anything she asked for.

During World War II, Lamarr learned that radio-controlled torpedoes,
an emerging technology in naval war, could easily be jammed and set off course.
She thought of creating a frequency-hopping signal that could not be tracked or jammed.
She contacted her friend, composer and pianist George Antheil,
to help her develop a device for doing that,
and he succeeded by synchronizing a miniaturized player-piano mechanism with radio signals.
They drafted designs for the frequency-hopping system, which they patented.

Although the US Navy did not adopt the technology until the 1960s,
the principles of their work are arguably incorporated into Bluetooth technology,
and are similar to methods used in legacy versions of CDMA and Wi-Fi.
This work led to their induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

(Wikipedia)

Both smart and inventive, Ms. Lamar remained in the film industry for most of her adult
life until her career, along with her age, began to wane in the late 1950’s and early 60’s.

Sadly, in her older age, she was caught shoplifting twice.
It seems that Lamarr had fallen on dire financial straits.

Eventually, she shut herself away from any sort of public life or visible contact with
the outside world..including her own two children.
She died in 2000 in Florida at the age of 85.

And so whereas Ms. Lamar’s words continue to reach out to us from a distant past,
her words manage to shine a forgotten light on a continuing dark entertainment industry…
an industry our society and culture oddly continue to worship and adore.

We allow these paid performers to do and say things we would never accept from
anyone else.

Take for example the actor Robert De Niro….

The other day, my son and I had each read the latest brouhaha following that latest
gathering of all things elitist, Hollywood and entertainment.

It was the story of actor Robert De Niro’s expletive-laced tantrum while appearing on stage
at the Tony awards.

It seems as if he felt most compelled to do more than his part that evening which was to
simply introduce singer Bruce Springsteen.

Rather De Niro got on stage, and once to the mic, launched a foul-mouthed tirade regarding
the President of the United States.

“F” this and “F” that…he went on and on regarding President Trump.

Lord knows there have been plenty of presidents I’ve never cared for, but due to the fact that
I still hold respect for the office, not to mention respect for our country, I would never have
behaved as poorly as Mr. De Niro.

Never to publicly and verbally bash any one of our presidents, be they good or be they bad…
and since we seem to live in a democracy, a place where folks actually get to vote for
the person of their choice, I’ve had to learn to just grin and bear it through those
years that it was obviously not my choice.

It’s what we do in a democracy.
We vote.
And then we in turn live with the results…be they good or be they bad.

Then as the next election rolls around,
we get out when the time is right and rally toward the hoped for.

We call such actions living with…restraint, decorum, and civility.
Three things Mr. De Niro obviously is lacking.

The same article in our morning’s reading next moved on the story regarding talk show
host Bill Maher and his own public proclamation that the best we can hope for is a recession.

Huh?

It seems that in Mr. Mayers skewed thought process a recession is just what the country
needs to get rid of the President.

A recession, really???

The unemployment rate is at the lowest it’s been in years–a 48 year low actually.
It is the best rate for both Blacks and Hispanics that it’s been in decades…if ever.
The economy is equally making great strides as it continues to grow as small businesses
are reporting a feeling of stability and even improvement.

And yet we’ve got an overpaid celebrity whining that we need a recession as that is the only
way we will be able to rid ourselves of the current sitting president.

A president who has negatively impacted our growth and stability how???

“Sure,” Maher says “because I think one way you get rid of Trump is a crashing economy.
So please, bring on the recession,” he said.
“Sorry if that hurts people, but it’s either root for a recession or you lose your democracy.”

Oh really?

Perhaps that’s easy for a multimillionaire elitest entertainer to say.
A recession would not hurt Mr. Maher nor Mr. De Niro not as it would hurt most of
middle to lower income America.

My 30-year-old son turns to me after having read all of this craziness and asks
“why would anyone want something bad to happen to this Country??”

And I’m left scratching my head because I’m lost for any sane answer.

Why shoot yourself in the foot?
Just like draft dodgers literally did…as a last resort from being drafted.

They were willing to risk a limb to save their life,
Maher is willing to risk others lives to cut what he considers
to be a bad limb.

The devolution of our society is in full swing.

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, 30 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 1:21-32