I witnessed a crime…

Crime is the price society pays for abandoning character.
James Q. Wilson


(courtesy Publix produce images)

First, let me preface this tale with a small disclaimer…I hate going to the grocery store
on a Saturday.

This tale, however, begins because of my having been gone most of last week,
and half the week prior, and thus my pantry was in great need of re-stocking.

Despite feeling that I should don a surgical mask due to my grandmother crud,
I went on, mask free, lest I send coronavirus shock waves through our small city.

I headed off, much to my chagrin, to my local grocery store of choice.

As I turned onto the drive leading to the parking lot, I noticed a group of about 7
teenage girls. They were walking along the sidewalk and I thought they might veer off,
crossing over in front of me–
crossing over to our city’s greenbelt walking-path near the grocery store
which leads back to our high school—

But no, they continued on the sidewalk up towards the grocery store.

This was not exactly an area of town to be out strolling…
because it is congested and a high traffic area.
Plus it was a cold blustery day.

I continued on my way to the parking lot, figuring the girls were probably walking to the
nearby McDonald’s.

The always enduring high school teacher, who lives forever deep within me,
always wonders when I see a flock of kids, out and about, simply walking where
kids would not normally be walking.
It’s something akin to a teacher’s eyes in the back of his/ her head.
Always watching, always knowing.

I parked, gathered my bags and made my way inside, grabbing a cart.

I started toward the produce section when I saw the same set of teens walking
rather quickly towards me, out from the store towards the door.

“Boy, that was fast,” I thought.
In and out they were as in I had no idea they had even been heading to the grocery store.

They had no bags, no cart, no nothing.

Yet as they rapidly passed by me and the fruit section,
the gal on the tail end of the entourage reached out and grabbed a peach.
She held it tight in a clenched fist while looking back to see if she had been seen.

And yes, she had…she had been seen.

I had seen and she saw that I had seen.

So I did the only thing I thought to do without causing some sort of ruckus—
I simply gave her the death stare of any high school teacher who had just
spied poor behavior.

Part of me wanted to loudly holler out for the young woman to put the fruit back
as I wondered what else had been picked up as they were walking with quite the
quickstep to the exit.

So here are the obvious facts to this little incident…
I am a 60-year-old white woman.
The group of 7 girls consisted of black teens.

Now those two little facts alone should just be obvious observations…
yet they are enough for most of today’s hypersensitive politically correct,
progressive liberal lot to accuse me of racism, as well as something
I’ve just learned about today, “white fragility.”

Yet the only facts are:
I am white and old.
They were black and young.

And from those two obvious facts…our culture will race to pull all sorts of accusations
out of the air.

I later told a friend about what I had seen at the grocery store and her response
was that it was sad they wanted something healthy and probably didn’t have any fresh
food at home.

The rolling of my eyes set in.

Well, I can certainly tell you that the nicked pinched peach was an afterthought while
our culprit was simply passing by an open bin. There was no focused intent on taking a
piece of fruit.
It was just sitting there and she was passing by and simply slipped a hand down to
grab one as in, “oh, let me grab that as I make my way out the door’.

And might I add that any peach sitting out this time of year would be an imported
rock-hard poor excuse for a fruit…not even palatable.

My response to my friend was not to make some sort of liberal excuse for stealing.
Because that was what it was…stealing. It would be the sort of excuse we’d hear
from our progressive left…an excuse for doing wrong.

So okay…to be fair…

I suppose we all recall the days of our own youth…
days of reckless abandon when we too nicked and pocketed something seemingly harmless
like a piece of fruit, a yard ornament, a street sign, a glass from a restaruant…etc.

Yet sadly today, what we now readily give a pass to is, none the less, blatant stealing.

It is always hoped that we will each grow up and mature…learning, knowing and realizing
right from wrong.
Right from wrong as well as learning that the notion of taking what is not ours
is one of those top 10 commandments—as in “DO NOT…”

It is hoped that we grow to have remorse for our past wrongs while we work toward
living a life that is better than…a life of positive morality.
A life of setting wrongs right.

Yet unfortunately, the idea of what was once perceived as wrong is now
perfectly ok…and we make excuses as to why it is now right rather
than wrong.

We have made excuses our demigods…excuses for every ill that befalls
our culture.

We could once justify wrongs as right in those life and death situations.
Situations of war, or of need vs want, or of the necessity of life vs death…

Yet did that make them any more right than wrong?

Probably not…but the taking of some bread or milk lest a child starve
was deemed justifiable…the assassination attempt of a tyrant like Hitler
was justifiable to the pacifist Christian pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer because
the taking of the one life would spare the hundreds of thousands he was annihilating.

However, we now have created the notion of excusing and justifying behavior that is
obviously wrong for simply every day lives…and this notion has been long percolating.
We’ve made an art of turning wrongs into rights and defending such to the hilt.

Our culture no longer desires to call a wrong, wrong.
Rather we make excuses.
We make sad pathetic excuses for needs not being met.

It is a want versus need mentality.

There are excuses for poverty.
Excuses for inabilities.
Excuses for limitations.
Excuses over race.

Had the girls not been racing toward the exit, I could have offered to buy her the fruit.

But then we’d both have been acknowledging what she had done…
and the reality is, she didn’t want acknowledging.

So this little incident brought my thoughts back to an article I had just read earlier
in the day on The Federalist.

How ‘White Fragility’ Theory Turns Classrooms Into Race-Charged Power Struggles
White fragility theory is counterproductive and divisive.
White teachers should not be discounted, bullied, or shut down during anti-bias trainings in schools.

An article that, as a former educator, I could readily relate to…
For I saw this indoctrination coming down the pike nearly two decades ago.

The article focused on a recent talk given by academic and author, Dr. Robin DiAngelo
to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education in Atlanta.

She’s written a book and is a bit of a self-proclaimed expert on “White fragility”

Huh?
Who knew, but it seems that white fragility is indeed a thing.

Her book focuses on “why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism.”

The answer, she says, is “white fragility,” defined as “a state in which even a
minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves.”
This “racial stress” is the direct result of “implicit bias,”
which runs so strong in white people that it is a core reason racism persists in America.
This claim is based on a worldview, advanced by an increasingly influential field
called Whiteness Studies, that racism is inseparable from the reign of Whiteness.

What is Whiteness?
It is hard to say, but the basic idea is that all the institutions of society
are “white”—made by white people, ruled by white people,
and kept in place by white people to make sure that white people continue to benefit from “white privilege.”
These institutions are infected by white supremacy,
a result of the long arc of racism in American history.
Whiteness works through implicit bias, which refers to a whole range of unconscious behaviors,
speech, and beliefs that keep white supremacy in place.

Needless to say, I think this sort of thinking is nothing but a bunch of crap.
This sort of mindset leads to only more trouble.
It leads to a deeper misunderstanding.
And even a greater and much wider divide.

But then, I’m white… so…yeah, of course, I would think that.
Or so would say, Dr. DiAngelo.

And therein lies both the rub and the irony.

Let us dare not speak of racism directed toward whites or disdain and vehemence directed
towards Christians or toward pro-life supporters, or towards traditional marriage proponents,
or towards conservatives or towards anything or anyone who embraces traditional values…
especially towards issues of morality…issues of right vs wrong…

Because in this brave new world of which we now created and find ourselves living…
it is a world where wrong is now right and right is most certainly wrong…

There is no true biology.
No boy or girl.
No girl or boy.

There is no God
There is no Savior
There is only the State

We have created an excuse for each and everything…
along with more and more reasons as to why we must dislike and mistrust one another…
We must quiet each and every last one who dares to disagree with the new state’s mindset.

But Believers know that this is Satan’s plan.

To divide and conquer.

We must never forget…the battle may be raging, but the war is already lost.
So let us not be on the wrong side of the winning vs the losing when
it is all finally said and done.
And that will require a constant need to shout the Truth while the
chosen ones attempt to silence anyone who dares to utter such a Truth.

Hate, wrongs, mistrust, division, disdain, oppression…lose each and every time.

Here’s the link to the article.

https://thefederalist.com/2020/02/28/how-white-fragility-theory-turns-classrooms-into-race-charged-power-struggles/?utm_source=The+Federalist+List&utm_campaign=01ad0a3f38-RSS_The_Federalist_Daily_Updates_w_Transom&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_cfcb868ceb-01ad0a3f38-84149832

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
James 4:17

dining partner

“Every pious desire, every good thought, every charitable work inspired by the love of Jesus,
contributes to the perfection of the whole body of the faithful.
A person who does nothing more than lovingly pray to God for his brethren,
participates in the great work of saving souls.”

Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich


(the Sheriff with that hair of his, borrowing his sister’s old ride / Julie Cook / 2019)

So this is a picture of my dining partner last night.

Well, actually this is a pre-dining picture…
And no, we are not trying to be gender-neutral people by having him ride around in a pink walker…
he’s simply using his sister’s old walker until Santa brings him his very own boy walker at Christmas.

I like the notion of boys being boys and girls being girls…girls use pink, boys use blue…
but that’s another story for another day.

This is actually the dining picture—as in, I was eating while he was sleeping.


(The Sheriff the perfect dining partner / Julie Cook / 2019)

Here is a picture of who my dining partner is 99.9% of the time—
it is a pre-dining picture as well:


(The Mayor enjoys the kitchen cabinets / Julie Cook / 2019)

I would offer you a dining picture of the Mayor but her mother had to take her outside
while we were waiting for our dinner to arrive as her behavior was not dining acceptable…
Not by us, and I’m certain, not by any neighboring tables.

Think lassoing a bull who is hell-bent on independence but is in dire and immediate need of
help in maneuvering silverware, glassware, drinks with straws and ice along with very hot food
all the while refusing to sit in a booster seat or highchair because no one else in the party
is doing so and therefore the bull, I mean Mayor, demands to sit in a chair or booth
like everyone else and thus the dining experience becomes more of a wrestling match
interspersed with a few shrieks of defiance.

Whew!

This all from a child who is long accustomed to dining out and who has been no bother,
that is, up until the last couple of months of which she has become the independent
nearly impossible handful.

We are a family that believes in removing unruly children from the surrounding
environment as it is terribly unfair to those in near proximity seeking to have
a “nice” evening out.

We did so with our son ages ago and we are doing so with his offspring.

Booths in the back of a dark restaurant or closest to the bar with music blaring
loudly has become good for us.
Both distraction and cover for and from our defiant one.

I suppose I should have taken a picture of the empty booth across from me while the
sleeping Sheriff beside me allowed me to eat unincumbered.
Once the Mayor and her mother returned, I took over with the Mayor,
as the Mayor happily decided that the perfectly cooked hand-cut french fries made for
a delightful spoon for the homemade accompanying ketchup.

This way, the Mayor’s mother did get to eat…but then the Sheriff woke,
needed a bottle, so it was still eating with one hand.

Good food and good drink, gobbled down, one-handedly with a bull sitting,
not to be confused with Sitting Bull, in one’s lap is usually the course
these days.

And so you say, stay home…don’t go out…especially with the Mayor.
And that would make sense.
But sometimes the Mayor’s mother needs to be out in the real world and I want
that for her.
So we hope, pray and go forth.

My motto as a young mother was ‘have baby will travel’…that now-grown baby
is keeping the same motto with his own kids.

And I will say that not all outings are disasters or nerve-wracking as we take
the calm behavior with the bad.

Such is life with a 22-month-old.

And so when it’s just the four of us, the Mayor, the Sheriff, their mom and me—
we’ll out we go…someplace good but still casual enough that the noise level is up.
Yet when Da and DaDa are along—things do tend to go smoother and thus nicer restaurants
may be chosen.

So why all this talk about dining out with unruly ones?

Well I was reminded the other day, when I caught a news clip, of the images of the more
liberal lawmakers out there calling for the minions of liberalism to do what they can
to make life miserable when seeing a member of the opposing party out and about.

As in derail and disrupt and make miserable.

I think it was Maxine Waters who I saw loudly announcing at a rally a few months back,
and this is a paraphrased quote of her rally speech…
“If they (they being Republicans, Conservative lawmakers, and the same
like-minded news folks) are out eating at a restaurant or are out in public doing what
folks out in public do…
go up to that table, or wherever it is they are, make them miserable until they
get up and leave.”

And so I was pondering that very notion the other night while I was eating
with my small sleeping partner and the Mayor was out strolling with her mom,
calming down—
that we, as a family, go out of our way to ensure that those around us,
no matter their political leanings or life leanings are not disturbed in any sort of way.
They are paying good money hoping to have a nice evening out amongst themselves,
the last thing they want is a screaming baby or toddler interrupting their cherished time.

It matters not that their life’s choices, thoughts and or beliefs differ from mine…
what matters is that they are people who deserve nothing more nor nothing less than
me and my family.

Maxine Waters could be sitting next to us and if our kids started acting up,
out they’d go.

So maybe that’s the difference.

Maybe that’s the difference that lies at the center of the divide of this nation.

We believe that everyone deserves our courtesy and kindness…matters not who they are
or what they have or don’t have, believe or don’t believe.

And so perhaps it’s the whole ‘doing unto others as we would want done unto us’
mentality that is at the core of all of this…

As we sit at the waning of one year and the soon to be start of a new year…
maybe the idea of both courtesy and kindness could begin to make a healing difference
helping to mend some of this divide of ours…

Stop and think about those others around you…
you would certainly want them to treat you with kindness…
so treat them as you would want to be treated…with courtsey and kindness…no matter who
your are or who they are.

“Jesus has many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few cross-bearers.
Many desire His consolation, but few His tribulation.
Many will sit down with Him at table, but few will share His fast.
All desire to rejoice with Him, but few will suffer for Him.
Many will follow Him to the breaking of the bread,
but few will drink the bitter cup of His Passion.
Many revere His miracles, but few follow the shame of His cross.
Many love Jesus when all goes well with them, and praise Him when He does them a favor;
but if Jesus conceals Himself and leaves them for a little while,
they fall to complaining or become depressed.
They who love Jesus purely for Himself and not for their own sake bless Him
in all trouble and anguish as well as in time of consolation.
Even if He never sent them consolation, they would still praise Him and give thanks.
Oh how powerful is the pure love of Jesus, when not mixed with self-interest or self-love!”

Thomas à Kempis, p. 88-89
An Excerpt From
Imitation of Christ

pardon the small disruption in service

No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one.
Elbert Hubbard (1859-1915)


( a little seaweed / Julie Cook / Rosemary Beach, FL / 2019)

Apologies abound for the slight disruption recently in blogging…
But our family packed up two cars late last week and headed southward
toward the emerald waters and those sugar-white sands of Florida’s northern Gulf coast.

But more about all of that later…

So yes, a family vacation.

And so what do we know about vacations?
What do we know vacations to be?

In part, a vacation is intended for those who opt to head off to parts known or unknown,
in order to unplug, to unwind, to relax and perhaps actually reconnect with those
closest to the heart.

Our own little personal family’s jaunt included two under two,
so there wasn’t a whole lot of relaxing…
however there was a delightful shift in focus.

We were together.

And we were isolated from the rest of the world…or so it seemed.

The television, while seldomly turned on, was never turned to the news.

Computers were not turned on, let alone even touched.

Phones were used to take pictures not to check emails or alerts.

There was a much-welcomed 5 days of sheltered isolation.
We were simply left savoring the magic that happens between children and the seashore.
Nothing more, nothing less.

Yet yesterday, as we reluctantly and sadly loaded the cars in order to head back
to our real worlds, we were reminded in very quiet, yet very powerful ways,
that news had happened in our absence.

In small out of the way towns to tiny outpost post offices, as we journeyed northward,
flags were all flying at half-mast.

A US flag at half-mast is a very visceral and sobering gut check.
It reminds us that we are indeed a united Nation…no more so than in our
collective sorrow.

The half-mast flag is a significant sign of unification for a nation that has smugly
forgotten the very fact that it is united rather than divided.

It seems that there were more mass shootings taking place almost simultaneously around
the country.

31 lives lost
while many more hang in the balance from their sustained wounds.

And once again, the people cry out to their government, “What will you now do?!”

And it is in that cry that I am once again perplexed…

The people cry out to their government, their legislators, their president…
“what will you do to stop all of this???”

This oh-so divided Nation that tends to draw within herself when her flags are lowered,
now demands its government do something to stop the madness.

The evil madness of mass murders.

The real help, however, the real answers, will not be found in the voices of our
presidential pundits or of our local or national legislators…or even
in the words of our much-maligned president…

No…the answers will not be found in what man can do for man…
simply because man is too busy killing man…

The answer is simple really and is found in the tiny fact that we are a nation
that has abandoned our God.

There will be those, many in number, who will argue that God matters not when
a madman takes a gun…

And yet the evil remains does it not?

And so, therefore, where lies our hope, our help, our solutions, our redemption,
our salvation…?

In our government?
In our leaders?
In the words of man?

I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—
a people who continually provoke me to my very face,

Isaiah 65:1-3

new left, not so new-raison d’etre

“But society cannot be indiscriminate where the pacification of existence,
where freedom and happiness themselves are at stake: here, certain things cannot be said,
certain ideas cannot be expressed, certain policies cannot be proposed,
certain behaviour cannot be permitted without making tolerance an instrument
for the continuation of servitude.”

Herbert Marcuse

As we revisit our friend Melvin Tinker and his book
“That Hideous Strength: How The West Was Lost
The Cancer of Cultural Marxism in the Church, the World and The Gospel of Change”
,
we pick up where we last left off…reviewing some of the writings of the likes of individuals
such as Herbert Marcuse.

Who was Herbert Marcuse you ask?

He was a German-born American philosopher, sociologist, and Political Theorist.

Marcuse was a key figure in the Frankfurt Shcool of Critical thinking.

According to Tinker–
“In 1923 a week-long symposium was organized by Felix Weil in Frankfurt,
Germany in which they laid out a vision for a Marxist think-tank and
research centre.
The original name for the centre was the Institue for Marxism (Institut fur Marxismus),
but a more innocent sounding title was subsequently given,
The Institute for Social Research (Institut fur Sozialforschung).
Since that time the ISR has usually been known simply as the Frankfurt School.”

Besides his time spent in the Frankfurt School, Marcuse also spent time working for the
US government in the Office of Strategic Services which was a precursor to the CIA.

But what is actually more relevant and crucial to us today regarding Marcuse,
as we witness a sinister surge in this new cultural Marxism grabbing hold of
our Western Civilization, is that Marcuse is known as the ‘father of the New Left’.

The New Left…??

Perhaps The New Left is an oxymoron—not new at all.

Have we not been inundated with all things of the New Left ever since the midterms?
Does the new darling of that New Left Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ring a bell?
So perhaps we’re actually discerning that this “new” left isn’t so new after all…

Tinker responds to Marcuse’s opening quote —
Notice all those ‘cannots’?
Who do you think they are applied to?
Mainly people like Christians.
This is a new totalitarian-tolerance while all the time masquerading as a new freedom.
As such the new tolerance must extinguish the old tolerance and those people and
institutions which traditionally expouse it such as the church.
Furthermore, for neo-Marxism to have a raison d’etre
there must be repressed groups which need liberating,
People are required to see themselves as victims of the liberal society of which they are a part.

PC or not PC? That is the question
It is cultural Marxism which lies behind the all-pervading political correctness of our age.
Those of both the political right and left acknowledge this.
Pat Buchanan of the right wrote, ‘Political Correctness is cultural Marxism, a regime to punish dissent
and to stigmatize social heresy as the Inquisition, punished religious heresy. Its trademark is intolerance.’

Similarly from the more liberal publication Newsweek:
PC is, strictly speaking, a totalitarian philosophy …
Politically, PC is Marxist in origin…There are…
some who recognize the tyranny of PC but see it only as a transitional phase,
which will no longer be necessary once the virtues of tolerance are internalized.
Does that sound familiar? Its the dictatorship of the proletariat.

In 1930 Max Horkheimer became the director of the ISR which is when neo-Marxism was
launched in earnest.
Horkheimer was convinced that the major obstacle to the spread of Marxism was traditional
Western culture with its Judeo-Christian heritage.
Here there developed a revisionist neo-Marxist interpretation of Western culture under the rubric,
Critical Theory, the goal of which according to William S. Lind ‘was not truth but praxis,
or revolutionary action: bringing the current society and culture down through unremitting,
destructive criticism.’
Truth, according to this view, was locked into its own particular point in history and so was
historically relative (of course that would apply to Critical Theory itself
a fact which was conveniently overlooked).

unremitting destructive criticism…” along with ‘facts that are conveniently overlooked‘.
With the New Left’s biggest obstacle being Western Culture and its Judeo-Christian heritage…??

If you think that none of this is relevant or affects you, your life, your routines, your beliefs…
you best think again.

No, this New Left is really not so new at all—
yet it continues on relentlessly, with a growing fevered pitch,
to desperately turn your world upside down.
To de-establish the established.
To neuter the bedrock of Western Civilization…that being
her Judeo-Christian foundation.

And there is no one who is more giddy about this revved-up assault
then that of our old ancient foe.

Split
Divide
Eliminate
Conquer

You and I will soon have two choices, that is if those two choices aren’t already standing before us…
Stand firm in our faith…
or…
appease and apologize…
and in turn, lose our souls.

First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and
following their own evil desires.
They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?
Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was
formed out of water and by water.
By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.
By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire,
being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years,
and a thousand years are like a day.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.
He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.
The heavens will disappear with a roar;
the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?
You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.
That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth,
the home of righteousness.
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this,
make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation,
just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.
He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters.
His letters contain some things that are hard to understand,
which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this,
be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from
your secure position.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To him be glory both now and forever!
Amen.

2 Peter 3:3-18:1

hospitality while staying the course

“The most deadly poison of our time is indifference.
And this happens although the praise of God should know no limits.
Let us strive, therefore, to praise him to the greatest extent of our powers.”

St. Maximilian Kolbe

“Do not seek to be regarded as somebody,
don’t compare yourself to others in anything.
Leave the world, mount the cross, discard all earthly things,
shake the dust from off your feet.”

St. Barsanuphius


(a tiny ladybug rumaging about the hydranga blosoms / Julie Cook / 2018)

June, albeit already being known as National Icecream month, is quickly becoming
my national babysitting month…
This as I am here and there, acting as said keeper of the wee one, as work schedules and
summer workshops are currently on a collision course.

However, you won’t hear any complaints coming from me…more than happy to oblige…

But this balance of both distance and time, of which are each keeping me overtly busy and
currently stretched thin, is hindering my ability to fully contribute and offer meatier
and tastier posts… as well as forcing my unintended negligence to those day to day interactions
with those of you who are my friends and kind enough to offer your own thoughtful reflections,
feelings and words of wisdom.

And speaking of interactions…

I suppose I’d like to say a word or two regarding some rather interesting interactions
I’ve had with those who have been wandering into cookieland…
wanderings taking place from say, a week or so ago.

I’ve written about this sort of thing before.

As it’s an odd occurrence really.

Let us reflect a moment on the notion of hospitality.

I’m Southern born and raised and those of us who hail from the South are usually known
for our Southern Hospitality.
A graciousness in opening our doors, our homes, our lives our hearts…welcoming and inviting
others to ‘come sit a spell’…inviting others to come rest while we offer a
bit of respite from the pressures of life.

I shared this very notion, just the other day with Tricia, from over on
Freedom Through Empowerment.

I explained to Tricia that years ago I had read a small book that had actually been
written centuries prior.
It was actually more of a manual rather than a book.

The book is known as The Rule of St Benedict and it was written by Benedict of Nursia
in the 1st Century.

Benedict wrote the book as an instructional manual for those who were wishing to follow
in his footsteps…living life as a Christian monk…
an order of Christian monks known as the Benedictine Order.

It was written for those Christians living during the persecution of the Roman Empire…
a time not known for its hospitality toward Christians.

The little book has had amazing staying power as many a Fortune 500 company has their upper
management read the book as a lesson in how to work with others as well as how to treat others.

According to Wikipedia “The spirit of Saint Benedict’s Rule is summed up in the motto
of the Benedictine Confederation: pax (“peace”) and the traditional
ora et labora (“pray and work”).
Compared to other precepts, the Rule provides a moderate path between
individual zeal and formulaic institutionalism;
because of this middle ground it has been widely popular.
Benedict’s concerns were the needs of monks in a community environment:
namely, to establish due order, to foster an understanding of the relational nature
of human beings, and to provide a spiritual father to support and strengthen the
individual’s ascetic effort and the spiritual growth that is required for the fulfillment
of the human vocation, theosis.

However, there was one rule in particular that spoke to me more so than the others…
it is the Rule of Receiving Guests.

All guests who arrive should be received as Christ so that he will say,
“I was a stranger and you took me in” [Mt 25:35].
Show honor to them all, especially to fellow Christians and to wayfarers.
When a guest is announced, let him be met with all charity.
Pray with him, and then associate with one another in peace.
(Do not give anyone the kiss of peace before a prayer has been said, in case of satanic deception.)
Greet guests with all humility,
with the head bowed down or the whole body prostrate on the ground,
adoring Christ in them, as you are also receiving him.
When the guests have been received, let them be accompanied to prayers.
Then let the Abbot, or some he chooses,
sit down with them.
The divine law be read to the guest for his edification,
and then you should show him every kindness.
The Abbot should break his fast in deference to the guest,
unless it is a day of solemn fast,
which cannot be broken.
The other brothers however should keep the fast as usual.
The Abbot should pour the water on the guest’s hands,
and the whole brotherhood should join him in washing the feet of all the guests.
When they have been washed, let them say,
“We have received your mercy, O God, in the midst of your temple” [Ps 48:10].
Let the greatest care be taken, especially when receiving the poor and travelers,
because Christ is received more specially in them.

Chrisitianhistoryinstitute.org

In other words, how to be a gracious host.

Benedict admonished those managing the various monasteries to always be willing to
open their gates and doors to all who would venture to knock…
no matter the time day or night.
He told the brothers to get up in the middle of the night if necessary in order
to warmly welcome both stranger and friend should anyone come knocking with a need.

The brothers were to open their doors, offering food and drink as well as a place of rest to
wayward travelers.

That one “rule” made a strong impression upon me because early in our marriage,
my husband would often call me at the last minute to inform me that he’d received a call
from a “friend” who just happened to be passing through and informed my husband
that he wanted to come for a visit.

Such news would usually leave me grousing as I scrambled to tidy up,
put out fresh linens while rushing to prepare an impromptu meal usually after
I had worked all day.

So much for feeling very gracious.
Rather, I reluctantly confess, that I selfishly felt put out.

Yet over the years, I’ve come to understand that the giving of ourselves,
our time, our attention,
our skills, our food, our home, our possessions are really not so much about “us”,
but rather it’s about something far greater than ourselves…

And so it’s with St Benedict’s Rule in mind that I have faced a bit of a conundrum here
in my little corner of the blog world.

For you see, I tend to write about mostly Chrisitan related content.
Content that I’m pretty passionate about.

Be it my sharing of the insights and observations from two of my favorite clerics
from across the pond to my serious concern over those ancient Middle Eastern Christian
sects that have come under violent attacks by ISIS, to my dismay over
living in what has quickly become known as a post-Christian society to
the unraveling of what we call Western Civilization.

And yes, I am often outspoken as well as passionate about my concerns.

But the thing is, I’m writing a blog…small as it is.
There is no social media tied to this blog.
No Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram, no Pinterest…
Why?
Because I don’t participate in “social” media…only that of a blog.

Therefore my little corner is small and limited, yet passionate none the less.

I’ve always found that I like to learn, share and grow in my own faith…
as I still have so much to learn.
I like to do so by reading and learning from what others teach.
I consider my blog, and those I enjoy reading, an extension of a Chrisitan
Community.

I grow in the Spirit by reading and learning from other Chrisitan Spiritually based
individuals.
I don’t go looking for trouble.
I don’t go trolling.
I don’t care for those who do.
Trolling is a waste of time.
Nothing good comes from such.
Why waste life’s precious time by doing such?
I’ve yet to figure that out.

And at times I do believe that I am a bit of a Christian Apologist…
a defender of the Faith as it were.
God’s Word being God’s Word.
No mincing.
No rewriting.
No twisting.
No changing because we as a people feel the need to change.

Speaking what I sincerely believe to be Truth.
God’s universal Truth.
Speaking His Truth here on this blog.

All here on a blog that is here if you want to read it…
or not.

And that’s the key…or not.

Meaning no one has to come here and read anything I write.
That’s kind of the magic of a blog…you have a choice…
to read or not to read.

In fact, that’s how I do it.
I seek to read those who teach me and fulfill me with that which is edifying….
meaning it is rich in the Word as it offers up a hearty offering of Life in the Spirit.
Offering the positive because why would I want the negative?

Not the hostile.
Not the angry.
Not the hateful.
But rather that which is edifying, uplifting, and even liberating.

So imagine my surprise when I was hit by a barrage of those doing just the opposite.

Professing agnostics and atheists who had come visiting, en masse,
speaking of indoctrination, dinosaurs, lies, falsehoods, contraception, abortion,
young earth creationists, the Bible as fairytale, no Noah, no Moses, no flood, Jews,
science…as the list and comments grew and grew in number.

As cordial as I could be while standing my ground, the sneering, the questioning,
the snideness, the belittling, and the vehemence only escalated or rather more
accurately devolved into a swirling quagmire of running in circles.

Demands of justification, clarification, debate, arguments, proof, and defense
continued not over the course of a few comments but rather such ran on and on for days.

Verbal attacks and the pushing downward into the unending rabbit holes of nothingness…
down into the black abyss of nonsense.

Other’s jumped in, in defense.
Words grew heated and even ugly.
The word was spread by the nonbelieving to rally because the Christians were now
proclaiming.

A real shame.

But I hear that is the plan.
Divide, confuse, conquer.
Or so they say.

My thinking…you don’t like what you’re reading, go find what it is you do like.
Don’t berate.
Don’t harangue.
Don’t belittle.
Don’t be smug.
Don’t be snide.
Don’t be divisive.
Don’t be hateful.
Don’t be crude.
It benefits no one…especially yourself.

But don’t pretend you’re confused and that you don’t understand.
Don’t pretend you truly want explanation and clarification because all you want
is to publicly mock, accuse and berate.
You are sly and cunning…as those are the pages that come from your playbook.

However, my door will remain open to anyone who comes to visit.

The invitation will always be extended to one and all to come…
to come put up one’s feet and to sit a spell.

But come because you want to come…
Come because you want to visit, feast and fellowship.
Come because you want to share, to learn, to grow.
Come because you want to offer to others…
Come because you want to offer more, not less.
Come with peace, not hostility…

Or simply don’t come…

Don’t come but go elsewhere…
Go where you find your fulfillment because obviously, you’re not finding that here.

As St Benedict so wisely instructed, “Do not give anyone the kiss of peace before a prayer
has been said, in case of satanic deception”

So, therefore, may we pray for discernment over deception while we continue to extend the hand of hospitality.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Hebrews 13:2

nothing…

Where you have nothing,
there you should want nothing.

Samuel Beckett

images-1
(image of Sgt. Schultz from the 1960’s sitcom Hogan’s Heroes)

If you’re old enough to remember watching Hogan’s Heroes as a kid, then the irony of dear old Sgt. Schultz’s willingness of denial and dismissal of everything and anything taking place under his watch, and under the scrutiny of his “policing,” should not be lost on you today.

For you and I my friend now live in a land in which the people prefer the likes of a Sgt Schultz… complete with his “look the other way” style and lack of scrutiny or action.
“I know Nothing”
“I hear Nothing”
“I see Nothing…”
As in…
Nothing..
Nada…
Nilch…

A society where the old axiom rings true…that the prisoners are running the jail,
or the inmates are running the asylum—
whichever non politically correct version you prefer.

For in that beloved 1960’s childhood sitcom…the WWII prisoners of war were basically running the prison camp…despite always remaining prisoners.

And maybe, just maybe, we now have life imitating art…or rather, life imitating a sitcom–
which may be most apropos given our current mental state over the troubling times of today….

For you see… our youth have become angry.

As even a good many adults may be eagerly added to that list of angry.

Oh, don’t get me wrong…
we have had bad incidents, sad incidents and incredulous incidents.
Terrible lapses in judgement and over zealous actions, throughout our cities and towns,
where both police and governing leaders have made mistakes and even willfully committed crimes.
For there exists both bad and good.

And it is that very thing that many have forgetten—
For there is both good and bad, Evil and Good

But, as we need to be reminded, there remains, as it is most often overlooked, more good than bad….

Our youth, and many of our adults, have decided that choices and consequences no longer matter.
The lines have blurred so that many of them honestly can no longer discern between right or wrong.
Laws broken are to be argued, fussed, cussed, discussed and blatantly ignored and we will tie the hands of the police and authorities in knots.

Never mind respect…
Respect of…
property,
possessions,
position,
age,
stature…
or simply for authority.

As today’s youth will argue and shout “I give respect if I get respect”
Yet I was always taught that if you were younger or lesser or less experienced, or less knowledgeable, you still had to respect the one who was older, in authority or further along—even if they didn’t exactly deserve it—for that was how it was and in the long run, you were the better because of your ability to yield…it was because our day would eventually come…the day in which we would earn the respect of those behind us…in part because we were then older, wiser and had lived longer or were responsible for those “under” us.

That whole mindset got thrown out with the bath water when the baby went out the window…

Many of our youth have developed that “gangsta” loving mentality which is running rife and found in the music, the clothing, the swagger and the very lifestyle they dearly enjoy. As the detractors cry “that’s just cultural” or “you don’t get it, so just shut up and sit down…”

The musicians, the signers, the entertainers, whose feet they do fall prostrate, reflect that all that glitters is truly golden and that everyone wants what they have… and so what if the lyrics, the lifestyle demeans women, promotes violence, relishes all things sexual and touts the use of drugs and all things illegal….who cares?!
for all things legal is just so utterly passé and yesterday’s news…

I hear talk of all of this being this generation’s stance, the movement of their times…
Yet I watch the old guard scratching their heads as to how its all now playing out.
They, the older movers and shakers of a generation long past, are lamenting out loud that there is no real leadership, no cohesiveness, no central theme or message, no bonding in order to rewrite the current wrongs…

Rather there is giddy and glee found in the anarchy, the mayhem, the looting, the violence, the hooliganism, and the vehement anger so loosely directed helter skelter.
Dare we say, no responsibility…
No patience in which to see things through as they yearn to move now, then quickly move on…

The divide is a growing chasm and we, yes we, have let it cleave and fracture wider and wider apart and into pieces as we have opted to see and say nothing in the name of all things of tolerance.

We have swallowed too hard the pill of not rocking the boat lest we upset anyone…. to such an extent and height that the boat has taken on too much water and we are now in peril of drowning.

We’re screamed at that black lives matter, as though the others do not.

Yet the bottom line to that thought is simple…
All lives matter…
as it should never matter the color…
just the breath and beating of the heart.

As the churches all wonder why their pews are sparse come Sunday morning
while the streets are thick the many nights prior …

Yes, we have troubles my friends, that we cannot deny.
As resentment is the only thing everyone seems to agree on
The resentment of one another is growing and dangerously morphing.
All while we continue seeing, hearing and knowing nothing…
Yet as we are slowly opening our eyes and ears, at this too late an hour—
we are finding that we do not like what we are seeing or hearing…
Yet there is nothing we seem to be able to do to stop it.

All the while the mantra of another time and place is whispered on the wind…
“all we are saying is give peace a chance…”

The distance

“Oh, marvelous omnipotence of love!
But God who creates out of nothing, who almightily takes from nothing and says,
“Be,”
lovingly adjoins,
“Be something even in opposition to me”
Marvelous love, even his omnipotence is under the sway of love!”

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard

RSCN3004
(the details of a hibiscus / Julie Cook / 2016)

“Of the links between God and man, love is the greatest…”

We so often speak of God as in the Heaven, somewhere up and above…
or that He is in the very air we breathe…as in all around us.
Yet we know, all too painfully well, that there is a divide, a division…
For He is there…wherever there may be…
and we are here…as in this present state of living and being.

The fellowship, the union, is in a constant state of flux…
With sin creating the friction that keeps the reunion from being complete.

“It [being love] is as great as the distance to be crossed.”

That fateful day in the garden,
the day that both man and woman chose to disconnect,
severing the binding tie,
a chasm deep and wide was torn across the dimensions of both space and time…

We created the difference and the distance between here and there.
And try as we must, there has been nor will there be a rejoining…not in this realm… now yet.

“So that the love may be as great as possible, the distance is as great as possible.”

That was to be our fate until the day complete Love could no longer bare to be torn from the beloved.
The cost, as great as it was, had to be paid…

“That is why evil can extend to the extreme limit beyond which the very possibly of good disappears. Evil is permitted to touch this limit.
It sometimes seems as though it overpassed it.”

Prisoner of sin…
Shrouded by a penetrating evil,
A sacrifice had to be offered…
Love sought the beloved with all that it had to offer.
A cross bridged the distance
And Love was reunited with its own…

(bold quotes by Simone Weil / excerpted from “The Distance”

But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.

So justice is far from us,
and righteousness does not reach us.
We look for light, but all is darkness;
for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.

“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord.
“My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you,
and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips,
on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—
from this time on and forever,” says the Lord.

Isaiah 59:2 / 9 / 21

the simple difference

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.
Winston Churchill

“Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now.”
― A.W. Tozer

DSCN2061
( a leaf dances along the wind, Cades Cove, TN /The Great Smokey Mountains National Park / Julie Cook / 2015)

Today was busy…
It was a day of cooking, preparing and sharing.
It was a day for an early Thanksgiving celebration… for one part of my husband’s family.
It was a day of reconciliations of sorts.
A day for some healing…between an elderly in-firmed father and two of his three grown children…of whom he had estranged himself from years ago.

Lives have been lived…as grandchildren have grown, as now great-grandchildren have grown as well…as time has, all too casually, been allowed to pass…
when it never should have been allowed pass,
for such a very long time in the first place…

The two now grown children had suffered grievously as children under the destructive blanket of abusive alcoholism–only to have suffered again years later as adults..
Odd how that cycle of hurt and pain seems to simply ebb and flow over the odd passage of time…

A small bridge was crossed today…and that was good.
One can never give back nor take back the words, the abuse, the pain, the embarrassment, the resentment and the grievous loss of place, time and years…and yet one can’t help but see the positive effort now taken in the writing of one small wrong in a sea of many wrongs—as it is the uplifting conscious admission of this one said wrong which is what now really seems to matter most.

And as I feel that a small bridge was indeed crossed today, it obviously will never erase or take away that which was…yet it does however bring a bit of peace to two sorrowfully long grieved hearts…

And as I silently stood back watching these tiny hopeful events unfolding during the course of this very cold yet sunny Sunday, resting gratefully in the idea and concept of thankfulness…my mind has not been far removed from the heavy thoughts of Paris and now of the black cloud which hangs heavy and low over Belgium…

I found myself pondering over the “us verses them” divide…that great crevasse which separates the sane and insane within the whole craziness of ISIS Islamic extremism and that of the rest of us…

…As I have labored racking my brain as to what it is that makes a person, or in this case an army of people, to be filled with such seething disregard for the gift of life and living…I have merely been left mystified and stymied–scratching my head in a totally overwhelming disbelief.

The recent pictures of that young woman flashing a familiar hiphop / rap hand sign, garbed in the hijab, who would later don a suicide vest, detonating herself in hopes of taking out as many law enforcement and civilians as possible, goes beyond the average human being’s comprehension.

What sets us apart from these mostly youthful members of an army of hate and destruction…?

Oh we hear the familiar bleeding excuses of disenfranchisement, of socioeconomic disadvantagement, the lack of schooling, the barriers of culture, language, religion, the inability to assimilate to a new country….etc, etc, etc…
…none of that holds water nor is a true paving stone filling the gulf between right and wrong, hate and love, murder and life….

And then it dawned on me—
As simple and perhaps even childlike that it may sound, the divide rests not in the amble abundance of vehement hate, as there is certainly plenty of that found in both words and deed, but rather the difference, the separation, is found in the lack of the simple ability to find and produce a true sense of heartfelt thankfulness.

It all boils down to the simple matter of hating verses gratitude and thankfulness.
–or rather the ability to offer genuine gratitude and thankfulness.

True genuine thankfulness…not the insane thankfulness to Allah that they all died, or all were blown up…but rather the genuine ability to feel real thankfulness which is found in the simplest of places and gestures.

Thankfulness and gratitude not for the materialism of life…not for the gathering of things, the loftiness of status of position, the greedy accumulation of wealth and prestige…but rather thankfulness for the simple and genuine gratitude of the heart…for the most simplest of pleasures—the pleasure of a smile, the thankfulness found in reunions, the gratitude for the bridging of gaps, the thankfulness for waking each day, the marveling in watching a leaf dance across the wind, the delight felt in a single touch, the joy felt in being alive on a cold but sunny November day…

And whereas all of the experts and the powers that be who continue sifting through and within the dust of the whys and hows…it really comes down to something as small and as tiny and as simple and seemingly insignificant as thankfulness and the ability to offer a true heartfelt “thank you” — which is the actual barrier, the true great divide between the us and the them…

Gratitude and thankfulness to, for and in something greater than ourselves…
to Something that revels in life not death, love not hate, freedom not imprisonment…
The gratitude in knowing that there is indeed a Creator who gives and a Savior who waits for us all in the midst of this ever growing turmoil…..

The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.
Psalm 28:7

The Great Divide

“The messengers of Jesus will be hated to the end of time. They will be blamed for all the division which rend cities and homes. Jesus and his disciples will be condemned on all sides for undermining family life, and for leading the nation astray; they will be called crazy fanatics and disturbers of the peace. The disciples will be sorely tempted to desert their Lord. But the end is also near, and they must hold on and persevere until it comes. Only he will be blessed who remains loyal to Jesus and his word until the end.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

DSCN0520
(a worn weary relief of Jesus adorns an ancient cross, marking an equally ancient grave in the Rock of Chasel Cemetery / County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

On a random day oh so long ago, in a place and time unknown,
a bond of union and love was irreparably broken…

Ripped apart and torn asunder, a Heart was left in pieces.

A chasm so consuming was cut instantly deep and wide.
Two sides now existed where before there had been but one.
Where there was once only Light…darkness now laid claim.

As the separation of man and his Creator was now catastrophically complete.

For He who is without sin may not, can not, gaze upon he who is of sin…
and man had made his sinful choice as Death was now his eternal companion.

With the Heart that knows no sin splayed open…broken and shattered, shame enjoyed the show, as sorrow and contempt swept across the land…
Agony and darkness joined with pain, colliding together as one.

Nothing could, would, ever be the same.

“GO” was the agonizing command, “Be Gone from this sacred place for you are no longer welcome”
There was to be no turning back nor return.
The gate was forcibly slammed as it vanished far from sight.

Now lost and alone for the very first time, the fallen wrapped themselves in shame as a sick and twisted laughter worked to fill the deafening void.
Ridicule and mockery rushed to offer service…
As pride and arrogance proceeded to build a shrine.

As the eons of time drifted along the wind, sorrow, division and separation remained.
Suffering, illness, lies and deceit lay cluttered across the land.
Hatred, self-centeredness, self obsession, mistrust and ignorance perfected their craft,
As man was hopelessly lost unto himself…

And so there was yet another day not so random, yet oh so long ago, that the Heart which once lay broken offered the only solution possible for a seemingly lost state of irrevocable divide…
The only option remaining was for that which was once broken…to break itself again.

And so it was, on a not so random day, equally long ago, chosen particularly by Love itself…there was a cross, then a tomb, and finally a unified Heart…