God is dope

“You are asking for something that would be harmful to your salvation if you had it–
so by not getting what you’ve asked,
you really are getting what you want.”

St. Catherine of Siena

I had the pleasure of attending a corporate function yesterday at a large Atlanta corporation.
It was a great family affair.

I was very surprised when I heard a fellow over a loudspeaker addressing the large
crowd gathered, consisting of employees and their families, grateful that
“the Lord has provided us with such a beautiful day today for our party…”

“Wow,” I thought to myself…how many corporate events, other than Chick-fil-A,
will a person hear such words spoken publically to a large gathered crowd???
A crowd that is not gathered for some sort of church service but simply gathered?!

Hopeful was my immediate reaction.

Next, I saw a young lady walk past me wearing a shirt very similar to the one shown above,
albeit with gold lettering.

I laughed to myself, laughing over how our words and their meanings have evolved
with our ever-evolving culture.

Back in the day…as in back in my younger days, the word dope was another word for drugs…
usually hard drugs such as heroin.

So to see such a current catchphrase used, as well as worn,
in reference to the great I AM left me a bit taken aback.

Is the name of God to be emblazoned, worn across the body in such a fashion?

Is Elohim, El Shaddai to be merchandised and blended into the current culture as
trendy high fashion?
Just another glittery hip-hop fashion statement??

I don’t know.

Whereas some would argue that wearing such a shirt is a good thing as it proclaims
that one is obviously some sort of unashamed “believer”…
and yet I am left wondering if it is not actually the making of God into something He is not…
that being small…

Making God fit into our idea rather than His idea…
an idea of what it is to be GOD…the great I AM…
or rather something that is simply, as we now say, dope.

Sigh.

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites:
‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

Exodus 3:14

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…”

“you say you want a revolution. . .”

Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.
Anne Frank

DSCN4606
(detail of an antique fire bonnet/ Julie Cook / 2014)

Whoa retired art teacher. . .those are some pretty strong words are they not?
I suppose you’re right dear reader, the word “revolution” does evoke all sorts of radical connotations.
Just posting the word on the blog probably has some government top dog out there curious as to the tom-foolery this retired educator is trying to stir up. . .

With the ongoing escalation of tensions between the US, Europe and Russia regarding the state of the free and democratic country of Ukraine, the continuing saga in the Middle East between Palestine and Israel–peace talks on, peace talks off. I’m 54 years old— these “peace” talks have been ongoing and the tension ever present. . .long before I ever entered this world and it has all been going on almost since the beginning of time. Even before Israel became an independent state, the discord has existed, and will continue as the biblically minded among us simply nod in a sad understanding. . .it does seem that the world at large is indeed in need of some sort of Revolution.

And then there were the headlines out of Chicago this past week. . .

I was fortunate to have visited the toddling town this past August, falling in love with life on the shores of Lake Michigan. The city itself is full of delightful green space, attractions for the eyes, the intellect, the tastebuds, the sports minded, as well as for the outdoor enthusiast. We walked to most destinations and took taxis for those out of reach. We felt safe and thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

I am also quite familiar with Chicago’s darker past of the bygone days of Speakeasies, Gangland activity and Government corruption. Sadly it seems, however, that the past may never have truly been eradicated and redeemed as news from this midwestern hub of commerce and charm appears most dire and grim.

Over the course of the Easter weekend, there were a reported 45 shootings in the city, out of which there were 45 wounded or dead.
(see the full article here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/22/how-chicago-became-chiraq.html)

Many of the victims were children. Reportedly, involving one most disturbing incident, when a car pulled up, at a park were young children had gathered after Easter Church services to play— a passenger in the car points a gun at a group of kids, with the oldest child being age 11, asking if they were members of a gang. Before the children could respond, they were all shot.

I should have suspected something was a rye when, on the morning of our final day in Chicago, I had flipped on the morning news. It was a Monday in mid August, the first day back to school for the kids of Chicago. The lead story was of the neighborhood safety watches, with individuals literally posted along sidewalks, in order for the kids to be to able to walk to school without fear of gun violence. “Wait a minute,” I silently muttered, “we did not see anything like this during our visit!. . .” The teacher and parent in me filed this away as most unsettling.

The city, of which I have recently learned, has the dubious nickname of “Chiraq”—a butchered mixing of the words Chicago and Iraq—and with 45 shot dead or wounded during the course of a single weekend, I can understand the war zone distinction. But I suppose we could say the same for the streets of Compton, Detroit, Atlanta. . .as the list goes on and on.

We can argue that all of this is a direct result of guns or that it’s because of the drugs, or it’s because of the gangs, or it’s because of the broken family unit, or it’s because of welfare, or it’s because of unemployment, or it’s because of race, or it’s because of the social structure, or it’s because all of the above and them some. . . etc, on and on, ad infinitum, as it does go on and on.

We can tout that if we simply eradicate, educate, communicate, placate, eliminate, etc, then we can fix our mess of violence in this country as well as in this world.

Did any of that intellectual rumination matter this week in Kabul, Afghanistan when the man chosen to guard, defend and protect 3 American doctors and medical volunteers, who were in that country to help save the lives of woman and babies, thought it better to shoot and kill these selfless aid workers at point blank range?

How simple was it to understand that their mission was merely one of service and aid, yet even that didn’t seem to matter to one who convinced himself that their death outweighed their service.

Who thinks like that?!
Who thinks it’s ok to shoot kids?
Oh I best not start with the questions, as we’d be here all day. . .

The revolution of which I speak is a not a Revolution of unrest, violence and destruction but rather a Revolution of Love.
Not some dippy hippy, day of yore, let’s make love not war, mubmo jumbo. . .but an actual revolution of Agape.

Agape–ἀγάπη, agápē
Greek for unconditional love.
Not a romantic love, not a sexual love, not an obsessive love, not a self love, but the love of one human begin for another–the same love of the omnipotent God for His creation and in turn, His Creation for Him.

Unconditional, meaning without strings attached–the concern of another human being without regard to self and self’s wellbeing—just like what those doctors in Afghanistan possessed. . .

But Julie, how can one love others when staring down the barrel of a gun, when one is holding a dead or dying loved one in one’s arms, when all one has spent a lifetime working for and building is destroyed and or taken. . .? Does not violence, hatred, death and destruction beget only more of the same?

Examples are indeed all around us—as they have been down through the ages.
Notable examples of such are the Polish priest Maximilian Kolbe who voluntarily gave his life in place of a jewish man in the death camp of Auschwitz. Mother Teresa who spent a lifetime picking up the diseased and dying Hindu and Muslim in the streets of Calcutta. Corrie Ten Boom, the Christian Dutch resistance underground worker whose family spent much of the War hiding Jews in their home, who were all eventually arrested, sent to Ravensbruck Concentration camp, where she alone survived. Her book The Hiding Place documents this harrowing and dark time of the world’s history.

We can also say that individuals such a Mahatmas Ghandi and even Martin Luther King Jr were also shining examples of what peace and the demonstration of Love can accomplish when staring at violence and death head on.

I for one have grown weary of the gangs, the drugs, the wars, the hate, the resentment, the needless killings, the disregard for human life and human dignity.

When will enough ever be enough?

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
All right, all right
You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re all doing what we can
But if you want money
For people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
All right, all right
You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You better free you mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
All right, all right!
All right, all right, all right!
All right, all right, all right!
All right, all right!

(Lyrics by John Lennon and Paul McCartney)

Truth and Love have always won

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

DSCN3172
(a delightful little bowl of color on a bleak January day / Julie Cook / 2014)

It grows ever apparent that faith, the beliefs held by those who strive to live the Word of God and profess the victory of the Resurrection, continues to swirl in the murky waters of political correctness, appeasement, self righteous indignation, ridicule by both big media and the entertainment industry, as well as from the sense of many that it is all quite passé and irrelevant in this age of glamor, glitz, high tech, new fangled, ego filled, self indulgence, and the endless pursuit of self fulfillment.

Covenants and laws proclaimed long ago and most far away seem to have little if any bearing on the living large lives which now seem to be the current trend of the world. The endless consumption of placating food, drink, sex and drug all in the name of “If I want to, I certainly can” continues leading to a path of self destruction which is sadly unrecognizable by the masses. The vortex of self gratification relishes sucking in soul after soul with little if any realization that this is not a positive situation.

Governments vie for control of global markets, as world leaders continue to demonstrate personal bad behavior, claiming that what is done in private, is no one’s business, all as they roll toward the quest of becoming demigods. Terrorism, that overt selfish fanaticism of an alarming growing number of depraved individuals, continues to hold the world at large hostage. The freedom to worship a monotheistic God, which is not so free, no longer is a priority as the smaller gods of technology, entertainment, self, and money all jockey for control.

All of this while the keepers of the Faith are lulled into acceptance. “Don’t rock the boat” the lies are slickly whispered by the insidious ancient foe, “you might as well get on board because it is simply now the way of the world”—“be quiet, don’t say anything because the backlash is tremendous” —“it’s all too old fashioned you know, those antiquated beliefs or yours”. . .”you, with that Faith of yours, are all wrong for having those beliefs of yours, in fact you are no longer entitled to your beliefs because they run counter to the way of this country, this world, this new age. . .

Sounds all rather bleak and Orwellian does it not? Sounds as if you would prefer not to think about it, to turn away, to pretend it doesn’t exist. Why should you bother, just ignore it and hope it will go away, just leave me alone, you say, in my ever shrinking world–

Ok.
That is your choice, your prerogative. But the world, with its current ways, is not going away. It will continue telling you that you are wrong and it is right. Masses will rise up against you. You will be mocked and ridiculed until you decide to be quiet.
Don’t argue.
Don’t disagree.
Maybe it’s ok, you wish upon yourself. Maybe they are right you reassuringly question.
It’s just all too grey, not well defined. As long as people are happy then it’s all ok is it not?

Is it?

Hear the words of Martin Niemöller spoken in a different time and place:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.