Morality

“Compassion is the basis of morality.”
Arthur Schopenhauer

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who,
in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.”

Dante Alighieri

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(an empty sarcophagi deep within the bowels of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“But evil does not die, just as history does not end. Like a weed, evil can be cut back but never entirely uprooted. It waits for its chance to spread through the cracks in our vigilance. It can take root in the fertile soil of our complacency, or even the rocky rubble of the fallen Berlin Wall”

In his book, Winter is Coming
(Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped)
Garry Kasparov makes a compelling argument as to why it is dire that those of us in the West should be on our guard…as he truly believes the harsh reality of a very cold unbearable winter is soon to be falling upon our fragile democracy.

The single raised rampart of defense is to be morality.

“We need new, morality-based frameworks to confront the dictatorships in Russia and China now that they have so thoroughly become a part of our globalized world…
These frameworks and alliances must be based on moral principles, the only weapon the enemies of democracy cannot match.”

Yet, as I look around our western societies, I look very hard for what remains of a morale society.

Secularism has taken root and spread like a deadly poison weed…reaching deep within the fabric of society. Both Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa each observed that western societies now live, as well as embrace, a culture of death.
Even mainstream media reports on the self-centeredness and perpetual quest of all things materialistic and self gratifying within our millennials.

Morality has never been trendy, convenient nor chic.

Excuses are made as to way morality is so passé and out of step with a modern society.
Abortions, Gay unions, declining traditional marriages, rising divorce rates… all work at whittling away at the traditional family unit…the once true anchor and underpinning of a society’s morale fiber.
As today’s society is just too busy with its focus and quest of self fulfillment to be bothered by something as cliche and outdated as morale fiber.

With the current trend of FaceBook, social media, smart phones and all things technological vying for top god position, the quest for this hoped for champion of democracy is growing ever more difficult and elusive. Self satisfaction is raising the victory flag of satiation instead.

Warnings have been issued before to a slumbering world more interested in appeasement and the total denial of Truth….ending every time with deadly and grave consequences…
Things such as Truth, Morality and even God have each become victims in the endless quest of self…

Time is of the essence to heed these current warnings, once again, before we all begin to feel the icy reach of winter….

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
I Corinthians 6:9-11

Greater love

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(flowers from a street vendor Grafton St. Dublin Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I bought you some flowers, well sort of, for Valentine’s day.
I wanted to say thank you.
I want to thank you for taking time out of your day and and of your life in order to stop by here….this little corner of the world I call my own..here on cookiecrumbs.
Your visits, your reading, your commenting, your support, your friendship are each deeply appreciated.
All of which has been your special gift to me…and means so very much.

The inception of the recognition of Valentine’s day being based on the martyred death of a 3rd century Christian, should never be lost in the hoopla and the hype of the overtly commercialized “holiday” we know today.

That this modern day recognition of Valentine’s Day, a day to honor, recognize and profess our undying love to those we hold dear or better yet, hope to dearly hold…
This day designated for spending, buying and bestowing…a day of all things red, beating hearts, flowers, chocolate, devotion and professing…
A day which should never overshadow that Valentine’s day, a day named for a saint of the same name and of which is certainly a day of love, is based on the selfless love of giving one’s life for another…with the greatest example being that of the blood shed by one who hung upon a cross…for you and for me…
for there has never been any greater love….

St Valentine was a bishop, and is thought to have been a physician.
He was arrested for giving aid to Christian prisoners awaiting martyrdom, and
while imprisoned he converted the jailer by restoring sight to the jailer’s daughter.
St. Valentine refused to deny Christ before the Emperor Claudius in the year 280 and won the
jeweled crown of martyrdom by his faithful witness.
The feast of St Valentine was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I

(as seen on a Catholic prayer card)

red tape

“The atmosphere of officialdom would kill anything that breathes the air of human endeavour, would extinguish hope and fear alike in the supremacy of paper and ink.”
― Joseph Conrad

Consider what you owe to His immutability.
Though you have changed a thousand times,
He has not changed once.

Charles Spurgeon

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(side door at St Ann’s Church, Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2016)

Number 45 flashes in bold bright red across the suspended matrix box perched over the counter as a monotone voice calls out “Number 45 to counter number 6, number 45 to counter 6…”

After an hour and a half of waiting you have pretty much tuned out the monotonous din of chatter in the very aseptic, yet somewhat dingy, waiting room which has all but swallowed you whole.
A television protruding awkwardly out of the wall, way too close to the ceiling, runs a slew of continuous infomercials concerning the very agency in which you currently find yourself…
As those around you cough, sneeze, hack and shift in the uncomfortable metal chairs as others chat incessantly while still others scattered throughout the cramped waiting room are being entirely too loud on cell phones…while the signs posted strategically around the room glaringly display a cartoon cell phone with a giant red circle and slash with the words “no cell phone use in the waiting area…”

Suddenly, as if jerked back to the land of the living, it registers in your consciousness that you are holding ticket number 45.

Eagerly and a bit bleary eyed you hop up while looking overhead at the various signs hanging over the long line of counters, scanning the corridor for counter number 6 which is now serving ticket number 45…
Finally you feel as if it’s your lucky day…

Who among us hasn’t found ourselves, on any number of occasions, in this same sort of scenario…be it at the DMV, the Social Security Office, the IRS, a health clinic, the VA, a court house, a hospital, a records office, a government agency…as the list is almost endless.

We jump through hoop after hoop to deal with so many aspects of our lives or of the lives of those we’ve been entrusted to care for…our loved ones…
Only to become overwhelmed, discouraged and simply worn out by the system that we now deem has been put in place to simply break our will….

We have to gather up identifying document after document…photos, social security numbers, voter registration numbers, account numbers, passports, registration cards… chasing each and every last one down as we phone, e-mail, write, shuffle to and from as we seek and search…
While at the same time being required to make certain that each piece of paper, photo and number matches and is current, up to date as well as recognized as 100% legal…
and if not…if one letter, number or identifying marker varies from one to the next,
then it’s back to the end of the line and back to square one.

We call, we wait, we push buttons, we wait some more, we listen to music, we listen in silence, we plead for a representatives, we push zero, we yell at robot voices, we try to enunciate our english, we get call backs if we’re lucky…
We have countless pieces of important papers, we wait in long lines, we shuffle from one office and building to another as we wait to take care of whatever very urgent, gravely important and time sensitive issue happens to be currently dogging us or the loved ones we are charged with caring for.

We have created a bureaucratic nightmare…
and there is absolutely no end in sight.
No fix.
No solution.
No easy answer.
No politician, no matter how much they promise that they can eliminate or make it all go away…can help…
Like it or not we are simply entrenched in the red tape nightmare we have created for ourselves…

Created through all of our agencies, our offices, our lawyers, our layered system of life, our “move um in and move um out” livestock mentality….
All the while more and more agencies and offices are being imgained, formed and created in order to help streamline the maddening chaos…
Which has all been put in place, in the first place, to deal with the general populace…ie…you and me.

No wonder there are countless television shows allowing those haggard, bleary eyed souls, overloaded and system beaten victims, opportunities of watching those who “survive” off the proverbial grid or the shows that allow all the sad sacks to wonder and hope what to do when the grid is finally so totally overwhelmed that it self-destructs…leaving life as we know it a forgotten memory…

And then it hits us..
Smack dab between the eyes…
God has never issued numbers!
He has never once put us on hold.
Never have we had to jump through hoops in order to reach Him.
He has no mountains of entangling red tape snarling the path or journey to meet Him.
He simply and quietly is there…or here…or wherever we may find ourselves….
waiting..
waiting on us…
not the other way around with us endlessly waiting…
but rather it is He who waits…
waiting for that time when we finally decide we’ve had enough and we simply need to vent about this thing called life….

God waits for you to communicate with Him.
You have instant, direct access to God.
God loves mankind so much, and in a very special sense His children,
that He has made Himself available to you at all times.

Wesley L. Duewell

Onward Christian Soldier

Onward, Christian soldiers,
marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
going on before!
Christ, the royal Master,
leads again the foe;
Forward into battle,
see his banner go!

Openning stanza to the hymn Onward Christian Soldiers
lyrics by the Englishman Sabine Baring-Gould 1865

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(stainglass window of St George, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Share in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
II Timothy 2:3

Christianity to the non believer, as well as to many of the faithful, must appear to be a faith of conjecture.

On the one hand we are reminded to be like minded with Christ… to forgive without ceasing…70 times 7…
We are to be peace minded when attacked by offering the other cheek, our cloak, our possessions…
We are the followers of the “Sacrificial Lamb” who when lead before his shearers is dumb, as he opened not his mouth…
As there are those who have long considered Christians weak, passive and non-agressive to a fault.

Yet there are others who eagerly finger point and recall that throughout history Christians have been known to rile against those who were not of the faith. Waging crusades and “holy” wars…as we are all left wondering what sort of war could ever be considered “holy” as that seems to be the epitome of oxymorons.

And yet we are called to be soldiers for Christ…

However’s today’s global family is currently witnessing an extreme example of a holy war, or caliphate. This war is being raged on a terrorizing global level by the Islamic extremists Daesh otherwise known ISIS.
It is a caliphate to be carried out against the infidel and all non muslims as per the Quran.
And yet our western governments continue to assure us that the Islamic faith is one of peace.

Despite the continuing airstrikes conducted by US, UN, British, French, Russian and other coalition forces, the numbers of IS recruits has only continued growing by leaps and bounds.

Stories of what happens to those civilians who fall under IS control continue making headlines.
Beheadings, shootings, torture, caged burnings, crucifixions—all manner of public executions are rampant.

The following link is to a recent story found on the BBC concerning IS, or Daesh’s, growing occupation in Libya, as well as elsewhere throughout northern Africa and the Middle East. The article is a collection of firsthand accounts of those who “got out” before total occupation but sadly left family and friends behind. The stories of the barbaric brutality, which is on an alarming rise, is most sobering if not stomach turning…

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35325072

It has also been almost a year since the tragic news of the young American aid worker Kayla Mueller’s horrific death at the hands of IS leaders. Just yesterday there was a news article stating that her parents would soon be making their first public statement regarding their daughter’s kidnapping and subsequent death— as well as their failed attempts to negotiate with her captors and of the ensuing war of words with the American Government over those negotiations.

Whereas our Government has long held the stance that the families of any Americans taken hostage by hostile nationals would not be allowed to “negotiate” a loved one’s release by paying ransoms, the irony is sadly found in the Government’s negotiating with the Taliban for the release of the American soldier Bowe Berghdahl— by exchanging 5 terrorist prisoners—all of which has rung a sour note with the Muellers as well as other families such as the families of James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

Berghdahl, as it turns out, had purportedly gone AWOL and was a suspected Taliban sympathizer.
He is soon to be tried in a military court of law, facing a court martial with a sentence of life in prison…
Our Government exchanged five terrorist prisoners for this purported AWOL soldier while the Muellers are left trying to make sense a Government “threatening” their attempts to pay a private ransom for their own daughter.

http://news.yahoo.com/murdered-hostage-kayla-mueller-s-family-is-speaking-out-013516761.html

In 1941, after three years of fighting that was raging across the European continent and prior to US involvement, President Franklin Roosevelt met secretly with the British Prime minister Winston Churchill aboard the HMS Prince of Wales in the middle of the North Atlantic. The meeting of these two leading allied leaders was for the creating of the Atlantic Charter, a charter that would help to define a post-war world. During the time the two leaders were meeting, Churchill was charged with arranging a joint church service to be held aboard ship for all the attendees. He chose all the hymns with Onward Christian Soldiers being his foremost choice. Following the meeting, in a radio broadcast, Churchill later reccounted his reasoning for his choice of hymn…

We sang “Onward, Christian Soldiers” indeed, and I felt that this was no vain presumption, but that we had the right to feel that we serving a cause for the sake of which a trumpet has sounded from on high. When I looked upon that densely packed congregation of fighting men of the same language, of the same faith, of the same fundamental laws, of the same ideals … it swept across me that here was the only hope, but also the sure hope, of saving the world from measureless degradation.

Churchill’s words could easily be spoken today…“it swept across me that here was the only hope, but also the sure hope, of saving the world from measureless degradation.”

May we be reminded that as Christians we are to be that living embodiment of hope, that sure hope, as we march forward as the Soldiers for Christ casting His brilliant Light into a world held hostage by darkness.

“When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you.
Deuteronomy 20:1

the danger in losing

In a battle all you need to make you fight is a little hot blood and the knowledge that it’s more dangerous to lose than to win.
George Bernard Shaw

“Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved.”
Martin Luther

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(the knights of St Patrick / St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

TO ARMS
TO ARMS…

The nightwatchman has sounded the alarm…

The time has come!

The Fortress is surrounded.

Are you ready?

The time has come to gather up your weaponry…
Take to your positions…
Set your sights
The gauntlet has been thrown down and it is
to you who must pick it up.

You have no choice but to accept this looming fight now before you…
For you have chosen this fate long ago.
You can either fight with intent or
try and flee as those poor souls, unaware…
Who try to flee when it is far too late and hope has long departed.
For yours is a fight unto the death…
the death of all mankind.

Be not lulled into complacency.
The enemy has rallied his army.
The walls will soon be breached.

Perhaps you could ignore it,
Pretending there is no advancement.
You may even attempt to convince yourself that there is no enemy…
just as so many have tried to do in the past…
even as they continue to do now, those who stand by your side, oblivious to the
advancing mayhem.
Maybe it’s just been a lot of hype, a mere distraction.
The alarmists and doomsday crowds are simply beating the war drums….
…again.

However be warned, the enemy is cunning.
He has a myriad of lying spies…
those who enjoy nothing more than to woo you into a sense of false security
The whispered lies of false flattery ooze like silky honey form their lips.

You must not be dismayed nor distracted..
for the battle of all eternity is raging…
Be not fooled nor deceived…
The enemy advances more rapidly than you’ve ever imagined.

To win is but a mere gain
But to lose will be a never ending agony with no hope of salvation…
You have been warned,
you have been called…
Take to your post now, for the Prince of princes has called His army to defend the kingdom
And you have been chosen to fight….

He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.
Daniel 8:25

Words are not enough

“I dream of lost vocabularies that might express
some of what we no longer can.”

― Jack Gilbert

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(Trinity College Library / Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

We try.
Really we do.
We try with our lofty intellects.
We try with our supercilious vocabulary.
We try with our treasure trove of books
We try with our tongues
and we try with our hearts…

We try to express, by putting into words, our thoughts…
Yet we fall gravely short as we painstakingly describe and define that which is
without description or definition.

Ours are but mere words…
Simple letters joined together in order to create and form words…
Words with meaning…
Meanings simply assigned by man…

Words both conceived and contrived in the minds of men
Limited minds.
Limited words.
Limited descriptions.
Limited man.

“…Thou dost seek us though Thou does not need us.
We seek Thee because we need Thee,
for in Thee we live and move and have
or being. Amen”

A.W.Tozer

Seek, as in sought…
Searched for as in there must be want and desire which lies at the root of said seeking..
Otherwise what would be the point to the seeking…

“To admit the existence of a need in God is to admit incompleteness in the divine Being.
Need is a creature-word and cannot be spoken of the Creator.”

A.W. Tozer

Creator.
A word assigned to something, someone that which is beyond our comprehension.
An acknowledgement that we and our world are created by said “Creator”
As in something bigger, greater and grander than ourselves.
As we acknowledge that we are a product of something other than ourselves.

“Whatever God is, and all that God is, He is in Himself.
All life is in and from God, whether it be the lowest form of unconscious life or the highly self-conscious, intelligent life of a seraph.
No creature has life in itself; all life is a gift from God.”

A.W. Tozer

God the Creator.
An Entity that man has tried to describe and define with mere words, having failed miserably to delineate I AM.

Words are made up and created by man.
The Creator is not created…
For He is and always has been…no beginning, no end…as in forever.
Therefore made up created words by the created are inadequate for the Creator.

The created cannot begin to define, adequately explain, or even offer sufficient praise for the Creator for He is beyond.
The Creator cannot be brought down into man’s, the created’s, limited understanding and neatly contained by man as something readily definable, explainable or analyzed.

To attempt to do so is to set limits on that which is limitless.

“The problem of why God created the universe still troubles thinking man; but if we cannot know why, we can at least know that He did not bring His worlds into being to meet some unfulfilled need in Himself, as a man might build a house to shelter him against the winter cold or plant a field of corn to provide him with necessary food. The word necessary is wholly foreign to God.”
A.W. Tozer

God does not have needs.
He does not need this earth, this land, this air, this space…
He does not need us, the created.
God does not need anything we might be able to offer Him because anything and everything we have is only because He has willed it so.

Rather it is us, the created that need Him, the Creator.

And in His all knowing infinite wisdom, The Creator knew that the created was in desperate need of a small piece of His very Essence and Being… therefore sending that very part of Himself here to us.

…and so He comes…once again offering a reminder of not His need but rather of His generous and abundant Love to His created…

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger…
Luke 2:7

the honored created

“For reasons known only to Himself, God honored man above all other beings by creating him in His own image.”
A.W.Tozer

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(St Patrick’s Cathedral / Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Imagine that—having been loved and wanted so deeply, so intensely, that the God of all of creation willed our, as in yours and mine, very being.
The making, the creating, the birthing of man

And yet sadly, it all broke His heart.
We, as in you and I, broke His heart.

Oh there are those who would argue that if He was a god, and or real for that matter, then He would have, should have known better…He should have known, would have known, that “his creation” would fall short, screw up, disobey, go in the wrong direction, and multiply without ceasing…
so therefore…
He should have stopped it all…
He should have turned it all around…made it all good…fixed it all…stopped it all…rewrote it all…
but…
Love doesn’t do that.
Love stands back, waiting in the wings…for it is not controlling, dictating, ruling…

“Man is a created being, a derived and contingent self, who of himself possesses nothing but is dependent each moment for his existence upon the One who created him after His own likeness. The fact of God is necessary to the fact man. Think God away and man has no ground of existence”

Dependent.
A word and concept we have always looked upon as a negative, a weakness an undesirable characteristic.
Babies and children are dependent, not grownup adults.
For it is our goal, from the moment we begin to crawl then walk, to become independent.
We vie to live a life of independence…
freedom to make our own way, our own choices…
the determining of our own destiny, charting our own course…
setting our own comings and our own goings….
We rue the day we have to give up our independence due to accidents, illness, age…

And yet our very being is just that, dependent upon the very being of God the Creator.
Left to our own devices, well, we’ve see how that has worked out down through the ages…

Imagine…
primordial goo slinks out of the waters, crawls ashore and eventually evolves into the human being you see today walking down the sidewalk.
Without God, what of it?
Who cares that something a million years ago slunk up out of the swamps and became a human being.
What’s the purpose?
What’s the point?
There is no point…
And along with that… all that is…is, in turn, equally pointless.

And yet it does matter,
it all matters,
because God matters,
and therefore…
we matter because of God.
It is a continuum…
our continuum

And so here we are this late December…waiting, watching, expecting…
We wait, once again, not for the emergence of primordial goo, but rather for a birth…
and not just any birth…
This is the birth of the created image of the Godhead and man…
The dependent existence of One to the other, of the other to the One.
Because Love seeks that which It loves.
The Lover seeks the beloved…
and the beloved longs for the Lover..
The Lover of Life and of all that was, all that is and all that will be..
So yes, Come Lord Jesus, come….