tribalism and wise predictions

How do we call a liberal?
You know, someone very profoundly once said many years ago that if fascism ever comes to America,
it will come in the name of liberalism.”
“And what is fascism?”
“Fascism is private ownership, private enterprise, but total government control and regulation.
Well, isn’t this the liberal philosophy?”

Ronald Reagan in a 1975 60 Minute’s Interview, 6 years before becoming president


(image from the 1963 movie Lord of the Flies based on the 1954 novel of the same name by William Golding)

I really dislike the new word that is being used to describe life here in the US.

It’s actually an old word and is certainly considered a real word…

It’s not some sort of new-age mishmash word that has taken on a viral
life of its own while earning a new slot in our English Language dictionary—
not some sort of trendy cultural word that is more urban slang than a word rooted
deep in the history of a highly evolved speaking people.

It is, however, a word whose definition is actually being used correctly, sadly,
given our current life’s mania.

It’s a word that we use to use to define a particular past when defining an indigenous people.
A word defining a people who are not the same as us but rather, in some sense, less than…
less than compared to their more highly evolved counterparts.

There is a sense of barbarism linked to this word.

The word is tribalism.

And it means what the noun aspect of the word says…
a tribe or group of people who adhere to a similar social grouping and thinking.

tribe noun
\ ˈtrīb \
Definition of tribe
1a : a social group comprising numerous families, clans, or generations together with slaves, dependents,
or adopted strangers
b : a political division of the Roman people originally representing one of the three original tribes of ancient Rome

According to Wikipedia, Tribalism is the state of being organized by, or advocating for,
tribes or tribal lifestyles. Human evolution has primarily occurred in small groups, as opposed to mass societies,
and humans naturally maintain a social network.
In popular culture, tribalism may also refer to a way of thinking or behaving in which people are loyal
to their social group above all else, or, derogatorily,
a type of discrimination or animosity based upon group differences.

Go to any warm sunny beach resort or cities such as Nashville or New Orleans and
you’re likely to run into a Bride’s tribe…

A soon to be bride and her bridesmaids enjoying a little bachelorette or hen destination party.
They’ll be the ones flocking about town in a showy, loud and often intoxicated state with a
very “tribal” vibe—they’ll all be wearing matching shirts emblazoned with the words “Bride’s Tribe.”

Fun social gatherings aside, tribalism, however, reminds me of those who are basically a primitive
type of people. A people living an almost ‘Lord of the Flies’ existence.
A survival of the fittest type mentality with a kill or be killed motto being held high and true.

Tribalism is a word that is now being used to define life in the US.

The notion is that we are a splintering people who are all about our individual tribes and or groups.
Those being like-minded groups.

So why does Nazism come to mind?
A growing national mindset that is intolerable of both Jews and Christians?

Groups that don’t care one iota for the other groups.

A divisive mindset of it’s us against them.

It’s a word that makes me actually quite sad and even depressed as it is a word that denotes
a regression rather than a progression.
As in a regression of moving backwards rather than progressing forward…
as in devolving rather than evolving…
as in going to the bad rather than going toward the good.

Yet within this notion of tribalism, I know of one who is almost giddy over such a divisiveness.
Satan’s strategic plan is the militaristic idea of divide and conquer.

Scoff if you like, but the net is drawing tight and Satan is very busy.

God is on the move.
Our world and lives are changing.
Time is of the essence.
And so as worrisome as the idea of tribalism is, there is something much greater taking place.

And so it was with much interest that I read the recent observation by Newt Gingrich
regarding the 2020 election.

An event that most of us are already dreading.

Dreading so much that I’ve actually been looking for some far-flung island out in the middle of nowhere…
a place that is without any sort of communication with the outside world.

Yet no matter how much I dread it, another election will come…

And mark my words, tribalism will play a tremendous role.

So I offer you some words of wisdom from a man who is always on point with his observations…

As you listen to the liberal media, the Never Trumpers and the left-wing Trump haters chatter on
about President Trump’s current situation, remember these two numbers — 35 and 49.

The first number was President Ronald Reagan’s approval in January 1983.
The second number was the number of states Reagan carried 22 months later.

I am not predicting President Trump will carry 49 states.
This is a different environment, and the tribalism that divides the country is deeper than it was 36 years ago.

President Trump’s resilience,
despite two straight years of the most negative media coverage of any president since Lincoln
(at least 90 percent negative according to studies by the Media Research Center that analyzed nightly broadcasts)
is a sign that he has a devoted base that will stick with him.
The most recent unemployment applications are the lowest since November 1969
(when there were a lot fewer Americans at work).
There are powerful initiatives underway to continue to increase American jobs and economic growth.

The left will do for Trump what it did for President Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher,
and what it is currently doing for Prime Minister Theresa May
(who is surviving because the alternative is so terrible).
A few more proposals for 70 percent tax rates, sanctuary states,
tax paid health care for everyone including illegal immigrants, open borders, anti-Semitism,
and anti-Israeli hostility, and the Democrats will begin driving away everyone but the hard left.
California Governor Gavin Newsom’s wildly left-wing ideas are going to be a striking
contrast to President Trump’s comparatively mainstream views
(Newsom was mayor of San Francisco and is carrying its leftist ideology to the entire state).
New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may set a new standard for willful ignorance
by a non-Hollywood personality.
There is a point where smiling while saying things that are factually false
simply doesn’t sustain a national movement.

The energy in the Democratic Party is entirely on the left, and as Hillary Clinton discovered,
the nominating process is going to drive the Democratic candidates to get as nutty as necessary
to please the new generation of radical bigots.

The media’s new enthusiasm for third-party billionaires (Starbucks anyone?)
is a big help to Trump’s re-election.
Any third-party candidate will divide the anti-Trump vote and have no effect on the pro-Trump vote.
The White House should encourage every would-be third-party leader.
The more the merrier from the Trump perspective.

The Never Trump Republicans will get a lot of media and will be socially celebrated by the Washington,
New York, and Hollywood crowds.
They will do Sunday shows, be invited to speak at establishment events,
and have paid staff egging them on (so they can continue to get paid).
The Never Trump candidates will also be crushed by President Trump in Republican primaries.

Trump, like Reagan, learns and thinks a lot more than his detractors acknowledge.

In fact, President Trump has been much tougher on Russia than President Obama ever dreamed of being.
From sanctions to the military buildup of NATO, to rebuilding missile defenses and forward
positioning in the Balkans, to offensive weapons for Ukraine,
the president has been tougher, not softer.
Yet, the left’s innuendos and attacks continue to paint Trump,
as The New York Times hysterically put it, as a potential Russian agent.

The Mueller investigation will eventually be put in perspective and will lead to serious reforms
to limit the threat of an out-of-control deep state in the Justice Department.

The American people will gradually realize that this whole effort has been a political hoax
to smear the president, which has weakened the country and undermined the rule of law.

The hard left will go into the summer of 2020 chanting hatred and believing everything bad about Trump.
They will represent about 40 percent of the country.
The hardcore Trump supporters will go into the summer of 2020 amazed at how much their leader
has achieved despite unending news media, Democratic hostility, and splits in the GOP.
They will make up 45 percent of the country.

The 15 percent who will have been repelled by the left’s craziness and turned off by President Trump’s
style will enter the summer of 2020 wishing they had a better choice.
In the end, they will have to gamble on the least dangerous and least bad future.
When that happened in 2016, they broke overwhelmingly for Trump over Clinton,
and the late deciders made him president.

There will be three big things helping Trump in 2020:

1.The Trump administration’s accomplishments will be real
(a future column will outline the wave of breakthroughs in our lives that will start
being felt in the next 18 months).

2.The hysteria and dishonesty of the investigations and their irrelevancy in terms of Trump as president
will be obvious, and only the left will pay them any attention.

3.Breakthroughs like criminal justice reform, a cure for sickle cell disease, better education through parental choice, the best African American employment rate in history,
and the like will lead to Republican breakthroughs with minorities
(as happened surprisingly in both Florida and Georgia against Democratic African American candidates for governor –
in both states the margin of victory was African Americans voting Republican).

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/newt-gingrich-democrats-and-never-trumpers-will-put-trump-back-in-the-white-house-in-2020-heres-why

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

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


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

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

I was blessedly out of the country.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a link to the full interview…

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

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

1 Timothy 2:1-2

principles found in an oddly shaped black hat

Great ambition is the passion of a great character.
Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts.
All depends on the principles which direct th
em.
Napoleon Bonaparte


(one of only a handful of Napoleon’s hats that remains / Le Proccope Restrauant /
Julie Cook / Paris, France / 2018)

Well, after a week of here and there babysitting, I’ve finally, however painfully
and reluctantly, returned The Mayor back home to Atlanta.
She was returned home in one piece albeit with her nagging cold still intact.

And so slowly I am now literally picking up the pieces while working on regaining
my thinking brain.

So on Saturday our local news offered the latest breaking state news that has me more
than simply thinking…

But before I get to that story, let me offer up a tiny precursor…
a tiny tale that reminds me of this particular current news situation of ours.

The hat in the image above is but one of a handful of the remaining famous bicorne hats
worn by France’s most famous leader, Napoleon Bonaparte (Marie Antoinette aside).
The last known hat of only 19 that remain, went to auction earlier this year.
It was a hat that was supposedly recovered from the battlefield at Waterloo and
fetched a whopping $325,000 at auction.

History offers us the small tidbit that, whereas most military leaders of the day
wore their hats with points facing forward and back, Napoleon,
on the other hand, preferred wearing his hats sideways.
This allowed Napoleon to be readily identified when on the battlefield.
A rather bold stance given the fact that many military leaders preferred blending in so
as not to be easily “picked off” by the enemy…
because what’s an army without its leader?

But given Napoleon’s ego, it is no surprise that he would prefer to be noticed
rather than not.

And I must confess, I have always had an affinity for France’s most famous,
or perhaps more accurately, infamous little general…
And so since I’ve previously written about that attraction before it should come as no
surprise of the level of excitement I experienced when recently given the opportunity
of seeing one of his earliest bicorne hats up close and personal.

On our recent visit to Paris, we opted to enjoy an evening’s meal at Le Procope, Paris’
oldest consecutively operating restaurant.
Le Procope has been serving discerning pallets since 1686.
They also boast having one of the most synonymous items associated with one of Paris’
most well-known individuals.
One of Napoleon’s earliest bicorne hats.

The story goes that Napoleon would often frequent Le Procope.
But so did Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Rousseau, Robespierre, Marat,
and George Sand to name just a few
But the story goes that as a young soldier, Napoleon would come to eat and in typical
fashion, brood night after night…running up quite the tab.

As payment for his escalating bill, Napoleon paid with what he had…that being his hat.
He informed the proprietors that one day his hat would be world famous because he would,
in turn, become famous.
And obviously, the proprietor took him at his word and accepted the hat.

And so now the oldest restaurant in Paris boasts owning one of the earliest hats
worn by what many consider to be France’s greatest and most brilliant tacticians and
military leaders.

Well, that is how they feel now as we all know that France has had an up and down,
love-hate relationship with her dearest yet height challenged leader.

I say all of this because as an up and coming soldier, Napoleon was like any young
soldier, woefully strapped for cash.
Acknowledging that he needed to pay his debt, he did so by giving what he had, his hat…
coupled with the guarantee that the hat would indeed suffice as payment as it would
certainly, cover his expenses given that his future was on track for fame…

And so this not so modest offering has indeed become quite rare and somewhat priceless
while in the end, Napoleon’s guarantee had come to fruition and then some.

A few weeks back I wrote a post about life in ‘the middle’—
as in our nation’s recent proclivity for being pretty much split down the middle given
our voting persuasions.

There are no clear-cut winners anymore because it’s now a matter of an almost equal tug of war
with an opponent’s toe barely crossing the line when suddenly the other opponent, who’s still
pulling, is proclaimed the victor…

So with more near miss victors than ever before…
a wealth of those having won by only a toe’s length or the proverbial skin of the teeth,
the losing side has taken to the ugliness of temper tantrums.

The problem in all of this is the growing numbers of near-miss victors and their equally
determined tug of war partners unwilling to surrender—despite their toe having crossed
the line.

It just seems there are simply no real clear cut winners any more—no full out right bodies
that come flying over the line after being jerked over by the formidable foe—
rather it’s come down to a constant stream of photo finishes.

Take for instance the recent race for Governor here in Georgia.

The numbers told us that the Republican Brian Kemp won.
The numbers were simply not there for his Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams.
Although the numbers were indeed close.

Brian Kemp is a what many consider to be a typical good ol’ boy, Southern politician
while Abrams is a single black woman who was poised to be the first black woman
to hold such a prestigious office here in the deep south…
putting her on the edge for making monumental history.

Lots of unspoken thoughts and opinions are now floating and flying around about both of
these tug of war opponents and their collective sides.

So in typical ‘in the middle’ mindset of this nation…Abrams whose toe was pulled slightly
over the line…obviously over the line…refused to let go of the rope despite
the arms raised of the victor Kemp.

Two weeks have now passed despite Kemp claiming the victory in the wee hours of the vote counting,
as Abrams has now dug in and refused to give up her end of the rope.

Mathematically it has been clear that it would be impossible for her to call for a re-count
let alone a runoff.

So finally yesterday, two weeks after the fact, Abrams emerges to make a statement.
She announces that Kemp will be governer but that she will not concede…
in fact, she will file a lawsuit over Georgia’s voting irregularities…
Irregularities for a state that proudly boasts that its voting practices have been on point
for the past oh so many years.

On the one hand, we have someone admitting their opponent has won the prize while they in turn
refuse to admit that they have lost.
A refusal to concede while skirting around the obvious.
A win and a loss…no tie.

No longer do we as a public witness any level of magnanimity between opponents.
There is no graciousness between opponents let alone between one party to another.
No sense of decorum.
No extending of the hand from the vanquished to the victor noting a race well run…

Rather there is refusal.
There is denial.
There are claims of foul play.
There is the stomping of the tantrum’s foot.

No more is there a “may the best man, or woman, win” mentality.

No longer are there lessons of fair play or the lessons of how to win or lose graciously
being offered for our youth.
No examples of taking the high road.
No living with the numbers…
Rather its a matter of refusing to acknowledge defeat.
No more selflessly throwing one’s support behind the victor in order to work together
for the betterment of “the people”…for the sake of both sides of voters.

This current sort of mentality and poor sportsmanship leaves me, a voter, resentful of the
tantrum makers.
It makes me angry.
I am discovering very quickly that I have no tolerance for obstructionists.
Those who are the stalematers, the momentum breakers, the saboteurs of our own successes.
Those who wish to stop the good of the entire nation for the good of themselves.

And so I think of Napoleon.

But not so much for reasons one would assume.

Yes, he was a man who was small in stature but huge in ego.
A man who even I admit hated the notion of losing.
His was a life of battle and conquest with the ultimate goal being his own rising to the top.

Not the most magnanimous of mindsets.

Humility was not a word ever used to describe Napoleon.
No self-deprecating in his corner of the world.

The question of his true motives and his real concern being either for France and her people or
simply for himself…well…only history can help us pick that apart…

And yet here in this tale of an obscure little black and oddly shaped hat,
we learn of a would be great man acknowledging his being in a bit of a tight spot.

We hear the acknowledgment that even those
with great expectations of self can still recognize and even own up to stumbling
while being, in the end, at somewhat of a loss.

In this case, the loss of enough cash to pay one’s bill.
Living fast, loose and large and not being able to afford to do so.
Just like so many in our society today.

And yet we know Napoleon did not run out on his debt…something he easily could have done.
Yet there was the matter of honor and of principles.
Honor and principles that many of us lack today while preferring to live loose and large…
We assume that someone else, such as the government, should come to the rescue
and excuse or even pay for such wanton living.

But here, an otherwise self-centered egotist owns up to owing…
and pays his bill with the only thing he really owns at the time, he pays with a hat.
A hat along with a promise…
All while a gracious proprietor, who at the time, probably rolled
his eyes as he’d heard his fair share of grandiose dreams from one dreamer too many,
in turn, graciously accepted this pitiful payment none the less.

A simple act of give and take.

As we learn that a truthful acknowledgment, albeit hard truths, actually give way to a glimpse
of humility.
And there must always remain humility if there is to be any sense of hope in our society.

So when even just a hair of that toe crosses the line, admitting we’ve been defeated is not only
the right thing to do, it is the only thing.

Fair and square losses…
losses with no amount of whining, fussing and cussing, challenging, foot stomping
or threats of lawsuits can turn a loss into a win…
and if it could, in the end, would the win by hook and crook be worth the cost of our
humanity?

I worry that our society has lost all hope for the glimmer of her principles, those being
foremost graciousness and humility.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but
each of you to the interests of the others.

Philippians 2:3-4

pretty much dead middle

“Ignorant people see life as either existence or non-existence,
but wise men see it beyond both existence and non-existence
to something that transcends them both;
this is an observation of the Middle Way.”

Seneca


(Chaple ceiling Museo Delle Cappelle Mediciee ( the De Medici chapel) / Florence, Italy /
Julie Cook / 2018)

For whatever reason, I have always been one who looks up when I go into someplace new.
Especially when traveling and visiting different locations.

When I walk into a massive Cathedral or other historic building…
I have learned that what’s on the ceiling often makes the ceiling more impressive than
what remains at eye level…

And yet so many people miss out as they never bother looking up.

I’ve even been known to look up in elevators wondering why the ceiling is a mirror.


(the elevator to the Luxembourg Parc Hotel in Paris / Julie Cook / 2018)

Early domed temples such as the Roman temple, the Pantheon,
situated in the heart of Rome, whose open oculus continues to capture our imagination,
is an early case in point.

The Pantheon’s opening was not simply left open in order to be some sort of a famous
architectural oddity or simply to allow light to enter into a windowless temple, but was
rather due to the fact that early engineers and builders could not figure out how to actually
enclose such a massive free-standing dome without wooden beam supports..
of which would prevent it from caving in upon itself from the sheer unsupported weight.

Yet the opening was a cool way to follow the sun, follow the time of day,
while watching the rain pour indoors…


(Pantheon oculus / Julie Cook / 2018)

The open niches along the dome’s surface are not only a decorative purpose but rather
work to help solve some of the weight issues.
The decorative openings required less concrete, therefore reducing the weight of the structure.

Yet figuring out how to close the opening was still a conundrum…

That was until the early 1400’s when the artist, designer, and architect Filippo Brunelleschi
was credited with designing the first successful free-standing dome for the Cathedral of Florence,
the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore…
A cathedral that had gone without its roofed dome for over a hundred years as no one could
figure out how to successfully design and execute such a structure without wooden supports.

Services and rainy days did not mix well.


(a viewoncities.com)

Cathedrals and civic buildings all over medieval and gothic Europe have been constructed
with similar massive domes, impressive soaring towers and open barrel vaults complete
with their flying buttresses and ribbed vaults…
impressive engineering feats accomplished by relatively low tech societies.


(vaulted ribbed ceiling of Sainte Suplice, Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2018)


(ribbed vault of Norte Dame Cathedral / Julie Cook / 2018)

Eventually, ceilings would become extensions of their surroundings, lavishly
painted and decorated…
pulling our eyes upward and beyond.


(Chaple ceiling Museo Delle Cappelle Mediciee / Florence, Italy / Julie Cook / 2018)


(Both of these images, with one being a detail, are in the Pantheon in Paris/ Julie Cook / 2018)


(Both of these domed ceilings are found in Les Invalides / Paris, France
/Julie Cook / 2018)


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


(St Peter’s, The Vatican / Rome, Italy / Julie Cook / 2018)

I’ll be the first to admit that the better pictures of ceilings are usually the ones when
the photographer is able to stand directly underneath the very center…
much like I managed to do for the first image.

Nice, round, equal and symmetrical.

Most of the other shots are taken at angles due to the inability to get smack dab in the middle.
Therefore they just aren’t as visually appealing and just don’t offer that same sense of
dimensional perspective.

And so whereas the middle seems to be a pretty good spot when wanting to look directly upward
while wanting to take a pretty symmetrical photograph, I’m left wondering about the
middle we’ve seemed to have worked ourselves into in this nation of ours.

We’re nearly smack dab center in this ongoing battle of tug of war.
Or so say our last several years of elections.
With this past week’s elections being not much different.

Contrary to what either side wants, prefers or hopes for…
there were no waves…blue or red.

Deplorables came out in similar numbers as their progressively liberal counterparts.

There were no landslides.

No referendums.

Candidates won not by large margins but in some cases, just by a handful of
just enough extra votes.

Several key elections are still, 3 days after the fact, still up in the air…teetering
like a seesaw swaying toward one then swaying back to the other as the numbers are simply
too close to that 50 / 50 mark.

Recounts and runoffs are more common than not.

Candidates are lawyering up, refusing to concede while others are prematurely claiming
victory.

It’s become a messy situation from sea to shining sea.

We are a divided nation almost right down the middle.
Divided and exceedingly divisive.

Yet as to what this middle is and as to why it seems so hate-filled, I am uncertain…

But what I do know is that we are standing almost divided directly in half.

And whereas equally divided usually means equally weighted and balanced…
that is sadly not our case.

I don’t understand that despite our being divided nearly equally half in half…
there is such a growing divide of vehemence and discord.

Our symmetry is woefully skewed.

And so I think I’ll just continue looking upward.
Setting my sights up above.
Still lifting my view heavenward as the view upward seems much better than what’s
currently here at eye level…

“I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the
earth and be an atheist,
but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.”

Abraham Lincoln

immune?

“A child who is protected from all controversial ideas is as vulnerable as
a child who is protected from every germ.
The infection, when it comes- and it will come–may overwhelm the system,
be it the immune system or the belief system.”

Jane Smiley


(more ripe muscadines / Julie Cook / 2017)

“As Maine goes, so goes the Nation”

A popular and most likely long forgotten expression, which dates back to the turning
of the 19th to 20th centuries…
As it seems Maine had a knack at her picking leaders…
elections that became the accurate prognosticators to presidential elections.

Maine was known as a bellwether state, or that of being a bit of a trendsetter.
It seems that “Maine’s September election of a governor predicted the party
outcome of the November presidential election in 19 out of the 26 presidential
election years from 1832 to 1932, or 73 percent of the time.
(wikipedia)

Eventually Maine’s prediction proclivities gave way to other states becoming
the standing trendsetter.
From Vermont to Ohio to Florida…to who knows the next trendsetting state…
as our likes and dislikes rustle in the breeze like fallen and dried up leaves.

For we as a people have always been a rather predictable lot…
with both our likes and dislikes, of which have always been rooted in a strong
belief system.

Yet what was traditionally tied to a value system, that being a reflection of what we considered important and which in turn reflected our our voting habits,
has been in recent times seemingly turned upside down.

Because as society and culture, that belief and value system has been undergoing a metamorphosis of sorts.
No longer are we as predictable as we once were because we have grown both jaded and fickle.

We use to know what was of importance…
and we were never ashamed to admit such.

We treasured our faith, our families, our nation.
Everything else simply fell into place underneath.

We were tenacious about it.
We sacrificed for it.
And we defended and protected it…
unto the death.

We were civic minded and duty minded…both of which were tied into our values
of faith, family and country.
People around the globe actually admired this shared value system of ours.

We knew the good guys….
and they always seemed to be us.

And then one day, what particular day no one really knows for sure, all of that
changed…because we changed.

What was once held as sacred and important became something else.
What exactly that is… we’re simply not certain.
But different it is.

Yesterday I noticed that two of my favorite across the pond clerics had each
posted the same political cartoon along with a fiery disdain.
That being the Rev. Gavin Ashenden and The Rev David Roberston.

Both residents of the UK, one in England the other in Scotland…
both members of different denominations…One Anglican and the other
Reformed Presbyterian.
Yet both men have neither cowered or shied away from taking a sound
stand literally in the name of God for that God and His very Word.

There is no compromise nor bending to cultural norms for either of them.
God’s word is just that, God’s Word.
It matters not that said Word is no longer considered popular
or favored by the masses.
It matters not that our culture is such that it wishes to rewrite God’s Word.
It matters not that society has decided that God did not mean what He actually
said nor that He and His Word have each failed to keep up the the times.

And each one of these men of God have taken a great deal of flack for their faith
as well as for their defense of that Faith.
Each man has been maligned, not surprisingly, by the British press.

So when each cleric took to posting a defense for a
poor fellow who is currently being depicted in the latest snide
UK political cartoon…a conservative politician being castigated for his
Christian Faith, I took notice.

Not necessarily a supporter of all of this particular Tory’s views,
each of these shepherds have however gone out of their way to be very vocal,
crying foul regarding this recent new low media attack against a man who is committed
to not only to his political principles but ardently committed to his Christian faith.

Each minister notes that the media is not only attacking a politician, which is certainly nothing new, but now the attack is against this man’s faith, his
Christian Faith—ridiculing it and anyone else who just so happens to proclaim
to be a Christian.


(The Times)

Please read their postings on each of the following links:

The Man Who Could Make Me Vote Tory

A letter submitted to the Times for publication. 

So if you think that that large body of water which separates our two lands is enough to keep us immune from that same sort of attack against a Faith that you just happen to hold dear…you best think again…

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.
As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.
That is why the world hates you.

John 15:19

Graciousness appears to have died

“Win without boasting.
Lose without excuse.”

Albert Payson Terhune

“A man who called everyone a damn fool is like a man who damns the weather.
He only shows that he is not adapted to his environment,
not that the environment is wrong.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

DSCN3314
(ghost crab who’s given up the ghost / Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

We’re not a people accustomed to losing.
We don’t like to lose…
Who does?!
Nobody, that’s who!

We’re a people of winners.
We like winners.
Who doesn’t like a winner…
Nobody, that’s who!

Maybe we’re a little too accustomed to winning.
Maybe we’ve grown to expect it.
Maybe…just maybe…we’ve forgotten how to lose.
We’ve forgotten that in losing there must be graciousness…

Let’s look at a few things…

We love our sports teams.
We want them to win.
Some of us bet on them to win…
as in… betting money…
as in… betting big money.

Losers don’t make us money.
Some of us have been known to do bad things to make our teams win.
We have cheated, lied, twisted reality, conspired with others to do bad things.
We’ve been known to “fix” a game in order to win
We like to win at all costs…

Others of us get into fights when our teams lose.
We decide to fight those whose team beats our team.
We decide to beat the crap out of the opposing winning team’s fans.
We don’t lose well….

Look at our elections…

We like our candidates of choice to win.
We work for our candidates.
We campaign for our candidates.
We yell at other people who don’t support our candidate.
We call those who don’t support our candidates ugly names.
We get into fights with people who don’t support our candidate.
We vote for our candidates.
We get mad when they lose.
We decide not to accept the winner because our candidate should have won.
We contest the voting count.
We demand a re-count.
We demand a re-vote
We make up stories about the winning candidate to make him / her look bad.
We paint a really ugly picture to sway the results.
We lie, pay bad people money…
We want to win at all costs

Look at our primary elections…
There are a lot of people who don’t like a man like Donald Trump
He’s loud, obnoxious, brash, arrogant and troubling to most…
Maybe he’s not “president” material…
Yet he’s been voted into the top position.
He’s the presumptive nominee.
He earned the spot.
But those who don’t want him are mad.
As those who didn’t vote for him are doing and saying all sorts of things to stop him.
They want to ignore the majority of the other people who voted for him.
They want to say that everyone who voted for him is ignorant and racist and just wrong.
When did voting for a person of one’s choice become ignorant, racist and wrong?
We don’t like the voting to not go our way…

Look at the recent vote in Great Britain.
People voted.
The vote was to exit.
But those who lost the vote are mad.
They’ve decided that those who voted to exit are racist, ignorant, wrong.
It was put to a vote…
stay or go…
Go was chosen…
but now…
All those people who voted their choice to go, are now labeled as ignorant, racist and wrong.
We want a re-count.
We want to block the decision.
We don’t want to concede to the majority’s vote.
We want to do everything possible in order to turn the vote around to our vote, our choice.
We no longer believe in choice, or two sides
We will fight and call those who voted against our wishes ugly names.
We won’t accept anyone else’s opinion or right of choice because it is different from our own.

We forget that there are always two sides—
Winning and losing.
And sometimes we just have to live with losing….

Graciousness appears to have died….

But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness,
and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.

2 Corinthians 8:7