Yes and No

Just as Eve brought death into the world through her fall,
and through her succumbing to Satan,
so too Mary becomes the new Eve who brings life into the world through her ‘yes’ to God.
This imagery of Mary as the new Eve goes all the way back to the Old Testament.
She is the new woman, who will overcome the serpent through her ‘yes’ to God and through
the coming of her Son, the Messiah.

Dr. Michael Barber
from What Every Catholic Needs to Know About Mary


(image of Mary from The Passion of the Christ looking upon the foot of her dead son)

My aim today is not to debate the importance or lack of importance of Mary in our
collective faiths.
Be that in the Catholic Faith or be that that within the Protestant faiths…

Bless Mary…for she has become such a pivotal, and dare I say, a contentious image within the
collective Christian Chruch.

I for one find that to be a truly sad factor for us all of the collective Christian faith
as we have allowed Mary’s significance or insignificance to become divisive.

Yet that topic is not my focus today.

Not being Catholic, I was not raised with a strong sense of a Marian devotion.
Yet I do not hold that against my Catholic kinsmen.
Mary is important to our Catholic kin, just as she is important to all of us of the Fatih
for she bore willingly a most heavy burden…a burden she bore willingly for all of us.

She does not surpass the importance of her Son.
Yet that is often lost in the accusations and fussing.
No Catholic puts the mother above her Son
but her role as a universal mother does not go ignored.

Yet all of that is neither here nor there today.

Yesterday morning I read the quote I’ve added above by Dr. Barber regarding both Mary and Eve.
Two very pivotal women within the Christian Fatih.

Eve is blamed for all of our current state of affairs while Mary is the quintessential image
of willingness, sacrifice, and selflessness.

Darkness and shame versus selfless light.

After reading the quote and knowing I wanted to use it in a post, I actually noticed that
several folks had viewed a previous post that I had offered on Christmas Eve…
it was a post based on a homily offered by Bishop Gavin Ashenden.

And as I don’t believe in coincidence but rather the prompting of the Spirit, I will
again offer that same post here…as it seems to be calling out…

The post is titled “Eve’s no verses Mary’s yes…”

“i imagine that yes is the only living thing.”
E.E. Cummings


(Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden / Masaccio / 1425 / Florence )


(Bicci di Lorenzo / 1433-1434 / The Annunciation panels / private collection)

Please enjoy the Christmas Eve Homily offered by Bishop Gavin Ashenden.
Bishop Ashenden raises an interesting observation…

That in Eve’s having said “no” to God—in her refusal to His obedience,
man in turn then fell victim to the addiction to sin and disobedience.

Mary then counters that sinfulness no by offering her simple “yes”….

And in Mary’s yes…she brings us all to God’s saving Grace.
Of which brings to all of humankind, through the birth of her son Yeshua,
the freedom from this never-ending cycle of disobedient addiction…

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2017/12/24/eves-no-verses-marys-yes/

Eve’s “No” verses Mary’s “Yes”

“i imagine that yes is the only living thing.”
E.E. Cummings


(Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden / Masaccio / 1425 / Florence )



(Bicci di Lorenzo / 1433-1434 / The Annunciation panels / private collection)

Please enjoy the Christmas Eve Homily offered by Bishop Gavin Ashenden.
Bishop Ashenden raises an interesting observation…

That in Eve’s having said “no” to God—in her refusal to His obedience,
man then fell victim to the addiction to sin and disobedience.

Mary in turn counters that sinfulness no by offering her simple “yes”….

And in Mary’s yes…she brings us all to God’s saving Grace.
Of which brings to all of humankind, through the birth of her son Yeshua,
the freedom from this never-ending cycle of disobedient addiction…

authority, fear, respect…

“Power is a poison well known for thousands of years.
If only no one were ever to acquire material power over others!
But to the human being who has faith in some force that holds dominion over all of us,
and who is therefore conscious of his own limitations, power is not necessarily fatal.
For those, however, who are unaware of any higher sphere, it is a deadly poison.
For them there is no antidote.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


(two cousins vying for the same spot / Julie Cook / 2017)

There is a sequence of events taking place within these images…
And believe it or not,
it has everything do with authority, respect and fear and the presumption of each.

First we should note that there is a giant dog’s bed that has been placed
in an otherwise dog free bedroom.

A cushy enough looking bed that cousin Alice sleeps on at night.

In the first image we see cousin Percy taking a look at
85 pound cousin Alice resting on the floor and not in her bed…
as a million questions now race through cousin Percy’s thoughts.

Next, cousin Percy looks to see if anyone else has noticed this anomaly.
A bed but the owner of said bed is opting not to use it, instead preferring the floor….
Hummmmmm…

In the next image we see that cousin Alice is nowhere to be seen and that cousin Percy,
deducing that the coast is clear, has decided to try out the bed.
Not that cousin Percy doesn’t have real beds at his disposal or closet shelves or
couches or anywhere in the house that he wants…but it is this visiting bed,
belonging to cousin Alice, that seems most appealing.

Lastly we see cousin Percy sound asleep.
Happy and content.
Cousin Alice’s favorite toy, the Yoda chew doll, sits on the floor right in front of a sleeping
cousin Percy and what we don’t see is cousin Alice, who is just out of camera shot, and who
is afraid to come in the room to get either favorite said chew toy Yoda let alone
get on her bed lest she wake the sleeping giant….

So here we have a small example of what authority is all about and what it means to
have respect… or in this case, a bit of fear of and for said authority.
And of course, there are all sorts of side lessons in all of this but let’s just consider the
concept of authority for now.

Authority is defined by Merriam Webster as:
a power to influence or command thought, opinion,
or behavior…as in the president’s authority.
b : freedom granted by one in authority: right..
as in Who gave you the authority to do as you wish?

2 a : persons in command; specifically : government…
as in the local authorities of each state
b : a governmental agency or corporation to administer a revenue-producing
public enterprise…as in the transit authority or the city’s housing authority

3 a : grounds, warrant…as in had excellent authority for believing the claim
b : convincing force…as in lent authority to the performance

We should note that throughout history, humankind has been expected to have respect
for authority…
And we might note that throughout this history of humankind,
that such words as ‘respect’ and ‘fear’ have been used interchangeably…
with fear not necessarily meaning cowering like a mouse but rather
being full of overwhelming awe….

Example being that some biblical translations use the word “fear of the Lord,
while a more accurate translation would be “respect for the Lord”…
but we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves.

This business of authority, as well as that of having respect for said authority,
got its start with that whole creating of man and woman…as in Adam and Eve…

Adam, the first man, was to have respect for the authority of God, the only Creator.
The very God who gathered up dust, ash and mud and breathed life into it all,
creating Adam.
Next, God the Father knew that Adam would need a helpmate,
so borrowing that now famous rib, Eve came along.
Eve would now in turn have respect for the authority of both God and Adam…

Have you noticed that a little sequence of authority and respect is beginning to form?
The building blocks of authority and respect.

Next with Adam and Even having dominion over all of the animals, fish and birds…
they, these creatures of the earth, in turn then fell under authority of the God
followed by man and woman…

And we should note that any offspring of Adam and Eve, as they were the first,
then said offspring would therefore also have dominion over the animals, birds and fish….
And on and on it was to flow.

Add to all of this the lynchpin of respect.
Respect for and of one for another…
The tie that binds it all up.
A perfect scenario.

Yet unfortunately the chain of authority and respect fell into disrepair with that
first bite of an apple…
For you see God afforded this man and this woman the gift of free will.
And here is the kicker…..
they were not slaves who were to be forced under authority….
they were to come under authority freely and willingly…because within that
authority was the most perfect expression of Love.

And oh how perfect it all could have been…..

And as we now see, looking back over the annals of time, history has shown us that not
all authority since the fall has been kind nor benevolent.
Because in that fall from grace, free will gave way to poor choices..
choices that have been more selfish rather than selfless..
choices that have held very little regard for the dignity of person upon person.

With all of this business harkening back to that original initial sin and disobedience…
of which in turn begat pride, envy, jealousy, selfishness, arrogance, cruelty, disrespect…
ad infinitum…

Yet just because we know that there have been those who have abused their authority
over others, and that there have been times that said authority had to be eliminated
or even rebelled against, the overall notion that a civil society has a chain of authority
which is a lynchpin to living…has been the glue that has held the precariousness of man
together.

And thus we see cousin Percy exerting his authority as kingpin of the home over his
visiting cousin Alice by deciding that what is hers should actually be his…
or at least for a little while.

And on the flip side we have cousin Alice, who despite her sheer size and body strength,
who could eat cousin Percy in one maybe two bites…defers to this pint size king
out of an overwhelming sense of awe, fear and respect….

Hence….
authority, fear and respect in a nutshell….

“Don’t be scared by the word authority.
Believing things on authority only means believing them because you’ve been told them
by someone you think trustworthy.
Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority.
I believe there is such a place as New York.
I haven’t seen it myself.
I couldn’t prove by abstract reasoning that there must be such a place.
I believe it because reliable people have told me so.
The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution,
and the circulation of the blood on authority—
because the scientists say so.
Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority.
None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada.
None of us could prove them by pure logic as you prove a thing in mathematics.
We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us
about them: in fact, on authority.
A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion
would have to be content to know nothing all his life.”

C.S. Lewis

apples are apples… yet sometimes they just might be an orange….

Keep me as the apple of the eye;
hide me in the shadow of thy wings,
from the wicked who despoil me,
my deadly enemies who surround me.

Psalm 17:8-9


(one of our two little apples on our four apple trees…Julie Cook / 2017)

Whereas an apple a day supposedly keeps the doctor away, historically apples have often
fallen in and out of favor….both literally and figuratively.
in part due to a loss of translation or simple miscommunication.

A member of the rose family, apples were most likely the first trees to be cultivated
by man.
Historical records have even credited Alexander the Great with most likely
discovering a dwarf variety of apples that he later brought to Macedonia from Kazakhstan.

And it was the early European settlers who are credited with having first introduced
cultivated varieties of apples to North America as the crab apple was the only native
“apple” species on the continent.

Thus having originated in central Asia, it is often speculated as to whether apples were
even known to exist as an actual fruit or tree in ancient biblical times.

And as any biblical translation scholar will tell you,
Hebrew translations may or may not always have a corresponding word in
English as an equivalent…
just as we observe with the use of the word apple in Psalm 17.

Verse 8 mentions “keeping me as the apple of your eye…”
Meaning that ‘I am to be held in the center of your heart and attention
I am your pride and joy…..”

As the Hebrew translation of the psalm does not use the word apple as we
know the word apple to be today, but rather it translates as “little man of my eye”
and refers to the pupil of the eye and not an actual apple because the pupil was
thought to be a round hard ball, much like an apple.

And yet it was the eye to which early civilizations looked as being key to the essence of a person.
So keeping one as the center of the eye is to have kept them at the heart of one’s being.

The word apple is laced throughout various verses and passages in the Old Testament
with a direct Hebrew translation often referring to pupils and or actual eyeballs…

So perhaps apple is wrongly transposed from the more accurate notion
of that of an aperture, with aperture being the center of the eye…
as an aperture is a hole in which light passes through, such as in a camera lens….
which in turn equates the pupil of the eye, which is the hole allowing
ligt to pass to the back of the retina….which is in essence how we see…
thus apple is meant as aperture.

And as we read the story in Genesis regarding the exchange between Eve and the serpent:

Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden;
but God said,
‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden,
neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”But the serpent said to the woman,
“You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened,
and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food,
and that it was a delight to the eyes,
and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate;
and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked;
and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.

We see the same sort of translation issue arising in this story as
the Latin translation of the word “apple” is closely similar to the translation of “evil”
“with the Latin words mālum (an apple) and mălum (an evil),
each of which is normally written malum.
The tree of the forbidden fruit is called “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”
in Genesis 2:17, and the Latin for “good and evil” is bonum et malum.”
(Wikipedia)

So we see that the end result is often that time has a way of cementing
certain words to certain meanings.
While the gist and the story remains pretty much the same and understood…
the symbols of various words take on a variety of meanings.

As in these two examples with the word apple…
In the one instance it is seen as something ominous and wrong with a sinister
and evil connotation…
while next it is meant as something special, endearing and solely important…

And it is often here, in these confusions of translations and multiple meanings,
that skeptics often point…
as skeptics love to use perceived confusion as a smoke screen of defense.
Their’s is a very loud and very vocal piece of the hysterical….
“see, that isn’t right, that isn’t what was really intended….
so how do you, how can you, claim to even know what is right or what is wrong…
maybe you’ve just been misguided all these thousands of years…”

However as we often see in these sacred stories and narratives that although there
may be multiple words that are being used in a variety of different contexts…
the meanings and lessons conveyed are still always the same as originally intended…

It’s just that we may have exchanged an apple for an orange…
Which means that sometimes the words are defined as the same thing,
and at other times they are not…
perhaps meaning or relating to a variety of different things such as
feelings, thoughts and emotions….

….such is the joy of language…

But one thing is always certain…
God’s word will always remain the same…as well as unchanged…
God’s meaning, intent and His words are never altered or changed despite man’s
often erroneous and misguided attempts of expressing such…
For His words stand the test to both time and translation….

All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof,
for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete,
equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

The garden

“We all long for Eden, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most human, is still soaked with the sense of exile.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

“When Adam ate the irrevocable apple, Thou
Saw’st beyond death the resurrection of the dead”

C.S. Lewis

DSCN2511
(Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2016)

There once was a garden that was perfect in every sense.
There were no need for boundaries nor signs, not even a single fence.

Its beauty was undeniable as its splendor was amazing.
There were animals of every shape and size contently roaming and grazing.

The trees grew tall and the pastures lush, as the bushes grew full and wide…
While all manner of flower and fruit blossomed with unapologetic pride.

God sweetly handed man the keys proclaiming that he should now enjoy,
Creation could but only hope for a happy ending to this perfect story…

But happiness and peace were not to be this story’s blissful end…
For there was far more trauma and tragedy that this writer should have penned…

There were whispered lies and falsehoods uttered, as selfishness stepped on stage.
With the die being cast and death now laughing, it is only sorrow for this new age..

The gates to this most beautiful place were sealed and tightly locked.
As both seraphim and cherubim stood to the side confused and terribly shocked…

Forever banished now is Adam, with Eve right by his side…
Along with every hope and dream, which has each now quickly died…

Death this tragic day was given dominion over this now broken world…
As chaos and madness mixed together and evil loomed and swirled…

Our generation is no different from the rest with each now having come and gone…
We wonder if today’s the day as we look beyond this morning’s dawn.

Will Christ come riding triumphantly upon the clouds so white…
And will this once beautiful garden ever be returned to earth’s most anxious sight?

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.
Revelation 22:1-3

Ever vigilant

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
1 Peter 5:8

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
Thomas Jefferson

DSCN1562
(A statue of an Irish wolfhound stands guard at Ashford Castle / Counties Mayo – Galway, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

We are currently caught in a maelstrom…
a
black
swirling
churning
drastically
changing
moment
in
time …

A time of grave darkness.

It was in 2001 when we first heard the words…“we are winning the war on terrorism….”
words Spoken by George W Bush.
He had first publicly used the term “war on Terror” following the attacks of September 11th.
However we can actually look back to the Reagan administration when the phrase was first used by then President Reagan as he implored Congress to pass legislation to freeze the funds of various terrorist agencies.

Terrorist regimes are not new.

Yet our current President tells us that we are winning, making gains, making great strides, curbing and shutting down this insidious menace….
In May he even boasted that the war on terror was over…Hummm
“The “Global War on Terror” is over, President Barack Obama announced Thursday”
(US New and World Report May 23, 2015)
He again touted that we were winning the war on November 13th, just hours before the deadly attacks in Paris.
He must know something the rest of us don’t. He must see something that the rest of us aren’t seeing.

Somehow I think that San Bernardino and Paris and Brussels and Tel Aviv and Egypt and Russia and Tunisia and London and Yemen and Saudi Arabia and Algeria and Denmark and Canada and Bangladesh and Australia and New York and Texas and Afghanistan and Lebanon and Libya and Turkey and…..
All of which would beg to differ…for each and every one of these cities and or nations has had to clean up the spilt blood of their citizens and guests…of which has been shed at the hands of terrorists— either ISIS, aka Daesh, the Radical Muslim terrorist organization, or their duly inspired henchmen.

It doesn’t seem to get any clearer than that…

As it certainly appears that this war on terrorism is pretty much a global issue…

And it is with great frustration that we continue hearing, listening to and seeing the lamentations and the finger pointing…
The accusatory rhetoric from individuals, various nations, the news media, various heads of states and governments, religious leaders…
the “I told you so”
the “this is all your fault” business…
the “this is what you get for _________” (allowing you to fill in the blank)

The “all of this is all the fault of western civilizations….”
(Then why are so many attacks also happening in the Middle East?)

“all this is the fault of Christianity…” dating all the way back to the first crusade…

“All of this is the fault of the Jews dating back to…to…to…Abraham…”

And maybe that is where much of all of this may have actually come about with that whole Isaac and Ishmael business but that tale of woe is for another day…

Since the terrorist attacks on American soil on September 11, 2001, the governmental powers that be will have issued 3 different, or amended, terror alert systems with the latest one to roll off the shelves within the very near future.

I don’t know how many more steps one can add in between BAD and REALLY BAD.

Today’s young people, age 25 and younger, have been living under this raging war on Terror for the majority of their lives—14 long years
And with each passing year, the sitting president continues telling us we are winning the war.

We are NOT winning the war.

If you think anything differently, you are merely deceiving yourself.
The war is simply morphing, evolving, changing.

However it should come as no surprise to any Christians among us that this menacing business of evil has long been with us…dating back to that whole Adam, Eve and serpent debacle.
For it was in that very moment of disobedience that mankind went to war.
Man went to war with himself, against himself, against his descendants, against his world, against His God…
And Evil has freely walked the face of this earth ever since that fateful day when the gate was slammed shut in Eden.

Yet as Christians, we know that this war may indeed continue being fought as it is raging without a seeming end in sight… it may be bloody, it may be cruel, it may be catastrophic…. but one thing is certain…
there will be no victory for the prince of Darkness.

And whereas there are those who will say that such talk is delusional, it is equally delusional to deny that there is Good and Evil and that we are all in the midst of a battle between Light and Darkness.

Our government calls for vigilance.
This vigilance was initially more pertinent for those who were traveling—be it at home as well as abroad.
Yet now that vigilance blankets our journeys much closer to home…journeys now to the mall, to work, to sporting events, to plays, to the theater….

Vigilance.

As Christians, we are making ready our preparations during this Advent season as we are filled with expectant and ever vigilant hearts…
For we are making ready for the arrival of the One True Light…the birth of all Salvation, of all Hope and of the greatest Victory yet to come…
even so, Come Lore Jesus…..

Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
A voice says, “Cry out.”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
“All people are like grass,
and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.”
You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”