What is truth? or more aptly…where can we find it

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
Mark Twain


(the 2200 year old mouth of Truth found in the portico of Santa Maria Cosmedin Church
in Rome, Itlay.
Legend has it that if you are a truthful person and place your hand in the mouth,
you will be fine but if you are a liar, the stone will bite off your hand / Julie Cook / 2018)

So yesterday, I wrote a post about the local (as in Atlanta home-based) fast-food chain,
Chick-fil-A.
I had written about the latest news story that the chicken sandwich mega-giant had
cut ties with two of its charitable organizations—
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes and The Salvation Army.

It seems that the LGBTQ communities had loudly complained regarding the Christian based
food chain Chick-fil-A and that of its charitable contributions going to LGBTQ unfriendly
organizations and in turn, they wanted Chick-fil-A to stop—as in ASAP.

And so the latest news, both local and national, was that Chick-fil-A had given into
the loud protests and thus decided to distance themselves from these two
Christian based organizations.

I was so upset because I have long supported Chick-fil-A and was so proud of the Biblical
foundations that founder, Truett Cathy, had built this favorite fast food restaurant upon.

I feared that if an institution such as Chick-fil-A would give into the rabid cries
of a liberal left, then who might remain standing for their Christian based
principles and values?

So I sounded the alarm.

Yet the alarm I sounded need not have been sounded.

A dear friend, who’s husband both owns and operates his own Chick-fil-A,
sorted out the falsehoods that had been found in the narrative of the news reporting.

She offered the truth behind what I was posting and I, in turn, offered a new post
with her clarification.

I had read and seen both local and National news reporting on this story—
and these were all sources that I have always believed to be truthful…as far as
news reporters can be or should be truthful.

But sadly it turns out the real truth was buried deep behind the headlines.

Yes Chick-fil-A continues to contribute to their charities and you can read
about it from Lynn’s comment I posted yesterday as an addendum to my original post.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2019/11/21/an-update-with-clarification-to-the-bending-of-the-cows-knees/

So naturally, I have felt very badly that I got this one wrong…
That I had read and seen what I had taken as truth and in turn, shared that “truth”–
yet the truth I thought, was not exactly the real truth or the full truth now was it?

I strive to be an accurate person, especially when I write a post.
I am passionate about my posts…otherwise, I wouldn’t write.

I also felt bad that I had let Lynn down by not touching base with her first.

I had my wealth of excuses.
Lynn and I have both been so busy that in turn, we’ve not chatted in quite some time.
I had recently been out of town.
I was tired.
I’ve been dealing with my own health issues.
Blah, blah, blah…

And so yesterday when I’d gotten home, I was mad when I’d seen the latest news stories
regarding our hometown based Atlanta business, Chick-fil-A.
A business built upon Christian principles.
Principles that a now-deceased founder had staked his life’s beliefs upon in order to
build a successful corporation, yet I feared I was now seeing a supposed shift in
those initial guiding principles…

Yet despite my best efforts at setting the record straight, I was still distressed
because I adamantly want to be known for talking about and writing about truths.

So I had to stop and ask myself, what IS truth?

Did Pilate not ask the same question as he stood a battered Christ
before a salivating and angry crowd?

So I looked back to the ancient philosophers who first discussed this notion of
truth.
Plato.
Soccrates
Aristotle…

According to Logic museum regarding truth and Metaphysics—they state that
“Possibly Aristotle’s most well-known definition of truth is in the Metaphysics, (1011b25):
“To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false,
while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true”.

Britanica.com tells us that “Truth is the aim of belief; falsity is a fault.
People need the truth about the world in order to thrive.
Truth is important.
Believing what is not true is apt to spoil a person’s plans and may even cost him his life.
Telling what is not true may result in legal and social penalties.
Conversely, a dedicated pursuit of truth characterizes the good scientist,
the good historian, and the good detective.

Yet I realized that I could philosophize, pontificate and ruminate over this
notion till the cows come home.
However, I fear that the real concern here today is not so much what
truth actually is, but rather that our culture no longer cares much about
that particular ideal—that ideal of truth.

We’ve heard more than our fair share regarding fake news…
so much so that we question almost everyone and everything.
And in turn, there is very little trust in our culture.

But here’s the thing.
I still want to believe that deep down, man longs for truth.
He longs for what is versus what is not.

There are small truths or more aptly exacts…truths such as 2+2=4
or ‘for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’…
mathematical and scientific exacting truths.

But what of the essential deep meaning of truth for man?

I found the following piece of wisdom on the site exploreGod.com

Philosopher Roger Scruton has argued,
“All discourse and dialogue depend upon the concept of truth.
To agree with another is to accept the truth of what he says;
to disagree is to reject it.”
In other words, we can’t even talk to each other without the notion of truth.
To say that I’m lying is to presuppose there is truth to be told.
To say that I’m wrong or even mistaken assumes the existence of a truth from
which my statement departs.

Truth According to the Bible:

So what, then, does the Bible say about truth?
It might surprise you that the question
“What is truth?” is itself found in the pages of Scripture.
When standing trial before the Roman governor Pilate, Jesus said to Pilate,
“For this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.
Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Pilate responded by asking,
“What is truth?”

If only Pilate had known that the truth was standing before him,
looking him in the eye.

You see, the Bible teaches that truth isn’t just an abstract idea or
philosophical puzzle.
Instead, truth is a person­—the person of Jesus Christ, to be exact.

Jesus said to his disciples, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The Apostle John, reflecting on the whole of Jesus’ life, wrote,
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came
from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
In Jesus, the truth took on human nature.

For the full treatise on a Christian take on truth see the link–
https://www.exploregod.com/what-the-bible-says-about-truth-paper

And so yes, the Truth, a real and lasting deep soul sort of truth,
is found in the One who claimed, and continues to proclaim,
to be the living Truth.

Truth can only be found in Christ Jesus and in Him alone.
Not in or from man…only if man proclaims Christ.
All other truths and false truths will leave us empty and still looking,
seeking and searching for more.
An endless and tiring quest.

Yet from all of this talk, I will say that the one take away that I’ve gotten…
other than the fact the our world now plays fast and loose with the truth,
is that the progressive left will not rest until Christianity is silenced.

Because within Christianity is found the Truth.

So, therefore, lies will continue.
Half-truths will dominate.
Accusations will fly.
Questions will continually be leveled.
Protesters will shout with both anger and resentment.
The Christian fold will be pushed to attack from within…
because the enemy knows that there is success to be found in the divide and conquer mentality.

And thus if we are to find satisfaction in life and in our living,
if we desire to have a real sense of peace..it will only come in knowing who is Truth.
You can choose to live the empty quest…such as Pilate…a forlorn yearning.
An empty unsatisfied existence of seeking while dodging the lies.

Or you can follow the one who came into the world to save the sinner by bringing us the Truth.

Jesus answered,
“You say that I am a king.
In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth.
Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate.
With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said,
“I find no basis for a charge against him.

John 18:37-38

communicating

“Wisdom cannot be imparted.
Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else …
Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom.
One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”

Hermann Hesse

“The speed of communications is wondrous to behold.
It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue.”

Edward R. Murrow

I think the great WWII correspondent, Edward R. Murrow had no idea as to how
prophetic his words would one day be…
that being the speed of communication having a direct correlation to the distribution
of information that is…untrue.

I think we currently call that Fake News.
Be it intentional or unintentional, the bottom line is that it is untrue none the less.

And yet we all know that we are born to communicate.

We come out at birth communicating…most often with wailing displeasure…
but a needed sound none the less. Because that displeased wail allows all to know that
we are indeed alive and well.

So in one capacity or another…we are born to share one with another…
communicating with our words, our thoughts, our feelings.

It’s what makes us,`us.

We touch, we see, we feel, we taste, we hear….all feeding our brains with various messages.

You see that little “ten commandments” sheet in the picture up above?
That is a little commandment sheet for a spouse of a person who suffers from hearing loss.

It is a lesson for a hearing spouse of a not so good hearing spouse…

In part because the nonhearing spouse either does not hear the hearing spouse
right off the bat or misinterprets the hearing spouse’s words…

“Who died???” my husband implores as I ask if wants me to make iced tea for supper.

“I don’t want any ice cream” my husband snaps when I ask if he needs a towel when he’s heading
to the shower.

“Turn there” or “Exit here” I instruct as we are driving someplace as he sails
right past the turn or exit all the while asking “What??”

Whereas the conversations are often humorous…they can also be irritating on
both sides…frustrating and even serious if I’m telling him to watch out as something
comes hurdling his way.

For my husband, his troubles began when he nearly had his head blown off years ago in a hunting accident.
His tale is one that speaks to the importance of really knowing who it is you go off hunting with…
really know them…their character, their background, their expertise, their years of hunting
and their knowledge of firearms.

Go with the wrong person…and bad things can happen.

In my husband’s case, it was his hearing and thankfully not his head.

He has had to wear hearing aids ever since.

If you’ve ever worn hearing aids then you know that we can put a man on the moon but,
despite costing thousands of dollars, we cannot make a decent hearing aid.

I’ve seen my husband’s hearing aids go flying across a room when they fail to help
make things clear, as they tend to make things worse.

There is deep frustration in not being able to hear…or to hear correctly…as well as
efficiently being able to communicate within a given conversation to another person.

He had thought hearing aids would ease and help all his woes but alas, that has not been the case.

The cat once ‘took’ one of the hearing aids…thinking it was some poor high pitched
squeaking creature.
The cat saw it on the counter while my husband was showering and made off with it,
throwing it up in the air and battering it all around…all over the house until
upon my investigation, I realized this mesmerizing “toy” was actually
a $3000 hearing aid.

One was once lost to the sea after a giant wave knocked ‘someone’ over who forgot he was wearing them.

And one just oddly vanished.
Never to be seen or heard from again.
He’s still blaming the cat…but this time the cat is off the hook.

He’s on his third pair.
A new brand and a new doctor.
Yet still not the wonder instrument one would hope.

At his last hearing visit, he explained the frustration with hearing me,
or make that not hearing me.

She hands him “the commandments.”
He, in turn, walked in the house and immediately handed me the commandments…

Hmmmmmm…

And so I say all of this about the importance of communicating, hearing, listening
as I labor to set aside the necessary time to digest the wonderful thoughts and input regarding
our collective blogging family’s prayer.

Prayer is our key means of communication with our Creator….be it audible
or silent…be it groanings or cries.

Yesterday morning, Fran reminded me about the notion of hymns…
which in turn made me think about the Psalms—
the early sung prayers of those who yearned, long before ourselves, to
communicate with their God, our God…
be they Psalms of praise, thanksgiving, petitions or lamentations.

This evening I listened to more “news” regarding this new form of abortion.
That being the surviving product of an abortion gone wrong…a now fully born child.
A baby needing immediate attention…yet the adults in the room fumble
all over themselves…let it die, let it live???

I am sickened, horrified, and utterly saddened.

What have we become?

However, it’s nothing new under the sun you remind me.
Atrocities have been committed since the original murder of a brother killing a brother.
It is our lot as a fallen creature…

And yet this does not assuage my heart.

And so as I labor to bring us around to a collective form of a unified prayer–
a means of a common communication to our Father in Heaven, I am continually
drawn back to those who have no free voice of their own…

I’ll ruminate a bit longer… while in the meantime I learn to turn off the kitchen sink and walk
myself into the den in order to stand in front of my husband who’s resting in his recliner,
when I need to tell him that he’s once again accidentally hit the alarm on his key
fob as his truck’s alarm is now blaring in the garage for all of creation to hear…
all of creation but him…

to be continued…

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13

If we only had a brain…and a heart…

I could while away the hours
Conferrin’ with the flowers
Consultin’ with the rain
And my head I’d be a scratchin’
While my thoughts are busy hatchin’
If I only had a brain

Lyrics from “If I only had a brain”
Wizard of Oz


(Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz)

A few weeks back, I wrote a post entitled “if we only had a heart”

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2018/12/14/if-i-only-had-a-heart/

But now I fear we truly need our brains as well…

Spurgeon reminded us that we needed to use our brains.
We needed to read, and in turn, learn from what we read…
meaning we learn from other’s brains…

In Education, we call this ‘teach one, tell one’…

The notion being that one is taught, and they, in turn, teach another…

The passing on of knowledge…

“Give yourself unto reading. The man who never reads will never be read;
he who never quotes will never be quoted.
He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains,
proves that he has no brains of his own.
You need to read.
. . .
We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure time,
is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which
afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service.
Paul cries, “Bring the books” — join in the cry.”

But what if what we now read is actually all wrong?

What if the sources we have trusted, the people we have trusted are no longer using their brains?
What if what they write, report and share are all wrong?

And so in turn, what we think we are learning, seeing and reading and eventually sharing
is all wrong?

The most egregious of which is what we have today–a story known simply as
“The Covington Catholic Boys”

I’m pretty outraged by all of this…
This idiocy of ours.
This indignation gone mad.

I’ve read some marvelous posts regarding this madness written by those with brains…
those who can say what I want to say but find myself currently at a loss…
At a loss due to this lunacy and due to just feeling too crappy to put decent
thoughts together in order to flow…
So I will let my friends with brains set the story straight while I have come to the conclusion that
we need to be a people who must now yearn for both our hearts and brains:

Slim Jim from the Domain of Truth:

https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2019/01/22/nathan-phillips-problematic-slander-of-the-covington-boys/

Citizen Tom:

THE DANGER OF BELIEVING PROPAGANDA

IB from Insaitybytes2

https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2019/01/21/about-those-covington-catholic-boys/

I could while away the hours
Conferrin’ with the flowers
Consultin’ with the rain
And my head I’d be a scratchin’
While my thoughts are busy hatchin’
If I only had a brain
I’d unravel ev’ry riddle
For my individdle
In trouble or in pain
With the thoughts
That I’d be thinkin’
I could be another Lincoln
If I only had a brain
Oh, I could tell you why
The ocean’s near the shore
I could think of things
I’d never thunk before
And then I’d sit down
And think some more
I would not be just a muffin’
My head all full of stuffin’
My heart all full of pain
And perhaps I’d deserve you
And be even worthy, even you
If I only had a brain

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10

Lunacy followed by the real story of Rudolph

“The longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think,
and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know…
Do justly.
Love mercy.
Walk humbly.
This is enough.”

John Adams, The Letters of John and Abigail Adams


(one of my most treasured items from childhood…my Rudolph snow globe/ Julie Cook / 2018)

I love today’s quote.
It is from one of my all-time favorite presidents.
And it is a powerful reminder of what is really important and what truly matters in
this upside down world of ours…
especially during these surreal days and time.

I needed to read and heed such wisdom today after reading the following story
that is linked below.

It’s a story about an article that was offered by the liberal media outlet
The HuffPost.
It seems that the HuffPost and their minions of readers
(or is that ‘bloodthirsty’ followers??),
have recently set their wreckless sights on finding fault with a beloved Christmas
children’s classic story and cartoon.

It seems that even poor ol’ Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is not exempt from
the attacks of a rabid progressive liberal society that is riding chaotically on one
rail while careening rapidly out of control.

This quasi-news outlet offers a story, along with a video, explaining why Rudolph is
not the long thought moral tale that we have all loved and known since 1939.
Rather it is their opinion that this children’s classic is subversive and is totally
out of step with the current mindset of liberal’s everywhere.

I was 5 years old in 1964 when the animated version hit the airwaves.
It was an integral part of our family’s annual gearing up to the Christmas season.
Mother made certain we had had out baths and were dressed in our pjs while
Dad found the right channel on the television console as we settled in as
a family to watch this iconic Christmas classic.

However, the HuffPost is now telling us that Rudolph is not as we thought.
It is not a tale of overcoming a perceived handicap while rising above
life’s obstacles only to become the hero of the day,
but rather the HuffPost offers a twisted view of this classic children’s tale of
both innocence and Christmas…

They’ve twisted innocence and something for children into something sinister.

Then they add insult to injury…they provide the hate-filled and bizarre remarks
made by their readers.

Read the following words carefully.

“Among those observations was the suggestion that the TV classic was a story about racism
and homophobia, while calling Santa Claus abusive and bigoted.

“Yearly reminder that #Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a parable on racism and homophobia
w/Santa as a bigoted exploitative prick,” read one comment shared by HuffPost.
“Santa’s operation is an HR nightmare and in serious need of diversity and inclusion training.
#Rudolph,” read another.

The video also suggests it was problematic that Rudolph’s father verbally abused him by forcing
him to wear a fake nose to be accepted by others.

Some eagle-eyed social media critics also said the cartoon is sexist because Rudolph’s
mom was snubbed after she wanted to help reindeer husband Donner to search for their son
after he goes missing.
“No, this is man’s work,” Donner says.

But HuffPost’s effort to highlight the perceived bigotry of the beloved movie attracted
tens of thousands of negative comments, most of them mocking the video.

And if I were one who tweeted, or facebooked, or opted to read the HuffPost, then I would join
those thousands who offered negative commentaries.
I would stand on a rooftop and shout how this is nothing but a bunch of dribble.
Ridiculous idiocy and anyone who buys into it is so totally lost and oblivious to reality…
Because obviously there must not be enough really important news if they’re resorting to
writing about the ills of a classic children’s tale.

And dare I say I saw another lead-in story to the ills of Charlie Brown’s Christmas…
does this culture of ours, a culture that has lost its mind, not have enough lunacy
already on its plate before it sets into attacking Charlie Brown???

https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/liberal-outlet-mocked-for-saying-classic-rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeer-is-sexist-and-bigoted

However, according to the History Channel—there is actually a “real” story behind Rudolph.
A story of real human perseverance.
A story of overcoming the depths of sorrow and difficulty while finding real hope.

Perhaps if the HuffPost had actually bothered to read the back story of Rudolph
and that of Rudolph’s original creator, Robert May, they may have opted to back off…
as Rudolph has always been a tale of hope…despite their now post Christian,
post Christmas spin.

Balsam wreaths and visions of sugarplums had barely faded in the first weeks of 1939,
but thoughts inside the Chicago headquarters of retail giant Montgomery Ward had
already turned to the next Christmas 11 months away.
The retailer had traditionally purchased and distributed coloring books to children
as a holiday promotion, but the advertising department decided it would be cheaper
and more effective instead to develop its own Christmas-themed book in-house.

The assignment fell to Robert May, a copywriter with a knack for turning a
limerick at the company’s holiday party. The adman, however,
had difficulty summoning up holiday cheer, and not just because of the date on the calendar.
Not only was the United States still trying to shake the decade-long Great Depression
while the rumblings of war grew once again Europe,
but May’s wife was suffering with cancer and the medical bills had thrown the family into debt.
Sure, he was pursuing his passion to write,
but churning out mail order catalog copy about men’s shirts instead of penning
the Great American Novel was not what he had envisioned himself doing at age 33
with a degree from Dartmouth College.

Given the assignment to develop an animal story,
May thought a reindeer was a natural for the leading role
(not to mention that his 4-year-old daughter, Barbara, loved the reindeers every time
she visited the zoo). As he peered out at the thick fog that had drifted off Lake Michigan,
May came up with the idea of a misfit reindeer ostracized because of his
luminescent nose who used his physical abnormality to guide Santa’s sleigh and save Christmas.
Seeking an alliterative name, May scribbled possibilities on a scrap of paper—
Rollo, Reginald, Rodney and Romeo were among the choices—before circling his favorite.
Rudolph.

As May worked on “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” through the summer,
his wife’s health worsened. She passed away in July 1939.
Now a widower and a single father, May refused the offer of his boss to give the
assignment to someone else.
“I needed Rudolph now more than ever,” he later wrote.
Burying his grief, May finished the story in August.

The 89 rhyming couplets in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” borrow from
Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas” right from the story’s opening line:
“Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the hills /The reindeer were playing…
enjoying the spills.”
Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Ugly Duckling”
also inspired the storyline as did May’s own childhood when he endured taunts from
schoolmates for being small and shy.
“Rudolph and I were something alike,” the copywriter told Guideposts magazine in January 1975.
“As a child, I’d always been the smallest in the class.
Frail, poorly coordinated,
I was never asked to join the school teams.”

Those familiar with only the 1964 animated television version of
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” which remains the longest-running Christmas special
in television history a half-century after its debut on NBC,
might not recognize the original tale.
There is no Hermey the elf, no Abominable Snow Monster,
not even the Land of Misfit Toys.
While Rudolph was taunted for his glowing red nose and disinvited from reindeer games
in May’s story, he did not live at the North Pole and was asleep in his house
when Santa Claus, struggling mightily with the fog, arrived with presents and realized
how the reindeer’s radiant snout could help him complete his Christmas Eve rounds.

Montgomery Ward had high hopes for its new 32-page, illustrated booklet,
which would be given as a free gift to children visiting any of the department
store’s 620 locations.
“We believe that an exclusive story like this aggressively advertised in our newspaper
ads and circulars,” the advertising department stated in a September 1939 memo,
“can bring every store an incalculable amount of publicity…
and, far more important a tremendous amount of Christmas traffic.”

The retailer’s holiday advertisements touted “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
as “the rollicking new Christmas verse that’s sweeping the country!”
That wasn’t just hype.
Children snapped up nearly 2.4 million copies of the paper-bound book in 1939.
Plans to print another 1.6 million copies the following year were shelved
by paper shortages due to World War II, and Rudolph remained on hiatus until
the conflict’s conclusion.
When the reindeer story returned in 1946,
it was more popular than ever as Montgomery Ward handed out 3.6 million
copies of the book.

In the interim, May married a fellow Montgomery Ward employee and became
a father again, but he still struggled financially.
In 1947, the retailer’s board of directors, stirred either by the holiday
spirit or belief that the story lacked revenue-making potential,
signed the copyright for “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” over to May.
In short order, May licensed a commercial version of the book along with a full
range of Rudolph-themed merchandise including puzzles, View-Master reels,
snow globes, mugs and slippers with sheep wool lining and leather soles.

In 1949, songwriter Johnny Marks, who happened to be May’s brother-in-law,
set Rudolph’s story to music.
After Bing Crosby reportedly turned down the chance,
singing cowboy Gene Autry recorded the song, which sold 2 million copies
in the first year and remains one of the best-selling tunes of all time.

The song and merchandise sales made May financially comfortable, but hardly rich.
After leaving Montgomery Ward in 1951 to manage the Rudolph commercial empire,
May returned to his former employer seven years later.
He continued to work as a copywriter until his 1971 retirement.
By the time he died five years later, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
had become a piece of modern folklore and a metaphor for overcoming obstacles,
embracing differences and recognizing everyone’s unique potential.

May we, the rational and sane who still find the magic of Christmas that is so entwined
with the everlasting gift of Hope that was offered so long ago to all of mankind in a
simple stable in the tiny town of Bethlehem, continue to seek the truth rather
than the sensationalized mania that heavily blankets our current world.

Here’s the Rudolph and to all the joy he has inspired since 1939
and here is to the Christ Child who continues to offer Hope and Salvation
to such an ailing world….

the Christian Paradox

“We live in an age when unnecessary things are our
only necessities.”

Oscar Wilde


(the sad little cherub birdbath has seen better days / Julie Cook / 2017)

Reflecting back over this past and most chaotic year—chaotic on so many levels….
As it has been chaotic, yes, personally but perhaps the correct word there
would be difficult….

Yet chaotic is what it has been, none the less and more importantly, on
a National and Global level….
thus making it more acute because its a sort of chaotic which affects us all.

It has been a year which has seen its fair share of words and acronyms,
some tried and true, some new and biting…each having left us changed.

Words and letters such as BREXIT, Tweet, Trump, Merkel, May,
Hillary, Russia, Putin, LBTGQ, ISIS, snowflakes, cupcakes, harassment,
sexual, misogynist, tolerance, intolerance, conservative, media, fake news,
liberal, Socialist, Nazi, Communist, accept, Democrats, Homophobic, Republicans, e-mails,
leaks, white supremacist, racist, walls, migrants….

On and on the list has grown….
so perhaps the ending of this particular year is coming none too soon.

It has certainly been perplexing watching the shift in dynamics within our Nation
as well as within the world at large.

It has been disconcerting watching this shift in Culture—
particularly in and with what we thought we knew.

It is maddening to be called “phobic” when one simply disagrees with a sinful
lifestyle.

In the latest posting of Anglican Unscripted, Bishop Ashenden was also opining
the same sorts of issues but with a more keen eye on the shift within Christian
Culture and the Church….

The good Bishop notes that there are all sorts of calls emanating from various pulpits,
all the way to Canterbury itself, the ancient seat of the Anglican Church—

Calls are being made for a total acceptance, absolute tolerance and drastic change….
Coupled by the actual accusations towards those who opt not to get on board with the
acceptance, the tolerance and the change….
Actually accusing those who cling to Scriptural Authority as being outdated,
out numbered and flat out wrong.

I can remember when words from various pulpits were words of God, Salvation, Fatih, Sacrifice, Obedience, Jesus, Love, Grace—
not this modern mantra of jumping on the culture train or else…….

Bishop Ashenden notes that it seems as if the majority of the English Clergy,
(and I would include their kissing cousins of the Episcopal Church), are
either outright socialists or of socialist leanings.
While frustratingly the more Orthodox remain silent for fear of reprisals.

As it appears that the majority of both clergy and laity have lost confidence in the Spiritual message of Salvation, that which calls for all humans to repent,
having rather “transferred their allegiance to a political solution.”
Because who wants to be told to repent from a lifestyle that society has
deemed worthy as God has succinctly and resoundingly deemed as sinful?

And what we the Faithful must note….is that within that notion of all things
of a political solution, there is absolutely no call to or for repentance.

Anglican unscripted:

And now we look to the paradoxical…

We look to the counter balance to all of the liberal heavy handed hullabaloo
with the story of the ancient Coptic Church in Egypt.

It is a church whose roots are found in St Mark who brought the Gospel to Egypt
during the reign of the Emperor Nero.
A long suffering church body of Believers who have suffered at the hands of Islam
since Muslims invaded their homeland in 641.

Believers who do not adhere to the cultural gods, but rather adhere only to the
Word of the One Almighty and Omnipotent God…

For there is no demand for change, or tolerance of the sinful, or acceptance of
society’s demands.


(Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Church of Egypt)


(The Amir Tadros coptic Church in Minya on Sunday.
The building was set ablaze on Aug. 14)

Consider the following comment….

What kind of faith makes people go back to church immediately after that
church was bombed?
What kind of faith makes people chant the Nicene Creed right after their church
was bombed?
What kind of faith makes a community continue liturgy outside because their church
wasn’t yet safe enough to be in?
What kind of faith makes one go on national TV and tell persecutors that they
are loved and forgiven after they just attacked and killed 28 Christians?
The unshakable faith of Christ.

We mourn.
We are in pain.
We are angry.
We have lost many brothers and sisters in Christ, and their blood continues to flow.
But many of us neglect to remember something –
the Coptic Christians remain undefeated.
They continue to grow.
They continue to inspire and strengthen the faith of Christians around the world.

https://howtoreligion.wordpress.com/2017/12/29/coptic-orthodoxy-and-self-defense/

And so will round out these thoughts with the words of the late Orthodox monk and saint,
Saint Paisios…..

“[St. Paisios responds to the question: ‘Geronda, what is this joy that I feel?
Can it be that I am not aware of my sinfulness?’]

No, my child!
God gives you a chocolate here and there, in order to give you joy.
For now, it’s chocolates; later, it will be wine —
like the wine they drink in Paradise.
Do you know how sweet is the wine they drink there?
Oh my!
If God sees a little philotimo (*), a bit of good disposition,
He offers His Grace abundantly, and it intoxicates you —
even from this life.
The spiritual delight one receives, and the transformation he feels in his heart
when the Grace of God visits him, cannot be given…
even by the best cardiologist in the world.
When you feel such joy, try to hold on to it for as long as you can.”
~+~
(*) – Philotimo, is the spontaneous, self-sacrificing love shown by humble people,
from whom every trace of self has been filtered out,
full of gratitude towards God and their fellow man.
Philotimo comes from a deep, abiding connection with God,
so that one is constantly moved to do and seek that which is good,
right and honorable.
(Although this definition has been repeated many times during these teachings,
the last time was 5 months ago,
I feel it is never too often to remind us of its awesome meaning!)

From Discerning Thoughts

And so we end this year of the humanly chaotic being warned.
For we the faithful are being called.
Called not to be quiet, not to fear reprisals, not to accept that which is wrong
but to hold up to the world the Image of God incarnate in His only begotten son….

His duality is seen in the oldest documented Icon of Christ the Pantocrator.
One side of his face is the Christ who is benevolent, kind and loving,
the other side is of the Christ who sits in judgement….judgement of all mankind.

What those who clamor for all things cultural and accepting have chosen to ignore
that Jesus will indeed sit in judgement.

We are called to repent.
To be repentant.
For in that repentance and in that the turning away from sin is found
the true acceptance of Salvation.


(Christ Pantocrator, the oldest known Icon of Christ, 6th Century AD / St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai)

what’s really real anymore?

“It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it;
but the young know they are wretched for they are full of the truthless ideal
which have been instilled into them,
and each time they come in contact with the real,
they are bruised and wounded…”

W. Somerset Maugham

Between the books I’m reading, the barrage of breaking “news” stories,
our caustic and even catastrophic political world..add to that those issues that
scream for our attention yet go woefully ignored….
throw in a good dose of life, seasoned with “this time of year”…
and something or maybe everything is leaving me a bit unsettled..

By all outward appearances I am going through all the proper motions…
I am saying all the right things while doing all the necessary things.
Nothing would lead anyone to suspect that anything was awry.
And yet something unseen continues to pull at my sleeve as I unconsciously try
pulling back….such that the unconscious is almost becoming conscious.

Am I just becoming Ebenezer?
Perhaps more Grinch than Scrooge?
Or am I simply now jaded beyond repair?

After thinking about the two posts I wrote earlier this week—
the first being about meat and potatoes vs purposeful yet empty noise and distraction….
with the second tale being about of the continuing saga of the annihilation of
the oldest, as in the very first group of collective Christians, I have found myself wrestling with what it is that we think we’re passing off as Christmas.

Whoa.
Sacred cow now being looked at sideways…

I’ve allowed this thought to ruminate as I’ve chewed the cud over it.

Christmas is for children….that is a certain absolute..as in for sure.
And I have loved Christmas–both past and present as I anxiously await
sharing it with a new granddaughter next year…..
but…..

Christmas, for me and mine, has basically been a joyous time of melding
tradition and custom with Biblical teaching.

But something is starting to really trouble me….
There are…
Advent wreathes with the lighting of candles while there are “Advent” calendars
counting down the days until Christmas—with more and more equating simply to
good food, family and presents…..

There is…
Santa Claus Christmas
and there is….
Jesus Christmas.

Hummmm….

I have Jewish friends who have decorated Christmas trees, stockings on their mantles,
a menorah in the kitchen as they take the kids to Santa for pictures
and wrap up gifts and goodies in red and green paper to nestle under the tree.

I know nonbelievers who have decorated Christmas trees, stockings on their mantles
and presents wrapped in red and green under the tree…as their children, along with
those Jewish children, leave out cookies and milk for Santa.

Christmas.

Expectation verses Expectancy
Lights verses Light.
Gifts verses Giving…

Has it all gone too far?
Have we allowed it to go too far?
Have we been sucked into a lie?

I think that which is tugging at my sleeve is the Holy Spirit Himself.
I am being reminded that what I’m seeing as Christmas has nothing to do with
Christ’s Mass….nothing to do with the expectant waiting of the birth of Salvation.

And so I wrestle—where do we as Believers now draw the line?

Do we do so silently…or…a bit more loudly?
Loudly as in no longer just riding merrily along in the sleigh with everyone else
jing jing jingling into the oblivion of Currier and Ives… or rather do we say
a collective “hold up”…

First and foremost Christmas is about one thing…and one thing only….
and that is the birth of Christ…
So don’t try to pass this societal thing you’ve created off as anything
other than secularism masquerading as the Christmas of Christ.
You want your Yuletide but you don’t want the Christians to have their
Christ’s Mass…
You want your goodies and your holidays but you don’t want to acknowledge the
Savior of all mankind…..

And so while wrestling with this gnawing notion rolling around in my thoughts
and heart, I caught the latest offering by the Wee Flea Pastor
David Robertson….talk about reading my mind…

It is the tale of fake news verses real news…..

Is Christmas Christian?
….But what about as a Christian festival?
It can be argued that Christmas becoming a secular/pagan festival is just
returning to its pagan roots.
It was the Church that took over the midwinter festival and turned it into a
celebration of the birth of Jesus
(who was not born on December the 25th – more likely to have been a day in April).
Was this a bad thing?
Some of our ancestors thought so –
and famously refused to celebrate Christmas.
Even in living memory there are those who can recall Christmas just being a
normal working day – with New Year being the main festival.
Most Free Churches still do not have a Christmas Day service
(unless it is on a Sunday) but we do have a New Years Day.

It’s not wrong to celebrate Christmas,
and its not wrong not to celebrate.
Let each be persuaded in their own minds.
What however is wrong is to turn the birth of Jesus Christ,
into an orgy of commercialism, greed and drunkenness.
The idea that people will get themselves into enormous debt to buy things
they don’t need in order to celebrate the birth of the one who though he was rich,
yet became poor, for our sakes, is grotesque.

We are able to use our building to proclaim the good news of Jesus,
as opposed to the ‘fake news’ of the secular Christmas.
In that respect I love what the angels told the shepherds as they looked
after their flocks
“Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news that will bring great joy for all the people.
Today in the town of David,
a Saviour has been born to you.;
he is the Messiah, the Lord”
.
(Luke 2:10-11).

Great Joy for all the People – The Christmas Record

redeemed from paradox

“Without the Way, there is no going,
Without the Truth, there is no knowing,
Without the Life, there is no living.

Thomas à Kempis


(a persistent strangler of fall hangs on / Julie Cook / 2017)

“But he never said to people, ‘Come as you are and stay as you are.’
His promise was always that all were welcome –
but that they would be radically changed.
All need to be reborn.
Jesus does not affirm us in our lifestyles.
He redeems us from them.”

David Robertson

There is really so much to say.

Too much really…about so very much.

About all of this really.

As in…there is so very much that needs sorting, weeding out and pruning…

Such as those overt ‘he said, she said’ issues taking place daily….

The egregious name calling of those we do not see eye to eye with….
nor actually even see…yet everyone feels free and safe to use all manner
of vile ugliness, rather gleefully and clandestinely, behind these screens of ours
as we joyously lash out…..

There is tolerance of the intolerant and intolerance of the tolerant.

One no longer knows which one is best to be…tolerant or intolerant…
perhaps just both.

Why is it that at “this time of year” we hear about a spike in crime…
often violent crime.

Why is it that at “this time of year” we hear of what seems to be an escalation
in the sorrowful and tragic…that of accidents, death, fights, wrecks,
abuse, overdoses, fires…etc

Yet why is it that “at this time of year” we actually can witness a softer,
kinder, more generous and giving world….

A paradox found in the juxtaposition of man.

All the while there is some sort of misnomer running around out there that if
you don’t open your arms to embrace everyone and everything….
then there is something terribly wrong with you and you are made
to wear the Scarlet letter P….

P because you are phobic… homophobic…or maybe transphobic.

P because you’re just paranoid…you think that the Right and Left are
collectively out to get you…and maybe they are….

P because you’re just proud…a little too proud…as a good many of the
proud and arrogant have suddenly tumbled from their thrones.

P because you’re just pissed off,
mad as hell at all the fake news, lies, angry rhetoric, news outlets turned
tabloid junkies, anarchists burning down the towns…
mad at the progressive left who want nothing more than to destroy you and
your little corner of the world….
so no, you’re not going to take it any longer…

And right when someone hears or reads that you’ve just said as much,
you are now brandished as an extremist who should be locked up…

Maybe you should be locked up because you cracked and own a gun…
never mind all the uncracked folks out there who own guns….

Maybe you want to celebrate Christmas but since it is Christmas, you can’t call it
Christmas….
Yet you are repeatedly told to buy, buy, buy….for Christmas.
The same Christmas you’re not allowed to call Christmas.

Maybe you want to celebrate Hanukah because you’re Jewish…but a lot of folks
out there blame Jews for everything so maybe it’s best not to light the candles.

So now it is P because it is all so precarious…
especially since our vision is no longer clear.

It’s difficult crossing the narrow log spanning the deep chasm when
one’s vision is clouded…clouded by the upside down lies being offered
as what is true.

Yet how is one to know truth verse lie…
Or do we simply believe the loudest voice?

Across the chasm on the far side, across the narrow log, a tiny lone light
is lit…
And you know deep down that it is a light offering clarity to the obscured….

For from out of all of our darkness, a great Light has shone…

All that was, all that you have known, will be no more…
You cannot exist in the paradox and juxtaposition…
caught in the cycle of in and out, yes and no, left and right, up and down…
nor can you abide in the acceptance of what you know to be false yet
are constantly told that this false is absolutley true.

As all the little truths are merely by-products of the fickleness of the times…

Yet the question is asked of you….
Will you be able to ford the chasm on the narrow log, pressing ahead
toward the lone light offering clear vision or do you prefer to remain where
you are in a world turned upside down and mad upon itself?

Are you happy with what you are hearing and seeing day in and day out
as everything you once knew and thought is now turned inside out?

We are living a paradox and conundrum yet yearn for the clarity and light…

And I don’t see why the choice needs to be so difficult.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made;
without him nothing was made that has been made.
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him,
the world did not recognize him.
He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name,
he gave the right to become children of God—
children born not of natural descent,
nor of human decision or a husband’s will,
but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son,
who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:1-5, 9:14)